How to Write a Personal Wedding Thank You Note
The Wedding Thank You Note
As you prepare for your wedding, you will begin to realize that writing the thank you cards will be an event in itself. If you've already had a bridal shower, then you have an idea of what this will be like. Ironically, many people will advise you to plan ahead by writing up templated, generic thank yous that can be sent the week after the wedding. While this will help you get them written quickly, it certainly won't make them personal. Keep in mind that your guests have gotten you a gift, picked out (or purchased!) a nice outfit for your wedding, and taken the time to come to it. The least you can do for them is write a personal thank you note. Below are steps to not only make that happen, but also turn the card-writing process into an enjoyable experience for you.
What to Do Before the Wedding
For the most part, you shouldn't write any of your thank yous before the wedding. There will be some exceptions to this and I will outline them below. However, there are a few things you can do before the wedding to make life a little easier for you.
First - Pick Out Your Cards and Stamps
By the time you get close to the wedding, you'll probably already be a pro at sizing up stationery and picking out what you like. Do yourself a favor and pick out your thank you cards and stamps BEFORE the wedding happens. In many cases, you can go with the exact same theme or design as your invitations. Another option many people opt for are personalized cards that include photos of the bride and groom. If you go this route, you can get really creative and have lots of fun with a "thank you" photo shoot. Customized stamps are also a fun addition to your thank you cards. Again, you can stick with the same theme as the invitations, or try something a little different.
Second - Set Up a Detailed Chart
Hopefully somewhere along the line you've already created a master list of everyone you've sent an invitation to. If so, then you've already made this step easy. If not, then you definitely want to do that ahead of time - regardless of whether they come to the wedding or not. Remember, even if someone doesn't come to the wedding, if they get you a gift, you should still send a thank you note. If you already have a master list, then you should make a copy of it so that you can add additional notes for yourself. My recommendation is to put this list in excel or Google spreadsheets, so that you can have a row for each guest and various columns for different information.
These are the columns I recommend using - guest (their name), mailing address, RSVP response, gift they gave you, group, written (yes/no), sent (yes/no).
Try to write at least 3 thank you's before you go to work and 3 thank you's before you go to bed. This will help you chip away at your list without feeling like you have to accomplish too many at one time.
Filling Out Your Thank You Chart
- Contact Information: Once you've set up your chart, you need to fill out everything you possibly can, as soon as you can. This will ensure that you're not bogged down with too much work towards the end, and also makes it easier to not forget something. As stated above, you should already have the names of your guests, as well as their addresses since you would have already sent them an invitation. If anyone sends you a gift ahead of time, go ahead and add their gift to the list. Do the same with their RSVP response as those start showing up in the mail.
- Groups: The "group" column that I recommended adding can be really helpful once you're ready to start writing and mailing out thank yous. The point of that column is to prioritize and group people so that you don't have to wait until every single thank you is written before you mail them out. For example, you could have a group that is immediate family and bridal party that you will want to send first. You could have a group that is for work associates, high school friends, extended family, etc. So when you are ready to start writing thank yous, you can sort by group and start writing the first set. Once you have finished that group, you can mail them out. This will help you set milestones and give you some relief, instead of the anxiety of knowing you're only partially done.
- The Actions: The columns for "written" and "sent" should be marked with a yes or no once you have completed that action. When I was writing my cards, I would make a point to write at least 3 every morning before I went to work and at least 3 before I went to bed. I would try my best to block off additional time to get bigger batches done, but this way I was still chipping away at the list. By marking down whether I had already written the card, I reduced any confusion. Trust me, when you're writing hundreds of these, it can be easy to mix them up!
The Thank You Components
To write a heartfelt, personal thank you, you need to make sure you include certain components:
- Their name(s). This is an obvious one, but I'm listing it just in case! You can't write a personal thank you if you don't specify who you're writing to. This is a time when you don't need to be overly formal either. You can write "Dear Uncle Joe" even if his proper title is "Mr. Joseph Devine".
- Thank them for coming to the wedding and/or showing their support. Your wedding was surely a beautiful event and they most likely had a wonderful time. But, they did take time away from their schedule to attend, and the wedding would not have been the same without all of your guests - so this is an important one! Don't forget the most basic thank you. And if they didn't come, but sent a gift, you should still thank them for their support. It's a big deal that you're getting married and by sending a gift, they're showing their approval and support.
- Thank them for their specific gift and mention how you will use it. This is especially important if they gave you money. Now, you don't need to thank them for the specific amount, but you should thank them for their generosity and mention what the money will be going towards. This can be as simple as starting your new life together, your honeymoon, an upcoming home purchase, or even just a romantic night out together. And if they gave you a tangible gift, mention what you will use it for. "We can't wait to have you over to use the new platter!" "It was so nice to come home from the honeymoon to a brand new bed set."
- Thank them for any extra time they put towards your wedding. This may not apply to everyone and can be wrapped into #2, but is still very important to acknowledge. Your bridal party is a prime example of people that deserve some extra thanks for the time they put into making your day magical. It is also a good idea to thank any family or friends that traveled a long distance to see you. If you Grandma pulled lots of strings to get you the officiant you want, this type of thanks would apply. That took time and effort!
- The wrap-up. Finishing up a letter can be hard, but it helps to set the tone of the note, so its an important piece that should not be overlooked. This can be as simple as "Thanks again for everything!" Or, for family or close friends, "Can't wait to see you soon!" "So glad to have you as my brother!"
The Exception: Thank You's You Can Write Before the Wedding
For the record, I don't think these cards should ever be written before the wedding. However, there is one exception: IF you are really worried about the number of cards you will need to write - and that is for people that were invited to the wedding, have already RSVP'd that they will not be able to attend, and have already sent you a gift. Now, I still think you should wait until after the wedding to put these in the mail, but you can write the personalized thank you as if you are writing it after the wedding. Here is an example:
Dear Sally and John,
Thank you so much for the money you sent us. That was so generous and we can't wait to put it towards our new house! We really missed you at the wedding, but we had an unbelievable time and we know you were with us in spirit. Your support means a lot to us. Thanks again for everything! We hope to see you soon.
Cara and Dave
Dear Sue and Dan,
Thank you so much for coming to the wedding and for the beautiful platter! We had such a wonderful time and it meant so much to us that you were there to support us. Our night would definitely not have been as memorable without the dance moves you brought to the night! Hopefully we will get to see you again soon. Thanks again for everything!
Sara and Mark
Dear Aunt Betty,
Thank you so much for coming to the wedding and for the generous wedding gift! We are going to put it towards the down payment for our new house, so it could not have come at a better time. It meant so much to us that you took the time to travel so far just to support us. It was so great to see you there! Hopefully we will get to see you again soon. We hope you had as much fun as we did. Thanks again for everything!
Leah and Tim
Thank you soooo much for everything you did to help prepare for the wedding. It made such a huge difference to have you there and the gift was so unbelievably generous (and unexpected)! We put it towards our honeymoon and toasted to your generosity over a fabulous bottle of champagne! Can't wait to see you soon. Thanks again for everything!
Nina and Drew