Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Art of Writing Thank You Notes

In this day and age, where technology, email, Facebook and text messaging have taken over as our forms of communication, the thought of hand writing a note can be a daunting task, especially if you are a newlywed.  This essential correspondence of your gratitude can be much easier than you think.  All you need is a little bit of planning and organization!

Give it a Personal Touch
Thank you notes for wedding gifts should be hand-written on personalized stationery and signed by one person.  Traditional etiquette requires the note to be personalized with the name or monogram of the person signing the note. Current trends have made accommodations for the couple to have both of their names or monogram on the front of the note.  This lends itself to be more versatile and convenient for either person to use the card for wedding-related gifts.  It also shows a unity in the couple and their joint appreciation for the items received.

Keep in mind, that etiquette does still dictate that, before the wedding day, the bride use her maiden name or monogram.  Thus, bridal shower thank you notes should come from just the bride or just the groom.  Reserve your married name or monogram for all notes sent after the wedding.

Write Early & Write Often
You may begin to write your thank you notes as soon as the gifts begin to arrive.  You'll find it's much easier and not as burdensome.  You can create a goal for yourself, as soon as the gifts are showering in, choose to write three or four thank you notes a day.  This makes the task less of a chore and will help your true appreciation shine through your writing versus a flat, thank you template.  It will warm your gift givers heart that you took the time to be more thoughtful with your words and will capture the feeling of gratitude you felt when you opened the gift.  Envision the gift giver's reaction when opening the envelope and seeing your hand-written expression.

As a standard rule of thumb, thank you notes should be written within two weeks of any engagement parties, bridal showers or other pre-wedding events.  For wedding gifts, you should try to send them out as soon as possible, we typically recommend one to three months after the wedding.  {For any gifts received before the actual wedding day, the two week rule should apply so that the gift giver is not left wondering whether the gift actually reached you.}

Remember, each gift requires its own thank you note, even if you receive a shower gift and a wedding gift from the same person.  Similarly, each person who contributed to a group gift should receive their very own personal note.

Get Organized
When you order your wedding invitations, pre-order your thank you notes.  This assures you are prepared and ready to go when the gifts start arriving.  You may also want to purchase a exquisite pen.  This simple purchase will have you looking forward to the task much more when you are in love with the look and feel of the stationery and enjoy holding the pen in your hand and feel the way it writes.  

If you have a spreadsheet or wedding planning guide you are using to track your invitations and replies, add a column or two to track gifts received and when you have written and sent the thank you notes.

Share the Chore
Remember how the notes are supposed to be signed by one individual?  By splitting up the list of notes, you and your spouse can finish the task in half the time.  Divide your list of thanks to your respective family, friends and co-workers.  Don't fret if one or both of you have less than perfect penmanship, a thoughtful and heartfelt "Thank You" is worth more than any thoughts about bad handwriting.

Who made the Cut?
Be sure to show your appreciation to the following list of people:
* Wedding Guests who brought or sent gifts
* the Wedding Party {each bridesmaid and groomsman}
* People who helped during the ceremony {Officiant, readers, ushers, program helpers}
* People who helped in some other way {decorators, errand runners, caterers, photographers, all your vendors}
* Hosts of showers and luncheons 

Finding the Words
Write your notes in your own voice.  Pretend you are thanking the giver in person.  Your introduction does not have to be the classic "Thank you for {insert item here}."  This will also help create a more heart-felt note and less template feeling.

Be sure to keep the center of attention of the note on your guest.  If you receive a monetary gift, say something like "Your generous gift was so thoughtful".  You do not want to call out the amount or form of the gift.  Ignorance is bliss...and guests never need to know that you returned a gift, that you received several of the same item or that it arrived damaged.  Remember, they took the time to think of you, so honoring their feelings is important as well.

It's a nice touch if you can share with your giver when, where or how you plan on using their gift. {Your thoughtfulness will be remembered when we cook our first dinner as husband and wife.  The pots and pans are perfect!}   And don't be afraid to say "Thank You" more than once.  It is after all a thank you note, just don't get too over zealous, it should be sincere.

In Closing
When signing your note, be mindful or your relationship with the receiver.  "Love" is appropriate for family and close friends, whereas "Warmly" or "Fondly" can be used for distance relatives.  A better option when writing to your boss or other co-workers may be "Sincerely" or "With Gratitude".

The Heart Matters the Most
Above everything else, you want to be sure you are expressing your appreciation to everyone who went out of their way to do something special for you, send you a gift or spent time or money on your big day!  Keeping in mind the gratitude you feel for them and their generosity will help make this duty easier and much more meaningful.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DIY Invitations? Don't say UH-OH! Read this first!

