Thank You Notes

There are two things that rank high on the newlywed stress list--mothers-in-law and thank you notes. Sorry to say, there is no instant cure-all for dealing with the other woman in your life. But here are some easy tips for getting those dreaded thank you notes out of your hair.

Giving Thanks: The Basics
* Thank yous must be sent to everybody who gives you a gift. No exceptions to this rule. Remember: this may be the only way the gift-giver knows you actually received the gift, so not only is writing a note the nice thing to do, it's the right thing to do. Telephone calls don't cut it.
* Traditionally, wedding thank you notes are written in blue or black ink on folded notepaper in ivory or white. If you choose, you can have your married name or monogram embossed on the note. Something to remember about married monograms is that these should not be used until after the wedding. Use your maiden name on any pre-wedding thank yous.
* Don't use preprinted note cards. A hand-written thank you is a must.
* Take the time to make each note warm and personal. Remember the giver spent time to pick out the perfect gift for you, they deserve the same consideration with their thank you.
* Don't cross out words or misspellings. Messy ink blobs are a no-no. Start over if you make a mistake (so be sure to order some extra note cards).

Timing is Everything
* Notes for gifts received before the wedding should be sent within two weeks of their arrival.
* Notes for gifts received on or after the wedding should be sent within one month of returning from the honeymoon.

Get Organized First
* Keep a copy of your invitation mailing list and record every gift you get, as you get it, next to the giver's name. This insures that your thank-yous will be accurate and you'll have the guest's address at your fingertips.
* It's also a good idea to put a check next to the giver's name when you finish their note and write the date it was mailed.
* Set up a designated thank you note writing area in your home. Make sure you have everything on hand to get started: pens, stamps, your gift list and stationary.
* Give yourself a goal. Vow to write five or six thank you notes a night and reward yourself with a small treat when you meet it. Any excuse for chocolate, right?
* Your spouse isn't excused from helping. Both of you are responsible for thanking your guests. Divvy up your list and get to work.

What to Write
* Always personalize the note by naming the gift.
* If the gift was monetary, mention in your note how you plan to use the money.
* If a gift is from a group (10 people or more), one written thank you is acceptable, but be sure and thank them all verbally.
* Do offer gracious thanks for a gift that you don't care for and don't mention that you plan to return it.
* While the etiquette mavens say to only sign one name to each note and just mention your significant other, lots of couples these days think it is nice to sign both names, especially if the thank you is to mutual friends.

Thank you Examples
* Sample thank-you note for a cash gift:
Dear Uncle Bob and Aunt Sally,
Thank you so much for your generous wedding gift. Sam and I are saving for a new home and thanks to you, we're getting closer to our goal. Again, many thanks for thinking of us and for sharing our special day.
Love, Lucy

* Sample thank-you note for a gift chosen from your bridal registry:
Dear Nathan and Molly,
Thank you so much for the china place setting. We now have a complete set. Sam and I are looking forward to your next visit, when we can enjoy dinner together. Thank you again for thinking of us at this special time in our lives.
Warmest regards, Lucy

* Sample thank-you note for a gift you really didn't like:
Dear Chester and Winona,
Thank you for the ceramic fruit basket. You are both so thoughtful! Every time we look at it, we will think of you and this special time in our lives. Again, many thanks for sharing our joy.
Fondly, Lucy and Sam