When to Send Wedding Thank You Cards

Do you know when to send wedding thank you cards? We’ll break down this—and more—in our wedding thank you card guide.

By The Zola Team

When to Send Wedding Thank You Cards
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

  • If you receive a wedding gift before the wedding date, send a thank you card within three months prior to the wedding. Gifts received during or after the wedding should be sent within the following three months.
  • While some send thank you cards to every wedding day attendee, others reserve them for gift-givers only. Be efficient by working together with your partner and keeping track of who sent what.
  • Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Team up with Zola to craft customizable thank you cards that incorporate your wedding photos or complement your Save the Dates.

Picture this: You’re headed back from your honeymoon. That special kind of wedding magic still lingers in the air. You cross the threshold of your home, and it’s filled to the brim with gifts from loved ones.

Then, reality sets in. Shoot, we have to thank people for all of this stuff!

Sending out “thank you” cards is the final task all newlyweds must complete. While it may be tedious, there’s no way to avoid it. It’s time to get down to business.

Knowing exactly when to send wedding thank you cards can be tricky. Fortunately, we have all the answers you need to compose timely, thoughtful thank you cards (plus a ton of beautiful templates to choose from). Read on to learn more about nailing this marital must-do.

Table of contents:

Is There Really a Right or Wrong Time to Send Thank You Cards?

Of course, there’s never a bad time to say thank you, but setting a proper timeline for thank you cards will keep newlyweds organized amidst the post-nuptial pandemonium.

Wait too long, and you run the risk of hurting your guests' feelings. Send them out too hastily, and you might end up making some crucial errors (such as thanking someone for the wrong gift). When it comes to wedding thank you cards, timing is everything.

Too Early, Too Late, or Just Right: What’s the Best Time?

Follow the guidelines below to get the perfect timeline for your wedding thanks to you cards.

Gifts You Received Before the Wedding

After sending out your save-the-dates, you may be surprised when some pre-wedding presents arrive. There are several reasons why loved ones might choose to give their gift early:

  • They want a flexible delivery date: To avoid last-minute shipping issues, some guests may opt for the yourearly gift delivery. Don’t be surprised if you receive a package earlier than expected since proactive shoppers often get the best deals on shipping.

  • More options: If you’ve created a wedding gift registry, early-bird buyers will have the most options to choose from. This may be appealing to loved ones who want to purchase a specific gift, or those facing budget restraints.

  • Less stressful: The final reason your guests may send an early gift is the ease. Getting ahead of shopping allows loved ones to relax and enjoy your celebration worry-free.

If you receive a wedding present early, it’s going to affect the timing of your thank you card. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until after the wedding to thank your guest for their generous gift. Instead, send out a thank you card within two weeks of receiving the item.

After you’ve mailed your pre-wedding thank you cards, make a note of every person who has already received one. This will save you the time, effort, and embarrassment of accidentally sending out doubles (yes, even if you are “twice as thankful,” one card will do just fine).

Gifts You Receive at the Wedding

The most common time for wedding gifts to arrive is on or around your wedding day. Wedding day gifts are often given during the reception, but others may be delivered straight to your home. Either way, newlyweds should send out thank you cards for these gifts within three months of their wedding day. This also goes for cards you send to non-gift giving guests (more on that later).

The bottom line: You have some time. Once you’ve settled into your new life, you’ll have several months to crank out those cards.

Gifts You Receive After the Wedding

We all have that loved one. The friend or family member who’s just a little bit late to everything. They might sneak in halfway through your ceremony, or they may send out a gift after your wedding day.

Despite their tardiness, you’re obviously still grateful for their thoughtful gift. The good news is that even late gifts typically arrive within three months of your wedding date. This is why three months is the general rule of thumb for sending out thank you cards, even for post-wedding presents.

It’s always smart to keep extra stationery on hand a few months after your big day. You never know when a fashionably late present might arrive, and you want to be prepared for it (a gift is a gift, after all).

