A half-joking question from one of my November brides about writing her thank you notes set off an interesting conversation on the Facebook page. Is it bad form to outsource writing thank you notes for your wedding gifts? Also, I’m seeing fewer thank you notes written overall. Would outsourcing this task get more of them sent? The Facebook consensus says suck it up and get to it.

I think I wrote my first thank you note when I was 5 or 6 years old. It wasn’t an option in our house. It was a requirement to acknowledge any and all gifts with a prompt handwritten note. I’ve written about the importance of thank you notes here before and I will continue to. It’s simple really. A proper thank-you note need only be a few lines long and has 5 basic parts:

  1. Greeting
  2. Thanks
  3. Mention how the gift will be used
  4. A personal message or suggestion to see them soon
  5. Additional thanks and your names

For example:

  1. Dear Aunt Francis,
  2. Thank you so much for the antique silver tea set you gave us for our wedding. It is just beautiful and Andy and I appreciate all of the care that went into restoring the set to its original beauty.
  3. A place of honor has been reserved for it in our dining room and I can’t wait to host my first real tea party.
  4. We plan on inviting you over for dinner — and to admire our tea set — as soon as we get settled in.
  5. Thank you so much again. Love, Kelli & Andy

You’re supposed to get thank-yous out for gifts received before the wedding within two weeks of their arrival; after the wedding, within a month after you return from the honeymoon. Why? Sending it promptly allows your guest to know not only that their gift was appreciated but also that it was received and not lost in transit.

Email just will not do. Handwritten is the only way to go. From one of my favorite books, “The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners” by Jodi R. R. Smith:

Social networking sites, electronic greeting cards, and well wishes sent via email are great ways to let someone you rarely keep in touch with know that you were thinking, however briefly, of them. Yet an electronic [greeting] from someone in your close social circle or immediate family member will have an effect exactly opposite the one you’d hoped to elicit. Instead of showing the person you cared, it will communicate that you chose to take the path that required the absolute least amount of effort.

Fine points and other thoughts:

Your personalized thank-you notes should have your name(s) on them, never the words “Thank you.” If you choose, you can have your married name, monogram or duogram on the note but you shouldn’t use notes with your married name on them until after the wedding. If you must monogram, get some notes with your maiden name or initials and some with your married name or initials so you have notes to send for gifts received before and after the wedding.

  • 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
  • Note for a gift chosen from your 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
  • Note for a wedding gift you really didn’t like:
    Dear Winona,
    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

When writing your thank-you notes, don’t forget to think beyond the tangible gifts. During this busy wedding time, many people are going out of their way to support you, help you with the planning, and host events in your honor. Be sure to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of these friends, family members, vendors, and others who are contributing to making your day perfect for you.

4 Comments on Please say thank you

  1. Lyndsay
    October 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm (6 years ago)

    An excellent post, with very easy to follow instructions for how to write an appropriate thankyou – truly an (almost) lost art. Thank YOU Kelli!

    • kelli
      October 7, 2011 at 10:58 am (6 years ago)

      I’m glad you liked it, Lyndsay. Thank you!

  2. Sarah Spano (Hip Ink)
    October 8, 2011 at 3:37 pm (6 years ago)

    Kelli, just saw this post – fantastic discussion on Thank Yous and such great suggestions. Hopefully this will encourage brides to not forget about their thank you notes!

    • kelli
      October 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm (6 years ago)

      One can only hope. 🙂


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