Thank You Card Etiquette

Your guests spent time and money celebrating your special day. Learn how to say thank you the right way with this wedding thank you card etiquette guide.

By The Zola Team

Thank You Card Etiquette
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

  • Thank you cards are a beautiful way to show gratitude to the loved ones who attended your special day. Add personal touches to your cards along with a thank you for any wedding gifts you received.
  • For thank you card wording, get creative by adding a personal anecdote or detailing how you intend to use their thoughtful wedding gift.
  • Order your thank you cards as early as you can, but avoid sending them out too early.
  • With hundreds of unique templates and customizable options, Zola can help you craft a thank you card that matches your style.

Weddings are fun, heartwarming, and—well—a bit stressful. Gasp. Yeah, we said it. Weddings can be stressful. Your big day (and the months surrounding it) are full of organizing, completing tasks, and learning the proper etiquette. While these caveats don’t make weddings any less beautiful, they can lead to some confusion when planning your nuptials.

One of the most confusing parts of wedding planning? Figuring out how to write a thank you card. We all learned how to say thank you as kids, but how does one write a thank you note for their wedding guests? This formal tradition can be tricky to navigate, but we’ve got you covered. Read on for everything you need to know about wedding thank you card etiquette.

Table of contents:

What’s Thank You Card Etiquette?

No matter how formal or informal your wedding may be, etiquette is crucial to a successful celebration. The word etiquette may seem a little intimidating for nuptial newbies, but it’s pretty simple. Proper wedding etiquette refers to the wording, timing, and recipients of your thank you cards.

Not so bad, right? Once we cover these basic points, you’ll be on your way to mastering the art of writing thank you cards. The clock’s ticking and the wedding bells will soon be tolling, so let’s get started.

Part 1: Proper Thank You Card Etiquette: What Do You Write?

What exactly do you write in a wedding thank you card? How do you format your message? What are some major dos and don’ts? Don’t stress, we’ve got all the answers below.

What Information Should You Include?

Every thank you card you send out should look a little different. Unique touches will make guests feel appreciated and help avoid monotonous messages. With this in mind, there are some key points every card needs to hit:

  • Guest’s name: Each thanks you card should be personally addressed to the recipient. That means “dear loved one” isn’t going to cut it here, you’ll need to include names.

  • Thank them for attending: Your card’s introduction should always include a thank you to guests for actually attending the wedding. This detail is particularly important for destination weddings and guests who live far away.

  • The gift: When thanking guests who purchased a wedding present, you want to be specific. Mention the wedding gift you received by name within the body of your message. For example: “thank you for the lovely toaster” or “we appreciate the cozy comforter you sent us.”

  • Your feelings about the gift: Okay, so here’s where it gets a little tricky. Maybe you don’t love every gift you received, and that’s perfectly fine. When it comes to thanking your cards, however, it’s important to positively mention the gift. This could be as simple as: “We were so excited when we opened the blender you sent us,” or “we can’t wait to use the beautiful cutlery we got from you.” Even if you aren’t over the moon about a gift, it’s crucial to address the gift itself.

  • Personal memory: Another aspect of good thank you card etiquette is adding a personal memory from the wedding. This may include a dance you shared with the recipient, a funny moment you had together, or simply a comment on how nice it was to see them. Your guests were happy to share their time with you, and it’s always polite to note that their presence was appreciated.

How Do You Word a Thank You, Card?

As grateful as you may feel, finding the right words for your thank you card isn’t always easy. Multiply this by the number of guests you had at your wedding, and it’s safe to say your brain may feel a little fried.

The trick to writing quality thank you cards is getting creative with your wording. While this may require some thought (and a few glances at the old thesaurus), you’ll soon find a rhythm that makes the process easier.

Below are some examples of proper wording for wedding thank you cards, depending on the recipient:

Thank You for a Registry Gift

Dear (recipient name),

Thank you so much for the new bedding set. Our bedroom was due for a much-needed revamp, and your thoughtful gift has brought us so much comfort. We’ll think of you every time we hit the hay (unless we’re too tired). We are so happy you could be there for our special day, and we can’t thank you enough for the lovely gift.