When to Order Your Stationery

The timeline for sending out your thank you cards will heavily rely on when you purchase them. So, when should you order your wedding stationery? ASAP.

This is particularly important for couples who want customized thank you cards, but all stationery should be bought well in advance. We recommend placing your order shortly after you get engaged. The latest you should make this purchase is about two months before the wedding ceremony (and even then you may be cutting it a bit close).

We know this may not be the most exciting part of planning your wedding, but knocking these things off your to-do list will make the process much easier. Trust us, you don’t want to be scrambling for cards and pens in the middle of your honeymoon.

Who, What, and Where: Organizing Your Recipient List

We get it: Writing thank you cards isn’t exactly a piece of (wedding) cake. Whether your guest list was under 20 or over 200, keeping track of every person and the gift they brought takes some organizational skills.

Here are some of the best tips and tricks newlyweds can utilize for a seamless thank you card process:

Who Gets a Thank You Card?

Ideally? Everyone who attended your wedding, but this may vary.

Some newlyweds choose to limit their thank you cards to gift givers only. Other couples send out a card to all their guests, especially for destination weddings that require travel and time off. Some even like to send thank you notes to wedding vendors.

Crafting your mailing list ultimately comes down to personal preference. Nobody knows your guests better than you, and it’s up to each couple to make a judgement call on their recipients.

It is always important, however, to keep politeness in mind. Expressing your gratitude to every guest is exceptional wedding etiquette. It never hurts to show loved ones how thankful you are, not only for their presents, but also their presence.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Writing thank you cards can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t break it up. To make this process a little more doable, try these handy tricks to help lighten your load:

  • Work in sections: Start with your family, then move onto your partner’s family. The same goes for your friends and their friends. For larger weddings, it may help to go table by table. Carefully examine your list, and find easy, logical ways to break up the work.

  • Don’t overdo it: Filling out all your cards at once is a recipe for errors. Avoid awkward typos by working an hour or two each day, taking breaks, and splitting the work with your spouse.

  • Use your save-the-date mailing list: It’s crucial to get all the correct contact information for your guests. Using your polished save-the-date list will simplify this process and take a huge weight off your shoulders.

Keep Track of Who Gifted You What

Accuracy is a crucial part of crafting thank you cards. Newlyweds need to make sure they’re thanking the right people for the correct gifts, otherwise you may have some explaining to do. To ensure you get it right every time, keep these organizational tips in mind:

  • Steer clear of the trash can: Hold onto cards, envelopes, and even wrapping paper after your reception. What may seem like post-wedding trash can actually hold vital information for putting together your thank you card list (this is especially important for guests who strayed from the registry).

  • Keep a spreadsheet: Planning your wedding may not be a fulltime job, but it never hurts to take some tips from the office. Create a spreadsheet of your guests with a separate column for gifts. Print out a physical copy of this sheet and keep it near the gift table during your reception. This will make it easy to jot down any present-related notes (when you’re not dancing and eating cake, of course).

  • Don’t ask: Whatever you do, do not reach out to guests after the wedding and ask what they gifted you. It’s your responsibility to keep track of wedding presents, and asking can leave guests feeling unappreciated. Your family and friends may love you unconditionally, but that doesn’t make them invincible to hurt feelings.

Words Matter: How to Write Your Wedding Thank You Cards

There are many ways to say thank you, but most wedding thank you cards will follow a certain set of guidelines. While some newlyweds might choose to get creative with their appreciation, there are some basic points you’ll want to hit with the wording of each message:

  • Thank you for attending: First and foremost, you should always thank the recipient for attending your big day. If you want to get specific, you can even include an acknowledgement of the distance they traveled, the time they took out of their busy schedule, or a fun memory you shared during the wedding.

  • Thank you for the gift: For recipients who sent gifts, try to get specific with your message. Mention the item they gave you by name, and give a brief description of how excited you are to use it in the coming days.

