The point of this discussion is to show how writing a thank you card will make you feel good and to ensure that your guests won’t want to throw it away.
Here are some of the messages I received from guests after receiving my thank you cards (the content has not been edited in any way).
Why do we send thank you cards in the first place? Well, the obvious answer here is to say THANKS! But these days, it seems like one of those things you HAVE to do because of tradition & obligation (and let’s face it… you sure don’t want to P.O a haughty relative).
I’ve been to a fair number of weddings now, and quite a few couples haven’t sent me a thank you at all. And to be honest, I would prefer that they didn’t send one at all if they’re going to send me a less-than-genuine “I’m only doing this because I have to” thank you.
A lot of thank you cards I’ve received have had the standard thank you message from the card manufacturer printed inside; Or worse… the couple have just signed their names at the bottom as though they were the stars at a book signing. Do you know what happens to those thank you cards? They go STRAIGHT into the recycling bin!
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the perils of writing thank you cards. ESPECIALLY if you had a large wedding. My goodness…just the thought of handwriting all those cards makes me cringe. And after a wedding, you really don’t want to organise any more stuff! All you want to do is relax or catch up on overdue work, not spend time editing your excel spread sheets and handwriting a million cards! I am recently married and had the tedious task of organising my thank you cards to be sent out last week. Hence the reason for this post! It got me thinking…HOW DO YOU ORGANISE A KICK-ASS THANK YOU CARD?
The problem with thank you cards is that they take time. And if you’re not going to put in the effort, you might as well not send one. The younger generation these days aren’t too fussed about getting them but you still need to please the oldies and also the etiquette-conscious crowd.
The good thing is, you don’t need to spend a lot on thank you cards. This is how I organised mine and you can take what you want from it:
Decide when you want to send your thank you cards. Some people send them straight after the wedding, and others wait until their wedding photos have arrived. I waited for my photos because I thought it would be a nice touch to include some good shots of the day. You really don’t want to send them more than 3 months after the wedding though, so dedicate some time to organise them as early as possible. Put it in yo’ calendar!
Retrieve your original invitation guest list from Excel or Word. You did keep the guest list right?
Delete all the entries of the people who didn’t come (unless of course, they sent you a gift or card).
ADD the people who did send you something, or showed up even though you didn’t originally invite them.
Make sure all the addresses and contact details are up to date.
Create a column next to each entry saying what that person got you or any special things they did for your wedding.
Actually, this should be done straight after your wedding so that you have it fresh in your memory. You will definitely forget a lot of the details and the details are the most important part! My husband and I did this the night of our wedding because we couldn’t sleep from the wedding buzz. We made very detailed notes such as:
“Gorgeous laser cut card with beautiful handwriting”
“Waterford photo frame adorned with crystals”
“Spent 5 hours making our bomboniere”
“Spent time going to speciality stores to get the proper outfits needed for our themed wedding.”
“$100 given with card”
WARNING: This step is controversial. If you had a big wedding and just have WAY too many people to write to, it’s ok not to make every single card detailed and personalised. My hand is still cramped from writing so I have 100% sympathy for all of you embarking on this large project.
Why is this step controversial? I SPLIT UP the guest list into 2 separate lists – one as a generic message list and the other for personalisation. Basically, you will have the same message for all the generic guests but different/personalised messages for the “Personalisation” guests.
“Personalisation” guests are:
Close friends and family
People that you will see on a regular basis (yes, once a year at Christmas is still a regular basis)
People that had a hand in your wedding (such as shopped with you, helped with DIY, organised anything for you, helped out your family with errands etc).
People that gave you money or got you something, even if it’s just a card
Wedding suppliers that did a good job – Yes they will LOVE you for it and will probably share it on their social media page. It’s so good to feel appreciated by a bride for your hard work.
This is going to sound a bit cold but generic guests consist of:
People you hardly know and will probably never see again
People you DON’T know at all and will probably never see again
People that you don’t like very much and will never see again – although, they shouldn’t have been invited to your wedding in the first place!
People that didn’t get you anything – unless they are really close with you or your family or have had some hardship. If this is the case, they still need to go on the “personalisation” list. You can make your own call on this because each situation is different.
