As you prepare for your new adventure as half of a married couple, there's an important piece of business to attend to first: the thank-you notes. Etiquette dictates these go out within three months of the wedding. That sounds like plenty of time, but it goes by quickly as you settle into married life. Attacking a few thank-you notes a day ensures they all get mailed in a timely fashion.
Proper Stationery Choices
Even if you thanked people in person or by email, etiquette requires you to send a paper thank-you card as well. You must hand-write these; they shouldn't be cards with generic printed messages. Some brides order cards that coordinate with the wedding invitations, which is convenient but not necessary. Any classy stationery is acceptable, either flat cards or those that fold. If you use stationery monogrammed with your new initials, mail these only after the wedding, not between the bridal shower and the wedding when your name hasn't changed yet.
Who to Thank
Although anyone who gives you a present or money should receive a thank-you note, a few others groups deserve your thanks. Send a note to people who helped you plan or execute the wedding, including attendants and friends or family who helped with tasks such as directing parking or keeping the wedding book. Your parents, or other people who helped host the wedding, need a thank-you note, as do the people who hosted showers. If vendors did an exceptional job at your wedding, send a note of thanks.
What to Say
Each note must be personalized to the person and the gift. This is easy if you plan ahead for the thank-you notes by keeping careful records of who gave you which gift. If several people went in together to buy a gift, thank them individually. Mention the gift and how you use it if appropriate, such as saying, "Thank you for the China place setting. You helped us complete our set, which we have enjoyed several times already."
When people give money instead of gifts, you can mention the amount in the note, but you don't have to. Regardless of the amount, tell the person how you plan to use the money, such as saving it toward a down payment on a house or using it to buy new cookware. For a personal touch, take a photo of yourself with the item you bought using their monetary gift and include the photo with the thank-you note.
Traditionally, the bride completes the thank-you notes, but etiquette doesn't demand it. Instead, get the groom involved. Split up the notes in ways that make sense, such as having him write the notes for his friends and family while the bride takes the rest. If both of you are writing notes, be careful with monogrammed stationery. Include only the first letter of your last name, for example, instead of using the bride's new initials.
Before the wedding, enlist the aid of a bridesmaid or other close friend to help you keep track of the gifts. Have her carefully write down the name of the giver and the gift item as you open it to avoid confusion later.