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Wedding Thank-You Note Etiquette

Growing up, every gift-giving celebration ended with my mom’s command that I sit down and write a thank-you note to every single person who gave me a present. I was not a huge fan back then, but today I understand it was a valuable lesson. Since we live in a predominantly digital world, there’s something extra-appreciative about expressing gratitude through the written word. While you might skip over passed hors d’oeuvres or personalized favors, wedding thank-you notes are something that should never be left off of your Zola Checklist. So without further ado, here are some rules of etiquette to help you make the most of your wedding thank-you notes.

a wedding thank-you note tented card at a wedding reception

Photo Credit || Richard Bell Photography

The Cardinal Rules Of Wedding Thank-You Notes

While etiquette folks may argue over the finer details of wedding thank-you notes, these are the basic rules you should remember when the time comes to take pen to paper:

  • Gifts received before the wedding should also get a thank you note before the wedding. The standard timeline for sending a note is is 2-3 weeks after receiving the gift.
  • Wedding thank-you notes should be sent within three months of your nuptials. There’s a sneaky “rule” floating around out there that you have a year, but for best decorum, send your thank-you notes no later than three months after the wedding.
  • Use stationery. While the card design is entirely up to you, avoid preprinted notes where you and your new hubby simply sign your name. Thank-you notes should have a personal touch (more on that later), so use stationery fit for writing a message.
  • It’s never too late. Yes, you should send them within three months, but if that time comes and goes without a thank-you note in sight, that doesn’t mean you should shrug and move on. If you have to pass the three-month mark, later is always better than never.
a place setting a wedding with a thank you note card in sepia brown

Photo Credit || Courtney Sargent Photography

Who Gets A Thank-You Note?

Wedding thank-you notes don’t stop at gift-givers. Showing some love to the people who helped make your entire wedding experience possible is just as important. This group will vary from couple to couple, but this list should get you started. Send a thank-you to:

  • Anyone who gives a gift, including monetary gifts and donations.
  • Anyone helping on the day of your wedding, e.g., attendants, greeters, etc.
  • Anyone who hosts a party for you. (Note: If the party is hosted by a group, thank-you notes should go to every host.)
  • Anyone who helped with small details or entertained guests, like arranging flowers or housing your wedding party for a shower weekend.
  • Your wedding party.
  • Your wedding vendors.

This list might be shorter or longer depending on whether you throw a small shindig or a large and lavish affair, but just remember: when in doubt, write a thank-you note.

an open vintage suitcase with a chalkboard sign reading "cards" at a wedding reception

Photo Credit || Shawnee C

Wedding Thank-You Note Writing Tips

Now that you know the ins and outs of when to send and who to send to, let’s talk about what your thank-you note should actually include. Here are some things to remember when writing thank-you notes:

  • Be specific. Let’s be honest, receiving a thank-you card that simply says “Thank you for your gift” isn’t really saying much at all. Be specific in your thanks by mentioning exactly what you received as a gift and how you plan to use it. One exception to the “be specific” rule is for monetary gifts. While great to mention how you plan to use the funds, it is best to not mention the exact amount.
  • Make it personal. Mention a small detail about the person who gave you the gift, such as their part in the wedding or a time in the future that you will see them.
  • Be yourself. While thank-you notes are, in a way, a formality, it’s important to use your true voice. A thank-you note shows your appreciation and is meant to make someone happy, so keeping it authentic is important.
  • Write clearly. While we aren’t saying you need to enroll in a calligraphy class, a legible message shows that you took the time to say “thank you.”
  • If you have a close relationship with the gift giver(s), feel free to address the note using their first names only. If you have a formal relationship with the gift givers, use titles such as “Dr.” or Ms.” If the gift is from a family with children who also attended the wedding, consider addressing it to the whole family, e.g., The Cunningham Family.
  • Share the responsibility. You and your partner should both sign your names!
wedding invitation suite in black and white with san francisco skyline and the golden gate bridge in red

Photo Credit || Apollo Fotografie {Fine Art Wedding Photo + Video}

Here’s a short and sweet example of a wedding thank-you note message:

Dear Cunningham Family,

Thank you so much for the set of chef knives—we’ve already made some delicious dinners with them in the new house! It was so great to see you all at the wedding, and hopefully we will get to see you over the holidays when we are visiting.

Thank you again for such a wonderful gift, and for sharing such a special day with us. It meant the world.

Love,

Jane and Thomas

Following the rules above should ensure that your wedding thank-you notes put a smile on your loved ones’ faces, and, let’s be honest, isn’t that all what we’re trying to do here?

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