Celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a party is common, but many people don't know the proper etiquette for such an event. Whether you're hosting your own 25th wedding anniversary party, that of a loved one or simply attending one, follow proper etiquette guidelines when it comes to invitations, money, gifts and general planning to enjoy the occasion rather than cause someone to feel bad.
Begin planning the silver anniversary celebration by setting a budget. Determine the formality of the party, who to invite, where to host the party, the food, cake and other details of that nature. Proper etiquette states guests should not pay for any part of the party, such as their own meal, but some anniversary celebrations are arranged in such a manner that it is acceptable. Host the party in a restaurant if you plan to have your guests pay for their own meal and word your invitation in a way that lets them know they are invited to join in the celebration. Include a menu card from the restaurant including prices that you have agreed upon.
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Surprise parties are common for milestone anniversaries, such as the 25th, but they should be done in a way that won't inconvenience or embarrass the couple or guests. Arrange for the guests to show up properly dressed, and in good spirits, rather than putting them in an awkward situation. For example, invite the couple to a restaurant, and let the guests be a surprise.
Invitations should reflect the formality of the party. Formal 25th anniversary parties ideally have formal invitations, printed or engraved, similar to wedding invitations. Names, dates, times and streets should be spelled out in their entirety, without abbreviations. Address the envelopes by hand, in your best handwriting. Informal invitations can be fill-in-the-blank or handwritten cards, and abbreviations are acceptable.
Never make any mention of gifts of money in the invitation, unless it is a note stating, "No gifts please." For formal invitations, this should be printed on an insert, whereas a handwritten note at the bottom is customary for less formal affairs.
Send invitations out at least six weeks before the party, and note any special instructions such as advising guests of a surprise party. Consider save-the-date cards six months before the event if it falls around major holidays when most people make plans.
Gifts are typically not required of guests for 25th anniversary parties, and should never be solicited. Guests can bring gifts if they wish, although a simple card is most appropriate if the invitation states, "No gifts."
Money trees or collections are common practice in some communities, but it is rude to solicit money openly or ask on the invitation. Spread any desire to build a fund, such as for a vacation, via word-of-mouth.
Gifts should be opened after the event, or in a private manner out of respect for any guests who don't bring one. Always record who gave what, and send timely, handwritten thank-you notes.
Dress and behave in a manner that's respectful to the couple and reflects the formality of the party. Never gossip or air any "dirty laundry" as the event is to celebrate the 25-year union of the couple. Bite your tongue, or stay home if you have nothing pleasant or uplifting to contribute. Avoid making any conversation about you, or anyone else other than the couple.
Relax and enjoy the party thrown in your honor. If your children, parents, siblings or friends are planning a spectacular event in your honor, but you feel it's too much, gently let them know you'd prefer an intimate celebration.