The two most important things to strive for when writing thank-you notes after your wedding are sincerity and promptness. Not all gifts come wrapped in pretty paper; every gift of money, a social event in your honor, a gift of time or talent should be acknowledged in writing. Everyone who gives you a wedding present should also be acknowledged, so you should individually thank each person who contributed to a group gift. Thank people who make your wedding day special through their efforts and goodwill. Thank those people who made a long journey to be at your wedding as well as those who house or entertain your guests. Lastly, you should thank any suppliers or vendors who exceed your expectations.
Personal, handwritten notes remain the gold standard of courtesy in this age of texting, email and instant messaging, so a handwritten note shows that you actually care to take the time to write individual messages.
When writing the note, use expressions that come naturally, as though you were actually having a conversation with the person on the receiving end. Think of the people you are thanking, and come up with at least one thing that is specific to that person or couple. No matter how genuine your feelings are, it is hard to be creative and unique with each note when you have over a hundred to write, thank-you card writing requires a lot of focus, creativity and a quiet space. A tip: Look at the gift while you write, it may help inspire you!
Secondly, it should be acknowledged in a timely fashion. Unfortunately wedding stress doesn’t necessarily end at “I do” or after the flight home from your honeymoon. For a lot of couples the task of writing notes can become a real chore. A good suggestion is to start the job as soon as gifts begin to arrive, and to set a daily goal. Completing three or four notes each day doesn’t seem nearly as impossible as writing a hundred notes within a month.
You don’t need to write a lot, four or five sentences is sufficient, as long as it’s thoughtful. Identify the gift, say why you appreciate it, why it has a personal meaning for you, and how you’re going to use it. If it was a gift of money, how do you plan to spend the money? On a down payment for your first home, put it towards your honeymoon, or maybe for decorating the home you already own? The accepted standard is that your thank-you notes should be written and sent within three months of receiving each gift. If you fall behind, make every effort to send a thank you as soon as you can — but not much later than three months after the event.
Here are some key steps to success:
Know what you want your thank-you’s to look like before your wedding. If you’re having your wedding stationary printed, it’s usually cheaper if you order your thank-you cards at the same time. If you’re planning on using an image from your wedding on the card, have the cards you plan on using bought beforehand. You can save money by dressing up plain cards and making your own notes!
Set up a log when you begin addressing your invitations to help keep track of the correct spelling of names, mailing addresses, and phone numbers. Use the list to record guests’ responses and, ultimately, gifts they give you. Store the information on a computer, in a binder, or on index cards.
Keep track of who gave you what:
At each pre-wedding event, including showers, write down who gave you what and keep a log of it next to their name and address. This stops any extra stress later on of trying to figure out who gave you what and how to thank guests when you can’t find out what they actually gave you.
Share the responsibility:
Divide the note-writing duty. The days when thank-yous were the sole duty of the bride are over. Today’s brides and grooms share the responsibility, which greatly decreases the time involved. Each writes to the people he or she knows best, making the notes tailored to each individual guest. One easy way to share the work is for the bride to write to her own family members and friends, and the groom to his.
Include your fiance/fiancee or new spouse in the thanks:
Just signing both of your names at the bottom of each note isnt enough, express your thanks from both of you in your message.
Three Expert Examples From The Knot:
- Sample wedding thank you note for a cash gift:
Dear Aunt Sue and Uncle Tom,
Thank you so much for your generous gift. Lila and I are saving for a new home and thanks to you, we’ll be shopping for our dream house very soon. Again, many thanks for thinking of us and for sharing our special day. Love, Derek and Lila
- Sample thank-you note for a gift chosen from your bridal registry:
Dear Elizabeth and Albert,
Thank you so much for the crystal wine goblets. We now have a complete set! Derek and I are looking forward to your next visit, when we can enjoy a drink together. Thank you again for thinking of us at this special time in our lives. Warmest regards, Lila and Derek
- Sample thank-you note for a wedding gift you really didn’t like:
Dear Winona and Leif,
Thank you for the fluorescent lava lamps. You are both so thoughtful! Every time we look at them, we will think of you and this special time in our lives. Again, many thanks for sharing our joy. Fondly, Lila and Derek
Ten Do’s and Don’ts of Thank-You Notes from Emily Post:
1. Do personalize your notes and make reference to the person as well as the gift.
2. Do remember that a gift should be acknowledged with the same courtesy and generous spirit in which it was given.
3. Do be enthusiastic, but don’t gush. Avoid saying a gift is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen unless you really mean it.
4. Don’t send form letters or cards with printed messages and just your signature; don’t use email or post a generic thank you on your wedding web site in lieu of a personal note.
5. Do promptly acknowledge the receipt of shipped gifts by sending a note right away or calling and following up with a written note in a day or two.
6. Don’t mention that you plan to return a gift or that you are dissatisfied in any way.
7. Don’t tailor your note to the perceived value of the gift; no one should receive a perfunctory note.
8. Do refer to the way you will use a gift of money. Mentioning the amount is optional.
9. Don’t include wedding photos or use photo cards if it will delay sending the note.
10. Don’t use being late as an excuse not to write. Even if you are still sending notes after your first anniversary, keep writing!