When Are You Supposed to Write Thank-You Notes?

You may not have as long as you think.

when should you send thank you cards for wedding gifts?
Photo by Steve Steinhardt

Though it is far from the purpose of tying the knot and hosting a reception, one additional benefit of having a wedding is all the gifts you receive from loved ones. Of course, with these generous presents comes the task of writing thank-you cards for all of them. As much as we know it’s the right thing to do, there is no denying that it can be tedious – think of the hand cramps! However, sending thank-you notes in a timely manner is an absolute must in polite society. Unfortunately, there are some misconceptions in regards to the proper etiquette of when these messages should be sent. 

Some people mistakenly think that brides and grooms have a year after the wedding to send thank-you notes. This is not necessarily true, but is likely based on the custom of having a year to send a gift. For gifts you receive after your nuptials, you should get your thank-you cards done within three months of the big day, although sooner is better. Occasionally newlyweds will want to wait until they receive their professional photos so they can share a snapshot or two along with the card. If the time frame for receiving your wedding pictures is too long, it is better to get the thank-you notes out in a timely manner. There will be plenty of chances to share the photos from your nuptials with your friends and family. 

Nowadays, many guests choose to send a gift ahead of time. The ease of online shopping and frequency of weddings held outside the hometown of the couple has made this a more convenient option for many people. One of the biggest misconceptions regarding the etiquette of both gift giving and thank-you notes is that couples should not open any presents they receive in advance of the big day. The rationale is usually that there is the chance (however small) that it will need to be returned if the wedding is unfortunately cancelled. Yet, a package can be opened without you actually using the gift, and it’s best to make sure people know you received the shipment. As an added benefit, that will give you fewer cards to write after the celebration. For these presents sent before the event, use the future tense in your card, such as “We look forward to using the [gift].” ASAP is best for presents received for the big day as well as from your bridal shower, but within two weeks is generally deemed acceptable.  

Find out what to write in a wedding card and how to fill in an RSVP card

Authored by: Emily Lasnier