A few weeks ago my family celebrated a very special occasion – my nan and grandad’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary – 60 years of marriage, the idea is actually a bit mind-blowing when I think about it. We wanted to do something to celebrate and rather than go out for a meal or something, we decided to have a family celebration at home.
I spent a long time thinking about how to make things special and did lots of research on Pinterest but I just couldn’t find a lot out there that was aimed at smaller wedding anniversary celebrations rather than big parties or weddings. Rather than being all narrative, I thought I’d break down a few of the things we did whilst hopefully avoiding being all Pippa Middleton (if you want to have a party then you’ll have to invite some people….).
Easy peasy food
If you’re planning a celebration at home then try and make things as easy for yourself as possible by not having to do everything on the day. Rather than a sit-down meal, opt for a buffet or, as we did, afternoon tea. We made sandwiches on the morning, scones were bought rather than made and we had a cake stand full of goodies from Konditor and Cook and Marks & Spencer.
Because we were doing everything at home and have limited space in our house, we set everything up in the kitchen, we turned the kitchen table up against a wall, blutacked up a crepe paper backdrop (it turns out that my sister has excellent crepe paper skills) and then just brought through the food to the dining room as and when it was needed.
My nan and grandad have a set of Royal Doulton china (Rondelay pattern – the one in the front in the photo above on the right) from the 1970s that basically sits in the cupboard and which I’d never even seen. It’s not that they’re particularly precious mostly because it needs hand-washing and so instead they use a set of crockery that can go in the dishwasher. Given that there’s not much more of a special occasion than a diamond wedding anniversary (let’s face it, the Queen isn’t dropping around for tea any time soon), we decided to borrow it for our afternoon tea. Rather than borrow their full set, we decided to mix it up half and half with my mum’s Royal Doulton set (in Pastorale, above photo on the left) that she had when she got married in the 1980s and which sits in a cupboard for exactly the same reason – it needs hand-washing. We thought it would be a nice touch to have special crockery from two different generations and it gave us enough plates for all our guests. Maybe one day I’ll have my own set of Royal Doulton that sits in a cupboard! Although having said that, we must be a Royal Doulton family as I have the Royal Doulton 1815 range, but do actually use it.
Keeping it on theme
Of course, big number balloons are a must and we bought ours from a local balloon shop the day before and luckily the helium held up until the next day, equally we managed to avoid getting them trapped in the car door on what was one of the windiest days of the year. I also cracked out my beading equipment and made wine glass charms. They’re surprisingly easy to make, you can buy the wine glass charm wires online and then it’s just a case of opening out the bend in the wire, threading on crystals (I used Swarovski Crystal 4mm Bicone Beads in Violet and Tanzanite along with a few others I found in my bag of beads) and number charm before bending the end of the wire back again.
Rather than putting one big jar of jam into smaller pots to share out, I found a selection box of Tiptree jams and marmalade which meant that everyone could pick their own flavour and have their own little pot. The selection box included a whole range of jams, from your standard strawberry to more exciting flavours like raspberry with cassis. I kept the non-scone jams and marmalades aside for our own future use (and in fact dug into the apricot with armagnac at 5.30am on Brexit morning as I struggled to digest the news, the jam was at least lovely).
I made little covers for the jams using small lilac gingham cotton and a pair of pinking shears (a bit of advice, you need to make the circle much bigger than you think to allow for the excess fabric that comes down around the lid, I cut one that I thought was big enough, it really wasn’t). I secured them with childrens’ hairbands that I found in Sainsbury’s in various pastel shades, including lilac and white. I also produced little personalised labels for the jars, which I stuck on the opposite side to the flavour label. I just used large address labels and cut them down to size (last name photoshopped out for privacy, which is why it’s slightly off-balance in the photo).
We decided that our regular Colin the Caterpillar birthday cake wasn’t quite going to cut it (nor was the Giant Colin the Caterpillar cake), so I was on the lookout for something special. I mean, how often does one have something this big to celebrate?!
I couldn’t find anything from the regular shops that was really special enough, so decided to find someone who would make something for us. A bit of internet research led me to Starry Delights, a cake company based near Newark, Nottinghamshire run by the super talented Yili who makes both celebration cakes and wedding cakes. I fell in love with one of her celebration cakes in her gallery, a simple pink cake topped with roses and asked whether she might be able to do a similar version in lilac (my mum and I decided pink was possibly a tad girly). Luckily she had availability for our date. It turned out beautifully, better than I could have hoped and, it even fit perfectly on my cake stand.
When I found out our numbers were increasing a bit, I asked whether the cake could be made slightly bigger than I’d initially asked for as I was concerned that we might not have enough cake, Yili did try to reassure me that there would be enough, I didn’t listen, reasoning that even if there was too much that it would definitely get eaten (we like cake). It turns out that we really would have had enough cake with the smaller size as these babies are deep – four layers of cake (vanilla) with our choice of buttercream (lemon) and preserve (raspberry). I took enough home to keep me in cake for a week. Amazing. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Starry Delights cake if you’re in the Nottinghamshire area and looking for a special cake.
To keep everyone entertained whilst they got settled and we sorted out drinks and the food, I bought little favours for everyone – lottery scratchcards. Inside Lucky in Love lottery ticket holders I stuck in a lottery scratchcard (purple to fit the general colour theme) along with a shiny 5p I blutacked in so that nobody was struggling to find something to scratch off the card with. I tucked them into Diamond Wedding Anniversary napkins (folded using a method I found on Pinterest).
It kept everyone occupied and although my nan and grandad have been lucky in love, they definitely weren’t lucky on the lottery. Oh well, for richer for poorer.
My nan and grandad live just five minutes from my mum and so she was able to find a time when they were out when she could steal my great-grandma’s version of their wedding album so that my sister could take scans of some of the photos so we could use them for our celebration.
My mum also dug around in her box of random photos that never made it into the photo albums and found photos from over the decades, from my mum being little right through to really recent photos. We displayed them around the room pegged to string. It’s a nice way to relive some memories and laugh at what everyone used to look like.
Then and now
Of course we had to have a photo of the cutting of the cake, but it was only when I’d taken it that I realised the similarity to the photo of my nan and grandad cutting their wedding cake. Totally unintentional but very cool. If you have a great old photo of the happy couple, it’s definitely worth considering whether you can replicate it.
I’m not a natural party planner but I hope it was a nice afternoon for our guests. I got a super sweet email from my grandad afterwards (with some help from my mum I suspect). Any foolproof party planning tips you have though, send them my way!
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