Saying “Thank You”

Getting married brings a lot of excitement to our lives. We spend a great deal of time shopping for the dress, choosing the flowers and planning the honeymoon, to name a few of the tasks. And who can deny the joy that arrives with every beautifully wrapped wedding present? Unfortunately, that delight is tempered slightly by yet another task: writing thank-you notes for all the wonderful gifts.

However, there’s no reason why writing thank-yous should turn into a chore. In fact, by following the advice of a few area industry experts, you can craft personal notes that make your guests feel truly appreciated.

Choosing the right note card

Before putting pen to paper, you first should pick out thank-you notes that reflect your – and your groom’s – personality. If you prefer to keep your note cards in synch with your other wedding stationery (invitations, reply cards, seating cards, etc.), there are several manufacturers who produce entire stationery suites to meet your needs. These include Crane & Co., Prentiss Douthit, National Engraving, William Arthur, Encore Studios, Arabella and Carlson Craft, to name a few.

While traditional note cards featuring the couple’s monogram or names in a nice script on an ecru or white cardstock still garner favor with today’s brides, the more popular choice seems to be fun cards with a pop of color. “We’ve tried to loosen up the entire traditional theme,” says Carlyle Smith, director of sales for Crane & Co. Papermakers in McLean, Va. As such, he’s seeing brides choose cards that match their wedding color palette or featuring a favorite accent such as butterflies or flowers.

The key is selecting thank-you notes that fit your style. A great example would be a lime green card featuring the couple’s names in a pink lowercase font, which is fun and bright.

For couples with a theme or destination wedding, consider thank-you notes that reflect that aspect of your event. If you’re getting married on a Caribbean beach, go with a card with a sand dollar or beach ball. Maybe your nuptials incorporate your Irish background; if so, choose a card with a shamrock on it.

Although available choices vary greatly, there are two rules that brides should follow when making their selection. First, any thank-you notes sent prior to the wedding should not have the bride’s married name on it. The better way to go is opting for the couple’s first names. Second, “avoid ‘Thank You’ on the front of the cards because it’s redundant,” Smith says.

Finding the right words

Once you have your cards in hand and you’re ready to write, you may find yourself at a loss for words. Crafting the ideal note may seem daunting, but it actually should be quite easy. Follow these simple tips, and you’ll have personal and interesting thank-yous every time.

First, just as with the cards, there’s no need to be stiff and formal. After all, you don’t want to sound like someone you’re not.

Next, open with a greeting and thank the giver for the gift, which should be mentioned by name and how you plan to use it. For example, if you receive a silver serving platter, write, “Bill and I love the silver serving platter you gave us, and we cannot wait to use it during our first Thanksgiving dinner in our new home.”

Also, be sure to thank the giver for attending the wedding, or, if it’s before the wedding, say how much you’re looking forward to seeing them at the wedding.

When writing notes to people you don’t know well, such as your groom’s co-workers or friends of your future in-laws, seek out your fiancé’s help. Either have him write these particular notes (the best way to go if you can get him to do it!), or ask him to fill you in on who these gift-givers are so you are familiar with them.

If the repetition of writing so many notes gets to you or you still want inspiration, check out one of the many books on how to write thank-you notes. Examples include “The Bride’s Thank-You Note Handbook” by Marilyn Werner and “Just Write: The Art of Personal Correspondence” by Molly O’Shaughnessy.

Overall, just don’t get bogged down in trying to make it perfect. “Usually, when you can’t think of anything to write, it is because you are worrying too much about what you want to say,” says Mary Ruth Colvin, owner of Just Write Stationery & Gifts in Germantown, Tenn. “Just say it.”

Keeping track

With all the engagement party, shower and pre-wedding presents stacking up, it would be easy to get overwhelmed with writing thank-you notes. To avoid such a problem, set up an organization system that works for you to keep track of received gifts and what thank-yous have been sent. There are many ways to do this.

One example is using the online tools provided by the store where you registered. For instance, Macy’s offers an online Thank You Card Manager, where you can record gifts and when the thank-you note is sent out. Another example is creating a spreadsheet where you can record this information. You also can use your reply cards to track gifts. As they come in, write what their gift was on the back, and check it off when the thank-you note is sent.

In addition, many book and stationery stores as well as select bridal salons carry books that help brides stay organized. “The Everything Wedding Organizer: Checklists, calendars and worksheets for planning the perfect wedding” by Laura Morin, “Planning a Wedding to Remember: Special Touches and Unique Ideas” by Beverly Clark, and “Your Perfect Wedding Planner” by Cathy Bouchard are just a few of the many books available to assist you.

Another great way to keep your thank-you notes organized is sending them out in a timely fashion. While traditional etiquette states that brides have up to one year after the wedding to send thank-yous, today’s experts recommend sending them out as soon as possible, usually within six months.

A good piece of advice is to send a thank-you note the same day a gift is received. After all, it only takes a few minutes. If you have a bridal shower with many gifts, sit down and write out five or six notes each night following the shower until you have them all completed. This same advice applies after the wedding (once you return from your honeymoon, of course!).

Thinking outside the box

Taking the time and effort to compose and send out thank-you notes may be the expected thing to do, but who says you can’t make it more unique? Many couples today are adding a little something extra to their thank-yous to further express their gratitude. For example, some couples have copies made of their favorite wedding photo and send that out with their notes. Others put in a copy of a candid photo of the gift-giver taken at the reception.

Couples with a philanthropic outlook can send a donation card along with their notes, informing their guests that they made a charitable donation in their guests’ names. Also interesting, many couples who get married near the holidays use their holiday card as a thank-you note.

If you have something special in mind, don’t be afraid to try it out. As long as you tie it in with your appreciation and make it personal, then go for it.

Final thoughts

As you prepare to write your thank-you notes, keep these last few tips in mind. Regardless of how many notes you have to do, always handwrite them and the envelopes.

Also, if you start to feel inundated by the amount of notes you have to write, enlist your groom’s help. Have him stuff envelopes, address envelopes and put on the stamps.

Finally, just relax. Sending out thank-you notes is just another part of the wedding process, one you should enjoy. As you write, take the time to reflect on how much you appreciate the person who gave you the gift. Focusing on the person instead of the task reminds us how important he or she is to us and how thankful we should be to have them in our lives.

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