03 June 2009

Wedding thank you notes (and the drama with them)

By: Jessica B.

Okay I need everyone’s help tonight because I’ve heard a variety of answers to this question.

Wedding thank you notes: a) do you have to send them? and b) how long should it take to send them out?

Here’s why I’m asking. Several ladies I work with just got married and while they were talking about sending out their thank you notes, one of them said that she had still not received a thank you note from a wedding she attended over a year ago.

The new brides (and single-girl me) were shocked.

Apparently, the woman’s friend, who was the bride, mentioned something in passing that she enjoyed her wedding gift, but the gift giver never received a thank you note from the couple, by mail or e-mail.

And when she told us what her gift was (it came from that famous store in an Audrey Hepburn classic film) we were all extra shocked.

I think she should casually mention something to the bride or groom. Just say something casually, not accusatory. To me, it doesn’t matter how big the wedding is, if people are thoughtful enough to bring you a gift, especially an expensive one, a thank you note is in order. Plus, if I found out other guests got a note and not me, I would be even more hurt.

What does everyone else think? I’m curious about your thoughts on this because I’ve heard different opinions about this topic.

Note: OMG I cannot believe I left out slap bracelets from yesterday’s 80s post. Seriously, I loved those things. I might have to dig around for mine. They were slap-tastic! Hmm that sounds dirty.


  1. my sister always like to attend bridal showers and she enjoys it a lot-“,

  2. i enjoy attending bridal showers coz there are lots of pretty ladies and it is enjoyable too;;:

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think if a person forgets to send a thank-you note once for something like a shower (where you were there when they opened the gift & know they got it), then it's forgivable to not send a card. Not ideal, but forgivable.

    But a while back, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding, and gave the couple two very nice shower gifts (at two different types of showers), and one very large monetary gift at their wedding. I also spent nearly $300 on the bridesmaid dress she picked out, and then of course there was money for hair, shoes, etc. I did not receive thank you gifts for ANY of these things (she could have reasonably written me 4 different notes, but one would have sufficed). I did get a short my-how-we've-grown note with a small gift at the rehearsal dinner, but nothing at all acknowledging my gifts. I have to admit, I'm offended, but I don't think there's any proper way to communicate this.

    Furthermore, she had her cards collected in one of those birdcages on the card table, which sticky fingers could easily slip through to grab a few cards. And seeing as how my check was cashed on their honeymoon, when I know they were out of town and nowhere near their bank, I honestly wonder whether they ever actually received the gift, or if it was stolen.

    Any suggestion on how to bring this up with a friend after many months have passed?

  4. Anonymous says:

    i got married this past february, and we're just getting thank you cards out now. but you would not believe how many people are actually complaining that it's taking so long! the thank you cards are coming complete with a wedding picture, frame, and any pictures of them at the wedding. but really, i have never thought twice about receiving a thank you card after i went to a wedding (and gave very large gifts i might add). I was just happy to be there. and speaking from a bride's point of view, we paid at least $150/ person when you add up food, chair covers, napkins, favors etc. It would be rude of ME, knowing those prices, to ever expect a thank you in the mail. and when I do receive one, i feel like saying, "save the stamp, you threw an awesome party and we were happy to just share in the blessing of marriage with you." But since we live in a world where people wait around looking for a thank you, in gifts that should have been done in unconditional giving, you definitely need to acknowledge your gratitude. For some people, it really does mean alot, it may be the only thanks they get all year.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow, the first commenter is not the sort of friend I would like to have. How rude.

    Anyway, the whole one year to send a gift and one year to send a thank you note thing is nonsense. I don't know how that started, but etiquette dictates no longer than three months after the wedding (see here and here).

    And it's not just an appreciation thing. If you mail a gift and don't receive a note, it leaves you wondering if it was received.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi. I just got married on June 6th and I have not sent out a large majority of my shower thank you notes. I have read so many diffent comments…ahh. Is it acceptable to send one thank you note for multiple gifts?

  7. RebeccaC says:

    As a newlywed in the midst of writing mine, I would never dream of NOT doing them…but I do hope people will understand that its taking some time. I have nearly 200 to write and its taking longer than I'd expected. I hope to have all of them out within 3-4 months of the wedding at most though (including yours ;-)). I hope that its still acceptable.

  8. Rebekah says:

    Oh yes, TY notes are a must. I still send them after Christmas and birthdays because I know it really means a lot to my family. People love to get such a simple thing – so much of the mail is bills and dumb stuff these days, and a TY makes people smile.

