Why you should start thinking about thank you cards BEFORE your wedding

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thank you card ideas on offbeat bride

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.

Comments on Why you should start thinking about thank you cards BEFORE your wedding

  1. I have already started sending out my cards for totally bizarre items! Thank you for helping me look at reception venues. Thank you for letting my fiance take a nap at your house (wedding venue shopping tuckers him out). Thank you for sending me 15 CDs with workout music collected by your Ultimate Fighting husband. Thank you for e-mailing me tons of on-line resources. Thank you for appreciating the music I selected on nearlyweds, (Pussy Control by Prince thankyouverymuch). Besides, I was so excited to get really cool new stationary for this very purpose! I heart new stationary! Everyone loves a thank you note – that's one place where my mother and I are in full agreement!

  2. AMEN. I never consider myself a stickler for the finer points of old-fashioned etiquette, but I've purchased 8 wedding gifts in the last few years, and received two thank you notes. For my college roommate, I can just annoy her and say, "OY. Did you get the mugs and the gift cards, or not?" But for the people who I'm less close to, who I just sent gifts from their registries (without attending the weddings)? I have *no idea* if they ever got the damn silly things or if Crate and Barrel just pocketed my $40 for no reason. I don't want their undying affection; I want to know if they got the punch bowl!

    • So it was because of this post that I discovered people do not in fact order gifts, have them shipped to the gifter, wrap, attach a card, and mail with delivery confirmation. And then call the person to say hey, you have a package in the mail to you, it should be there Friday.

      It was also due to this site that I discovered people don’t get boxes in the mail and immediately text/call/email the gifter and inform them the box arrived.

      I have seriously never encountered this behavior in real life. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t do these things. I think I would be overly butthurt if that ever happened to me. I don’t want to know two months after your wedding that you didn’t get the gift I sent for your shower! I want to know the Friday it was supposed to have been delivered at 4pm and wasn’t!

  3. We had decided to stock up on the thank you cards so we can write them as we receive the awesomeness. We received one gift from our amazon.com registry and were like. Holy Crap! We need to get cards! Of course nothing else has warranted a Thank you card for the last month or so (we are 3 months plus some days from the BIG day now) but I'll be ready!!!

    What I really don't like are generic thank you cards. "Thanks for coming to our wedding" doesn't let me know that you received my gift. We are taking the approach of thanking the contributor then going into detail about how much we appreciate the specific item. Those kinds notes always mean more to me, especially if hand-written.

  4. What my fiancee and I did was create a spreadsheet (nerdy I know!) to keep track of all the gifts received (we already had a spreadsheet tracking the RSVP's, etc so this was easy). This really helped to keep us organized because you will get multiple gifts from the same people for showers, then the wedding gift, etc and you should thank them for all the gifts.

    Also, because we were moving into our house the week after our reception, we forced ourselves to sit down and do all the thank-yous in the days between the move. It worked out well- everyone was impressed at how quickly the thank yous were received, and we didn't have to worry about trying to get it done once we were in the middle of moving! And husbands don't get out of writing thank yous. . . make him do the ones for his family and vice versa!

    • Yep, I had a big old spreadsheet too. In fact, I still have it because it became my address book! I haven't had that many snail-mail addresses in one place since … and I still refer to it five years after the wedding.

        • I took my work up on a free class on how to use excell. They think it was work related… I just wanted to know how to make spreadsheets for my wedding planning!! haha

      • Still use mine rom my 1995 first wedding! When my girlfriend got married in 2009, she had 5 (WTF!) different Word docs with address lists. I stayed up until 4am consolidating them for her. That was her gift 😉

      • I used the spreadsheet from the Offbeat Bride Tribe, and altered it to include other things I wanted to keep track of and I plan on using it after the wedding as my address book too!

    • The wedding is still months away, but for our engagement party we used a spreadsheet to track the presents as we opened them.

