Thank You, Thank You

You feel as though you've been living life in the spotlight, and now that the wedding's over, it's over. No more worrying about the details, just thinking back and remembering how great the day was. Hang on. You're not quite ready to write the wedding off until you've written your thank-you notes. Get your pen ready, Mister.

The Parade of Gifts

Upon returning from the honeymoon (or from the wedding if you're delaying the honeymoon for a while), you and the bride will dig into a seemingly never-ending mountain of wedding gifts. Before you do, make sure you're set up to record each gift. You should know who gave you what, because you can't properly thank someone if you're completely clueless as to what they gave you — or if they gave you anything at all.

Essential

A gift recorder doesn't have to be a fancy, store-bought item. Take a sheet of paper and make two columns: Name and Gift — and don't lose this list!

“She'll Write All the Notes”

No, she won't. Time was, the bride was held responsible for sending the perfect note of gratitude to each and every wedding guest. Your wife simply cannot complete the tasks of the average 1950s housewife. She has a full-time job of her own, plus the housework. In addition, you're a Man of the New Millennium — and as such, you're expected to help out.

Look at it this way — is it really fair to expect your wife to write 200 letters of appreciation while you flat-out refuse to do it? No, not really.

Divide the duties any way that seems feasible to both of you. Perhaps you'd feel most comfortable writing to your own friends and members of your family. Or maybe you'd like to switch lists and have her address your side of the guest list while she sends notes to your relations.

Expressing Your Gratitude

Whatever your personal feelings for a particular guest, if he or she brought you a gift, you must send a thank you. Even if you absolutely hate the gift, even if you cannot for the life of you understand how someone looked at this hideous lamp and decided you would love it, even if you think it's a re-gift, you have to send the thank you.

Many new grooms are faced with the realization that they have never been forced to write a note of thanks. No matter. It's easy enough. A few simple guidelines:

Get the names right. There's nothing more offensive to a gift giver than being addressed by the wrong name. Check and double-check names (and spellings) if you're unsure.

Keep it brief. No one expects a three-page letter from a newlywed.

Make mention of the gift. The giver wants to know that you actually made note of the gift and that you know what you're thanking them for. An all-purpose line like “Thank you for your wedding gift” is very vague and suspicious — as though you have no idea what this person gave you.

Fact

Even if this is the worst gift you've received over the course of your lifetime and assuming that you've accepted the fact that you absolutely have to thank the giver, be as sincere as you can when writing your note of thanks. (In other words, don't try to craft an ambiguous — and sarcastic — communiqué.)

You still haven't the slightest idea where to start? Let's say your Aunt Peg sent you a check for your wedding. You need to send her a thank-you note, and you should do it within the month. If you wait any longer, Peg will wonder if her check got lost in the mail — and when she checks her bank statement and realizes you've already cashed it, she's going to be awfully miffed at your bad manners.

Since Peg sent you money, you're going to thank her and tell her what you plan to do with that money:

Dear Aunt Peg,

Thank you so much for the wedding gift. We've just started looking at houses and plan to use the money toward a down payment.

We're sorry that you couldn't make it to the wedding, but we appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Thanks again.

Love,

Joe and Jojo

Note how the actual monetary amount doesn't make its way into the letter — Aunt Peg might have given you $25, or maybe she sent you $500. It doesn't matter. Etiquette states that you leave the dollar amount out of the thankyou letter.

Now, what if Aunt Peg came to the wedding and gave you the aforementioned hideous lamp?

Dear Aunt Peg,

Thank you very much for the lamp. It's just what we needed for our apartment. The colors in the lampshade are so vivid that it matches everything.

We were so glad you could come to the wedding. It meant a lot to both of us that you were there to share our special day.

Thanks again.

Love,

Joe and Jojo

Note that nothing in this letter is an actual lie.

The main idea you want to get across is that you are appreciative of the specific gift that this person gave you, and that you were happy they were at your wedding. It's not difficult; you'll get the hang of it and find yourself adding little niceties like, “Hope to see you soon!” and “Give us a call next time you're in town!” Easy breezy.

The Forgotten

Once in a while, a gift-giver's name will get lost or you'll simply forget to send a thank-you note. If the slighted person happens to be a relative, you'll probably hear about it through the grapevine (read: your mom). As soon as you hear the rumblings that you've forgotten to thank someone, get on the stick and get that note out ASAP.

Alert

You have thirty days to get a thank-you note to a gift giver. Don't put the entire task off for three weeks and then try to work your way through a mound of stationery. Writing ten or fifteen notes a night will make the task much more manageable.

Sure, you might feel funny sending a thank-you note to someone who's obviously peeved at you for not sending one, but the alternative is that you're thought of — and spoken of — as a crass nincompoop. (And if it doesn't matter to you, it does matter to someone else — yes, your mom — so just do it.)

If you have no idea at this point what this person has given you, you have no other choice but to use vague language, which is a no-no in most cases. This is the better of two bad choices. It's better to send a note that's a little unclear on the facts than to ignore the giver. That's just wrong.

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