    You may have 300 to write, but you also get a shizload of gifts you picked out yourself. Waah. Write them or don't expect anyone to show up for your baby shower.

  9. K says:

    Sorry a little late on the comment…
    I was the MOH in my best friend's wedding last July. She did not send out thank yous (it was a very small wedding). I more than once told her that perhaps she should. Apparently she got as far as writing them, but was just too lazy to address them and mail them out.
    Her justification was that she already thanked everyone at the wedding.
    False. My parents (who did not attend because they were not invited) sent them a hefty check. They obviously didn't receive a thank you at the wedding, and certainly didn't receive a thank you note either.
    I find that extremely rude, and now my parents think of that every time they see my friends.

    If you're old enough to get married, you should be responsible enough to write and mail a thank you note to everyone who spent money on you or attended your wedding. It's the right thing to do.

  10. bianca says:

    I think you should always write a thank you note, regardless of how much the gift cost. People take time to come to your wedding, and if they bought a gift, a card is the least you could do. I know it can be daunting – I just sent out thank you cards for the gifts from my bridal shower. But it's a definite do.

  11. Lil' Woman says:

    Thank you notes are def. in order and from what I know they should be sent out ASAP..or the latest a couple of months

  12. pinksundrops says:

    To play the devil's advocate, what about a thank you for the HUGE party a bride throws after her wedding? We all think we should be thanked for the gift, however, big or small. But what about the upwards of $50 dinner the bride and groom paid on your behalf for EACH of you for the right for you to attend the reception? Don't they deserve a thank you note for that? In essence the gift is part of that thank you, so I call it even trade if no one ends up sending out a thank you note!!

    So many people have done nice things for me and continue to without a thank you note on my part that I realize it isn't all about the thank you note. It's about somebody caring enough for you to do something for you. In turn, I have done things and given things to so many people I've never received a thank you from and am no less jaded about the fact. I just feel grateful those type of people are in my life, and that I can be that person in somebody elses life, thank you note or no.

  13. Ashley says:

    Thank you notes are required and the sooner you get them out, the better. But, mentioning anything to the couple who received the gift is very tacky and I wouldn't recommend it.

  14. Geggie says:

    This brought me out of lurking!! Absolutely, without a doubt a thank you note should be sent via mail. There is NO ROOM for negotiations on this one. It is in extremely poor taste not to send a thank you note for any gift, but particularly a wedding gift. Where the gift came from or the value of the gift is of no consequence.

    But, what are you going to do? If the rude bride and groom aren't sending thank you's, shame on them. I suppose the gift giver could ask, "Did you receive my gift, I didn't receive verification of such."

    Seriously, people are so tacky!

    I'm off to write a thank you to the friend who treated me to dinner last night.

  15. Tonya says:

    Definitely send out thank you notes!!! And in a timely fashion…don't wait months on end to do it.

  16. Bluebelle says:

    I for one underestimated how long it takes to write thank you notes…it's about 9 months since our wedding and we haven't finished ours yet. That said, I don't expect thank you notes from everyone we give gifts to – I know how much time they take and I don't give a gift to get a thank you.

  17. Katelin says:

    i'm not that great with writing thank you notes any more but i know for sure once i get married i will be all over sending those out. i just think it's rude to not do it.

  18. Miss Grace says:

    Thank you notes are absolutely necessary, in my opinion. Unless it's like, your mom or your sister or something.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thank you notes are a MUST. AND they need to be hand written, ot pre-printed and sign.

  20. Cheryl says:

    Not that I'm Emily Post or anything, but I believe standard etiquette is one year, at least that is what I understand from what I've read in Dear Prudence and the like.

  21. Some of these comments are suprising but it's nice to read all of the different sides to this issue.

    Personally, I believe thank you notes are a form of common courtesy and appreciation for another's time, consideration, thoughtfulness, etc.

    Why wouldn't you want to acknowledge loved ones for their time and generosity? and it doesn't always have to be handwritten, send out a mass email.

    Friends and family DON'T HAVE TO come to your wedding, they could always be doing something else, so a little acknowledgment is nice.

  22. Ronnica says:

    I write thank you's for everything, so of course I think giving thank yous for wedding presents is important.

    HOWEVER, whining because someone hasn't given you a thank you note TOTALLY MISSES THE POINT of giving a gift. You don't give a gift to receive anything in return (in this case, recognition and a card). Mentioning that you haven't received a thank you note is crass (whether you're mentioning it to someone else-that's gossip- or to the person).

