The hubby and I just celebrated our one-year anniversary and prior to our celebratory toast, we received a wedding gift in the mail. (Jeesh, I thought the thank yous were DONE!) Now that the task of writing my 200 notes is finally behind me (at least for now), I wanted to share with you the tips and tricks I picked up along the way. Once the wedding planning is complete, you'll either go one of two ways. Focus all of your wedding planning energy directly into the thank yous, tackling them with the same enthusiastic energy that you did the seating chart. Or you'll wait. And procrastinate, and take a breather. I thought I would be like the former, but in all reality, once I got back from the honeymoon (my hubby wouldn't let me bring any notes with me on our nine hour flight . . . which in hindsight I am very grateful for that much needed rest) all I wanted to do was settle into married life and enjoy the freedom that comes with NOT planning a wedding. Hence, I put them off. And off. After a month went by and not a note was written, my mom started nagging, and so did that list of gifts that was just sitting on my desktop. We used the most amazing Thank You note spreadsheet. I've copied the template of it here, but if you'd like the real thing, just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll happily send along. The thank you note "trackers" on store sites (think Macy's Bloomies, etc.) are TERRIBLE. Do not trust them. Odds are you'll miss a gift and there's nothing worse than realizing months later that you've forgotten someone.
Once I got started, I allowed myself three months to get them all done. Contrary to popular belief, YOU DO NOT HAVE A YEAR'S GRACE PERIOD. Obviously gift givers seem to think they do, although in all honesty it's best to give the gift before the wedding or within a month of when the wedding takes place (if only to still be able to get something from the registry.) Keep in mind that your notes should be written within three months of when you receive the gift or within three months of your big day.
We sent out a Gift Acknowledgment card (best idea ever) upon receipt of every wedding gift and then we gave ourselves four months from our wedding day to get all the notes written and sent out. (I know, this goes against what I just told you, but I completed them all in three months; I just needed some recovery time before diving in . . . Emily Post would be disappointed.) The way I see it is allowing an extra month and putting a little more thought into the notes was worth it. And since I decided to tackle this task myself, I wanted them to be well written and personal. If you can get your man on board to help, do it. My husband has terrible hand writing (I actually think this is a six-year long ruse he's duped me with to get out of writing the notes), but if you're like me and start to miss the wedding planning madness after a few weeks, it's a good place to channel your energy. I actually really enjoyed it (I can say that now in hindsight.) One thing that helped make the process a little easier was that I addressed the envelope right when we received the gift, so all I had to do after the wedding was write the note. That way I had a secondary log of everyone who sent a gift, and a little bit of the work was already done! Even if you're planning to use a photo from the wedding and your notes aren't designed yet, you could decide on a size and get the envelopes in advance, just to make things a little easier for you! I tried to make a plan and set goals for each week. I'd sit down at night and say, "okay, I'm going to write two for my friends, one for my husband's friends, three for his parents' friends and two for my parents' friends." That way I wasn't saying the same thing to the same group of people and I could have fun with my friends, while I talked over my husband's parents' friends with him and what memories we had from the wedding with them so I could articulate that. Another way to keep it fresh is to not start one note with Dear XX, Thank you so much for XX." This was my own personal goal and challenge. Even if the first line was "Brian and I were so happy you were able to make it to Green Bay to celebrate with us" . . . at least that was a little variation from the tried and true classic and it kept me from getting bored with what I was writing. I figure if I'm bored, the reader was probably bored too. Most importantly, I tried not to view it so much as a tick off off our list, but my final correspondence with our guests. You'll likely be coming down from the high of your day, and this is the perfect opportunity to relive a few of those fun moments while showing your appreciation at their thoughtfulness and their coming to celebrate with you. Instead of treating it like the monotonous task it has the potential to be, treat it like you're sending a note to a friend. Hopefully that will help make the process a little more bareable! Good luck, and if there's anything you discover as you tackling this part of life as a bride (or wife) be sure to share it here or on our Facebook page. Thanks and happy planning! PS: Even though I didn't quite take all her advice, here's Ms. Emily Posts's 10 Dos and Don't of Thank You Note Writing. Good luck!
- Do personalize your notes and make reference to the person as well as the gift.
- Do remember that a gift should be acknowledged with the same courtesy and generous spirit in which it was given.
- Do be enthusiastic, but don’t gush. Avoid saying a gift is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen unless you really mean it.
- Don’t send form letters or cards with printed messages and just your signature; don’t use email or post a generic thank you on your wedding web site in lieu of a personal note.
- Do promptly acknowledge the receipt of shipped gifts by sending a note right away or calling and following up with a written note in a day or two.
- Don’t mention that you plan to return a gift or that you are dissatisfied in any way.
- Don’t tailor your note to the perceived value of the gift; no one should receive a perfunctory note.
- Do refer to the way you will use a gift of money. Mentioning the amount is optional.
- Don’t include wedding photos or use photo cards if it will delay sending the note.
- Don’t use being late as an excuse not to write. Even if you are still sending notes after your first anniversary, keep writing!