As I mentioned in a previous post, my mom is a bit of an etiquette nut. One thing that she's ingrained into me—and therefore I'm a nut about it, too—is the importance of timely and thoughtful thank you notes. Thank you notes are a HUGE part of executing a wedding. Not only is writing them in a timely fashion important, but keeping track of all the gifts and whether or not you sent a note is also essential. The Fiance and I started getting wedding presents last December. That's right, our wedding is in July, but we got our first present in December. Don't get me wrong, it was so much fun to receive the first present—from a thoughtful bridesmaid who knew how exciting it was to get presents early—but when we received that first mixmaster, I panicked. We didn't have our thank you notes for the wedding designed, let alone printed and ready to be sent. I was still finalizing the invitation for crying out loud, how could I possibly think about thank you notes!! Plus, a common theme throughout our wedding has been personalized stamps (gotta love Zazzle)—we used our proposal picture on the Save-the-Date and we're using an image of our date in calligraphy on the invite and an engagement picture on the RSVP envelope (invites go out this weekend! gulp!)—so I was pretty adamant that I wanted to use a wedding picture for the stamp on the wedding thank you note. Thus, our thank you notes won't be able to go out until after the wedding . . . which leads me to the panic.
In my mind, thank you notes need to go out within a week or two of receiving the gift. I realize that this is an unrealistic goal for the actual wedding . . . two weeks following July 28, I'll be sitting on a beach in Bora Bora, but I did want to find a way to let those timely individuals who sent their gifts months in advance know that I got them and that a thank you note would be on its way. But how? Cue my favorite ladies at Paperista and their genius ideas. Antoinette printed about 50 gift acknowledgement cards for me to send to those early gift givers. Essentially it says in a really polite way, "Hey, we got your gift, thanks, a thank you note is on its way." And let me tell you, these have been a lifesaver. The next lifesaver—and I mean huge floatation device while lost at sea kind of lifesaver— has been the Excel spreadsheet that The Fiance made to track all the gifts. Since he's a bit of a finance geek, one tool I use to get him really involved with the wedding is to ask him to make me a spreadsheet of some kind (the guest list spreadsheet has been a huge hit). For the gift log (which we house on the Dropbox . . . seriously, best. thing. ever. for wedding planning), The Fiance created a wedding gift spreadsheet and a shower gift spreadsheet. On the wedding tab, he created options for the name, the gift, the registry from which it was purchased, whether a gift acknowledgement card was sent and whether a thank you note was sent. Once we receive a gift—we're talking the box wrapping is still in the middle of the floor, and it looks like Christmas morning—I run over to my computer and enter the gift into the log. I have a whole little thank you note station set up at my desk at home, so if it's a wedding present, I usually address the gift acknowledgement card immediately and drop it in the mail. Then I address the envelope (Paperista printed personalized thank you notes for me, but she made them the same size as the wedding thank you notes, so they can share envelopes, which made guessing at a number to order much easier) and set it in a pile, ready for the thank you notes to be written at a later date.
In the past month, I've also had a couple of showers that have required thank you notes. I think I've written about 80 notes in the past three weeks, so it's safe to say I have this down to a science. Here's my strategy for making sure I don't miss any and getting through the writing process.
- First, at the shower I give a bridesmaid or my mom a notebook that logs all the presents.
- When I get home, I enter them into the log. It's important to do that in a timely fashion because more often than not the recorder misses something that you remembered opening.
- I address all the envelopes for that require a thank you note from that shower. Even if I can't write any of them right away, by having all the envelopes addressed, I know how many I have left.
- Finally, I put them and my little stationery into my wedding notebook, which I carry with me pretty much everywhere I go. That way if I'm waiting anywhere I can knock one or two of them out.
When it comes to actually crafting the note, my only advice to you is be sincere and heartfelt. I once received a wedding thank you note from my good friend that was so thoughtful, I've kept it tacked to the side of my refrigerator ever since (we're talking a 2007 wedding). Whenever I feel myself start to get a little cliche, I reread her note, and remember how much it meant to me, and I try to put a little more heart into my words. Hopefully you can find something similar that will help with your inspiration. (If you need extra help, ask on our Facebook page and I'll share some lines from hers). Good luck and happy planning! Oh, and one more tip: If you're a bridesmaid or friend planning a shower, one really nice touch is to give the bride a packet of thank you notes with the envelopes already addresses. It saves her a ton of time, which, it seems, most brides-to-be are always lacking.