  23. Jenn says:

    YES – you should send one out of common coutesy and proper etiquette. My husband and I actually had ours out within 3 weeks of being married (wrote them the week after we got back from our honeymoon), but also I'm crazy about thank you notes because my mom was so crazy about having me write them when I was younger for EVERYTHING. My sister in law never writes them for all of the gifts we're constantly spoiling my niece and nephew with (they're only 4 and 2 so they can't really write them) and it bugs me to no end. It's just the polite thing to do to let a person know you appreciate their gesture.

  24. Kyla Roma says:

    Yea, this isn't a fun one. Proper etiquette is definitely to send a thank you note right away, but I'm mixed about the value in pointing out to someone that they don't get it. The person who didn't get the note will still be mad they didn't get the note in what they deem to be an appropriate time line, only now the couple will know that there's hostility and that the gift-giver thinks they're inept. So now everyone's mad.

    This would be one of those cases where I would just let go. Is it dumb that the couple didn't properly acknowledge the gift? Yes. But thank you notes are cursory afterthoughts most of the time anyway. If she's really concerned, why not spend some time with the couple & see how they're doing? If she's not close enough to do that and hasn't seen them in months, then maybe it's a lesson to not over-invest in wedding gifts. And maybe just take it as a sign that her friendship with those people is probably more limited than she thought. Ultimately, being thanked for giving isn't the point of giving.

  25. Vanessa says:

    I think the thank you notes should be sent within a month of the wedding, provided it wasn't an extended honeymoon. Not even sending one speaks to your overall character. Of course, my mantra is "attitude of gratitude" about almost everything.

  26. Katie says:

    Hi! I'm a total lurker here, but this post compels me to comment.

    I have very strong feelings about this. Sure, mail gets lost all the time and usually there is a reasonable explanation for not receiving a thank you note. It happens and I think people understand that.

    However, as a gift giver, if you don't get a thank you note you start wondering if they never received the gift, if the card got separated, etc. This has happened to me in the past, and while I wasn't worried about not getting the thank you note I was worried that the couple possibly never got the gift I sent them.

    As for proper etiquette in your friend's situation: Emily Post says that after 3 months of not receiving a thank you note, the person who gave the gift should write the couple a note asking if the received it. I personally would never take that approach, I have always just let it slide and hoped that the couple knew I gave them a gift!

  27. Maki says:

    When I got married, I sent out all my thank you cards within a month; I was pregnant (four months) and suffering from morning sickness terribly, but I did it. I was nervous people would think less of me if I hadn't done it — so I was quick!!

    Some people do send them out late or at least take a while to do so, my sis-in-law took about 7 months to send them out, but she did send them…

  28. Anonymous says:

    You have a year to send thank yous. Although newlywed should try not to strech that year out and have them in the mail within a few months.

    It is hurtful to not recieve a thank you note, however nothing should be said. Rudeness shouldn't be corrected with more rudeness. Also gifts should not be given under the conditions that a thank you note must sent out.

    Your friend will hopefully remember this incident, and will always make sure that she sends out thank you notes from now on.

  29. Jenn says:

    I have a slap bracelet in my purse and I have no idea how it got there.

  30. Cass says:

    you know how I stand on the thank yous but I just had to comment on the slap bracelets… I totally remember when those were big my best friend and I walked like a mile and half each way to the one store in our town that sold them one day because we wanted them so badly! we couldn't wait for someone to drive us! good to see you last night!

  31. laurwilk says:

    Truthfully, I wish I could tell every single person that I buy a gift for to NOT write me a thank you note. I think they are a silly waste of time and it bothers me when I receive one.

    I gave a gift because I was invited to share in this day with them. I don't need a freaking thank you note.

    I think the whole concept has completely gotten off track. Don't we want to actually be THANKED when we do something that deserves it? When you receive a thank you note for everrry gift you've ever given, it loses meaning. In an ideal world, my friends would only write thank you notes to the gifts that really touched them.

    Plus, so many weddings now have favors – isn't that a thank you in itself?!

    I've gotta say I'm with Chicago Sane. How silly to think you DESERVE a thank you.

  32. Jersey says:

    etiquette… man I can't type

  33. Jersey says:

    "Proper ediquette" dictates a thank you note. My best friend got married last summber and sent out all the thank-you notes for pre-received gifts the wedding, factoring in the speed of the postal service.

    Well my mom still lives in the same town as her parents, so we had a good laugh when my mom called while we were getting ready to tell me she had just received her thank you note- 3 hours BEFORE the wedding.

