Fifty years of marriage is an impressive feat and a 50th wedding anniversary is an important celebration.
Together the married couple has embarked on 50 years of experiences, adventures, hardships, laughter, and love. Some will have children and grandchildren together by now.
Others will have built up a community of loving friends and neighbours. All will certainly want to celebrate this half-century milestone in a special way.
If you’re tasked with planning a 50th wedding anniversary, you may be wondering where to start. How do you get the imagery, decor, and mood just right? Are there any special considerations to keep in mind? How do you plan the perfect reception?
Let’s take a closer look at how to throw an unforgettable 50th wedding anniversary reception.
The 50th Wedding Anniversary: Symbols & Traditions
The tradition of celebrating significant anniversaries with symbolic gifts can be traced all the way back to Ancient Rome and Medieval Germany. To this day, significant anniversaries carry important symbolism and traditions that help make a sentimental occasion even more special.
Gifts of Gold
All the way back in 18th century Germany, it was traditional to give silver wreaths to couples on the 25th anniversary, and gold wreaths on the 50th. Since then, these traditions have spread across the world. And though some classic anniversary gifts have changed over the years (the 4-year anniversary is appliances!), gold remains the tried-and-true, modern-and-traditional symbol of a 50th anniversary. When planning decor and invitations, keep this in mind!
Flowers: Violets & Roses
In keeping with the theme of gold, yellow roses are always a suitable flower for a 50th-anniversary celebration. Roses are a symbol of love, smell absolutely incredible, and definitely stand out from other flowers. Interestingly, the delicate and beautiful violet is also a symbolic flower for a 50th wedding anniversary.
Since it has such a rich and gorgeous colour, the violet is perfect for use as an accent during the celebration. Get creative: if you’re doing flowers on a budget, you can do wild violets in simple jars on tables — and use yellow roses sparingly.
Traditionally, the Australian government offers anniversary messages on a 50th anniversary — personal congratulations that come from the Prime Minister, Governor-General, or The Queen. You can arrange this by bringing copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates of the married couple to an electorate office of a Member of Parliament or the office of a Senator. For more information on how to arrange this, check out the details on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.
If you’re planning the party alongside the happy couple, make sure to ask them if they’d like to renew their vows — either at the reception itself, in private, or in a religious setting. Some couples still have a copy of their original wedding vows, and might need a special time to reassert those sweet vows in front of their loved ones. Others might have written new vows for the occasion. Some couples will want to exchange their rings again and share a kiss to reaffirm their love.
Top 10 To-Do’s: The 50th Wedding Anniversary Checklist
It can be very daunting to plan such an important, once-in-a-lifetime event. To break up the stress, try following a general anniversary planning checklist to keep your process organised:
- Set a budget. We know it’s hard but do this first. It will inform all your choices down the road.
- Choose a Date & Time. Ideally, choose a time that’s as close to the anniversary date as possible.
- Guest List. Your guest list will determine so much about your event — how large of a space do you need to rent? How much food do you need to order? Will it be an intimate gathering or a big party?
- Venue. Once you have an idea of how many guests will be invited, you can make choices on a venue and reserve a date, if applicable. Keep in mind that this will vary. Will you be hosting the party at home? Heading to a traditional venue? Renting a pavilion? Going to a restaurant?
- Party Theme. Going with traditional gold? More opulence? Your party theme will inform the look of the invitations, so you’ll probably want to have an idea of your aesthetic ahead of time.
- Invitations. Send out invitations to party guests!
- Catering/Food. Make sure you cater to the couple’s eating preferences, leaving enough in the budget for beverages and the all-important celebratory champagne.
- Rentals. Take stock of what you need for serving food, displaying photographs, and seating guests. Do you need to rent a marquee for an outdoor party? Or a dance floor?
- Photography. Book a trusted, well-reviewed photographer to capture special memories
- Music/Entertainment. Need a DJ? A band? Some other form of entertainment? Book early!
Tips for an Amazing 50th Anniversary Party
1. Plan the 50th Wedding Anniversary Location Carefully
At the end of the day, though, the most important thing is to keep the anniversary party aligned with the tastes and desires of the couple celebrating their love. Without the proper reception site, the rest of the day isn’t going to live up to expectations.
Think carefully before making a decision, and consider personal taste. Would they rather have their party held at a more formal event hall? Would they be more comfortable celebrating the party in a rustic setting, like a renovated barn? A pavilion near the beach? A restaurant with very close friends? Outdoors on a beautiful piece of property. Whatever the case, do your best to deliver the experience that would be rewarding for their personal tastes.
2. Carve Out Time for Speeches & Toasts
As a culture, we gather and celebrate around food. So, while it makes sense that you’re going to be spending time planning the sequence of cocktails, dinner, and dessert — it’s equally important to carve out time for speeches and toasts.
Though it’s fine if someone wants to give an impromptu speech, you may want to reach out to certain individuals ahead of time. For example, if the original maid of honour and best man are available, they could deliver a heartfelt speech. Try to coordinate this with champagne for a classy and unforgettable experience.
3. Get Nostalgic with Music & Dancing
The world was very different fifty years ago from a cultural, political, musical and artistic perspective. Although you definitely want to keep the reception modern in many ways, it’s a great idea to dip into the past for some inspiration. What sort of music was all the rage back then? If you can find a song that the married couple loved in their youth, add it to the playlist or ask the band to play it.
What about dances that were popular the year they were married? Incorporating nostalgic reminders can be an incredible way to get everyone involved. Make sure you plan ahead of time with ensuring an adequate dance floor for your guests.
4. Go Gold with Decor
Though you’re welcome to get creative with the decor, you can easily stick with gold accents for the 50th wedding anniversary. It’s traditional, classic, and beautiful. And with some creativity, it doesn’t have to be inordinately expensive.
Here are some quick ideas for gorgeous yet simple decor:
- Consider gold ribbons around white serviettes, or use gold serviettes
- Use gold table runners
- Consider copper-wire twinkling lights if you’re planning an evening or outdoor reception
- Get gold organza chair sashes
- Paper plates with gold accents and metallic cutlery
- Crystal glassware is incredibly elegant, (and highlights the natural gold colour of champagne!)
- Consider metallic gold balloons tied to chairs
- Light up each table with gold votive candles
If you’re wondering which colours to incorporate with gold accents, try to consider the tastes of the couple you’re planning for. Do they have a favourite colour? Or simply consider some colour palettes you like. For example, navy blue looks stunning with gold, as does blush pink. And for table settings, remember that white china goes with absolutely everything.
5. Photographs & Guestbooks
Whatever you do, don’t forget photographs for the anniversary reception. Ideally, you should have an entire table set up in your party’s thematic colours, with gorgeous gold accents, highlighting photos from the couple’s long marriage. Of course, a large framed photo of the original wedding is always a breathtaking centrepiece, as are other sentimental pictures: photos of both as children, photos from a honeymoon, photos with children and grandchildren, and photos from other anniversary celebrations.
You might want to incorporate a guestbook experience. Ask guests to write down memories, reminisces, and hopes for the future. It will make an incredible keepsake for the couple.
You Can Plan the Perfect 50th Wedding Anniversary Party
It may seem daunting to plan such a special occasion, but you’re more than capable of pulling off something incredible. With your checklist in hand, an understanding of what the married couple expects from your party, and some careful planning, you can create an absolutely stunning 50th wedding anniversary party!