Thank-You Notes

Nothing is more upsetting to a mom who has just invited legions of friends and families to a wedding than a daughter who refuses to write thank-you notes for all of the gifts that have been lavished upon her and her new husband. Is this a generational gap? Is it standard practice for brides to thank guests in person for gifts, and let it go at that? No, it isn't. This is one issue that's worth harping on until you see the bride breaking down and penning her gratitude.

It's the Right Thing

No matter what assumption the bride and groom may have been under, a guest is never obligated to either attend a wedding or to give a gift. Anyone who has bothered to bring (or send) the newlyweds a present deserves a hand-written note of appreciation. Be sure the bride and groom understand how important thank-you notes are.

Essential

Since most registries are online way before the wedding, many gifts will start to arrive before the wedding. Have your daughter write thank-you notes as she receives the gifts and then she can send them out after the wedding. There will be less work to do when she comes back from the honeymoon.

The note should be short and sincere, and should make some mention of the specific gift and its intended use. For example, if your cousin Martha sent the bride a tablecloth, the bride could write a note along the lines of the following:

Dear Martha,

Thank you so much for the beautiful lace tablecloth. Jim and I just love it, and will use it for our most formal dinners. It was so kind of you to think of us.

Love,

Mary

If Martha has sent the ugliest tablecloth you've ever seen, the note should still read the same. (It's the thought that counts.) Now, if Martha gave the newlyweds money, a thank you note might read:

Dear Martha,

Thank you very much for the generous gift. Jim and I are looking for a new couch, and we'll use your money toward the purchase. It was great to see you at the wedding. I hope we'll see each other again soon.

Love,

Mary

Notice how there's no mention of the specific dollar amount, but the bride tells Martha exactly where that money is going to be used, which will give Martha a sense of having made a significant contribution that the kids really appreciate. In the event that the bride has no idea what Martha has given her, she can write a generic note:

Dear Martha,

Thank you so much for the wedding gift.

I was so happy you could come to the wedding and meet Jim. I hope we'll see each other over the holidays.

Love,

Mary

Obviously, the writer of this note has no clue as to what the actual gift was, but the important thing is that she made the effort to thank Martha anyway. A note like this is not exactly admirable (and should be avoided if possible), but it's far worse to ignore the gift giver altogether.

No Time to Waste

If the wedding was a large one, the bride and groom should start writing these notes as soon as they return from the honeymoon. The guests will also want to know that the bride and groom received their presents, and that nothing was lost in the shuffle.

When the bride and groom open the gifts, they should keep a list of who has given what, and refer to that list when writing their notes. (No one wants to be thanked for the wrong gift.)

Just Make Them Do It

Don't accept no for an answer here. While there are plenty of issues that are fair game for negotiation after the wedding (issues that will be covered later in this chapter), this isn't one of them. It's very impolite to invite guests to a party, take their gifts, and then not acknowledge them, especially in this situation.

Question

Are thank-you notes the bride's responsibility, or should the groom help?

Of course, the groom should help out, especially if both of them are working full-time. Writing 100 or so thank-you notes is a time-consuming job; two pens working furiously will cut the time in half.

Since some of the guests are your friends and relatives who don't know your daughter from anyone else in the world, they came to the wedding at your request. If the bride wants to leave her own friends hanging, wondering whether she liked their presents, that's one thing (because it will affect their opinion of her); however, she shouldn't be allowed to do the same to the folks you invited (because it will affect their opinion of her and you).

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