Admit it. One of the best parts about getting married—besides making an official, lifelong commitment to your soul mate—is racking in the wedding gifts. Even better, if you've opened a bridal registry online or at your local department store, you're receiving items you've specifically chosen for yourself. Score!
Of course, for every wedding present that lands on your doorstop, you need to send a handwritten note of thanks to the generous gift-giver. For wedding presents, a quick email, a phone call or computer-generated letter is not going to cut it. Your best friend, your co-worker and your Great Aunt Edna took the time to purchase a gift—or give you cash—to mark your nuptials, so the least you can do is handwrite a thank-you note, address an envelope, stick a stamp on it and send it on its merry way.
Here's how to write your thank-you notes:
- Keep track of all gifts received. There's so much to remember in the weeks prior to a wedding ceremony, celebratory reception and honeymoon. (Did you write your vows? Who's picking up the flowers? Where's our hotel confirmation?) With all the thoughts cluttering your brain, it's extra important to keep a written record of gifts you've received. Whether it's by notebook and pen, a Microsoft Word list or an Excel spreadsheet, take the time to jot down who sent what and when. As you write a thank-you note, you'll mark that next to each entry to keep track of whom you've already thanked.
When I got married, I used an Excel spreadsheet to record the proper names and addresses for all the people I invited to my wedding. I added a column for "yay" or "nay" once I received their RSVP cards to mark whether or not they were attending. Then I added a column to list any gift they sent, and another for whether or not I'd sent a thank-you note. Each person's mailing address was already on my master list, so addressing an envelope for a thank-you card was easy.
- Invest in some nice stationery. Sure, you could go down to the dollar store and pick up some cheap wedding thank you cards, but since you're only getting married once (you hope!), why not purchase some quality cards to do the job? Classy note cards and the perfect, high-quality pen might even make the task more inviting. You may be able to order matching thank-you cards when you purchase wedding invitations. This is a nice touch, but not necessary. Thank you cards can look expensive, without costing you very much. Consider shopping at places such as Target, Walmart, Costco, Shutterfly, Snapfish, or other online thank you card retailers. If you purchase a large quantity, the price will generally be less expensive.
- Keep it brief. You don't need to write an epic letter espousing the virtues of the gorgeous glass vase your cousin sent you. In fact, each thank-you note only needs to be a few lines. If you make each note longer than it has to be, you'll quickly run out of enthusiasm for the task.
- Try to write notes as the packages come in. If you have the time, write a note and mail it soon after you receive a gift. Facing dozens of blank thank-you cards after you come home from your honeymoon can be daunting.
- Start each note with a heartfelt "thank you," mentioning the gift by name. For example: "Dear Aunt Mary, Thank you so much for the blender."
- Follow this with an explanation of how you will use the gift. "We can't wait to use it for our breakfast smoothies!"
- End with a mention of their attending (or not) your wedding. "It was such a treat to visit with you at our wedding reception. We're so glad you were able to make the drive from California." Or, if the gift was received before your wedding date: "We look forward to seeing you at our wedding celebration next month." Or, if she couldn't attend: "We're sorry you weren't able to attend our wedding ceremony; Sarah said she'd share some photos she snapped when she sees you next month. You can also view them online at http://www...."
- Wrap up with another "thank you." "Again, we really appreciate your thoughtful gift. Love, John and Sue."
- If the gift is money, let the gift-giver know what you might do with the cash. "Dear Grandpa, Thank you so much for the generous gift of money you sent us for our wedding. It will certainly come in handy as we renovate our new house. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness. Love, John and Sue."
- If you're not sure what the gift is, it's okay to be vague-but only as a last resort. Maybe you received a decorative object that might be a fruit bowl? A wall hanging? An ancient African artifact? Seek advice from others as to what the gift's purpose is-maybe even search the Internet if you have any clues from the packaging. But if you're really not sure what the item is, I think it would be insulting to ask the gift-giver directly for an explanation. In that case, the card's wording could be on the generic side: "Dear Uncle Bill, Thank you so much for the wedding present. We really appreciate your generosity. It was wonderful to see you at the wedding reception-we look forward to visiting with you again at the family reunion this summer. Love, John and Sue."
- Split the duties. Finally, to keep the note-writing task from becoming overwhelming, split the job between you and your new spouse. If you take turns writing, your thank-you notes will be mailed in no time!
Writing thank you notes for your wedding gifts may seem daunting, but just remember how thoughtful it was of your family member or friend to make this purchase in celebration of your marriage. Since gifts aren't generally opened at the reception, this is also a nice gesture to acknowledge that you received the present. It's time to get motivated! Pull out your list of gifts and your stationary. Start recalling the happy memories you have of that person and your wedding day. Feel thankful as you write your cards. Your sincerity will come through when the recipient reads your heart-felt comments.