• Find out if the couple would like to renew their vows before or at the party. The honorees would have to participate in the selection of a pastor or officiant, decide if they would like to have the renewal service in a church, and what they’d like the service to include and say. This service could be the prelude to the party. In the invitation for this type of event, you might reprint the original wedding invitation.
• The couple themselves or another family member may serve as emcee(s) for the party. At dinner or at some point in a cocktail party or reception, the guests need to be welcomed as a group, and the honorees and their families need to be introduced.
Many in the audience of a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary may not know the couple’s children or grandchildren. Introduce any members of the original wedding party. This is also the time for speeches, toasts, and video or musical presentations.
• In a large bag or basket, collect symbols of the couple’s years together: a baby toy, trophies, a dog collar, a travel souvenir. Have the emcee take each item out one and one and display for the audience. Offer whimsical or nostalgic comments on these symbols of a very special marriage.
• Interview the couple as if they were on television. Keep this short—20 minutes or less. If the couple is shy, videotape this interview ahead of time. Ask questions like
o How did you meet?
o What attracted you to each other?
o What did you do on dates?
o Was there a particular song that was “yours”?
o What advice would you give to couples who are getting married today?
• When gifts are brought to the anniversary couple—as they should be, if “no gifts, please” was not written on the invitations—the opening of the packages is a feature of the party if the party is not a large dinner dance where there would be no time to do this. After everyone has arrived, or perhaps after dinner while the guests are enjoying their coffee, everyone gathers around, and the honorees open the gifts and thank the donors. One of their children, or anyone they designate, helps by taking care of the wrappings, making a list, collecting the ribbons, etc. The couple does not need to write notes later to those they have already thanked, unless they wish to do so.
• Because the event is such a memorable one, all anniversary couples enjoy having candid pictures made of their party. They are generally taken by one of the guests, although a professional photographer may be hired. These pictures, put into an album, make an ideal present for the couple, either for the anniversary itself or to celebrate an upcoming event. A picture of the whole family, including children and grandchildren, also makes a perfect anniversary gift.
• There need not be any entertainment, but a strolling musician or pianist adds a touch of romance, and he or she can be asked to play the couple’s favorite tunes, wedding music, etc. If the host wishes to hire an orchestra or provide recordings, dancing can be all the entertainment necessary.
Other activities might include some of the following:
• Retell the Wedding Story: Have the guests of honor (someone close to them) include as many details as possible. Story telling is a traditional way to pass on information from one to another and it keeps the memory alive. If there are several generations, have each tell the story from his/her own viewpoint. What details and funny things did Grandpa notice at the wedding? Ask the same questions of the siblings of the bride and groom because each person will have a different perspective.
• Gallery of Memories: Create a gallery of enlarged photos spanning the course of your honorees’ marriage and mount them in frames. Place the photos around the party venue. Once all of the guests have arrived, ask a family member to present the toast after sharing the memory of each photo present at the event.
• Couple Trivia Game: Create trivia questions about the couple for the guests to answer. Include questions like where did they met, what are their siblings’ names, where have they lived, and what positions have they held in clubs or churches. After everyone has had time to complete their questionnaire, go over the answers aloud.
• Guess the Price: Have guests work as individuals or teams to guess the prices of key products dating back to the date of the wedding. What did people pay for a gallon of milk 50 years ago? What was the price of a new Ford truck? The team or individual with the closest guesses wins; however, everyone will have fun reliving the past
• Name That Year: Visit the library and get copies of newspapers (front pages) of the date of the event, five years later, ten years later, you select the dates. Type of a list of events from the front page of each and have the guests determine what year it was. Select some newspapers with dates far apart and some close together to make it harder.
• Dancing through the Years: Not everyone likes to dance, but most like to laugh and remember. Select different types of music from different years. Have each couple pull a style of dance or music from a hat and have them perform the dance. The other couples have to determine which dance they are “attempting” If you have time, prepare music for each possible selection.
