Thank You, Sir, May I Have Another?
Sep 10, 2009
Traditions & Etiquette
It is one of the great tragedies of modern marriage that no one has yet figured out how to conjure up a Thank-You Note Fairy.
But they haven’t, so you and your groom have to write them.
You can do this. It will make your marriage stronger. OK, maybe it won’t, but you and your groom still have to do it.
Let go of the big myth.
Many etiquette guides say that your guests, should they choose to give you a gift, have a year to give you a wedding gift. This has led to the erroneous belief that you and your groom have a year to write your thank-you notes. This is, alas, false. False, false, false.
Most thank-you notes should have a two-week turnaround. For wedding gift thank-yous, figure two weeks plus the honeymoon. Five weeks max.
I know it sucks on the surface. But, really, it’s better to get them out of the way anyway.
Your best bet: knock ‘em out nightly.
As gifts arrive, take ten or fifteen minutes each night to write notes for that day’s bounty. It really won’t take long, and you will feel a sweet sense of really having your act together.
If you can’t handle that, keep a meticulous list of what came from whom and sit down with your guy to do your notes at least once a week.
No matter what the temptation, DO NOT let them pile up any longer than that. The longer you let them sit, the more overwhelming the chore becomes. Just chip away at them in easy little stacks and you’ll never have to lock yourselves into an isolation chamber for a weekend to get them done.
Yes, your groom really does have to help.
Even if you’re the nice one and he’s the gruff one. It really isn’t just your job – the gifts are for both of you. He may resist or make excuses. This isn’t because he’s sexist or a jerk, it’s just that he’s as unsure about what to write as you are. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Thank-you notes are really pretty easy when you get the hang of them. There’s no need to write a novel or give the recipient a download of your life. Be simple, warm, and genuinely grateful.
(Oh, and be handwritten. No resorting to the computer unless one of you has a physical disability that prevents you from hand writing things. Definitely no preprinted cards.)
The surefire formula.
1. To start off, thank your generous loved one for thinking of you. If he or she also traveled to your wedding, thanks are due for that effort as well. If you want to throw in a line about how great it was to see him or her, go nuts.
2. Thank him or her specifically for the gift. Describe it in a line or two, and why it’s so great. (“The new clock will go perfectly in our living room, and Nigel loves the way it chimes.” “How nice of you to remember our Saturday pancake breakfasts! The new whisk and bowl really let us load on the blueberries!” “The his-and-hers hunting knives you sent have serrated edges that can cut right through a tin can, and we love the no-slip grips!”)
3. Mention how you will be using the gift. (“We can’t wait to use our new camping equipment when we hike the Appalachian Trail this spring!”) This is especially true for monetary gifts. (“Your check allowed us to take a beautiful kayaking trip during our honeymoon!” “As you know, we’ve been working hard on our underground zombie-attack bunker. Your generous gift allowed us to lay in enough hardtack and freeze-dried ice cream for a whole year! You definitely have a spot if you can make it through the ravening masses!”)
4. Thank the giver again, then use a warm sign-off. This would be one of those times when you want to use “Love,” or “Yours.”
Hate the gift, love the giver.
If someone sends you something that’s absolutely wretched, remember that the gift is tangible proof of the fact that the giver cares about you. It’s just that it’s manifesting in an odd way. Use the same formula as above, be as gracious as you possibly can, and think about the time and care your Great Uncle Milo took in picking out the macramé owl with the eyes that follow you around the room. If you can’t bring yourself to lie, tell the truth kindly and carefully. And very selectively. (“Thank you so much for the oil painting! Sergio and I can’t get over the incredible colors!”)
Pat yourselves on the back.
Once you and your groom are done, you really should feel proud of yourselves. You’ve spread a little good in the world. Your friends and family will be genuinely happy to get warm, personalized notes, and they’ll feel great knowing they gave you gifts that you really enjoy. Even if they didn’t.