Wedding Anniversary Etiquette - who?

Who, OK Whom!

Who is involved

This is our FAQ for who is involved in any Wedding Anniversary and with whom.

Q. My Parents/ Friends Wedding Anniversary is coming up should I help them celebrate it?
Q. Its a major anniversary for my parents what can I do that's special?
Q. Does the couple the party is being given for give speeches?
Q. Should speeches be made by both partners or by just one? 
Q. We are distant relatives. We are wondering about a gift. Do we need to take one? 
Q. According to protocol, should the children throw their parents an anniversary party? 
Q. Who of the siblings is normally considered the "point person" for the organization? 
Q. Would the children of the anniversary couple initiate a family celebration to honour their parents anniversary?

Q. My Parents/ Friends Anniversary is coming up should I help them celebrate it ?

A. This is a matter of judgment, if you think they would appreciate the thought then by all means celebrate the anniversary in a suitable fashion.

The early Wedding Anniversaries are traditionally celebrated by the couples only although a card from friends and relatives is often a nice thought. From the 15th Anniversary onwards, historically, they would also start to be celebrated within the family. This I would suggest has developed with the siblings of a couple becoming aware as they got older of their parents marriage and the important role this took within the family.

Q. Its a major anniversary for my parents what can I do that's special ?

If they are celebrating their 50th anniversary then you can arrange a greeting from the President if you are an American citizen. (if you're a UK subject you'll have to wait another 10 years to get one from the queen!) Greetings can be sent for the 50th Wedding Anniversary.  You used to be able to get a greeting from the President for every year thereafter however it now seems you can only get 50th,60th and higher  plus you have to approach your senator in the first instance who will then arrange it via the Whitehouse.

Your request must be received at the Whitehouse six (6) weeks in advance of the event date. Follow the link to find more detail how to get official Greetings from the Whitehouse

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Q Does the couple the party is being given for give speeches?

A. With speeches it is down to the type of celebration the couple are holding, if they are having a repeat wedding breakfast then a formal speech would be expected. If they were having an informal party then an informal speech would be appropriate. Typically a speech of some type would be expected.

Q ……As far as a speech is concerned, I guess we will just play that by ear and use common sense if and when the time comes that a speech is to be made...and should it be made by both partners or by just one???  I don't know if this is going to be "fun" or not.

A. One thing to remember is it is you & your Husband’s Anniversary and hence however you choose to approach the celebration will have to be accepted by your guests. Typically, and especially after 50 years!, one of you could speak for both of you however it is acceptable for both to give a speech if you would like to. A point to note also is that as you have not planned the celebration I would expect your speech to be a “Thank you for organizing this party….etc” rather than anything further. I sense that you are worrying about this party and I am sure this is not what you children want; perhaps you could have a word with them now and tell them you are worrying they should be able to reduce your fears. Above all this is a celebration thrown on you & your Husband’s behalf and hence it should be enjoyable for yourselves. I hope you have a wonderful time and the celebration is appropriate.

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Q We are about to attend a 50th wedding anniversary. We are distant relatives. We realize the 50th is gold. We are wondering about a gift. Do we need to take one? Does it have to be gold?

A. Firstly, an invitation does not imply a gift should be given, it is not expected, does the invitation give any clue, sometimes they say no gifts or similar, if not then within your family circle when similar events go on are gifts given?, is the event formal or informal? These may help answer your question on whether they would be expected. As it is the 50th and as you stated it is the Golden Anniversary this does not mean the gift has to be Gold it is merely the symbol associated with the anniversary. Other gifts are available such as celebration glasses, personalized gifts etc. that indicate the anniversary and are not gold. Mementoes of the actually wedding are sometimes good or even a photographic history of their life since the marriage. My personal favourite especially for the major anniversaries is a bottle of fine wine or champagne bottled in the year they got married.

Q According to protocol, should the children throw their parents a party for their 50th anniversary?

A. Typically the earlier years are organized by the couple themselves, as their children grow up then they may choose to organize a celebration for their parents.  It is not expected that siblings should organize a 50th wedding anniversary and can be organized by the couple or their children. The decision on whether to have a celebration, and what type is very much a personal decision based upon the family culture that exists.

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Q My parents have a 50th wedding anniversary coming up.  There are 4 children in the family who might be involved in the planning.  oldest, cecond oldest, third oldest, youngest.  Who of the siblings is normally considered the "point person" for the organization?

A. Typically it would go to the person best suited to take the role on. This may depend on who could devote the time needed to organize the celebration.

Q Would you normally expect that it is the children of the anniversary couple who would initiate a family celebration to honour their parents 40th anniversary?

A. A lot of children do instigate an anniversary celebration however it is not expected that they should do so.  As it is the couple's celebration they have the choice whether to celebrate or not and can organize their event or allow their siblings to take the lead.

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More Wedding Anniversary Resource

Wedding Anniversary Party Planning: Wedding Anniversary Parties, how to plan a successful event plus many frequently asked questions.

Anniversary Etiquette : Answers the popular questions on anniversary etiquette; how to celebrate an anniversary, why celebrate, gift giving and more commonly asked questions.

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