      I hand made thankyou notes but the text was printed (I didn’t want to write them all on my own and FH has handwriting designed for ants), so I cheated a bit by using mail merge.
      Name column, gift column in excel becomes (something like this, I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was definitely a bit longer):

      Dear [NAME], Thank you for coming to our engagement party, we hope you had a wonderful night. Thank you for your thoughtful gift, I’m sure the [GIFT] will be very useful in our new home.

      90% of the gifts were kitchen utensils/appliances, so this standard text fit pretty well.

      I then went through and edited all of them to make sure the grammar worked and the names and gifts made sense etc. (thanks for the ‘metal gear thingy for the kitchen’ just wasn’t setting the right tone) and changed the text for anything that didn’t fit the default format (the painting will look great on our wall, the generous gift (i.e. money) will be useful in setting up our future home etc), and changed the start for people had not made it to the party (we’re sorry you couldn’t join us, hopefully we can see you soon).

      It saved my sanity but even so I know there are a couple of people who missed out on thankyous – if you send a gift via my future mother in law two weeks after the other thank-yous have been sent and I’ve never met you and no one has your address, I’m not sure how to respond to that.

  5. Great post! I'm not planning a wedding, but I was recently at a wedding and my friend sent me a thank you email AND card, so I felt really happy about that, cause 1)the email let me know that they received the melon baller and digital timer, and 2)the card did the same plus it just let us know it was really appreciated.

    Not too mention how much she thanked me for doing Bridal portraits, which helped us both!

    Yay for Thank Yous!

  6. Freakin *awesome* advice. We received an Amazon.com gift with no note or card and I nearly lost my mind for weeks trying to figure out who sent it. (We finally did.) At my shower (bar night!), my mom gave me a wedding album/keepsake thing, and it has pages and pages to record gifts and whether you've sent a thank-you note for each. It's been a huge help (like a spreadsheet, but old-school!). I'm trying to impress on my husband the importance of doing a couple thank-yous each night so they don't build up into a massive pile of stress. FYI: having a "script" can be a big help if you don't know what to write. I did this for him so I wouldn't be writing thank-yous to all his family members (I think it will mean more to them if *he* writes them). So far, so good.

  7. The last weddings I haven't received a Thank-you card for…. which really bugs me, even if I did just give cash! If they have so many guests that they can't do thank-you cards, than that is too many guests! And to be honest, I am not too strict on the card thing… a lunch out with a close friend to say thank-you, or a nice e-mail, or a pleasent phone call…. whatever is most :Dgenuine:D is good for me. But nothing?? I even think people who don't give gifts/money should receive a Thank-you for just showing up and supporting since that is what it is all about!

  8. I sent out thank-you's for my side of the family as the gifts rolled in… my husband wanted to wait until after the wedding to sit down and do his side "together" (I don't know how you write a thank you together, or why, but I agreed to…) Its been more than two months and I can tell how stressed he is that he still hasn't sent his out. But his cousin got married almost a year ago and hasn't sent hers out, so we won't be the rudest people in the family…

  9. Hmmm, I'm thinking you could just add another column or two to the invite spreadsheet list. Then I'd have names, addresses, RSVPs, gifts, and thank you cards all in one place! Cool! (most exciting thing that's happened all morning)

    Several weeks ago I heard some women complaining that their grown children never send them thank you cards for Christmas or birthday gifts. It made me wonder whether they sent their children thank you cards for the same things. If you want to receive thank you cards, you need to send thank you cards.

    • My Mom shames me by sending thank you's for every single thing i EVER send her…LOL
      For our wedding I certainly need to be on top of things~~

  10. YES! One of my best friends got married three years ago and I never got a thank you card. She's normally very polite, so I've always wondered if my gift arrived! There's no tactful way to ask someone if they got your gift. To this day I have no idea if she and her husband received my gift or not and if they didn't I wonder what they thought of me and my lack of gift.

    • "There's no tactful way to ask someone if they got your gift."

      No kidding. You don't want something to vanish into the ether and have THEM think YOU'RE a flake, but if you ask about it, it seems like you're either fishing for a thank-you or accusing them of being the flake instead!

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