Please don’t be intimidated by the thought of writing thank you notes! If you have time to plan beforehand, you can make life easier on yourself when it comes time to expressing your appreciation to all your guests for their gifts and attendance.
When to Send Your Thank You Notes
For bridal showers and other pre-wedding events, write your thank you notes within two weeks of receiving the gifts, if possible.
For gifts received at the wedding reception, try to have them completed within 3 months of the wedding. The idea that you have up to a year to write your notes is an unfortunate fallacy!
If you really are too swamped to write your notes within these time frames, you might consider sending pre-printed cards to lets your guests know that you received their gifts and will follow up with a handwritten note as soon as possible.
Who Gets a Thank You Note?
- Guests who brought or sent gifts
- Each person who contributed to a group gift
- Anyone who provided an intangible item (like use of a car or other property) or service (homemade food, helping to decorate the reception hall)
- Bridal Shower Hosts/Hostesses
- Bridal Party
- House Party, including the Flower Girls
- Family members who read Scripture during the ceremony
- Your officiant or clergyman
- Vendors who provided exceptional service
A Few Rules…
- Thank you notes are written by ONE person and signed by the person who wrote the note.
- Only send pre-printed cards to let guests know you received their gifts and that you will follow up with a handwritten note later.
- Each gift requires its own card, even if you receive a shower gift and a wedding gift from the same person or family.
- Use dark blue or black ink since it is “more proper” for correspondence and easier to read than other colors.
- Mention each gift by name in your note.
…and a Few Tips
- Write your notes in a conversational tone, as if you were thanking the giver in person. Don’t worry about trying to dazzle your recipient with formal verse or clever quips.
- Be sure to put your new address (if you are moving) on your envelopes so that your guests will have your correct address.
- Address your thank you note envelopes at the same time as your invitation envelopes so that you will have them ready to go when the gifts start arriving.
- Don’t use White Out on your notes!
Organize your Guest List
Since most brides use a spreadsheet to organize their guests’ addresses and track their responses, it’s a good idea to add a few more columns of guest information to the list to help you when you are ready to write your thank you cards. Be sure to have a separate column for each gift you received when they were from different events such as engagement parties, showers, luncheons, or the wedding.
PenDance offers an Envelope Addressing Template that you can download to use as a starting point when preparing your address list for envelope addressing. You can add columns to this list as needed.
Be sure to ask a family member or trusted friend to be the Gift Tracker and record all the gifts you received at showers, parties, and the wedding. You might even put them in charge of your guest list spreadsheet so that they can keep it updated for you.
Some suggested columns to add to your guest spreadsheet include:
- Who invited them – the Bride, Bride’s parents, the Groom, Groom’s parents?
- Did the guests participate in the wedding? If so, what did they do?
- Which events did they attend (bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, wedding)
- Did they attend the wedding ceremony or reception?
- List the name of the gift(s) received (be specific, or include a description of it if you don’t know the name). Remember that each gift gets its own thank you note
- A column to record the date you mailed the thank you card
- Additional columns for any other details you want to remember when writing your notes
The ones who participated in the wedding planning or actual ceremony should get longer, more personal notes than your other guests. By noting who these people are on the list, you can easily sort the list and choose to write these longer notes first.
Anatomy of a Thank You Note – Sample Text
|The Salutation||“Dear Aunt Sue and Uncle Bob,”
“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Allred,”
|Make a personal remark or reference||“John and I were so happy to see you at the wedding!”
“Mary and I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of your gift.”
“David and I missed seeing you at the wedding, but we understand that you couldn’t miss your daughter’s tournament.”
“Dancing the Hokey-Pokey with you at the reception was so much fun!”
|Express your gratitude, mentioning the gift by name||“Thank you so much for the crystal decanter you gave us. It is simply stunning!”|
|Explain how you plan to use or display the gift||“It is now on permanent display in the wine bar in our den.”|
|Thank them again||“Again, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.”
“Thank you for being a part of our celebration.”
|Closing||“Warmest regards, Sarah Smith”
“Yours truly, John Jones”
|Date written in the lower left corner||“February 12”
“February 12, 2009”
Sincerely, Regards, Kindest regards, Gratefully, Truly, Fondly, Yours Truly, Affectionately, Warmest regards
What not to Say
- Avoid starting your notes with “Thank you for…”. It sounds a bit generic.
- Don’t start a sentence with “I”, if possible. It is better to start with “You…” or both of your names “Craig and I…”
- If you are late with a note, do not apologize, just write!
- Now is not the time to share news about your life such as a new job or promotion, the hurricane that ruined your honeymoon, etc. The thank you note is about thanking your guest for their kindness.
- If you receive a monetary gift, avoid using the words “check” or “cash” in your note. Instead, use words like “your generosity” or “your kindness” when referring to money. You could say something like:”Your generous gift was so thoughtful! It will help us purchase the new outdoor grill that John has had his eye on at Lowes. We’ll be sure to have you over for dinner soon to test John’s grilling skills!”
- Never mention that you returned their gift, you received several of the same gift, or that it arrived damaged.
- If the gift is something that you can’t stand or you don’t like the color, try to look on the positive side:”Your gift of the bunny salt and pepper shakers that you painted was very thoughtful. You are such a talented artist! We’ll look forward to displaying them during our next Easter dinner.”
- Don’t use the word “I” more than “you.” The focus of the note is on the guest, not you.
- Avoid using the same word (love, appreciate, thoughtfulness, etc.) more than once in the same note.