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What to Write in an Anniversary Card?

Love and marriage, love and marriage, that's how the song goes, right? Well, only 365 days later after the big day, it's time to send that happy couple an anniversary card! And it doesn't just happen once. Oh, no, my friends... when it comes to sending anniversary cards to celebrate those five, ten, twenty, or can-you-believe-it fifty years of wedded bliss, there are so many chances to do it up right, (and, of course, a few directions you may want to avoid). Take a moment to remember the very special twosomes in your life, whether it's your BFF and her sweet hubby, (Best. Wedding. Ever!), your amazing parents (awww... could they be any cuter?), or your BFF's parents, (no, this is definitely not the time to reminisce about the party she threw in their house when they were out of town). And while the just-right card is an awesome way to let those amazing couples know you not only really care about them, and, BTW, remembered a very important date in their life -- the wish, message, and sentiment you write in the card can really make their yearly day o'love way better.

Here's a few things to keep in mind about sending your anniversary wishes to the Mr. and Mrs.; you can thank me later. Wait... is it YOUR anniversary we're talking about? Keep reading. We're going to hook you up with just the right words to make your one-and-only swoon. And swooning is good.

Heavy Metal

Traditional gifts for anniversaries are traced all the way back to the Holy Roman Empire, when husbands gave their wives a crown of silver on their twenty-fifth anniversary, and a gold wreath on the fiftieth. Talk about being queen for a day! Then, much, much, later, Emily Post, etiquette and advice giver-extraordinaire, suggested anniversary gifts for each of the milestone anniversaries in her first etiquette book published in 1922. Jewelry retailers soon followed their lead and also offered lists of yearly gift pairings with corresponding gemstones. In the beginning, wedding anniversaries meant exchanging small tokens with your beloved like paper, wood, or tin, and it wasn't long until the retail business began seeing the potential of anniversary gift-giving (CHA-ching!) and turned those special occasions into as big a deal as birthdays. Not that we're complaining.

Hit the end of the page to see the traditional and modern lists if you feel inclined to send your college roommate and her husband something a little more traditional for their anniversary like a lead crystal gravy boat (3rd), a lovely selection of lace doilies (8th), or if you're feeling extravagant for an upcoming 13th wedding anniversary, that means textiles. Nothing says, "Happy anniversary, you crazy kids!" like a nice, monogrammed burlap slipcover.

Here's another way to add a lot of meaning to what you want to say to the celebrating couple: compare their love to a different thing or idea.

Keeping It Casual

So maybe the couple you're celebrating deserves all the best wishes in the world, but you're just not that close. They could be a couple you've met recently, or the parents of a college friend, or even a work colleague on your softball team. No need to get all up in their business, just compliment them in a general way, and wish them a very happy anniversary with each other. For a lighthearted direction, you might try comparing them to any fun well-known pair, like salt and pepper, or bacon and eggs, or PB&J. (Anyone else getting hungry?) Speaking of which... don't forget about a toast! "Here's to you both!" is a quick and effective wish for any casual sending occasion. Add a bottle of wine or sparkling cider, and you are officially the most-thoughtful friend ever.

Let Me Count the Ways

Here's another way to add a lot of meaning to what you want to say to the celebrating couple: compare their love to a different thing or idea. For example, "Love is like a fun and wild roller coaster... hang on and enjoy the ride!" Or do a quick search and quote a famous movie, book, or song lyric about love or marriage (do you know their taste in music?), and relate it to them personally. They'll think you're uber-clever, and you'll get major creativity points. Well played, you.

Feeling funny?

A card that makes them both laugh on their anniversary is especially welcome if you have that kind of playful, kidding-around relationship outside of cardland. Just make sure you don't go overboard! Try to avoid an, "Aren't you two tired of each other yet?" direction, or pointing out the decades of marriage that have gone by. However, looking back through the years might be fun in a sweet, time-capsule-ish way, but not in a geez- you-sure-are-old-married-people, kind of way. See the difference? Of course you do.

