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Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day to say “I love you.”

Although it’s probably the biggest single day for doing so, Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day married995410-289 couples can exchange hearts and flowers. Somewhere among the remaining 364 days of the year is a wedding anniversary, a special day to commemorate the day you exchanged those “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” vows.

Did you know that anniversaries have special flowers? They do! And they aren’t necessarily roses.

The second anniversary flower, for example, is Lily of the Valley. Want to wow her on your ninth anniversary? Try a Bird of Paradise. For a Silver (25th anniversary), a bouquet of iris will look quite elegant alongside the silver gifts.

For a more complete list of anniversary flowers, pick up a copy of An Anniversary to Remember. The book also offers guidance on gifts and party suggestions.

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Thirty-six and Counting

Not everyone can donate a sculpture to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Not everyone can donate a sculpture to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

A wealthy couple just donated a very large sculpture to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum as a celebration of their forty years of marriage. My husband and I just celebrated our 36th. It was nowhere near as flashy: dinner out one night and a theater outing later in the week. But we did celebrate!

Thirty-six years is a long time. I have lived almost twice as long with my husband as I did my parents. Like many long-married couples, we’ve been through a lot together, more in the last few years than in previous ones. Even though that bright October day in 1979 is long past, it doesn’t feel as though as if our wedding was all that long ago.

Your wedding day is just the first day you get to celebrate your love. Once a year, every year afterward, you get to do it all over again. Granted, you probably won’t have a crew of attendants on hand to help, and you may not be able to finance art in a public place, but you can take time out from whatever you’re doing and do something special together.

You may want a romantic celebration for just the two of you, such as a picnic on your apartment balcony. Or it could be a full-blown party with your friends with a game of touch football thrown in for fun.  If you need ideas, consult An Anniversary to Remember.


“Your wedding day is just the first day you get to celebrate your love.”

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Texting: The New String Around Your Finger

Photo courtesy L.A. Times

Photo courtesy L.A. Times

Some folks are really good about remembering important dates. Others have trouble remembering what day it is. If you’re married to a sweet someone who just can’t seem to recollect the anniversary of your wedding day, don’t despair. You have a new, modern tool at your disposal — your cell phone.

Instead of tying a string around her or his finger, send a text message. Start out with a cheery, “Good Morning! Happy Anniversary!” If you have dinner reservations, send a reminder at lunch time. Follow up with an afternoon “I love you.” Pretty hard to ignore a message like that!

Just remember to put the cell phones away when you’re together. Nothing kills romance like a candlelit dinner for two phones.

For more ideas on how to get the attention of a forgetful spouse, pick up a copy of An Anniversary to Remember.

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To Save, or Not to Save? What To Do With the Top of Your Wedding Cake

This cake box held a slice of fruitcake from a wedding in New Zealand.

This cake box held a slice of fruitcake from a wedding in New Zealand.

I was talking with a friend the other day about An Anniversary to Remember. As she leafed through the pages of the book, she said, “We saved the top of our wedding cake for our first anniversary. It was awful.”

I’ve been married for more than 35 years, but I recall that our wedding cake top was “awful,” too. The chocolate cake wasn’t too bad, but the buttercreme frosting had become somewhat rancid in the year that foil-wrapped disk occupied the freezer. The cake took a quick trip to the trashcan.

I started wondering why, where, and how this tradition of saving the cake top got started. Some say it was the Romans (somehow, everything starts with the Romans, doesn’t it?), but no one really knows for sure. What we do know is that it became a fad in 19th-Century England, and as the British do, so do the Americans.

The tops of those English wedding cakes, however, were most likely made with fruitcake, which can be soaked in brandy or rum and preserved for a long time. Many years ago, I received a portion of a cake top from a dear friend in New Zealand. It came in a cute little white plastic box with a card that presented the cake with the compliments of the bride and groom. I set it aside and forgot about it. Long after my friend’s first anniversary, I opened the box. The petrified slice of fruitcake was still there. It, too, made a quick trip to the trashcan, but I kept the card and box.

There are various methods for preserving a wedding cake, and you can find them by Googling “saving a wedding cake”. Today, you can also buy special air-tight boxes for the cake top. The idea I like best, however, is to make arrangements with you caterer to make a small replica of your cake and have it delivered on your first anniversary.

For more First Anniversary tips, order a copy of An Anniversary to Remember. I’ll even sign it for you!

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Wedding Sticker Shock

The fall wedding season is coming to end, so I took advantage of the opportunity to walk the “Unveiled” show in downtown Minneapolis yesterday.

The show was set up in two different ballrooms of the Convention Center, with a wide red carpet running down the hallway between them (Boy, do these people know how to appeal to brides-to-be!). Along the carpet were booths for disc jockeys, old-fashioned photo booths like the ones that used to be in stores like Woolworth’s, and rows of headless mannequins showing off the latest in bridal gowns. It looks like sleeves are slowly making a comeback.

I paid my $15 admission (much cheaper than a show booth!), accepted a stack of beautifully printed materials, and began to make my way through the ballrooms. Banquet tables glittered in silver and gold. More sparkly wedding gowns appeared, and tuxes. Cakes that would give the Cake Boss a run for his money. Wine, wedding cake and other delicacies were available for tasting. Dazed young men who looked as if they were barely 12 years old followed determined-looking brides as they navigated past the photographers’, caterers’ and venue booths.

I was blown away by the prices. Twenty-eight-hundred bucks for a wedding photographer to follow you around for eight hours on your wedding day. Register to win a $350 discount off your wedding flowers (My bouquet of dried flowers cost one-tenth of the discount! Of course, that was 35 years ago.) Diamond rings I was afraid to even look at.

As I wandered amongst all this splendor, I soon found my target audience: Moms. They were there in support of their daughters. The mothers of the brides and the mothers of the grooms, in league with one another, to help plan a special event. Moms who know that most of marriage comes after the ceremony. Moms: the ultimate long-term thinkers. Moms who have been invited to yet another bridal shower and need a gift, stat!

Before leaving home, I had printed out 100 bookmarks directing to Amazon.com or Etsy.com to buy a copy of An Anniversary to Remember. I approached these moms with a smile and asked if they would like a bookmark. Nearly all of them said yes and thanked me.

Within 90 minutes, I had handed out all but four of my bookmarks and I found I was starting to approach the same people again. I walked out into the warm November sunshine. As I strolled through Loring Park on my way to the bus, I hoped some of those moms would take another look at those humble little bookmarks and place an order.

In the meantime, I’ll try to recover from the sticker shock.

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Announcing the Launch of “An Anniversary to Remember”


“Getting married is easy. Staying married takes a little more effort.”

Cynthia Lueck Sowden aims to help couples celebrate the continuation of their marriages with the publication of the second edition of her book, “An Anniversary to Remember: Years One to Seventy-Five”.

Originally published in 1992, the updated version offers tips on anniversary etiquette, 45 party themes based on traditional anniversary symbols, party-planning tips, anniversary gift suggestions and instructions on how to get special greetings from the President, the Queen of England, or the Pope for celebrations of 50-year marriages and beyond.

Sowden, who recently celebrated her own 35th wedding anniversary, says the book also covers new trends such as e-vites and “save-the-date” cards.

An Anniversary to Remember is available through Amazon.com or Etsy.com/shop/BooksFromHome. A Kindle version will be released soon.