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.

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