How to Write a Thoughtful Thank-You Card

A guide to penning heartfelt "thank yous" to your wedding guests.

Whether one of your guests simply attended the wedding, gave you a gift off of your wedding registry, or wrote a check, find out ways to adequately thank them for their generosity with a personalized thank-you note.

wedding ideas handwritten or calligraphy thank you note to wedding guests with invitation to make them feel special
Photo: Branco Prata

After your honeymoon, it may seem like your wedding day is officially behind you; however, there is one more important task ahead: your thank-you notes. Writing dozens – or even hundreds – of personalized thank-you cards can seem daunting. Though, it is absolutely imperative that you do so. Your wedding guests were generous with both their time and money, and a failure to show your appreciation could damage relationships.

As tempting as it may be to write a gushing Facebook post or text and call it a day, this is not the time for shortcuts. So take out that stationery and get to work! The good news is that the sooner you take care of thank-you notes, the simpler the process will be. If you procrastinate too much, you’ll have to write much more in order to fully convey your gratitude. If you received and opened gifts prior to the wedding day, get a jump start by writing and sending thank-you notes as gifts arrive. You’ll be grateful after your honeymoon when the pile of cards to write is less overwhelming.

thank you cards, writing thank you notes
Photo by Kristin Spencer Photography; From Real Wedding: Elegant Rhode Island Wedding with a Nature Theme

Tips for Wedding Thank-You Notes

For starters, order custom thank-you cards when you order your wedding invitations to guarantee you have the right amount of thank-you notes. Save that guest list and make a note of who gave you what gift as they come in. Keeping a list or spreadsheet has the bonus of getting the satisfaction of crossing names off the list when you send their thank-you cards.

Whether you’re writing notes before or after the wedding, you and your sweetheart are partners and should share the work as equally as possible. If one of you has a much larger family, the other one can cover your mutual friends. Make the time to designate the task as an activity to do together! Of course, only one person can physically write a card, but you can help each other with the wording and take turns writing. As long as you are both signing the card, use “we” when writing the note. If you are writing a personal note to a friend or family member who really doesn’t know your spouse, you can use the first person singular.

What to Write in a Wedding Thank-You Note...

If They Gave a Physical Gift:

Now that you’re ready to sit down and craft a thank-you note, you may be wondering what to say. You absolutely must be specific about the gift they gave to make sure they know you received and appreciate the wedding present – whether it was on the registry or off the registry. Receiving a generic note that just says “Thank you for the gift” is almost as bad as never receiving a card at all. Name the gift and either how you have already used it, or why you are excited to receive it – but don’t focus solely on the gift! Throw in a memory from the wedding that shows their presence was valued.

Dear Jackie,
We absolutely love the toaster oven you generously gifted us! We use it constantly – the oven is getting jealous. Thank you for helping get the party started by your impressive moves on the dance floor.
Emma and John

If They Sent a Gift, but Could Not Attend:

For people who could not attend the wedding but still sent a gift, mention how they were missed, and perhaps suggest a visit in the future to celebrate at a later date.

Dear Nick,
Thank you so much for the slow cooker – we are looking forward to trying out all kinds of new recipes. We missed you at the wedding, but the next time you are in town we would love to host you for dinner!
Warm regards,
Kim and Andrew

If Their Presence Was Their Gift:

Do not forget about people who attended the wedding but were not able to give a gift. Your cousin in grad school who flew out for the weekend still deserves acknowledgment!

Dear Claire,
Thank you so much for flying out from Notre Dame for our wedding. It was so fun having you there. I can’t wait to celebrate your graduation with you. Best of luck on your finals!
With love,

If They Wrote a Check or Gave Cash:

Some guests choose to write a check instead of selecting an item from your registry. We would not recommend mentioning how much was given in the note, but it’s nice to share how that money has helped. 

Dear Uncle Joe and Aunt Wendy,
Thank you very much for your generous gift. As you know, we have been saving for a down payment on our first house together, and we greatly appreciate how your gift will help.
We are lucky to have family like you in our lives. We were touched that you traveled from Seattle for our big day.
Lots of love,
Andrea and Matt

For more on sending thank-you notes after the wedding, discover Anna Post's wedding etiquette advice regarding the wedding traditions couples should not forgo and traditional etiquette for the modern family.