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How to Plan an Anniversary Celebration

The further you are from your actual wedding day, the more there is to celebrate! An anniversary is a big deal. Every year you spend with your partner is a good time to remind yourself why you love them so much. Whether it's for a first or 71st-anniversary celebration, we've got the advice you need to help you put on a great party.

Part 1: Planning

Set your budget

Is it for you or someone else? Every party comes with an element of cost and it’s useful to know how much you have to spend before you do any other form of planning. There are three main things that affect the price of your party:

  • Venue - Are you having your party indoors or outdoors? Do you need to hire a venue or are you going for a more intimate event at home? Does your celebration clash with any major holidays that would bump up venue prices?
  • Food - Are you planning a party during a regular mealtime? If so, food needs to be provided. You can cut costs by running a post-lunch party or by hosting a potluck dinner.
  • Drink - An evening event with a free bar can really start to add up, so consider switching to a pay bar. The alternative is to ask guests to bring their own if you’re hosting at home.

Remember, you can put on an amazing party no matter how big your budget. It isn't the monetary value that makes your celebration so special, it's the thought, effort and the act of gathering people together in recognition of your milestone that will make everyone enjoy themselves.

See who can help

If you’re planning a party for your parents, then your siblings and their children or other extended family members may want to be involved, both with their time and money.

The more people who get involved, the more skills you have to tap into. When you enlist people to participate in the party preparations, also ask how they prefer to be involved. Just because someone is an accountant by day, that doesn’t mean they want to be holding the party purse strings — this might be their opportunity to unleash an inner-chef!

You may not need to go for a full-on party planner service, but you might still seek some assistance whether that’s with entertainers or serving staff rather than doing everything DIY. If you are opting to be strictly DIY, be sure to assign roles to interested friends and family members ahead of time, to help the party flow as smoothly as possible.

Type of celebration

For the first nine years of marriage, most couples spend their anniversary as a personal celebration between them. Once the double digit marker is achieved, it’s about bringing friends and family together. Naturally, each year of marriage is tied to a traditional gift theme or material that could also be fun to apply to a party event.

  • 10th -Tin (or aluminum)
  • 20th - China
  • 30th - Pearl
  • 40th - Ruby
  • 50th - Gold
  • 60th - Diamond

Choose a date close to the anniversary. It doesn’t have to be the exact date, or even the exact month if it affects guest numbers dramatically. If you’re wondering about the time of day, afternoon may be the most popular option with the widest number of guests, although you may also want to spread out into the evening for those who want to continue the celebration.

Part 2: Preparation

  1. Assemble your guest list
    The older people get, the harder this is as they will have moved away and have updated contact information. If you find this to be an issue for you, try and use each guest as an avenue into other guests.
  2. Send out invites
    Again, this isn’t easy for certain generations who aren’t on social media, or even online at all. Plan early to give yourself time to connect with everyone.
  3. Accommodation
    If people are traveling a long distance, get a suitable and affordable hotel blocked out. Most will be happy to do this if you can guarantee them a certain number of guests.
  4. Transport
    Be prepared to arrange some pickups from local airports or train stations. You may need to rope in a few family members to help if you want to save on taxi fares.
  5. Food and drink
    If you’re not going for a formal sit-down meal, aim to serve finger food that can be eaten in a bite or two. People love to talk at anniversaries and they don't want to worry about dripping sauces as they do.
  6. Music
    Go for a mix of nostalgic classics and modern favorites so there’s something for everyone. A DJ might be the best option to take the playlist responsibility out of your hands. See if you can find out what the couple’s first dance was to add to the mix.
  7. Entertainment and activities
    An entertainer such as a magician suits all ages, while if you have a lot of kids you might want a face painter or bounce house to keep them occupied. A photo ‘guess the year game’ featuring the happy couple is a lovely personal touch you could organize.
  8. Decoration
    Keep it simple and focus on the guests of honor, not obsessing too much over the presentation. Whether you’re at home or a venue, combine purchased items with some personalized touches to make it a really special event.
  9. Weather contingencies
    Think about how the day might pan out if there’s a downpour — do you need a canopy tent to protect your food and guests? That may also be useful in the blazing sunshine to give people some shade.

Part 3: Buildup

Get messages from absentees

Not everyone will be able to make it to the event itself. A nice touch to include invited guests, regardless of their ability to attend is to request short videos or favorite photos for a montage from old friends, ex-coworkers, and family who live out of area or overseas.

Put a gallery together

Older family photos or videos may be on formats requiring converting into digital files, but any photos or video clips of the wedding would be something everyone will appreciate.

Arrange some short speeches

You don't want speeches to  take over the party, but a few people sharing heartfelt memories and thoughts   for the couple can create lasting memories to be cherished, until the next milestone anniversary celebration. You may want to factor in a short speech by the couple themselves too, although if they haven't got anything prepared, be on your toes ready to provide a smooth out for them.

Part 4: On the day

  1. Send a reminder
    If there are any last minute details to share, send out a text message so everyone has the necessary info.
  2. Give the venue the once-over
    Whether it’s at home or in a venue, walk in as if you were a guest to test the moment of entry.
  3. Put out a guestbook
    This will usually live on the gift table. These days many so many fun and interesting alternatives to the traditional guest book exist. Try to find something that fits the life and style of the couple of honor.
  4. Make everyone feel welcome
    Make sure you know everyone who arrives so you can make introductions. Take their coat, give them a drink, or point them in the right direction, and make them feel at home.
  5. Let people know when it’s over
    Hopefully people will be having so much fun they may not notice the time! You can subtly draw an end to your party by giving out gifts or turning the music down.

Part 5: Once it’s over

Send thank you notes

It would be nice to send your guests something both from the party organizer, and the people who had the anniversary. This could be a generic message or a more personal individual note, depending on the numbers of people at your party.

Sort out a photo album

Get all the memories from the event printed in a book and present it as a final anniversary gift. It’ll be something for them, and you, to look back on when another landmark anniversary rolls around.