Anyone else that fits a similar description. Basically anyone where you are finding it too difficult to say anything personal.
TYPE OUT your message in a word document or in the excel spreadsheet first for practice.
a) You are less likely to scribble out mistakes
b) Your message will be structured nicely and have a good flow
Write what you can here without sounding cheesy.
The best thank you cards are personal and specific.
Take the time to write about the details. For example, if you remembered the outfit they wore, tell them they looked great in their “pink dress” because they probably spent a lot of money on it to look good at your wedding. Or if they got you a photo frame, don’t just say “Thanks for the photo frame” but “Thank you for the stunning [brand name] / [colour] / [design detail] photo frame!” Show that you noticed! There are also a million ways to say thank you instead of “Thank you.” You can say, “We are touched by your generosity/thoughtfulness/kindness” etc. Writing “Thank you for your generous gift” sounds too impersonal and it’s been done too many times already.
This is going to take time. Don’t think you will get it done in one afternoon. Just keep visiting the spreadsheet over a few days and as things come to you, write them in. You will probably go back and change/refine your messages too.
The above generic message was one of my first drafts. It has since been refined a fair few times, with the word “celebrating” used only once. It’s hard trying not to sound repetitive!
Design your thank you cards. You can get your wedding stationer to make your thank you cards to match your invitations, or you can get your best wedding photo printed and handwrite on the back. If you think your writing is SO horrible that no one will ever be able to decipher it, it’s ok to get them printed with your pre-written message. I’ve had some printed cards sent to me and they were still nice because they were personalised.
Once you have your thank you cards, it’s time to get out your nicest pen and begin writing (if you’re not printing)! You will be grateful that you spent time typing the messages beforehand because it’s much faster copying something out than spending the time mulling over each message and trying to figure out what you want to say. But again, if both you and your spouse are lousy writers then go ahead and print your message. My husband delegated the writing to me because his writing “induces headaches” according to him (although I think the real excuse is that he couldn’t be bothered). Make sure you write your guest names at the top! Don’t just start with “Thanks for….” Even with your generic messages, it’s a good idea to personalise them as much as possible.
Before sealing your envelopes, think of extra ways you can personalise the cards. Do you have printed photos of your wedding that include your guests? If so, put them in the envelope! How special would it be to receive a card with not just photos of the bride and groom, but YOU as well?
You can also include photos of you using the gifts you were given. My husband and I were given vouchers for Sydney Cooking School and a new restaurant, so we took photos of our experiences and included them in the cards.
Seal them up to post or hand out! AHHHHHH, DONE!
Here are the thank you cards I made. Because we had 2 separate weddings, the card designs were different depending on which celebration the guests came to. They were printed on recycled paper.
I also included prints of the guests at the reception. Not all of them are frame-worthy but it shows that I went that extra step. With all the “Generic” cards, I still made an effort to search for photos with that guest in it, just in case I could personalise the cards in some way.
And after reading all this, you might still be thinking to yourself… WHY BOTHER SENDING A THANK YOU? My answer: it has just as much value to the sender as it does to the recipient. In such a fast-paced world where we are so focused on the material, it’s easy to accept gifts and then forget about the effort it took to get that gift to you. Writing a thank you makes you stop, reflect, think about the effort that has gone into either getting you a gift, helping you out, or being there for you when you needed that person. It’s almost like an act of meditation. It brings more gratitude and peace to your life. I was initially quite resentful of a few of people that came to the wedding who didn’t help out enough or were “stingy” with their gifts but when I began writing my thank you notes, I realised how much those people were there for me in other ways and then all I was left with were feelings of love and gratitude. It’s not always obvious at first glance, but I think it’s a great thing to get in the habit of, on ALL occasions. Not just weddings!
So now is the time to hear your comments on thank you cards! Let me know if you have faced any perils with your thank you experiences (being either sender or recipient) and if you have any suggestions on how to make it easier for brides out there to say thank you!
If you want more info on how to structure your thank you card content and tips on what to say, there is an amazing post on the Morning News blog right here. They do say that you must handwrite but I don’t think it’s such a big deal, as long as the content is sincere and specific to the recipient.