Love, (You and your spouse)

Thank You for Attending

Dear (Recipient name)

We’re endlessly grateful that you were able to attend our wedding. Thank you so much for taking the time to travel to share such a special day with us. We will never forget the lasting memories you helped us make, and we hope to see you again soon.

Best, (You and your spouse)

Thank You for Cash Funds

Dear (Recipient name)

We wanted to reach out and say thank you for your generous wedding present of $300. We can’t wait for our trip to Thailand in June, and you’ve granted us the best gift of all: financial freedom. We will be thinking of you when we use this money to explore the country. (Or maybe to purchase a mai-tai or two…) Thank you again!

With love, (You and your spouse)

Thank You Card Dos and Don’ts

If specific examples aren’t quite hitting the mark, that’s okay. For a more general idea of how to write your thank you cards, we’ve made a list of some basic dos and don’ts. Keep these rules in mind when drafting your messages to ensure your thank yous are prim, proper, and polite (or maybe just polite, depending on your personality):

Dos:

  • Do specify the gift you received and how you’ll use it
  • Do add personal touches (eg. memories from the wedding, plans to meet up, inside jokes, etc.)
  • Do provide a brief description of how you’ll use a cash gift
  • Do mention specific amounts of money (eg. Thank you for your cash gift of 100 dollars)
  • Do write your notes by hand if you have good handwriting

Don’ts:

  • Don’t forget to mention the gift, even if you plan to return it
  • Don’t send digital thank you cards, especially to older relatives and tech-averse friends
  • Don’t write your notes by hand if you have bad penmanship (sorry, but a legible note is always preferred)
  • Don’t make your message too long (thank you cards should be short and sweet)

Part 2: Timing is Key: When Do You Send Thank You Cards?

While many wedding gifts will arrive on the big day, some guests may send gifts early and others might roll in a little late. These variables can affect when you send your thank you cards, so it’s important to understand the proper timeline for early, on-time, and late wedding gifts.

Early Gifts

Some guests will choose to send their gift early. This gives loved ones a chance to pick out their favorite registry item and avoid any shipping and delivery issues.

Engaged couples typically set up their wedding registry between nine and seven months prior to the wedding. You should expect to receive a few early gifts anytime within this period. The guideline for sending out pre-wedding thank you cards is approximately two weeks after you receive a gift. This way, early bird shoppers won’t be waiting an entire year for a thank you—plus, this splits up the work you’ll have to do later. It’s sort of a win-win for everyone.

Wedding Day Gifts

For gifts you receive on or around your wedding day, you’ve got some time to draft your thank yous. As a rule of thumb, couples can generally wait up to three months before sending out the majority of their thank you cards.

While this may seem like a while, we can assure you that this is the standard waiting period. Your guests understand that newlyweds are busy, and nobody is expecting a thank you wedding card while you’re still honeymooning. (Although, a postcard is always nice).

When to Order Thank You Cards

Now that you know about the three month grace period, you’re probably in no rush to order your thank you cards.

This is where many couples go wrong. The truth is that thank you cards should be purchased as early as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to stock up shortly after your engagement, and several months before the wedding at the very latest.

In addition to early gifts, there are plenty of reasons to order thank you cards ahead of time. Engagement parties and wedding showers are just a few events where you may want to send out a few thank you notes after the fact. This is an exciting time with plenty to be grateful for, so don’t be afraid to place your order early.

Don’t Send Too Early

While we recommend ordering your cards early, we don’t recommend sending them out prematurely. Here’s why: Sometimes gifts get delivered late. You’ll want to wait at least a month or two before sending out thank you cards to guests who didn’t send a gift. This will help couples avoid the awkward situation of thanking a guest for attending, but not thanking them for their gift. Shipping can often be delayed, especially on larger items, so always allow time for these mishaps.

