In a time when divorce tears apart so many families, it’s more important than ever to recognize those people who have triumphed over the years; the couples who have weathered the inevitable ups and downs of marriage and still feel blessed to share their lives with one another. Anniversary celebrations are the perfect way to honor these devoted couples and to show them that they’re an inspiration to so many people.
If you’re planning an anniversary party, there are several things to consider before beginning. First, is the anniversary a major one, such as the 25th (Silver), the 50th (Golden), or beyond? If so, you’re probably going to want to plan a bigger celebration. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with throwing a big bash for an earlier anniversary, they are traditionally celebrated with a smaller, more intimate get-together. You should also take into consideration the couple’s normal social style: do they usually throw, or attend, large and fancy parties, or are they generally low-key when it comes to entertaining? If they’re the jeans-and-backyard-barbecues type, they may feel slightly uncomfortable with, say, a black-tie anniversary gala.
The date is another factor. Of course, it would be ideal to have the party on the actual anniversary, but if it falls on a weekday it may be difficult for some people to attend. Consider holding it in the evening rather than the afternoon if it’s during the week, or moving the event to the closest weekend. Make sure the date is workable for everyone, and especially – if it’s a surprise – the couple being honored.
If you’ll need to book a venue for the celebration, do it well in advance; most places will allow reservations to be made up to a year prior to the actual event. It’s very important to book in advance, especially if your function will be held on a weekend and/or at a very popular location. Of course, no matter when you make your reservation, it’s always a good idea to call a few days ahead of time and double-check that your party is still on the schedule. When you’re booking caterers or restaurants, always do it at least two months prior. A good rule of thumb: the bigger the party, the more advance notice is needed.
Chances are that there are going to be people who cannot attend the celebration. If possible, consider setting up a web cam at the party so that absent friends or family members can still be a part of things. Or ask those who can’t be there to make a recording, videotape, or write a letter expressing their sentiments to the couple.
Invitations are the best way to let people know about the wedding anniversary party. You could also put a notice in your local paper; most of them have “society” or “community” sections with announcements of events such as weddings, birthday parties, and of course anniversaries. Only do this if you aren’t particular about who comes to the event!
For a larger party, it’s a nice touch to hire a professional DJ or even a band. Compile a list of songs that have significance to the couple, such as the ones played at their wedding or another tune that they consider “their” song. You can even make a list of songs that were popular while the couple was dating. Be sure to give the list to the music provider well in advance. For a smaller, more informal get-together, a stereo will work just fine. Designate someone to be the “DJ” and gather all the special songs on CDs.
If you wish to serve food, it can be a big time-saver to book a caterer (or even hold the event in the banquet room of a restaurant). Indeed, if your party is large, you’ll almost have to have it catered. Be sure to let your guests know whether they are expected to pay for their own meals or whether the dinner is covered. If you won’t be serving a meal, tell your guests so that they can grab a bite beforehand and won’t be starving and tempted to leave early. And if you’ll be serving alcohol, it’s always a good idea to have at least a few appetizers available.
An anniversary toast, whether formal or informal, is a good way to honor the couple. Traditionally, the toast is given by the person hosting the party. If there are several people collaborating, such as a couple’s children, one is appointed as the “spokesperson” for the whole group. Toasts should be relatively short and to the point, and if it will contain a joke, make sure it isn’t derogatory to either half of the couple!
It’s not absolutely necessary for your celebration to have a theme, but it’s always a nice touch, and putting the extra effort in to coordinate a theme will show the honorees how important they are. Some party supply stores sell anniversary theme packages, with all decorations included. Or you can put together your own. An example would be a diamond theme for the Diamond or 60th anniversary: buy sparkly tablecloths, stud wineglasses and cutlery with removable diamond rhinestones (faux, of course!), even hold the party in a place with a big, beautiful chandelier. For a fun party favor, you could give each guest a “diamond” necklace or bracelet – the more diamonds, the better. Whatever your party theme, it’s a good idea to personalize it by adding framed photos of the couple and their family throughout the years, or going a step further and making them a beautiful photo collage.
Whether it’s their 5th or their 50th, throwing an anniversary party for a couple is one of the best gifts they can receive. It will put a spotlight on how special their relationship is, and honor them for maintaining their intimate connection through the ebb and flow of good times and bad.