• Create a Christmas Tree Keepsake: No matter what time of year you are celebrating an anniversary for a special couple, this keepsake can be presented at the party for a new seasonal tradition to begin. First, purchase an artificial Christmas tree of any size. Gather old and present photos of family members, special events, homes, etc. Create small ornaments by mounting these photos (or copies of photos) onto our Flat or Corrugated Paper cut into stars, ovals, or any other shapes. Use a hole punch to make a hole at the top of each ornament and tie ribbon through it for hanging. Have special guests present the ornaments to the couple that night by hanging them on the tree and saying a brief word about the photos. Each Christmas season after that, the couple will be proud to display their meaningful tree in their home.
• Anniversary Bingo: Choose photos of the couple in funny poses or making funny faces. Then write sayings that go with each photo. For instance, a photo of the wife laughing uproariously could have a line that goes with it that reads, “When Stella looked at how Harry had dressed himself, she couldn’t help but _____!” Another example might be a picture of the husband smiling, with a note that reads, “Ray smiled, pretending to be asleep as Virginia attempted to __________ a second time.” These notes should be misleading and cause a few smiles to appear, but should also not reveal any private affairs. What you should be looking for are quotes that apply to stories that have been told and told again within the family. The idea is for each player to figure out which picture goes with each quote. For more fun, make sure the quotes and photos could be interchanged.
Another way to play anniversary bingo is to place pictures of different items on the card, such as a bottle of vodka, a tub of lard, a truck, a baby bottle, a bottle of soda and a bottle of beer. Fill the squares with pictures of the items and make enough copies for all the guests. The questions that correlate with the items also should be interchangeable, but should be easy for people who know the couple well enough to guess accurately. One example might be, “On December 18, 1962, there were more empty ________ bottles in the kitchen that night than there were people in the house.” People who know the couple will correlate the date with the birth of their first child. The correct answer would then be “Baby Bottles.” Each time a question is read, players are asked to cover one photo. The person who has the first bingo is then asked to uncover the pictures and announce which note went with which picture. If they covered the correct photos for each note, they win a prize. If not, the game continues. For the 25th anniversary, use silver candy coins as the bingo chips. Use gold coins for a 50th anniversary party.
• Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: Keep the hunt contained to one room or to the house or venue, and then only provide one item for each clue. This will keep the game time down to 10 to 15 minutes. The guest who finds the most clues wins the game. Clues should reflect the wedding date and other particulars about the couple. For instance, you might want to add a couple of old magazines or newspapers, dated to the year and, if possible, the date when the wedding took place. High school yearbooks are fun items to include, as well as the school colors and letters. A toy car of the couple’s first vehicle would make a great decoration on their cake, and would be the perfect addition to the scavenger hunt list.• Make a wish tree: You can use a big branch that you paint (silver or gold) and decorate with ribbons in the same color, ornaments, etc. Fill the branches with pictures of major events in the honoree’s life, people who love and cherish you as well as tickets for a trip or concert, traveler’s checks, gift cards for different restaurants, etc.
• Host an auction of items from the decade of the honorees’ marriage. Ask guests to bring inexpensive or used items to auction. For added flavor, use silver toy coins for a silver anniversary or gold coins for a 50th anniversary.
• Plant a tree to honor the marriage. Choose an oak for solidarity, a pine for the “evergreen” relationship, or a flaming red maple for burning passion. One of the honorees should make a speech; “We have been married for five years now. And in that time, our love for each other has grown, more than we could ever have imagined. We’re planting this tree tonight as a symbol of our love—living, growing, weathering all kinds of storms, and withstanding the tests of time…” When the planting is completed, someone may propose a toast: “To Dave and Amy—may their marriage continue to grow and prosper—like this tree.”
• The wedding day isn’t the only time to decorate a car. Why not decorate the car of the honored pair? Paint on the car windows with washable glass paint. Add streamers and balloons to jazz it up.