Thank-You Note Q&As

Think of it as your final wedding responsibility. Here, answers about thanking your guests properly.

Q: It’s been five months since a friend’s wedding, and I have yet to receive a thank-you note for my gift. Is this amount of time acceptable? As a bride-to-be, when should I plan to send out my own notes? 

A: Promptness counts when it comes to thanking friends and family for their gifts. You may have heard that you have up to a year after your big day to send out your notes, but that’s not true (sorry!). Here’s a timeline for all your special occasions: engagement party and shower, within two to three weeks of the festivities; gifts sent before the wedding date, as soon as possible, but definitely before the wedding; gifts given on the day itself, within three months; gifts received after your wedding, within two to three weeks.

It may be an oversight on your friend’s part or perhaps she’s simply overwhelmed by the task. If you find yourself in the same position, you should still send your notes no matter how many months have passed. According to Kelly Brown, author of 101 Ways to Say Thank You (Sterling), you can acknowledge the late date by writing, “In all the excitement of the wedding I somehow managed to separate your gift from your card…” or “Many apologies for the tardiness of my note. As you can imagine we are still getting used to married life…” To avoid getting behind, it’s best to write your thank-yous as soon as gifts start arriving. Keep a list of what you’ve received and what notes you’ve sent. Get your fiancé involved as well. He can write to his family members and friends. Just don’t use e-mail. For a wedding, only handwritten notes are acceptable.

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My parents and my grandmother both contributed large amounts toward our wedding. What is a proper way to thank them, and when should the thank you occur? Is it okay to thank them along with our wedding day gifts, or should we send a thank you within a certain period of time after receiving the money?

It's not necessary to wait until you receive the money to say thank-you -- you know that it's coming. You should definitely put some thought into the type of thank-you you want to express, and soon after returning from the honeymoon is the perfect time give your thank-you gifts. Here, some ideas: 1. Parents and grandparents are definitely sentimental, so why not put together personalized photo albums with "through the years" snapshots of the bride with her parents and grandparents, including wedding-day photos? 2. Give them a beautiful framed wedding-day photograph of the couple with her parents and grandparents. 3. Invite them to your home for a special dinner so you can not only show off some of your registry gifts in use and but also present your gifts to them. Or, you can take them out for dinner and then invite them back to your home for dessert and present your thank-you gifts then. (Provided, of course, that the bride's parents and grandparents live nearby.) 4. Also consider some of the activities they like: Tickets to a sporting event, theater, ballet, golf outing, or a gift card for a spa day, mani/pedi or dinner at their favorite restaurant will be greatly appreciated. 5. Consider giving them a personalized gift, such as a piece of jewelry for mom and grandma and personalized tie clips, cuff links or money clips for dad and grandpa. 6. Gift baskets are also an option or signing them up for a "gift of the month" (fresh fruit, wine, etc.). 7. And always include a handwritten thank-you note with any gift given that expresses how genuinely grateful you are for their generosity. These are just a few suggestions that are sure to please. -Diane Forden, Editor in Chief of Bridal Guide