I’m not sure if it’s because I was born and raised in the southern US, because I’m over thirty, or a combination of both, but when I recently found out that people have decided it’s okay to text instead of sending the traditional post-wedding thank you note, I thought it was a joke. So when I was chatting with a friend who told me, “No, seriously. [Mutual friend] asked if she could just text her aunt and thank her for the toaster,” my face did this:
Because guys, I don’t care if it’s 2016 and we all live on our phones or not. If someone gifts you a physical object (money counts), you write them a physical thank you note for it. No further discussion.
At this point, I assume about half of you are nodding along (Hi: Are you also over thirty?) and the other half are feeling like this:
…and I can live with that.
Let’s talk about a few reasons why I’m not going to give you a pass and tell you that it’s okay to thank people via a hashtag on Instagram.
1. no one actually has to spend money on you
Newsflash: No one actually owes you a gift because you chose to get married (and they certainly don’t owe you extra cash if you think their £100 check wasn’t enough). Crazy, right? No, it’s not.
A department chain store is credited with inventing the first gift registry in the 1920s. And up until the 1920s, wedding guests weren’t expected to contribute anything to the wedding… and color me cynical if you must, but I find it telling that registries were brought the forefront by a department store who stood to gain quite a bit of business if they took off. For me, although registries are still quite in vogue, and even though it can be extremely helpful for new couples to receive a ton of gifts, it still doesn’t mean anyone has to choose to drop $50 on the towels you really want. In fact, this brings me to my second point.
2. YOU NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE GESTURE
So, sure, I get that you might not actually feel a lot of thanks for the set of wine glasses your cousin picked out. You might enjoy them, but there may never be a moment in which you stop, gaze serenely at the sky, and feel an abundance of gratitude toward your cousin for gifting that particular set (even if it’s the one you asked for). But you know what would be nice to acknowledge? Your cousin’s gesture. Because it’s just really sweet.
Apart from the fact that your cousin didn’t have to spend the money in the first place (see point number one), she also didn’t have to get you what you wanted, but she did, so that’s extra nice.
3. Choosing gifts takes about as long as it will take you to write a note
Thank you notes don’t have to be long, and no one is expecting you to send them six handwritten pages waxing poetic about how pumped you are to use that new waffle iron. However, even if your registry is online and wildly user-friendly, your guests still have to spend time choosing your gift. I have personally spent anywhere between fifteen and forty-five minutes on someone’s registry, poring over my options, deciding whether or not I want to gift cash or an item, and, if we’re being honest, seeing what you picked out and what other people have already bought.
If you take a divide and conquer approach to your thank you notes, there’s no reason why two adults can’t slam through a hundred or so notes over the course of a week. You write some, your partner writes others, and you make sure they get sent to where they need to go. After all, fifteen to forty-five minutes is probably how long it’ll take you. And forty-five minutes is if you’re going really slowly.
4. A note makes sure your relationship is reciprocal
One of my favorite Sex and the City episodes is “A Woman’s Right to Shoes.” To summarize, Carrie’s shoes get stolen at a party and when her friend fails to offer to compensate her for the shoes, Carrie realizes how many times she’s bought gifts for the friend (engagement gift, wedding gift, baby shower gift, birthday gifts for the kids) and how, as a single, child-free woman, her friend has yet to reciprocate. She then decides to register for the shoes—as in, she creates a wedding registry for herself. With one pair of shoes on it.
I know it’s TV, but I think this is genius. I doubt many of us consider how little we reciprocate gift giving when our friends don’t follow traditional life paths. A thank you note is a sweet way to acknowledge that hey, you really dig that rug they picked out, and those coffee mugs are totally being used everyday, so thank you, friend.
5. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it
Here’s my final bit of advice. You don’t have to be prepared to throw down hundreds of dollars on really nice, expensive thank you cards. Between Etsy and Amazon and Target, there are tons of people around the world producing incredibly adorable, and affordable, stationery. Also, there’s no statute of limitations on when you say thank you, so there’s nothing stopping you from sending out thank you cards to half of your guests one month, restocking your card supply, and sending out cards to the second half a month or two later. And hell, there is no rule saying that thank you notes need to be on fancy paper. Really, any paper will do.
If the cost of stamps is insurmountable (currently 49¢ a stamp in the US, but maybe you got a whole lot of gifts), I think sending a digital thank you is perfectly fine—as long as it’s individualized and sent via a service or email. (Seriously, don’t send a thank you note to their Facebook inbox.) Also PS: Not everyone who attends your wedding will actually bring a gift, but you still need to write them a thank you note just because they showed up and spent time celebrating you and your life choices.
And no. You can’t text it. Sorry. (But never fear. Next week we’ll have templates for all of your thank you note needs!)
did you write thank you notes after your wedding? would you ever send a thank you text? if so, what would it say?