©Image created by Hugh McLeod - Artist, Cartoonist
Printing your own wedding invitations can be fun and exciting.  It can also be scary, tedious and in the end a hot mess!  Keep in mind that if you're thinking of doing your own invitations to save money, it may cost you more in the long run!  Here are some things to think about before venturing into this project.

Printer, Toner, Cardstock - Oh My!
Now here is the big question and the first you should ask yourself as this will drive your future decisions, what printer are you going to use?  Why is this so important, well, as a printing professional with over 20 years in the industry, let me tell you, not all printers are alike.  Inkjet printers are great - but NOT for metallic paper stock!  They run or the colors look flat and muted.  They can be a big mess! 

Laser printers can produce fantastic results, but not on textured paper {such as felt or linen} or some envelopes, oh dear, don't even get me started {that's further in the blog anyway!}.  And some laser printers will curl the cardstock or not be able to pull the thick cover weight through it's winding print path.

What are your printers margins?  Most printers need 1/4" - 1/2" all around for printing.  So you won't be able to purchase cut cardstock and have the art go to the edges.

You may want to find some sample stock to test on your printer before you commit to doing them yourself!  If you cannot print them yourself, perhaps you can design them and have a professional help with the printing and finishing.  We are happy to print and finish our bride's designs if she would like to set up her own art {Quick Tip - talk to us prior to art set up!}

Paper, Paper and more Paper!
Now that you have figured out the printer.  Where do you get paper stock?  There are a number of online resources and they often will let you order samples, but this can get cumbersome and shopping around is not always easy and gets overwhelming quick.  There are different paper weights {cardstock vs. text weight} and different textures {matte, metallic, felt, linen - just to name a few}.  Not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of colors! 

The best idea is to go to your local stationer that will sell you just plain stock.  At our shoppe, The Birds & the Bees, ltd. we carry several paper lines and a vast selection of colors, textures and weights.  We also have swatch books that you can actually see the color, feel the paper and see what you are ordering, without needing to pay for a sample and wait anxiously for the mailman {Quick Tip - they may even have extra stock you can request to test print!!}.

Getting Creative
So, you've selected your paper, and you ask, where do I begin with design?  We use professional design programs such as CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator.  However, if you are limited to what you have on your home computer, I strongly suggest test printing on plain paper stock.  Before you print to your actual stock.  Make sure the alignment is what you are after and the fonts look how you imagined.  It can be surprising what looks good on the screen may end up too small or too large or simply put - not good.  Remember this is the first impression your guests will see, take your time, don't rush the process.

Fonts are a great way to dress up your invite!  You can download free fonts at or some beautiful typography at  Whichever you choose, again, printing out a sample print is key.  Some free fonts look great on screen, but are not as sharp and clean as those you might purchase.

Looking for some decorative elements?  One thing I cannot stress enough - do NOT use Google images!  To start, the images you find online are not free to use.  Images are copyright protected by the originator {ie., artist, creator, designer, photographer,etc.}  You may use art if the site you find it on says it is royalty free for personal use or you purchase the rights to use the art on sites like or {stepping off soap box}.

You will want to keep mindful how you set up your print files.  You can what we printers call "gang up" the cards to conserve paper stock.  Usually you can get multiple cards on an 8.5" x 11".  You'll want to arrange them on the 8.5" x 11" and print crop marks to use in trimming.

Ok, so you have figured out the printer, the paper stock and the design elements.  Now, how are you going to cut these beautiful invitations?!  Your local stationer or print shop can also assist with this.  You'll want to make sure they are clean edges and straight, and quite frankly you do not want to make that many cuts - your hands need to look great for that ring shot remember?!

The little details will add up too!  Ribbon, adhesive, scoring, ink and embellishments will be additional items to consider.

Let the countdown begin!
Give yourself plenty of time to complete your invitations!  This project will take you longer than you think.  Assembling can take up to 3-5 minutes per invitation, let alone all the set up and print time {Quick Tip - Inkjets print SLOW! We suggest ordering your invitations at least 4-6 months before the wedding.  If you are doing them yourself, give yourself the same amount of time!  You'll want to get them in the mail 6-8 weeks prior to the big day and you don't want to have some late nights of assembly!
Adding it all Up
Be sure to price out all the parts for your project and be sure to calculate the time you'll be spending on this craft.  Is it worth the time and effort {and possible stress and aggravation} you'll endure? Pulling your hair out before the wedding does not make for pretty wedding photos!