If you are very good and very lucky, in your lifetime, you will have occasion to celebrate something so special that you will want to share it with someone else. A birth... a school graduation... winning an award... landing a job... starting a romance... a wedding.
It is because it's sweeter the second (or third or fourth... etc) time around, you celebrate anniversaries of these dates. If you're looking for a gift guideline (for your significant other or close friends, somebody somewhere thoughtfully compiled the traditional gifts attached to the years.
Here is a list of traditional and modern gifts for wedding anniversaries compiled by librarians at the Chicago Public Library's Information Center. The list of traditional gifts includes alternatives in parentheses (last updated 8/97).
||Pearls, Coloured gems|
||Conveyances (e.g., automobiles)|
||Improved real estate|
||Original poetry tribute|
||Optical goods (e.g., telescope, microscope)|
||Luxuries, any kind|
||Diamonds, diamond-like stones, gold
Anderson, Charles. 'The Exchange', RQ 25 (1985): 175.
The World Almanac and Books of Facts. Mahwah, New Jersey: World
Almanac Books, 1997.
World Book Encyclopedia, 1997 ed., s.v. 'wedding anniversary'.
They're all important markers, but '50' is one of those major milestones. It's an impressive goodly number of notches to count... and yet, actuarial chances have so improved that there will probably be a few more of your friends around to con-celebrate. We are all stronger and healthier than last century's 50-year-olds and have successfully pushed back the point of mid-life a few more years.
So if you (or your friends) have a Golden Anniversary coming up, here are a few extravagant suggestions for partying up in style!
For 2 people:
'Golden Renaissance' (Venice, Italy, with all the trimmings)
Take a view suite in the revered Danielli on the Grand Canal, if you're feeling flush and classic; or sail across to the Hotel de Bains on Lido Island. Fine and fashionable, the Hotel de Bains is a beautiful, turn-of-the-century palazzo, set in gorgeously landscaped gardens and overlooking Lido beach. Totally restored in 1991, there are 191 rooms, with all the comforts of high standard with elegant decor from neoclassic to Belle Epoque.
You need to come in and out of Venice by vaporetto, but the shuttles run at convenient times, and it's always a thrill to approach Venice from the sea, just like a silken doge of yore.
Then do it all! Book a table in your favourite restaurant in the city. Spend the day combing Venice's glittering shops for just the right gilded mask to wear with your most elegant black-tie suit or sweeping ball gown. Board a gondola with a singing gondolier who will glide you under the Bridge of Sighs. (A small fortune, but you are paying for an ultra-romantic slice of history.) Alight at San Marco's piazza, send a flight of doves into the air, listen to the bells fly from the Duomo and sweep into a fabulous dinner for two in this deservedly famous, favourite, romantic medieval city.
For 2 to 12 people:
'Golden Vows' (Renew your wedding vows in a private chapel)
The Bishop's Lodge in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was once the private retreat of frontier Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. (He was the subject of Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop and Paul Horgan's biography, Lamy of Santa Fe). The Lodge was owned and operated as a resort by the family of James R Thorpe from 1918 until 1998 and is now managed by the Coastal Hotel Group. The Bishop's original garden and chapel, popular for weddings and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, continues to overlook the grounds. In 1996 The Bishop's Lodge was inducted into Historic Hotels of America.
After renewing your vows, lead your guests to a fabulous meal served al fresco in one of many possible locations. The theme needn't be South-western, but it certainly can be done right here.
A creative and flexible banquet team, headed up by the talented Stefan Mueller, will devise a meal to remember.
'Midas Meal' (Gourmet dinner)
Maybe New York's sushi standard-bearer, definitely still one of the hottest tables in town. Many items come with actual gold leaf garnish - gorgeous to look at and easy to ingest.
Thanks in part to the fact that Nobu belongs to the Drew Nieporent-Robert De Niro restaurant syndicate, the restaurant has become a little Hollywood East. There's a palpable anticipation of celebrity sightings from a crowd that's equal parts nouveau riche and seasoned, in-the-know foodie. The sleek, Japanese-accented interior - by star restaurant designer David Rockwell - is an impressively calming space.
For 12 to 20 people:
Rent an Island
There are a number of private oases available for you and your guests, replete with housekeeping and cooking support staff. There are estancias in Argentina, and villas in Italy. Villa Rio Chico on Ocho Rios, Jamaica, sleeps six to eight in the main house and two to four in the cottage.
