You ladies know me: I'm really not one to talk that much about “shoulds” or “gottas” around weddings. But there's one “should” that I feel the need to emphasize: You really should send thank you cards for all gifts received during the course of planning your wedding within two months of the wedding itself.
First, a word about why. Yes, it's courteous. Yes, it's a way of showing how much you truly appreciate people's generosity. We all know these things and honestly, they should be enough to motivate each of us to carve out a couple nights to sit down with the new spouse and get to work on some cards.
But in the era of gifts ordered online and honeymoon registries, it's more than just common-sense courtesy: you're letting your guests know that their digital gifts actually arrived. Even geeks who are totally comfortable with online tools want to know, “Did that theoretical bottle of wine I gave them by contributing to their honeymoon fund actually get purchased? Did that money I sent actually get to them? Did that thing from Amazon ever get delivered?” Aunt Nan can sneak over and see if the candlesticks she gave you are in the dining room. Guests who donated to honeymoon funds or gave you the tandem skydiving trip from across the country genuinely have no idea if you received their gift. A thank you is about more than just being courteous, it's about confirming “Yes, it got here.”
Then there's the issue of what constitutes a “gift.” Did your 15-year-old cousin help you with your iPod playlist? That's a gift. Send 'em a card. Did your college friend give you a blender, but then also spend half the reception tending after your vomiting drunk uncle? Send 'em a card, and acknowledge BOTH gifts. Did your coworker who wasn't invited to your family-only destination wedding help you surreptitiously print out programs on the office printer? Send 'em a card. When in doubt, anyone who made your wedding planning easier or smiled at you when you were freaking out? Send 'em a card.
The nice thing about Thank Yous is that they can never be too big … you can never over-thank someone, even if their gift was small. Even if it wasn't a “gift” and they've already forgotten about it.
And if their contribution came via the web or an online registry, you definitely need to let them know that A) you got it and B) you appreciated it!
Even if you're a year out from your wedding, start your thank you list now. No help is too big or too small. Then, a month after the wedding when you're like “Aw man, thank you cards?,” sit down with your list and remember all the little ways that all these people made your wedding planning better. And send 'em a card.