    I thought that was a bit much, but it was a good laugh!

  34. Anonymous says:

    While I'm totally appalled at the thought of not sending out thank you notes within the first 1-2 months(and yes, to EVERYone.. no matter how small, large, thoughtful, or otherwise, the gift may have been), let alone ever, I also feel that it's 100% tacky for your friend to mention it to the newlyweds regardless of how casually it's brought up. It's inappropriate to say something and will end up making her look like an ass. Unfortunately for her, weddings are all about the bride (and maybe the groom a bit too) and she needs to not try to make it about herself.

  35. I'm not sure people over here even do thank you notes… but if the couple already told her they love the gift, what is the point of sending a thank you note?

  36. Auburn Kat says:

    I agree, I really think that a thank you card should be given for the wedding present and shower present. I understand it's a lot of work for the bride and groom, but someone took them time to go and buy them a present they should at least be thankful for it.

  37. liferehab says:

    I wouldn't be too offended if I didn't recieve a thank you note. I think cards in general are just a pointless expensive waste of time. However, I know that other people expect them, so of course I'll send out thank you cards. I know the etiquette says you can send it out within a year, but honestly, I wouldn't remember what I recieved, much less who gave it to me, a year later, so I'll be sending mine out ASAP. In fact, I wouldn't be suprised to be writing them on my honeymoon… but I'm a little anal retentive.

  38. Angela says:

    I was raised to always write thank you notes. For special occasions definitely, and for certain people after smaller occasions. For example, I wrote a thank-you card for my mom's pen-pal, who came to my college graduation and gave me a nice gift. But, I didn't write one for my uncle who came.

  39. Ginger says:

    For certain things, a formal thank you note isn't necessary. For weddings? Absolutely. There's really no excuse not to thank people for their gift, even if it's just a few lines to let them know you got the gift and appreciate the thought.
    When I got married, my husband & I split it up and got through them all in about 3 weeks…seriously, who can't take a stack of 8 or 9 a night while they're watching Grey's Anatomy?

  40. ChicagoSane says:

    What a cunt. Seriously, the only decent word for her.

    Mail gets lost. All the time.

    Who cares if she bought it at Tiffany's or not. A gift that is given shouldn't ever be given with expectation in mind.

    If I _ever_ hear a person complain about not getting a thank you card from someone else, I openly tell them they are never invited to any of my parties because it is obvious that they only care about being appreciated.

    Oh, and I have over a dozen friends who will NEVER step foot to one of my bashes again because of this. If they come as a guest of another, it's fine, but when they open their holier than thou mouths, they end up useless to me.

  41. Maggie says:

    Thank you notes are a MUST! It's just proper etiquette.

    Technically you have up to a year to send them out, but I don't get why you have a whole year. I think that's a bit excessive. 6 months should be the max. That way your guests wont think you've forgotten their thoughtfulness.

  42. Blaez says:

    i know i'm repeating everything everyone else is saying but as a future bride i hope that i get presents and i will send out thank yous for those presents and to those who showed up just for showing up.

  43. SassyGirl says:

    I think it's necessary to show thanks in some way, even if it's not through a card. In person, a phone call, even a well written email, is better than nothing at all.
    The point is to show them that their thoughtfulness in getting a present was appreciated, not forgotten or ignored.

  44. Lacey Bean says:

    I think if someone is nice enough to get you a gift, regardless of the occasion, there should be a thank you card. Unless they are there when its opened, then it can be ok not to send one. I mean, we've gotten a few engagement gifts and I make sure to send a thank you asap! If someone takes time to think of me that way, I can take time to thank them.

  45. Erin says:

    There is absolutely no excuse for not sending a thank you note. No excuse. Certainly, writing 100+ thank you notes is a daunting task, but not sending a thank you note speaks volumes about your manners.

  46. Unacceptable!

    When a friend of mine got married, she actually called guests who didn't get her gifts. Klassy, right?

    Some people simply have no tact whatsoever. Even though I tend to be pretty confrontational, I'd drop this one and move on. Not even worth the time.

  47. Maxie says:

    I read somewhere that you have 1 year to send thank yous. It seems like a long time, but I guess couples are busy when they first get married. I'm all about thank you notes though. It's a MUST.

  48. SoMi's Nilsa says:

    As a former bride, I will say that thank you notes are an absolute must. If people are going out of their way to come to your wedding and buy you a gift, you have to write a thank you.

    Having said that, there could be lots of reasons your friend never received a thank you note. It could have gotten lost in the mail (or be stuck in a mail person's back yard, as happened years ago in Chicago – we don't have the best postal system). Or it could be an innocent oversight. Recently wedded couples have A LOT going on in their lives and they could have thought they did write a note, when in reality they didn't.

    It'd be one thing if the couple wrote ZERO thank you notes. But, if it was one or two that got lost in the shuffle, I'd be far less offended.

  49. Hi! I'm Erin says:

    Yes, tradition states that you have a year after the wedding to send them out. I certainly sent mine out much quicker than that but I have attended weddings where the couple not only never sent a thank you note, they never even mentioned that they got the gift. I'm okay with just a passing mention the next time we see each other or, heck, an email. It doesn't have to be a formal note. I just appreciate the fact that they acknowledged that they even got it! I'm always afraid that something happened and it never made it to them! Especially if I mail it or leave it on the gift table at the reception.

  50. My best friend got married 8 months ago and she never sent out thank you cards and I was shocked, because many people made the effort to fly there, buy something nice and be a part of their day. I couldn't believe they didn't thank everyone for coming and I never asked her about it, because I thought it was inappropriate to ask, but I thought it was shocking.

  51. I think you should definitely send thank-yous… I don't know that I keep track of whether I've received thank-you's or not from wedding gifts we've given, but I just think it's nice to show people that you appreciate the thoughtful gift.

  52. Mandy says:

    I think its rude to not write thank you notes, especially if its a wedding and you've given a nice expensive gift as your friend did. I was a bridesmaid in two different weddings, helped throw two different bridal showers, and bought two really nice gifts. I didn't receive a single thanks, verbal or written. I was brought up to write thank you notes.

  53. granted, I'm not totally timely with thank you notes (thinking back to HS graduation, when I didn't get them out for maybe a month or so after the fact)… but never even receiving one? lame. But this makes me think I dont remember getting one from my friend's wedding either. hmm… it just refects poorly on the couple at hand. you should always send some sort of thank you note or heck- at least call!

  54. Anonymous says:

    One more thing . . . if you don't want to have to write a gazillion thank you notes, don't throw a wedding with 300 guests and then send out announcements to another 200. What do brides (and grooms) think will happen?

  55. Yes, thank you notes should be sent for wedding gifts. I would say within 3 months they should be sent out.

    I wouldn't say anything, but it is in poor taste to not send a thank you, especially for a wedding present.

  56. Moonjava says:

    Oooh, that's pretty awful. Especially with the time and thought going into the gift.

    Reminds me of something from one of the weddings I went to. First off, I was on the "B list", which is fine, because I really wasn't expecting to get invited anyways. We're more acquaintances anyways. And I found this out because one of my other friends was invited (had his invitation way before I received mine). He wanted some company so I said why the heck not.

    I got them something from their registry. My friend ended up giving them a frame, I think. He never got a thank you note. I did…Seriously no matter what the gift is, I think the guest should get a thank you note (even if the monetary value isn't as high as say china).

  57. Anonymous says:

    About 4 years ago, my best friend got married. Although I was not in the wedding (she had no bridesmaids), I threw her a bridal shower, did her make-up the day of the wedding for free (I do that for a living), picked her kid up from school everyday while she was on her honeymoon (it was her 2nd marriage), and got her very nice gifts for both the shower and the wedding, I NEVER received thank you notes for any of it. Frankly, one thank you note for the whole thing would have sufficed.

    I once asked another friend if she'd gotten a thank you note and she hadn't gotten one either. I wish I could say it made me feel better but it didn't. Until then, I had hoped it got lost in the mail, but once our other girlfriend said she hadn't gotten a thank you, I knew that my friend was just rude.

    I grew up writing thank you notes for everything. In my house, I was not allowed to enjoy a birthday gift until the thank you note was written. To this day, I write more thank you notes than anyone I know.

    While I can't imagine not writing a thank you note, I'm okay with people not writing me a thank you note for most things, but I think that a wedding is another story. They are mandatory. Period. No excuses.

    I think wedding thank you notes should be done ASAP, but Dear Abby says that even if it's a year later (or more), thank you notes should still be done (obviously with a note of apology too).

  58. Technically you have up to one year to send out thank you notes, just as you have on year to send a gift to the happy couple. It took me about 2.5 months to get mine out simply because I was waiting on our personalized cards to arrive. Now I have tons of cards that are no longer useful…fun!