Part 3: Crafting Your Mailing List: Who Gets a Thank You Card?

Who gets a thank you card? It depends. While some couples choose to thank every guest who attended their wedding, others limit these messages to gift givers only. Some couples even send thank you notes to wedding vendors. While this decision is ultimately up to you, there are some factors to keep in mind when crafting your mailing list.

  • Travel: For destination weddings, or guests who live far away, the cost of traveling can be pricey. If a loved one wasn’t able to purchase a gift, it doesn’t mean they didn’t spend time and money on your wedding. Always be sure to thank any guest who traveled, took time off, or spent money to be present for your special day.

  • “Group gifting”: For large purchases, guests may utilize a “group gifting” technique. It’s important to keep track of every person who contributes to a shared gift and ensure you’re not leaving anyone out when writing your thank you cards.

  • Politeness: At the end of the day, politeness is never a bad thing. Whether a guest traveled near or far, spent a lot or a little, or any circumstances in between, it doesn’t hurt to say thank you. Taking the time to write a thank you card for every guest will always be the highest form of wedding etiquette.

Part 4: Designing Your Thank You Cards: What’s Your Style?

Thank you cards are the final wedding element that newlyweds get to pick, so you might as well have some fun with it. Here at Zola, we’re all about giving couples creative freedom. That’s why we offer hundreds of unique templates, customizable options, and search tools on our website. That way, you can find a thank you card that fits your style.

Below are the biggest details to consider when designing your thank you cards:

#1 Custom Photos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. While a picture can’t replace your thank you message, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Zola users can select our innovative DIY template to create a fully personalized batch of thank you cards. Add professional photographs, candids, or even photos with guests to your thank you cards for a truly personal touch.

#2 Typography

Handwritten notes are the more traditional option, but frankly, not everyone has the penmanship for it. If you’re a member of the exclusive chicken scratch club, you’re in luck.

Here at Zola, we give users the option to type out individual messages for their thank you cards. From there, we’ll print your words directly onto the paper and save you the trouble (and finger cramps) of writing them out by hand.

For both the inner message and outer design, couples can choose from a variety of elegant fonts that fit any wedding style.

#3 Finish

Interested in even more ways to customize your card? We’ve got you covered.

With Zola, couples can personalize their card right down to the type of paper. Depending on the look you want, we offer a number of different finishes, including:

  • Smooth
  • Eggshell
  • Pearlescent
  • Linen
  • Natural

From soft and delicate to sleek and modern, Zola users have options when it comes to thank you cards.

#4 Foil

Who doesn’t love a metallic finish? Zola users can add this classy detail to the text and borders of their thank you card design. If you’re trying to match a specific theme, you’ll have the option to choose from three beautiful colors:

  • Gold
  • Rose gold
  • Silver

You may be thanking your guests, but they’ll be thanking you for sending such a beautiful, sophisticated card.

#5 Color Palette

Here at Zola, we know everyone’s wedding decor is different. Modern couples are branching out beyond the traditional whites and golds, with bold hues that truly make a statement. For this reason, we’ve made it easy to search for thank you cards based on color. Users can refine their search to match any of the following shades:

  • Blue
  • Beige
  • Green
  • Black
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • White
  • Red
  • Grey
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Brown

Zola: We Make Etiquette Easy

After all this thank you card info, it’s okay if your head is spinning a bit. Planning your upcoming nuptials can be complicated, but Zola makes it easier.

Zola is the place for all your marital must-haves. Users can choose from hundreds of beautiful designs for their thank you cards, wedding invitations, and wedding programs—or even customize one from scratch. No matter what you’re in the market for, Zola can help you create it, print it, and get it there on time. All you have to do is hand it to the guests (sorry, we’d do that too if we could).

Paper goods aren’t the only thing we offer. Zola gives users the ability to create a virtual wedding guest list, wedding registry, and even a free wedding website. The days of planning everything on paper are over. Get the wedding you deserve—and the tools to make it happen—right here with us.

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