  • Get personal: When wrapping up a thank you note, this is the time to add any other personal touches. These may include inside jokes, future plans to see your loved one, or any other information that makes the message unique.

  • Sign off: Finally, you’ll want to sign the card together. Make sure each thank you note is clearly marked with both of your names to ensure your loved ones feel appreciated by the happy couple as a whole.

While these steps may seem a bit formal, the most important part of thank you card writing is remaining genuine. Each note may have different wording, but the gratitude expressed should always come from the heart. Cherish the appreciation you felt for all your guests on the big day, and be sure to capture that feeling on paper (even if you’re writing it down three months later).

Keep It Stylish: Choosing a Design for Your Thank You Cards

Gratitude never goes out of style, but your thank you cards should probably have more flair than, let’s say, an index card. Picking out your thank you cards is the final thematic choice you’ll make for the big day, and the amount of thought you put in is important.

Check out these unique ideas newlyweds can use when choosing their thank you card design:

#1 Handwritten

A handwritten card is the most traditional route for wedding thank you notes. If you or your partner have nice handwriting, now is the time to flex it. Couples who decide on handwritten cards should invest in a quality set of pens (and maybe practice some hand stretching before they start writing).

Writing notes by hand can also help couples save money on printing. So, not only will your handwritten cards add a personal touch, but they can also keep your bank account happy.

#2 Portrait of the Couple

Looking for a fun way to show off your wedding photos? Try sharing a portrait from your special day on the front of your thank you cards. Here at Zola, we have over 100 different portrait templates to help couples customize their thank you cards.

Some thank you card designs even incorporate multiple photos, allowing couples to create a beautiful collage of all their happy memories.

#3 Incorporate Wedding Photos of the guests

What’s the one thing people love more than photos of the happy couple? Photos of themselves. Whether you incorporate disposal cameras, wedding photo booths, or a professional wedding photographer into your wedding day, these can be added to a personalized thank you card template.

While this may take a bit longer to design, adding personalized photos to your cards is a wonderful way to thank guests by giving them memories they can cherish.

#4 Match Your Save-the-Dates

For couples who are truly committed to their look, Zola offers matching thank you card and save-the-date designs. When picking out your style for each card, try to match the following features for a seamless style:

  • Typography
  • Trim
  • Color palette
  • Type of paper

Matching your thank you cards and save-the-dates is an easy way to uphold your wedding’s aesthetic. Some couples even go above and beyond by basing their menus and programs on this design as well.

#5 DIY Design

Here at Zola, we offer hundreds of thank you card templates to make wedding planning easier. We also understand that some couples simply don’t fit into a mold. That’s why we created our DIY design option.

With a DIY template, creative couples can customize their thank you cards with a personalized design. Choose from multiple stylish options, including:

  • Custom photo and message: Zola lets users upload their own design on the front of their card and create a custom message on the inside. Couples can choose the number of photos they want, each photos position, and the wording and style of the message.

  • Shape: Zola users can also change the shape of their thank you cards. When creating a design, you’ll be able to choose from folded, postcard, and petite style thank you cards.

  • Finish: Couples can also choose from a variety of finishes for a truly personalized look. Paper options include smooth, eggshell, pearlescent, linen, and natural—plenty of options to fit any and all wedding styles.

  • Foil: For an added touch of elegance, couples can add foil details to their thank you cards. Depending on your color palette, Zola offers gold, rose gold, and silver options.

Zola: You Don’t Have to Thank Us, But You’ll Want To

Zola is your one-stop shop for all things wedding. From the engagement to the honeymoon, we’re here to help happy couples through every step of this exciting process. Users can easily choose from hundreds of eye-catching designs for their wedding invitations, thank you cards, and wedding programs on our website.

In addition to paper goods, couples can also use Zola to create a free wedding website, wedding guest list, and—you guessed it—a wedding registry. After all, you’ll need to pick out the gifts you’re planning to say thank you for.

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