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Wedding Thank You Notes: A Complete Guide

Thank-you notes are a must-do for every wedding gift you receive, but we all know that doesn't mean you love them. Take the advice of someone who's been there...

Think wedding stress ends with "I do"? No such luck. The idea of returning from your honeymoon and, like kids on Christmas, ripping through all your gifts sounds grand. But beware: Your post-present high might be killed when you realize that you have one final chore...thank-you notes. The task of writing a personal note to 180 guests is definitely daunting, but it's not impossible. Here's a survival guide:

Preparation: What You Need to Know

Keep in mind that the wedding thank you note project begins way back when you gather your wedding guests' names and addresses to send the invitations. Do yourself a big favor: Save that list! Make a copy of it at invitation time and put it away. Before you start opening gift boxes, find the list and record each gift next to the giver's name and address.

Getting Started: How to Write a Thank-You

  • Set up a designated writing area at home. Make sure it's a comfortable place, not too far from the kitchen or bathroom, with a TV or radio nearby.
  • Buy yourself some great wedding stationery. After the wedding, act like a married person and get the good stuff. Go for the heavy-duty notecards in ecru. Even better: Have them monogrammed with your new initials. That's right, flaunt your married status!
  • Equip yourself with pens that you like to write with. Stay away from the cheap supermarket variety that make big ink blobs when they're overused. Go for a more grown-up writing instrument -- roller-ball pens are much smoother. Mont Blanc makes some impressive models, if you've got the cash. Go ahead and have it monogrammed, as long as you're in we're-married-now mode.

Writing Them: Tips & Tricks

You had to write one to your grandmother for that scarf she knit for you when you were six years old -- and when you were seven, eight, nine... But after the dust from the reception settles, you need to seriously get crackin' on all those wedding thank-you notes -- one for every dish, every vase, every new scarf you received.

  • Try to start writing wedding thank you notes as soon as gifts start arriving. This may mean before the wedding, so be prepared.
  • Don't attempt to get them all done in one sitting; trust us -- it simply won't happen.
  • The rule is that you're supposed to get thank-yous out for gifts received before the wedding within two weeks of their arrival; after the wedding, within a month after you return from the honeymoon. Well, it's a nice thing to aspire to, but I say if you get 'em all done before (okay, around) your two-month anniversary, you'll be happy and so will your guests.
  • Traditionally, wedding thank-you notes are written in blue or black ink on folded ivory or white notepaper. If you choose, you can have your married name or monogram embossed on the note (but you shouldn't use notes with your married name on them until after the wedding; if you must monogram, get some notes with your maiden name or initials and some with your married name or initials).
  • Be sure to write a few words about the gift so you don't get confused. You'll never remember which of the 10 crystal vases your Aunt Alma gave you, so be specific: "Waterford Balmoral vase."
  • If the gift was money, mention how you plan to use it: "Thank you for the generous check. We are using it as part of the down payment on a house."
  • Put a big check mark next to the guest's name when the thank-you note has been signed, sealed, and delivered -- this is the part you'll enjoy most.

Expert Examples: Take Note

  • Sample wedding thank you note for a cash gift:
    Dear Aunt Sue and Uncle Tom,
    Thank you so much for your generous gift. Lila and I are saving for a new home and thanks to you, we'll be shopping for our dream house very soon. Again, many thanks for thinking of us and for sharing our special day. Love, Derek and Lila
  • Sample thank-you note for a gift chosen from your bridal registry:
    Dear Elizabeth and Albert,
    Thank you so much for the crystal wine goblets. We now have a complete set! Derek and I are looking forward to your next visit, when we can enjoy a drink together. Thank you again for thinking of us at this special time in our lives. Warmest regards, Lila and Derek
  • Sample thank-you note for a wedding gift you really didn't like:
    Dear Winona and Leif,
    Thank you for the fluorescent lava lamps. You are both so thoughtful! Every time we look at them, we will think of you and this special time in our lives. Again, many thanks for sharing our joy. Fondly, Lila and Derek

-- Cindy Hobson

See More: Registering for Wedding Gifts , Wedding Invitations + Wedding Stationery