Relatively Speaking

Are your parents, in-laws, siblings, or grandparents having a milestone anniversary (those are the biggies like 10, 20, 25, 30, and so on...)? Go on, get sappy. You have my full permission to pour on the love and gratitude. Have they been role models for you? Tell them. Do you appreciate them more than ever, especially if they've not only been there for you, but maybe they've reached awesome grandparents status, too? Say it. Can't believe how much they mean to you as an adult and want to thank them meaningfully? Let them know. Write a letter from the heart by taking time to put your thoughts down on the inside of the card or a letter included within your card for a keepsake they will always remember. They deserve to hear why their marriage, and its longevity, is an inspiration to so many. They're going to love your card.

Print a map and track with thumbtacks and string the actual physical journey in countries, states, or cities of how your love has traveled through the years.

Memory Lane

Remember that time when...? Of course you do. Because if someone else's wedding anniversary is coming up and you're itching to send a card, chances are pretty good you were actually at their wedding. Better yet, were you in the wedding party? (You don't still have the shoes, do you? The rental place is going to want those back!) While you were dancing and clapping and eating wedding cake frosting roses, you made great memories of their special day. Pick one that stands out and tell a small story in the card to let them know their day was special to you, too. What can you remember about the way they looked at each other during their first dance? If you can take them back to that moment, they're going to love your card even more. Seriously. I'm not guessing at this.

Want More Than a Card?

Giving champagne and chocolate strawberries is a safe and solid, but been-there, done-that route. If you're looking to make an anniversary celebration one to remember, think outside the heart-shaped box.

  • Send a little gift certificate along with your card -- for music, movie tickets, or a restaurant.
  • Create a small framed poster of the twosome's birthdays and wedding days. Include children's birthdays for a sweet and artistic family gift they can hang in their home.
  • Order his and hers t-shirts of a favorite band they both love, a concert they went to or fun vacation destination.
  • Send a plant, plant a tree, or donate to a favorite charity in their name. Then, pat yourself on the back heartily for your eco-awareness and buy-local love.

OMG! Did you say it was YOUR anniversary?

Have no fear! Whether you pull out all the stops with the horse-drawn carriage, hot-air balloon ride, and fancy weekend B&B, or enjoy a simple little candlelight dinner for two cozying up at home, the keys to a happy and romantic celebration is to plan ahead and be specific and personal.

  • Go through the pictures on your computer through the years, print out a few at home, and make an easy anniversary banner, framed photo collage, or slide show, complemented with "your" song.
  • Feeling adventurous? Try a thrilling experience you two can both share that neither has tried before like ziplining through a forest canopy, a Thai cooking class, or tango class. Ooh-la-la!
  • Do you both keep ticket stubs, wine corks, or fortune cookie fortunes? Arrange them artfully in a sweet tribute to your relationship you can update continuously.
  • Write a few favorite lines of your wedding vows on a photo, print and glue them on a canvas, or print them on a large plate at a local paint-your-own-pottery place.
  • Recreate the night the two of you met, and plan a small celebration at the end of it to invite a few more of your friends in on the fun. Note: no flash mob is required, but if you're asking for opinions, those are sa-weet.
  • Print a map and track with thumbtacks and string the actual physical journey in countries, states, or cities of how your love has traveled through the years.

Traditional List

Paper (1st), cotton (2nd), leather (3rd), fruits or flowers (4th), wood (5th), candy or iron (6th), wool or copper (7th), bronze (8th), pottery (9th), tin or aluminum (10th), steel (11th), silk (12th), lace (13th), ivory (14th), crystal (15th), china (20th), silver (25th), pearls (30th), ruby (40th), and gold (50th).

Modern List

Clocks (1st), china (2nd), crystal or glass (3rd), appliances (4th), silverware (5th), wood (6th), desk sets (7th), linens or lace (8th), leather (9th), diamond jewelry (10th), fashion jewelry (11th), pearls (12th), furs or textiles (13th), gold jewelry (14th), watches (15th), platinum (20th), sterling silver (25th), diamond (30th), coral or jade (40th) and gold (50th).

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