Thank You Notes That Are Beyond Late

by admin on September 23, 2013

I am burning in Ehell right now and my question is not so much “how do I get out?” but more “is it pointless to bother to try?”

My wedding was 3.5 years ago. We never sent out thank you cards. I have 101 excuses for this but that’s exactly what they are, excuses. We honestly did and still do appreciate the thoughtful gifts we received but we’re the procrastinator types and just never got to it. I would like to send them out. Would people be pleased to receive a thank you at this late date or is it better to just not send them at all? Mom says “why bother NOW” but truly, I always meant to do it.

Thanks for your advice. I absolutely deserve the vengeance I expect to receive for my poor choices to this date. 0919-13

My thoughts are that it cannot hurt to send out very belated thank you notes.   Below is a submission to the site I received a day after yours and one can tell that there can be considerable barriers put up between people all due to a perception of ingratitude and not wanting to feel like you were used to increase someone else’s material assets.

My husband’s niece had a baby boy last year after 10 years of trying . We were overjoyed over the birth of her son and so happy for her and her husband. We sent her money, toys, books as well as a beautiful monogrammed silver cup to express our love. After a year neither my husband nor I have received so much as a phone call or acknowledgement of any kind. I imagine a thank you note is out of the question. I am aware from other family members that she did receive the gifts. I am unsure if I should say something or just let it go. I am so hurt and offended that I think our relationship isn’t. 0920-13

Yeah, people can really be hurt by what is perceived as a rejection of their expressions of love as expressed in the form of gifts.

I wouldn’t offer any excuses or defenses for why you are so late in sending a thank you other than to humorous grovel in abject contrition for being so late.  Effusive spouting about the wonders of the gift and the exceptional generosity of the givers wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Mer September 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

I would say, better late than never. I would agree with admin, that do not offer excuses, especially when the real reason is “we never got around to do it”. Excuse (or reason) might be in place if there was some real and legitime reason (such as severe illness) though it’s hard for me to think how to express even a valid reason in a good way on a note.

Personally, I would think that I would take quite well even quite late thank you. I have to admit that sometimes I’m the kind of person that would forget their own head had it not been attached to my neck so I think I could relate to the fact that sometimes one has good intentions but the execution fails. I cannot think I would be insulted or that the very late thank you would somehow feel worse than not having the thank you at all.

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Fallushere September 23, 2013 at 10:46 am

Send them! I would love to get a thank you. Even years later! I would poke fun at myself I dr it. But I would also give an excuse if it were real: ” I was very sick for some time after the wedding” ir ” we had to move to a new country after the wedding” etc

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gellchom September 23, 2013 at 1:04 pm

I am one of those big thank you note sticklers, and I can tell you that not only would I welcome a thank you note now, I would particularly admire you for doing what I know isn’t easy.

My own son, despite having been raised to know that prompt, well-written thank you notes are a HUGE priority, and his wife have not sent out all their notes yet after more than two years. I get teased a lot! I only hope that they follow your example.

So, yes, absolutely send them, and good for you that you are taking responsibility. I know how hard this must be. Think how great it will be when you no longer have that knot in your stomach whenever you think about it.

I agree, don’t discuss the lateness or your reasons for it. At most, the “humorous grovel” the Admin mentioned. It really wouldn’t add anything — I mean, they KNOW it’s late — and, worse, writing about it changes the focus back to yourselves rather than the proper focus of a thank you note: how much you like the gift, how grateful you are for the gift-giver’s generosity, and how glad/sorry you are that they could/couldn’t attend your wedding.

[It occurs to me that maybe that's why I don't really like including a photo of the bride and groom in thank you notes. I never liked them when they cause the notes to go out later. But I think this is an additional reason: it shifts the focus away from THEM and back onto YOU. The wedding was your turn to be the star; the thank you note is theirs.]

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Agania September 23, 2013 at 9:36 pm

I agree Gellchom,
I don’t want a photo of the bride and groom in the thank you note. I’m not going to put the snap in a place of honor to sigh over happy memories of the day! In my thank you notes I put a photo of the person the note was going to at our wedding with myself and/or hubby in the shot. I got heaps of informal snaps done for this very purpose. A friend still has that photo on her fridge nearly 10 years later.
Agania

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Mer September 24, 2013 at 1:29 am

Ah, I’m totally different here, I love those photo-thank yous! (Have to note though, that general thank you-note policy is bit different here than what I gather it is in USA). I think it comes from my childhood home, my mother had a certain shelf she would place thank you cards from weddings and graduations etc and I liked to look at them. I still keep all the photo-thank yous I get, and present them on my own shelf for a while.

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InNM September 23, 2013 at 10:53 am

We received very generous support for our wedding this month, in the form of cash and gifts. Trying to get the DH to write them with me was like pulling teeth or herding cats, whichever is more painful. His excuse was he didn’t know what to write in a Thank you card; then he didn’t know how to say thank you to my side of the family. After looking at him cut-eye, I told him that it should contain at the least gratitude for the generous gift (by name, but not the exact monetary count if cash) and it should be personalized to the recipient. Then I reminded him that he was very quick to receive the gifts, so we should be just as quick to return our thanks. After that, he stopped whining and finished the cards.
I had a friend tell me she did not expect thanks because it wasn’t necessary. This was the same friend who brought a gift, went shopping with me for wedding related items, and got her mom to make 100+ cookies and bagged them for my out of town guests. I told her that acknowledgement of her efforts was mandatory, as it cements our friendship, and should I need help at a later date, she’ll remember this and be more likely to help me.