But sometimes it's just nice to celebrate en suite on an island. Sun-drenched beaches and star-strewn nights have a certain appeal.
Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
Like a vision of Eden, Necker Island juts up from the ocean, a mile north of Virgin Gorda in the celebrated British Virgin Islands. Totally private, Necker has only one residence, a magnificent villa of breathtaking Balinese design. Beneath huge peaked roofs, this unique structure houses ten bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms and private balconies that offer sweeping vistas of the sea and neighbouring islands. Two traditional Balinese guesthouses, one with its own swimming pool, sit nestled in exquisite surroundings with romantic views. Recreational facilities abound - sailing, water-skiing, wind surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving and fishing.
In addition, there are helicopter transfers from and to nearby airports for groups staying five nights or more, launch transfers for groups staying less than five nights, all meals and drinks (including alcoholic beverages), staff of 18, two freshwater pools and two Jacuzzis, a floodlit tennis court with equipment, 12 luxurious bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, wind surfers, laser sailing dinghies, water skiing, snorkelling equipment, fishing equipment (not deep-sea), two underwater Sea Sprints, launch trips to other islands in BVI (excluding Anegada), one-day yacht charter for groups staying five nights or more, video, book and music libraries, full-sized snooker table, board games (children's books and games) and work-out equipment.
For 20 to 50 people:
'O! Cirque du Soleil' (Send in the Clowns!)
Buy out a section of the show and proceed to a lavish dinner afterwards, in one of the Hotel Bellagio's many fine restaurants. You and your guests will love this!
Those of you who have seen one or more of the other editions of the Cirque du Soleil know precisely how fabulous and magical this experience can be. It is a feast for the senses ... and while there are no wild animals, the performances that combine physical and aesthetic skills are unforgettable.
There are many road shows of Le Cirque, but there is only one special production anchored in Las Vegas. In fact, the Bellagio has built and accommodated a very special water tank/theatre for 'O!'
'O!' is directed by Franco Dragone and features 74 performers from around the world in a water-themed production.
Theatre at Bellagio: 888-488-7111
For 50 to 1000:
'Gold Diggers' - (Gold Panning in California)
Here's something fun, if you're planning a big event for a lot of people!
The Ironstone Winery is right in the heart of Gold Rush Country. In fact, it is modeled after a ninteenth-century gold stamp mill - a process that was used in the gold rush to extract gold from rock and quartz. The winery now produces nearly a quarter of a million cases of wine, brandy and grappa.
It has a Heritage Museum and Gallery .... with a fascinating display that depicts the rich history of gold and viticulture in the Sierra Foothills. They are especially proud of the 'Ironstone Crown Jewel', a 44-pound crystalline gold specimen.
You have to be there to appreciate the way the Kautz Family proprietors have used their sprawling property. As one of the largest grape growers in the State of California, they own over 4200 acres of wine grapes, located in the gently sloping hills and delta-influenced region of Lodi/Woodbridge and in the diverse soils of the Sierra Foothills. They also own the largest plantings of Cabernet Franc in the United States.
There is a special events co-ordinator who can help you plan your blowout ... from a picnic catered by a private pond, or a banquet in the limestone caverns under the winery, or maybe a private concert in the 2500-seat outdoor amphitheatre.
Where To Go
Hotel Des Bains
Lungomare Marconi 17, Venice Lido 30126
Tel: +41 52 65 921; Fax: +41 52 60 113
Rooms 172; Suites 19
Nearest Airport: Marco Polo Airport
PO BO 2367, Bishop's Lodge Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504
Tel: +1 505 983 6377, Toll free: +1 800 732-2240, Fax: +1 505 989 8739
105 Hudson Street (Franklin St), New York, NY 10013
Tel: +1 212 219 0500
Cuisine: Japanese, Price Range: Expensive ($31-$50), Neighbourhood: Downtown, Ambiance: Modern
Virgin Gorda Island
Villas of the Caribbean - +1 800 832 2302
'O' Cirque de Soleil
(Recommended viewing: nine years and older)
Venue: Theatre at Bellagio, Las Vegas, Nevada
Tel: +1 888 488 7111
The Ironstone Winery
1894 Six Mile Road in Murphys, California 95247
Tel: +1 209 728 1251, Fax +1 209 728 1275