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25 Ways to Give Thanks at Your Wedding

In the spirit of the season, we've gathered some fun ways to give thanks before, during, and after your big day.

By: Stefania Sainato

Enter Slideshow
  • 1. Keep a gratitude journal.

    1. Keep a gratitude journal.

    Unlike a regular diary, which requires daily upkeep, jot down quick thoughts about your planning "highs" (e.g. what you felt like when you bought your dress) whenever you have the time. You can also use it to store fun mementos like a sketch of your cake.

    Related: The 6 Emotional Stages of Planning a Wedding

  • 2. Spend quality time with your maid of honor and best man.

    2. Spend quality time with your maid of honor and best man.

    Plan a one-on-one hangout before the wedding chaos takes over. You'll relish the opportunity to bond with them before the biggest day of your life.

    Photo Credit: J. Wiley Photography

  • 3. Exchange letters on the morning of the wedding.

    3. Exchange letters on the morning of the wedding.

    Sure, "meet you down the aisle" texts are charming, but there's nothing quite like putting pen to paper. Thank your future spouse for marrying you and making you the luckiest woman alive. Capture each other's reaction on film by reading the letters out loud for your videographer.

    Related: 60 Must-Have "Getting Ready" Photos

    Photo Credit: J. Wiley Photography

  • 4. Unveil a fun wedding surprise for your groom.

    4. Unveil a fun wedding surprise for your groom.

    Is ESPN the soundtrack of your home? Give a nod to his sports obsession by having guests sign a jersey as your "guest book." Did he spend his childhood (and beyond) secretly wishing he was Spiderman? We're smitten with this creative take on the groom's cake.

    Related: 7 Ways to Surprise Your Groom at the Wedding

  • 5. Savor a quiet moment together.

    5. Savor a quiet moment together.

    Soak in your surroundings — the stunning reception space that took months to plan, friends and family busting a move on the dance floor, that giddy look on your husband's face that says, "We finally did it."

    Related: 35 Romantic Ideas for Your Wedding Reception

    Photo Credit: Ryan Ray Photography

  • 6. Wipe away your parents

    6. Wipe away your parents' tears of joy.

    Personalize vintage handkerchiefs with embroidered messages for Mom, Dad, your mother-in-law, father-in-law, or any other close family members.

    Related: Wedding Thank-You Gifts for Mom and Dad

  • 7. Dedicate your wedding to both sets of parents.

    7. Dedicate your wedding to both sets of parents.

    At the ceremony, ask the officiant if you could read a poem in honor of your family. Here's one example of wording we love, via weddings.usabride.com: "We would like to dedicate this ceremony to our parents. They have taught us our values and shown us how to laugh, love and appreciate all that life has to offer. Their generosity, support, and love are unending." Or, you can surprise them at the reception, instead. Imagine the look on their faces when they flip over this drink coaster!

    Related: 100 Sentimental Wedding Ideas You'll Love

  • 8. Honor your parents

    8. Honor your parents' marriage by incorporating their wedding-day photos.

    Whether it's one small photo tucked into your armoire or a dedicated corner at the sign-in table, they'll appreciate the sentimental gesture. Or, have your photographer help you re-create one of their favorite shots.

    Photo Credits (from top to bottom): Ana Lui; Zenobia Studios and Ashfall Mixed Media

  • 9. Carry a piece of them down the aisle with you.

    9. Carry a piece of them down the aisle with you.

    Use fabric from your mother's wedding dress as your bouquet holder (like the photo pictured at right), or hang miniature childhood photos from your flowers. Instead of doing a bouquet toss, give a speech at the reception dedicating your bouquet to the most important woman in your life — Mom.

    Related: Unique Wedding Bouquet Details

    Bouquet at left photographed by Alisha + Brook Photographers / Bouquet at right created by Edge Design Group; photographed by Nadia D. Photography

  • 10. Give Mom and Dad one last hug before you

    10. Give Mom and Dad one last hug before you're pronounced husband-and-wife.

    Take the time to stop for one final display of affection. Just remind your parents that the officiant is waiting if they refuse to let go.

    Related: 200+ Emotional Wedding Moments

    Photo Credit: Jeremy Beasley

  • 11. Toast to all of the times that your bridal party supported you.

    11. Toast to all of the times that your bridal party supported you.

    Thank your bridal party attendants for sharing in the joy of your wedding day with a quick speech. Don't forget to hand out a glass of bubbly to each bridesmaid before you hit the road!

  • 12. Give your bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts they

    12. Give your bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts they'll actually use.

  • 13. Spend one-on-one time with your flower girl and ring bearer.

