by U. R. Wellcombe
It is an absolute must that you send personal, handwritten thank you notes for every wedding gift you receive. As this is a "must", your plans for thanking your guests must be included in your general wedding plans and not put off until after your return from the honeymoon. Here's why, and some tips to help things run smoothly and, as always, stay within the bounds of good taste.
WHO GETS A THANK YOU?You must send a thank you note to everyone who gives you a wedding gift: A) All of your guests, B) Out-of-towners who were not able to attend but forwarded a gift, C) Anyone who provided an intangible item or service as their gift (loan of a car, use of their property, homegrown flowers, homemade food, etc.).
By extension, you may even wish to thank your consultants who provided paid services if their work was letter-perfect and helped your day run smoothly. (These notes are much appreciated by professionals and form a reference base for use during their presentation or sales pitch. Wasn't it reassuring to see a binder stuffed with thank you notes when interviewing your musicians or florist, etc.?)
You must send one to everyone participating, even if it's your best friend who was intimately involved in the planning and running of your wedding and to whom you've already expressed your thanks in person or with a gift. It's even a nice idea to send a thank you to your parents, even though it's not a must. It's always nice to receive a note of appreciation!
STATIONERYYou should choose stationery which suits the general style of the wedding. For instance, if you're planning a formal ceremony and reception, the thank you notes should be considered part of your general printing package and be coordinated with your announcements, invitations, place cards, etc. These normally consist of a small, fold-over note card embossed with your married name(s) or the words "Thank You", and a matching envelope.
For a semi-formal presentation, folded notepaper, mass produced "Thank You" cards or even monogrammed or personalized stationery are acceptable. And in a truly informal circumstance, you may choose any format or style you like. We've seen wonderful thank you notes written on antique postcards, humorous ones, individually chosen mass market cards, and even homemade thank you's!
WHEN TO SEND THEMSomewhere along the line during the last twenty years or so, the common fallacy that you have one year in which to respond to a wedding gift has entered the public domain. Not true! (This must have been perpetuated either by a lazy bride or someone whose wedding was so large that it took them a whole year to get the job done.) A swift response is best and two to four weeks after the wedding is ideal. You may need extra time if your wedding was a large one and/or you're writing lengthy, personalized notes to each participant. But certainly, to stay within the bounds of good taste and propriety, you should be finished by three months after the wedding at the outside.
WHOSE JOB IS IT?Traditionally, it has always been the custom for the bride to write the notes. But in these changing times, you may each write certain ones, especially to the members of your respective families or group of friends. You may even wish to send some special notes in which you each write something.
HINTS FOR ORGANIZATIONAsk a family member or trusted friend to keep track of the gifts you receive at your reception, making sure you keep the card with the gift. This will enable you to specifically mention your use or enjoyment of that particular item in your note, thereby automatically personalizing the thank you.
Pre-address the envelopes even before the actual wedding from your invitation list. Not only will this save you time later on, but it will keep track of those who were unable to attend, but sent along a gift anyway. This group is part of the "must thank" list and it is considered proper to send along their note whenever the gift is received, even if it's before the actual wedding date.
Write your thank you notes with an attitude of true appreciation and gratitude, and along with personalized references, you will be assured that your guests are properly thanked for the thoughtfulness and kindness which they put into choosing your gift.
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