– Ask a Real Bride – How to Write Wedding Thank You Notes

Every week, the etiquette inbox at Ask a Real Bride is filled with questions about thank-you notes: when should I send them? What should I say? What about giftless guests and group gifts? I’m compiling all of my answers into one resource I hope will help you overcome any writer’s block and graciously express your gratitude!

DO: Start writing as soon as gifts arrive

Many guests start shopping as soon as they receive a save the date or invitation! If you’re lucky enough to have these early shoppers on your guest list, break out the stationery and thank them right away. Why? A prompt thank you conveys your enthusiasm, assures them that the gift arrived safely, and helps you avoid a backlog of writing once the wedding is over.

Personalized stationery
Treat yourself to some beautiful stationery–it’s a motivator to start writing!

DON’T: Use Your Married Name or Monogram Before the Wedding

Remember that stationery I mentioned? Save anything with your married initials until after the wedding. If you’re using a monogram, crest, or wax seal, stick to your maiden name or first initials until after the big day, when you officially become a Mrs. [new last name].

wax seals with two initials
Remember-before the wedding, use both initials–not your new married one! These wax seals would be perfect for correspondence (save the dates, invitations, and thank-you notes) sent prior to the wedding.

DO: Use a template

The best way to whip out thank you notes is to use an outline. My simple formula: Emotion + gratitude + mention the gift + look forward to seeing them again.

Here are a few examples:

(You can click on the image to make it larger)

DON’T: Send a generic, impersonal message

As you can see from the examples above, each follows an outline, but still manages to include unique details. Don’t preprint a message or write the exact same sentiment in everyone’s notes–add a few touches that personalize the message.

DO: Aim to send within 2 weeks of the shower and 3 months of the wedding

Again, a prompt thank-you conveys enthusiasm and assures the giver the gift was received, so try your best to stick to the timeline above!

If you’re keeping up with the gifts as they arrive, you won’t have too many to write once the wedding is over–3 months should be plenty of time!

DO: Be careful about combinations!

Here’s what I mean: each person should be thanked personally for each gift they give. While it may seem tempting to wait until after the wedding to thank someone for their shower and wedding gift in one note, they really should be thanked separately for each one, especially if they’re given over a period of time. The exception: if the wedding gift is sent within 2 weeks of the shower, go ahead and say thank you for both gifts in one note!

Another consideration: group gifts. While it may seem laborious, each giver should receive a personal thank-you mailed to their individual address, even if they pitched in on the same gift. The exception: if your coworkers contributed to a gift for an office shower, a heartfelt, warm group email is fine.

Send a note for attending

DON’T: Send a note for attending

Many brides wonder if it’s necessary to send a note thanking guests for their attendance, even if they’ve already thanked them for a gift sent before the wedding, or if the guest didn’t give a gift. But it’s not necessary to send a separate note for attendance. Hopefully, you made time to circulate the room and thank each guest for their presence–so there’s no need to thank them again. To the contrary, it’s often the guests who reach out to their hosts post-event to share a favorite detail or memory!

If you really would like to thank a guest for traveling or attending the wedding (not a gift), a warm phone call or text is perfect!

DO: Share the responsibility with your partner

While brides typically handle the shower notes (it only makes sense, as the grooms aren’t present), you can certainly share the task of writing wedding thank-you notes with your partner. Mix it up: you can thank some of his family members, and he can thank some of yours!

DON’T: Sign the note from two people

DON’T: Sign the note from two people

Instead of signing “Kristen and James” at the bottom, the person holding the pen should mention the partner within the body of the note, and sign his or her own name at the bottom. Prior to the wedding, the writer should also use their own personal stationery. Scroll up for examples and explanations!

DO: Keep track of gifts and thank-you’s

In all the excitement of wedding planning, it’s easy to lose track of who gave what, and who has been properly thanked. If you’re using a spreadsheet to track replies, simply add a column to the right for gifts. Take note of what’s given, and highlight the item once you’ve mailed the note!

DON’T: Reach out to guests who did not give

You may be dismayed to discover that guests sometimes fail to give a wedding gift, even though it’s an etiquette faux pas. It’s normal to feel disappointed, but there’s little that you can do about missing gifts. If you fear that a gift may have been lost or stolen, investigate on your end: double check your spreadsheet, reach out to retailers where you’ve registered, contact the venue for any gifts that may have been left behind, delicately ask a mutual friend or relative, but do not, under any circumstances, reach out to the giftless guest directly. Perhaps their presence was the present, and they’re financially unable to give a gift now. Don’t use a thank-you note as a way to nudge–see above on thanking guests for attending.

This is your sign to add champagne flutes to your registry!
This is your sign to add champagne flutes to your registry!

DO: Celebrate when you’re done!

Pop some champagne and unbox the new drinkware you likely received as a wedding gift–finishing your thank-you notes is cause for celebration!

Have a Question for our Real Brides?

Let me know what topic you’d like us to tackle next! And if you’re interested in learning more about etiquette, gift-giving, and celebrating in style, be sure to subscribe to the RegistryFinder GiveIt blog for weekly posts on wedding etiquette, bridal showers, wedding trends, and of course, wedding registry guidelines and tips! And as always, refer your guests to RegistryFinder.com, where they can conveniently locate all of your registries in one place!

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