    13. Spend one-on-one time with your flower girl and ring bearer.

    Give the little ones a bucket filled with crayons and activities to keep them busy at the reception, let them play with your dress, and say "cheese" in the front of the camera for their very own portrait.

    Related: Adorable Pics to Take With Your Ring Bearer and Flower Girl

    Photo Credits (from left to right): Joshua McCoy Photography and Angel Canary Photography

  • 14. Give your bridal party kudos in your wedding program.

    14. Give your bridal party kudos in your wedding program.

    Explain what their relationship is to you (a sister, friend, coworker) and include a few fun facts about them.

  • 15. Dedicate a special song to your

    15. Dedicate a special song to your 'maids and groomsmen.

    Don't require them to practice a dance beforehand, unless you're Zumba buddies or were in a dance troupe back in high school! Just have your DJ or band play a song from your past and watch unscripted hilarity ensue.

    Related: All Together Now: Choreographed Wedding Dances That Make Us Smile

  • 16. Thank your vendors for making your wedding vision come to life.

    16. Thank your vendors for making your wedding vision come to life.

    After all of those emails, calls, brainstorming sessions, and, yes, the times that they saved your behind, express how much you appreciate them with a heartfelt card. Pay it forward by writing a positive review online, if you were happy with their service.

  • 17. Give vendors a shout-out in your toast.

    17. Give vendors a shout-out in your toast.

    If you plan on saying a few words to welcome guests to the wedding reception, mention all of the vendors who helped make your night (or day) a success.

  • 18. Create a heartfelt guest book alternative.

    18. Create a heartfelt guest book alternative.

    Your wedding day is the one time when you're surrounded by everyone who loves you, all in the same room. What better way to bottle up all of their good wishes than by preserving and displaying them in your home afterward?

    Related: 50 Unique Wedding Guest Book Ideas

    Photo Credits (from top to bottom): K and K Photography and Rachael Foster Photography

  • 19. Incorporate "thanks" as part of your wedding décor.

    19. Incorporate "thanks" as part of your wedding décor.

    One popular option is to display a special thank-you on the menu. Or, you could include a meaningful blessing or prayer.

    Photo Credit: Taylor Lord

  • 20. Give out thoughtful favors.

    20. Give out thoughtful favors.

    Gift creature comforts like cozy slippers, a yummy scent or donuts for the ride home.

    Related: 30 Favor Ideas From Real Weddings

    Photo Credits (from left to right, top to bottom): Minerva Photography; Casey Fatchett; Blink of an Eye Photography and Liquid Courage Flasks

  • 21. Have fun with your thank-you cards.

    21. Have fun with your thank-you cards.

    A custom illustration makes signing all of those notes that much more bearable (and, dare we say it, fun).

    Related: Etiquette Q&A: "What Should We Write in Our Thank-You Notes?"

    Photo Credit: Ashley Brooke Designs

  • 22. Pay it forward and give back to your community with charitable favors.

    22. Pay it forward and give back to your community with charitable favors.

    Donate to a cause that is close to your heart and include a note explaining the significance behind your choice.

    Related: 15 Simple Ways To Use Your Wedding To Pay It Forward

    Photo Credit: Mari Darr

  • 23. Donate your dress.

    23. Donate your dress.

    After the big day, you can donate your dress and any other bridal accessories to Brides Against Breast Cancer, which will resell it and use the proceeds to help a woman with cancer. Or, you can gift it to Brides for a Cause, which collects and resells gowns to support Wish Upon a Wedding, a non-profit organization that grants weddings to couples in need.

    If your bridesmaids are interested, they can donate their dresses as well, to organizations that provide prom dresses to disadvantaged high school girls. If you live in Chicago, check out The Glass Slipper Project, and if you live in New York, try The Cinderella Project.

    Photo Credit: Snappy Shots by Bev

  • 24. Donate flowers.

    24. Donate flowers.

    Organizations such as Floranthropy (Seattle) will re-assemble your donations into new floral arrangements for hospices and nursing homes that could use some cheer.

  • 25. Donate food.

    25. Donate food.

    Arrange to have any extra food from your reception "rescued" to feed hungry people in your area. Find out more at Second Harvest.

  • Bonus: Keep the spirit of gratitude going in your marriage.

    Bonus: Keep the spirit of gratitude going in your marriage.

    Leave secret messages for your spouse to find. At dinner, take a cue from The Queen of Giving, Oprah Winfrey, and tell them about three blessings that happened to you on that day. "When you focus on what you have, your abundance only increases," the talk show host has said.

    Related: 10 Ways Your Wedding Prepares You for Marriage

    Photo Credit: Betsy's Wood on Etsy

25 Ways to Give Thanks at Your Wedding

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