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Writing Wedding Thank You Notes

Thank you notes are required

Thank you notes need be sent out in a timely manner

Thank you notes must be handwritten by the bride or groom

The giving or showering of wedding presents has become such an automatic response in our society that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that, in reality, wedding gifts are NOT mandatory. No gesture of generosity is. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true. While the giving of gifts may be an option, the sending of thank you notes isn't. Thank you notes are mandatory.


Thank you notes need to be sent to anyone who gives you a gift. This includes gifts of time and assistance, so the members of your wedding party -- bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, maid/matron of honor, etc. -- should receive a note. Typically their contribution is so central to the success of the wedding that it's customary to give them a thank you gift. Notes also need to be written to any service provider whose services you were happy with, such as organists, caterers, florists, musicians, etc. And don't forget to thank those who volunteered to provide a wedding task for you, like a family friend who helped plan the wedding, your mother's cousin who decorated the cake, or your aunt Dorothy who did the flower arrangements.


Keep in mind that separate thank you notes must be sent for multiple gifts from the same person. If you are lucky enough to receive an engagement gift, a shower gift, and a wedding gift from a single person, then he or she deserves a separate note for each gift.....especially since the giving of those gifts will be spread out over a broad space of time and the gift giver is entitled to a timely response for each one.


If you receive one gift from a group of people, you only have to send one thank you note to thank the entire group.


There are 2 styles of thank you cards.......photo insert and blank inside. The photo design style is wonderful to share a photograph with family and friends from your big day. There is a blank area inside to write a nice, detailed note of thanks for the givers thoughtful gift.



Thank You Notes Need to be Sent Out in a Timely Manner

First, since it's one of the most critical points of etiquette, let's define "timely manner".


The couple-to-be should send out a thank you note within two weeks for a gift received before the wedding. It cannot be stressed strongly enough how critical it is to keep up with thank you notes for the presents you get before the big day. Staying on top of these notes is one of the most effective tools you have to not feeling overwhelmed. Of course, it varies greatly, but some couples receive up to half of their gifts before the wedding. This can be a make or break issue when trying to get your thank you notes out on time. If you have 300 guests, and half of them send you the gifts before the wedding, that's 150 thank you notes you can get out of the way beforehand. That reduces the number of notes owed after the wedding to 150. Obviously, getting that amount of notes out in the required amount of time is much more manageable than 300. Don't fall behind !!


Some experts claim that the bride has one month after returning from her honeymoon in which to send out thank yous for all the gifts given at the wedding. Other experts feel that 3 months is much more reasonable. Somewhere between the two seems to be the best compromise. Certainly try to get the notes out within 1 month if at all possible. This will be easier if you've planned a small wedding of 150 guests or less, or receive a large number of presents before the wedding. It's easy to feel as if this one month requirement is more in line with 30 or 40 years ago, when many brides returning from their honeymoons were faced with far fewer limitations on their time. While one month is a noble goal to aim for, most brides return to full time jobs where work has been piling up for two weeks while they were away on their honeymoon. Or perhaps they need to leave immediately on a business trip. In these cases, the one month time frame can seem almost impossible and three months makes more sense.


That being said, it is recommended that you prioritize your thank you note writing. Write notes to those guests that you know will be calling your mother or mother-in-law in exactly one month in order to complain (sometimes gleefully) that they have yet to receive a note. Distant relatives or friends of your parents whom you don't know well and don't see very often should also be at the top of your list.


Prioritizing your list of who to send to first does two things... It allows you to get notes out right away to those people who are most likely to see a late note as a breach of etiquette and it allows you to save the easiest for last.


Most experts agree that a couple has 3 months in which to reply with a thank you note for gifts received after the wedding


Gift Acknowledgement Cards

If you have a wedding for 400 or more guests, it will be nearly impossible to get thank you notes out in a timely manner. Some brides have such demanding work or study schedules they know they'll need every minute of their 3-month time allotment. In such instances, you may wish to consider gift acknowledgement cards. These are pre printed cards you buy when you place your order for wedding stationary. Basically they acknowledge the receipt of a gift. This keeps the gift giver from having to worry about whether or not the gift has arrived, but it is NEVER a substitute for a true thank you note, which you will write as soon as you can. You may need to order some of these pre-printed cards with your maiden name on them, and an additional supply with your married name.

Here is a couple of examples to illustrate ways in which you can handle gift acknowledgement cards:


Lindsay Anne Wellington
Wishes to thankfully acknowledge
The receipt of your wedding gift
And will be sending you a personal note
of thanks at a later date.


Mr. & Mrs. Daniel A. Bergen
Gratefully acknowledge the receipt of your wedding gift.
A personal note of thanks will be sent at a later date.


Lindsay Anne Wellington and Stephen D. Cantrell
Wish to thankfully acknowledge
The receipt of your wedding gift
And will be sending you a personal note of thanks at a later date.


Thank You Notes Must Be Handwritten by the Bride or Groom

When expressing your heartfelt gratitude for a particular gift, it's important that the recipient(s) of the thank you note be aware that you've taken some time and effort in letting them know how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness. It's also important to note that, increasingly, the groom is stepping in and sharing the responsibility of writing thank you notes. This seems especially appropriate when the gift comes from someone on his side of the family, his close friends, or a friend of his family that you've only met once or twice.


The best recipe for writing successful heartfelt thank you notes is to combine the key ingredients of a form letter with a sprinkling of the sentiments found in a personal letter. While you want to be able to get through that stack of waiting thank yous relatively quickly (remember the 1-3 month guideline!), you also want each recipient to feel as if the note were written especially for him or her.

That's it....it's that simple


The Components of a Thank You Note

  1. Address the giftgiver by name & include a salutation

  2. Include the words "thank you" in your acknowledgement of the gift. Be sure to mention the gift by name and be very specific about it (and very, very correct). It's also important to note in your acknowledgement who is thanking them. "John and I want to thank you for the lovely Persian rug".

  3. Say something nice about the gift, either how much you like it or what you plan to do with it

  4. Add a short sentence or two with a personal message. This might pertain to how you're settling into your new house, life, or something about your honeymoon...or just mentioning how much you enjoyed seeing them at your wedding.

  5. Signature line

  6. Optional: It's always a nice touch to have the spouse that didn't write the thank you note to add a personal P.S. in his or her own handwriting


In all actuality, it is never too late to send a thank you. Embarrassing as it may be, a year later is better than never. It's always better to send a tardy note to Aunt Martha than to feel as though you need to avoid her at family gatherings because you still "owe her a thank you note". If you make it charming enough, she'll most likely forgive you. Try to avoid that awkwardness, however, and get those notes out within 3 months



Thank You Note Thesaurus

Here are some word substitution suggestions to keep your notes from
all sounding the same...


Instead of really or very, how about:




Instead of Pretty, try:




Nice is such a non-descriptive word - how about:

superior quality


© 1983 by Dawn Gemme - Affectionately-Yours.com