Etiquette: Early Wedding Gifts and Thank You Notes

I'd like to dedicate this journal entry to my bride, Jessica for asking this question.

Q: “I’m starting to get gifts, what do I do.”
A: First, celebrate because you got your first wedding gift (woohoo)!!! Second, let’s start off with Thank You cards. While these aren’t normally sent until after your wedding, I always recommend that you start them during the wedding planning process. Because let's be real for a moment, after your honeymoon, you're in no mood to sit there and do more wedding planning. Honestly, while you're still on cloud9 post-wedding the last thing you’ll want to do is sit down to handle more logistics. Getting ahead will ensure you're not overwhelmed with the task and risk not doing them at all.

I'm a big fan of time blocking so set a time once a month or every two weeks to sit down and organize the RSVPs you've received. Your planner can also provide you with a list. Granted, some things may change and the ones who RSVP may not make it in the end (on average 3-5 families cancel the week before your wedding). Pre-addressing your cards versus writing out 100/150 thank you's post-wedding is less daunting.


Order ‘Thank You‘ cards from your stationer to make this as easy as possible for you to make sure you do them. Making time to sit there and write thank you notes is hard enough. Your schedule may not allow for so much time for these so order them early so they are' ready to go when you are.

Make sure you have the correct address and start creating the envelope addresses in a word template- Avery offers free address labeling templates. If you're old school then you can skip this step altogether and write them by hand. I have bad handwriting so I would never recommend this.

Brainstorm the body of your thank you card template. As much as we'd like each to be completely personalized, that just may not be possible and will end up discouraging you from ever writing them. Here is a good template to start with.

Dear Joe and Jane,
We cannot express how grateful we are to you for being present with us on the most important day of our lives. We had so much fun catching up and dancing with you. We received the [insert personal gift] slow cooker you gave us and it was the perfect gift for our ultra busy schedules. We'd love to have you over for dinner one of these days to show you our new cooking skills.

With love,
Mr. and Mrs. Happily Ever After

If you had a hashtag for your wedding print all the pictures you found on there. If there is one with you and the guest you're writing a thank you note to, add the image to the thank you card- it'll make them smile.

Remember to record everything about the gift. Some people go out of their way to choose the right gift and card. If they've written something special to you on their card, make sure you reference that in the thank you note. If you danced with them at your wedding, make sure you make a mental note of it.


Sometimes guests send gifts prior to the wedding date, especially if it's a destination wedding. The proper response to receiving a gift early is to open the gift immediately. Phone the person right away to let them know you received the gift and appreciate it. Let them know you can't wait to see them for the wedding date and maybe chit chat about wedding details so they feel special knowing something no one else knows. If the phone makes you uncomfortable, you can send them a thank you card with less detailed content.