The Difference Between a Good and Bad Thank You Note

Updated 11/11/15

Cathy Crawford

A really good thank you note for a thoughtful wedding gift will touch the gift-giver's heart. However, a badly written thank you note will usually disappoint. But not every bride and groom appreciate how important writing a good thank you note for each and every gift actually is in the grand scheme of things.

For example, this is an exceptional thank you that I just received from a former Weddings in Vieques intern who got married this August:

*"Dear Sandy and Bill,

Thank you so much for the fun beach towels and cooler — what a perfect gift from my island friends! I'm sorry you couldn't be here with us for the wedding but we understand how busy summer is for weddings. I'll think of all my beach fun with you every time we use the cooler and towels. It was such a thoughtful gift!

Much love, and thank you again!

— Adrienne"*

Wow, perfectly done. She specifically referenced the gift, its significance, and told us she would use it. Much better than another thank you note I received for a wedding gift from a friend's son's new bride:

"Dear Bill, (First error: You should address the note to both halves of the couple.)

Thank you so much for the wedding gift. It was great seeing you at our wedding and I hope you had fun. We are so excited for married life!

— Jane" (real name withheld to protect the guilty!)

First, she obviously has no idea what we sent as a gift. Second, we didn't attend the wedding. This would be considered a total thank you note fail — and he's why: Whether or not your invited guests actually attend your wedding, you have an obligation to know who is there and who is not. Furthermore, you should know what you're thanking somebody for and reference the gift specifically in your message. Even if you got one place setting of your china, you need to say something about it. Like this: *"Thank you for the lovely place setting of our fine china.

We cannot wait to have our first formal dinner party in our home and show it off!" *

A message like that conveys the idea that the bride and groom (or at least the bride) know what you sent and that your gift is appreciated. For cash or gift cards, something along the lines of "your generous gift is going to help us create such a beautiful home" is fine.

Who writes the thank you notes is usually negotiated by the bride and groom. I've been very impressed to see more grooms writing them recently, a shift from the days when all responsibility fell on the brides. Nowadays, the bride may have less free time than her new spouse, and splitting up writing the notes based on which guest was on whose invite list is a great way to do it. Just get it done. And do it well.

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