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Ahhh, the dreaded stack of Thank-Yous! Take a deep breath, it is possible. This post is going to walk you through some key tips and tricks to make it all more manageable!
#1 – Track, track, track
If you are like me, you planned a whole bunch of your wedding in Excel. If you’re not, don’t worry, but I definitely recommend it. Another option would be to use a notebook, or pages in the binder or folder you are using to plan. You can either make an additional sheet for gifts, or use the same sheet that is tracking your invitations. Note that you may receive gifts from people who are not invited to the wedding, so you will want to ensure it is easy to add additional names.
Columns you will want to include:
Gift- Write down what they got you, including any notes to yourself you want to keep.
Occasion – Some of your friends and family will get you engagement gifts, shower gifts and wedding gifts. You probably want to keep track of what was what. Sometimes you will get a large shower gift, meant as both a shower and wedding gift, etc.
Card Sent – This lets you know that you’re timely, making progress and if the mail ever gets lost, you at least know when you sent it!
Value – This is a controversial field, so feel free to leave it out, but there may be some times that you want to know. A great example is if you receive a very generous gift from a friend and want to remember in order to reciprocate in the future for their wedding or another occasion.
You also need mailing addresses, so having them in the same spreadsheet would be very helpful.
#2 – Addresses
Have all of your addresses together. For shower gifts, ask the host to source mailing addresses for the guests, especially if there will be people there who will not be at the wedding. (For example, some friends of your parents may still come to the shower but not the wedding, depending on your region and the social norms.)
You may want to have your address printed onto the thank-you envelopes. If not, get a custom address stamp. Etiquette dictates that thank yous should be a completely handwritten note. These days, most of us view hand written addresses as sloppy because we are used to everything being printed. You may want to spend a few dollars and get a personalized return stamp. This will make your mailing faster and easier. It also has the bonus of letting everyone know your post-wedding names and address.
For your guest addresses, I highly recommend using a mail merge and printing out sheets of address labels with your guests’ addresses. This will make the whole process a lot easier! Here is a tutorial on how to do a mail merge to print labels:
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There are circumstances where the pre-printed labels will not be exactly what you need, but they should work for 80% of the time. Many stationary stores, especially local ones, will sell printable labels by the sheet, so it shouldn’t cost you very much. Make sure to test print on a regular piece of paper and line it up, to make sure it’s working and aligned before using your more expensive labels.
#3 – The Cards
The sooner you have some cards, the better. Photographers are unfortunately notorious for taking ages and ages to get photos back, especially in the form of Thank-yous. For this reason, I really like the trend of using engagement pictures instead, if you are going to use photo cards or post cards. You may also want a few different styles of thank you cards, for engagement gifts, bachelorette gifts, wedding party thank yous, parent thank yous, host thank yous, vendor thank yous, “friendor” thank yous and, finally, wedding gift thank yous. Sometimes you will be writing multiple thank yous to the same person or people, so changing it up is fun. The discount bins at Michaels are a great place to get cards, as well as wherever your invitations came from, or a printing company like Vistaprint.
Have extra cards. You will probably get gifts from people that you are not expecting to receive, such as a coworker, or an old family friend. Plus all of those other things mentioned above! Also, when purchasing cards and printing addresses, decide in advance if you will send a thank you to all of your guests for coming, or only to those who send a gift.
Have a whole bunch of stamps on hand, so that they are not a hurdle in getting your thank yous sent out.
#4 – The Strategey
First off, send them ASAP. When doing this, make sure that you do step 1 – tracking! Write down who/what/why and when you sent the card. You will be very grateful for all of the ones you have completed once the wedding is over. For most people, even if they are already living together, there is still a flurry of activity after the wedding, plus the emotional wind down from all the organizing, politics, financial decisions, seeing distant friends, etc. There’s also the gift unpacking and space-making, final payments, return to work, thank yous and friends to see.
Decide how you will split them up – you both write a bit, you write the bulk for your families and split the friends, you write based on who is closer to the giver, etc.
Make a plan or a timeline in order to get them done. Doing them all in one sitting will probably be very difficult (though a big relief when done!), but if you aim to write two every lunch break, or two as soon as you get home each evening, plus a few more on the weekend, you will be able to get them all out. Figure out what will motivate you to complete them. Perhaps you reward yourself to a TV show, or latte, for each dozen you complete? Maybe you make a nice chart or a picture of something like flowers, where you get to colour one in for each card completed.
#5 – The Content
You’ve already sorted out who will do the writing and when, now you just have to figure out what! The short version, genuinely say thank you. There are a lot of sites out there that will help you with various etiquette situations, such as “how do we say thank you for something we hate.” These are some general guidelines:
List the specific gift. Sometimes things go missing and the card recipient will usually go “hmmm, that’s odd, they only mention half of the gift.” Not everyone will send you an email to double check that you in fact received the missing half, as they may be worried you dislike the other half, but it is a way for people to know that you never received it all!
Tell the giver what you plan to do with the money. There’s two reasons for this, one being it gives you something to write and it makes the giver feel more appreciated because they know how you are going to enjoy the funds. Some examples would be using cash for a downpayment on a house, an activity on the honeymoon, pooling it to buy that expensive vacuum, buying unpurchased registry items, putting yourselves in a better financial position by paying down student loans, etc.
Now you should have a game plan that lets you attack those cards!
Do you have any other tips for writing wedding thank you cards?
Here are a few more resources: