Wedding thank-you notes are hard. Here’s how to get ‘em done
NEW YORK — Been to a wedding recently? How long did it take to get a thank-you note for your gift — assuming you got one at all?
Newlyweds say it’s hard to organize a big task like writing 100 or more notes by hand — especially when they’re exhausted after months of wedding planning. Some even blame their bad penmanship.
But gift-givers blame bad manners.
Here’s why wedding thank-you notes still matter, along with strategies and ideas for getting them done — including hiring a card-writing service.
Do we need thank you notes?
“Most of us have been in the position of not receiving a thank-you note, but it feels particularly disappointing when your generosity seems to go unnoticed by a bride and groom,” said Evie Granville, who writes about manners with Sarah Davis at EvieandSarah.com.
But thank-you notes are not just a polite tradition. If newlyweds don’t say thanks, some guests worry their gift was lost. Emily Burns realized her gift had gone missing when a friend wrote a thank-you for knife covers without mentioning the kitchen knives she’d sent. Burns, CEO of Learnivore.com in Boston, tracked down the missing knives, but says the incident shows “thank-you notes are not obsolete, because they functionally serve as receipts.”
Obstacles and outsourcing
Alexis Monson, cofounder of a note-writing service called Punkpost , says “many of us aren’t even used to writing one sentence every day with a pen in our hands, so the thought of writing many, many thoughtful and beautiful cards just makes people shut down.”
Other obstacles: bad handwriting, not knowing what to say, or losing track of who gave which gift. (Use a gift tracker app, spreadsheet, or just a pen and notepad to remember.)
The biggest problem, Monson says, is “organization fatigue.” Once the wedding’s over, newlyweds lack the time and energy for another chore.
Punkpost handwrites thank-you notes — or any type of correspondence — for $6 a card, including mailing (first one free). Customers pick from different handwriting styles, but Monson says the “goal is never to mimic someone’s handwriting. Our goal is to help people make good on their good intentions.”
The Punkpost app lets senders create text for each card, or they can cut and paste the same message for all. Most gift-givers won’t know the sender’s handwriting, but if someone questions it (or the postmark), customers have the choice of ‘fessing up or not.
A company called Bond has even developed robotic technology that mimics handwriting, right down to the inconsistencies that make letters look different every time you write them. Customers can choose from 15 handwriting styles, or Bond can digitize handwriting to create a personal style for anyone’s notes.
“It’s not a font,” said Nick Alexander, marketing lead for Bond. “We’ve developed handwriting styles that have the variances and nuances you see in human handwriting. Two notes worded exactly the same would look different when written by our robots.”
Bond notes range from $3.75 to $5 each. Coming soon: an option for individualizing notes with details pulled from a spreadsheet, including the recipient’s name and the type of gift they gave.
How about emailed thank-yous? Traditionalists say nope, but in the era of the paperless wedding, paperless thank-yous may be inevitable.
Lindsey McGuirk sent her invitations via email, so she did the thank-yous that way too. But each gift-giver got a personalized message, and McGuirk included a wedding photo with each one: a photo of the bride and groom, or a great shot of the gift-giver at the wedding.
“Everybody loved it,” said McGuirk, who works in public relations in San Francisco. “As soon as we sent them out, we started seeing them on Instagram. Everybody was like, ‘Check out this great photo of me.’ “
McGuirk said she supplemented the emails with handwritten cards for older relatives or guests who don’t use email.
One couple made a video of themselves opening gifts, reading cards and saying thanks. “The video was uploaded to the website, with a list of all of the people they wished to thank underneath it, and they emailed it out to everyone who had given them a gift,” said Michelle Pettit, a lifestyle adviser at Just Energy who used to work with wedding planners. “It was really well done, and all of (the bride’s) family and friends loved being able to see her open the gift and show actual, human appreciation.”
Timing and strategies
Some etiquette experts say newlyweds have just 90 days to get the notes out. Others say a year.
Rachel Winkler, who blogs about healthy food at LittleChefBigAppetite.com, said she made the task easier by “setting out to write four to five cards each day after we returned from our honeymoon. That way the task never felt too daunting.”
Anna Coats, editor of the Marry Me Tampa Bay wedding site, suggests writing out a second set of envelopes for thank-you cards at the same time the invitations are being addressed.
Don’t expect the bride to do it all, though. Experts agree that each partner should handle notes for his or her side.
However it’s done, says Monson, “The fact that so many people complain about not getting thank you cards shows just how important and relevant that act of properly thanking someone really is.”