In today’s world, long marriages are rare. Divorces have been commonplace that sometimes little stock is put into those couples that have stood the test of time. There are, however, couples that make it through and for those, a proper celebration is in order. Check out this post on anniversary party planning part 1 for ideas if you want to honor a special couple who have reached a marriage milestone.
Once a couple reaches fifteen years of marriage, their children frequently begin to celebrate the union of their parents and plan special dinners or family parties for them. By the time they reach the twenty-fifth, the grown children may make the arrangements, but it is perfectly correct for the couple to do so themselves. When a couple does not have children, close friends sometimes prepare the celebration. Fiftieth-anniversary celebrations are usually planned by the family of the couple. Some couples who marry late in life may feel that they will never reach their golden anniversary and ask whether they may have a big celebration on their thirty-fifth or fortieth. Of course, they may! There is nothing magical about the fiftieth, and a couple may celebrate any anniversary they choose. It is tradition only that makes the fiftieth the big “one.”
If an older couple is not up to any party at all, a lovely thing to do is to arrange a card shower. A daughter, son or friend sends out cards saying that the parents’ anniversary will be celebrated by a card shower and inviting the guest to “attend” by sending a card. No other gift is expected, but the couple will be delighted with the messages of love and congratulations carried in the cards.
Decide on what type of celebration you would like to have to honor the couple—small family gathering at home or a large party in a special venue. Knowing the type of party you’d like to give will help you determine a budget, an appropriate location, and the number of guests you can invite. The budget, based on pledged contributions from all the participating family or friends of the honorees, will dictate everything else you can do in your planning.
Start by selecting a theme to give your party a focus for the invitations, color scheme, decorations, menu and activities. The theme can be associated with the marriage of the couple or their interests. The choice of location may be dictated by availability on the selected date, cost, size, facilities for seating, cooking, drink service, and parking, connection to the couple or the theme. Once these decisions are made, then choices of invitations, party supplies, decorations, food, and other details are much easier to finalize.
When it is convenient, the party should be given on the actual date of the anniversary. But should the couple prefer to have it on a Saturday night, for example, it is perfectly all right to move the party from the actual date forward or back a few days. If the husband or wife is ill or absent at the time, an anniversary may be celebrated several weeks after the true date. When the illness or the absence is prolonged, it is preferable to celebrate the anniversary the following year. There is no rule that says one must recognize the twenty-fifth instead of the twenty-sixth.
If the party is a dinner or a small reception, the guests are primarily family members of the wedding party and closest friends. If it is to be a large reception or an open house, the list may include business acquaintances, church, temple and club members—and in very small communities, everyone in town.
Even if the honorees are in good physical shape, some of their friends may not be. Find out if you need to make any special accommodations, such as ensuring wheelchair access. You may also want to schedule the bash on the early side so that everyone can have a great time and still get home at a decent hour.
Once you’ve decided on a budget, date, guest list, a location and a theme, you want to choose the invitations. The form of invitations depends entirely on the degree of formality of the party. They may range from an informal telephone call to an engraved “third-person” invitation. In between lie the most common forms—handwritten notes or necessary information written on an informal or party invitation. Formal custom invitations for a twenty-fifth anniversary are often bordered and printed in silver; those for a fiftieth, in gold. Creative photo invitations can be ordered from local or online print shops.
For handmade invitations, scan an old wedding picture of the guests of honor onto your computer. Print off the invitations in black and white with the picture on the front. Lightly add some color to the photo with colored pencils. Print the details of the party on the inside of the invitation. You might also download pictures of historic or current famous couples and put your information in speech bubbles coming from their mouths; then photocopy your original for your invitees. You might create on the computer an invitation that looks like a wedding invitation—if it looks like the couple’s original one, all the better!
If your gathering is to be intimate in size and you are willing to hand-deliver the invitations, you can attach the party details to objects like plastic champagne glasses, bride and groom figurines, doves, hearts or white bells, small framed pictures of the couple or wedding favors. You can also tie the invitation to the traditional themes for each anniversary—for example, a silver bell for the 25th or a gold-framed photo for the 50th.
Be sure to read my post, Anniversary Party Planning Part 2, next Monday to learn more about hosting a milestone event for your special married couple