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What Not to Say in a Thank-You Note

Pick your words carefully, especially when gifts are involved.

Contributing Writer
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Lots of etiquette rules have disappeared in recent years but those having to do with thank-you notes have remained rigid—no emailing, no not sending, and no one-size-fits-all sentiments. But it's still easy to make a gaffe in the note itself. To help you avoid house arrest by the etiquette police, we've rounded up six common mistakes that newlywed couples (yes, the groom should help!) often make when composing their thank-you notes. Before you grab a pen and notecard, read our advice below about what not to mention.

 

Wedding Invitation Etiquette Tips

 

The dollar amount of the gift.

Since the giver already knows how much he or she gave you, there's no need to sound like an accountant in your note. You shouldn't even reference that it's money. Say, "Thanks for the gift," then tell what you'll do with it, such as, "We plan to put it towards living room furniture/a down payment/our honeymoon." Write the rest of your thank-you and acknowledge them coming to the wedding to celebrate.

 

That you already have one.

This gets a bit tricky because you don't want to make the guest feel badly yet you don't want to lie. Keep the note simple: "Thank you for the gorgeous teak salad bowl—it will come in handy during cookouts this summer." If you're planning to give the bowl to your sister, let's assume she will use it at cookouts this summer!

 

That it's "interesting."

That's double talk for, "I hate your gift and can't think of anything nice to say about it." Unless you have a registry—your one chance to pick out exactly what you'd like people to buy you—you risk getting a monkey-shaped lamp or fuchsia satin bedspread. No matter what you've received, pick out a feature of the gift to compliment. "What a pretty color—it makes us happy just looking at it!"

 

The same thing you're saying in every other thank-you note.

If you want to write the world's most boring, impersonal thank-you note, this would be it: "Thank you for your generous gift and for sharing our wedding day with us." No mention of what the gift is or a personal reference of any kind? You're more clever than that! Instead of phoning it in, mention the gift specifically and how you'll put it to use. Someone gave you cookware? Say something like, "We plan on making pancakes every Sunday morning with the skillet!" Or wine glasses? Try, "The wine glasses will be used many, many times, trust us!"

 

A Guide to Your Wedding Gift Table

 

That you didn't receive their gift yet.

If you're thinking about writing a thank-you note for coming to the wedding that includes anything like, "We didn't receive a gift from you and want to make sure it didn't get lost," think again. Stick to writing how much their attendance meant to you and don't mention their non-gift. You may still get one: Some folks are under the old-timey (and wrong) assumption they have a year to buy you something!

 

That you'd like to return it for something similar.

You have a king-size bed and the gift is queen sheets. Thank the giver and don't mention the size difference in your note. Just quietly return the linens for the right size, and everyone will sleep soundly.

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About the Author

Nancy Mattia

Though Nancy has been writing about weddings for years, she admits that watching a bride walk down the aisle—even on TV—still makes her tear up. The New York-area writer's other favorite wedding moments are when the groom sees the bride for the first time, hearing the toasts, and when she sees a waiter with a tray full of hors d'oeuvres walking towards her. 

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