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writing thank yous

The thought of writing thank-you notes makes many engaged or newlywed couples cringe. This very important expression of your gratitude, however, can be much easier than you think with a bit of planning and organization. Here are some tips for making the job much more enjoyable.

make it personal

Thank-you notes for engagement, shower and wedding gifts should be hand-written on personalized stationery and signed by one person. Traditional etiquette calls for the note to be personalized with the name or monogram of the person signing the note. Today, many couples find it more convenient to use notes personalized with both of their names or initials so that either one of the couple can use the notes for wedding-related gifts.

Please note that etiquette does still dictate that, before the wedding ceremony, the bride use her maiden name or monogram. Your married name or monogram should be reserved for notes sent after the wedding. Similarly, until you are married, the notes should be personalized with your individual name or monogram {rather than being personalized with “Jane & John”}.

write early and often

If you start to write thank-you notes as soon as gifts begin to arrive, you’ll find it much easier to get through them all more quickly and easily. Once the gifts really start piling in, set a goal of writing three or four notes each day; otherwise, your feeling that it is a chore will come through in formulaic, lackluster notes. By sending a note right after receiving the gift, you’ll be better able to remember and capture the feeling of gratitude that you felt when opening the gift.

For engagement parties, bridal showers and other pre-wedding events, the thank-you notes should be written within two weeks of receiving the gift. For wedding gifts, try to send them as soon as possible but not later than three months after the wedding. {For wedding gifts sent before the wedding, the two-week rule should apply so that the giver is not left wondering whether the gift actually made it to you.}

Remember that each gift requires its own thank-you note, even if you receive a shower gift and a wedding gift from the same person. Similarly, each person who contributed to a group gift should be sent a thank-you note.

get organized

Have on hand a supply of personalized stationery that you really like and a great pen. You will look forward to the task much more when you love the look and feel of the stationery, enjoy holding the pen in your hand and the way it writes, and picture the gift-giver’s reaction when opening the envelope.

If you have a spreadsheet to track your wedding invitations and replies, add a few columns to the document to track gifts received and thank-you notes written.

share the load

You can get through your list of thank-you notes in about half the time if you and your new or soon-to-be spouse split the job. Each of you can send notes of thanks to your respective family, friends and coworkers. Don’t worry if one or both of you have less-than-stellar penmanship. A thoughtful and heartfelt thank-you will overcome any thoughts about bad handwriting.

who's who

Be sure to show your appreciation to the following people with a hand-written thank-you note:

  • Wedding guests who brought or sent gifts
  • Wedding party {each bridesmaid and groomsman}
  • People who helped out with the ceremony {officiant, readers, ushers}
  • People who helped in some other way {drove people from the airport, made food, helped decorate}
  • Hosts of showers and luncheons

words of thanks

For tips on what to say and how to structure the message, see Gratitude 101: How to Write a Thank You Note. Write your notes in a conversational tone, as if you were thanking the giver in person. Try to come up with an opening other than the classic “Thank you for the {blank}” to make your notes less formulaic.

Keep the focus of the note on the guest. If you receive a monetary gift, say something like “Your generous gift was so thoughtful” to avoid direct references to the amount or form of the gift. Never mention that you returned a gift, that you received others just like it, or that it arrived damage. {The“ignorance is bliss” idea works well here.}

signing off

The closing of your note should reflect your relationship with the giver. “Love” is appropriate for family and close friends, whereas “sincerely” may be the best option when writing to your boss or coworker, or to friends of your parents.

The Heart of the Matter

The main thing to keep in mind is that you want to express your appreciation to all the people who went out of their way, and spent their time and money, to do or give something special for you and your wedding. Remembering the gratitude that you feel for them and their kind gesture will keep you in the spirit and make the process much easier and far more meaningful.

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