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Miriam September 24, 2013 at 7:44 am

This reminded me of Thank Yous as a child: we were not allowed to play with/spend the gift until we had thanked the giver – it made for speedy responses to *most* of the gifts, and once the bulk of the letters were written it seemed so much easier to thank Auntie X for the really weird, non-child-appropriate whatever she found this year.

There was also a rule that the longer we left the note-writing, the longer the note had to be!

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June First September 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I like these rules! I will probably steal them for my own family use.

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Ergala September 26, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Miriam my mom had the same rule!

My baby shower was like a month or so before I delivered our oldest. I was incredibly ill at the end so I spent most of my time miserable and trying to sleep. When I was finally in labor I was writing thank you notes in the hospital. My husband kept trying to tell me to not worry about it but between my own guilt and my mother brow beating me in the corner I wrote all 45 thank you’s before I delivered my son a few days later.

Our wedding thanks yous I wrote all by myself. Over 80. I gave them to my husband to mail, they were all addressed and stamped, all he had to do was pop them in the big mailbox across the road. I thought he did….found out a year later that he never mailed them. I kept wondering why people asked if we had received the gifts they had sent. And yup as the bride I was blamed 100% for it.

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Lo September 23, 2013 at 11:09 am

I really needed to read this submission.

My deepest darkest secret is that I never sent thank you notes for our wedding. I’ve backpedaled and avoided the topic at all costs. I’m terrified to even start because I can barely remember who gave what, though I’ve got about half the gift notices and gift receipts stashed somewhere. As a procrastonator riddled with anxiety and a chronic clutterer just the thought of doing it now makes my heart pound. The spouse is no help at all, claiming his family doesn’t care about thank you notes. Well that shouldn’t matter, should it? So I’m buring alongside you!

And you know what I noticed? People didn’t say anything but there was pointed drop in generosity towards us. And you know what the worst part was? I was *relieved*. I was so relieved because I didn’t have to send them more thank you notes. Because I know in my heart of hearts that I deserve this.

So maybe this will give me the kick in the butt I need to do something because the guilt is killing me.

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Kimstu September 24, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Go @Lo! Go, go, go @Lo! You can do it! We are rooting for you!

The key? JUST DO **ONE**. Go to that stash of gift notices and gift receipts, pull out one at random, and write a nice thank-you note to that ONE giver right away. Follow the advice from Admin and other posters about writing an affectionate and grateful note focused on the nice gift and the giver’s generosity rather than on your own self-reproach for the tardiness. They’ll be pleased and touched, and YOU WILL FEEL BETTER.

Go write ONE thank-you note and post to let us know! E-Hell cheerleading squad at the ready! :)

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Lo September 24, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I did it!! I wrote one! It’s in the envelope and stamped and ready to go out tomorrow morning!

Thanks so much for your kind words, they were so motivational that I rushed away to grab my stationery before coming back to the computer :)

Now I’ve got about 50 more to go…. fingers crossed to have them done by the beginning of October!

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Kimstu September 25, 2013 at 4:27 pm

YAAAAAYYYY!! You go, @Lo! :) :) :)

Now just keep doing them one by one, and the burden will lift for good!

Two bits of advice:

1) If you fall off the horse, just get back on it. That is, if your momentum runs out temporarily and you let a while go by without doing one of the notes, don’t fall back into the spiral of inaction and self-reproach. Just tell yourself again “Okay, I’m just going to go do ONE now”, and let the momentum resume.

2) If one of the givers (and there won’t be more than one or two at most) gets snippy about the late response, don’t be discouraged. Most people really will be pleased and touched that you put yourself out there to tell them of your appreciation and gratitude, even when it would have been easier just to go on letting it slide and taking it for granted that they would understand.

Okay everybody, party for @Lo in the Ehell Cabana!! :) I gots the bubbly.

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Lo September 25, 2013 at 8:55 pm

This is awesome advice, thanks for being my thank you note cheerleader!!

gellchom October 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Yay for you! Lots of excellent advice there from Kimtsu.
We’re all cheering you on. How is it going?

BethRD September 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

I think Ms. Manners got this question once, and if I recall correctly, she advised the person to send out notes that said something like, “Dear Aunt Bessie and Uncle Jack, my dear husband Roford and I are doing well and can’t believe that we are coming up on our fourth anniversary! I suppose that when you’re happy the years just seem to fly by! We were thinking of you the other day as we used your left-handed pumpkin-scented candelabra, and I wanted to let you know that we still treasure it and are so grateful that you gave it to us. Love to you, the kids, etc.” I think the point was that if you worded it correctly, it wouldn’t be totally clear whether an original thank you had ever been sent. :-)

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Ange September 23, 2013 at 7:01 pm

That sounds like a wonderful way of doing it!

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Wild Irish Rose September 24, 2013 at 9:56 am

Great idea! I love Miss Manners.

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Powers September 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Here’s a slightly different variation:

“While it is much too late to save him and his wife from being thought to be boors, there is no statute of limitations that now frees them from the obligation. If he were to undertake the task, he should not make excuses –the declaration of being busy just irritates those who took the time to be kind — but humbly apologize and write about how much the present has been appreciated all this time, and that it always makes him think of them.”

http://living.msn.com/life-inspired/miss-manners-advice/miss-manners-are-thank-you-notes-a-requirement

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Jessie September 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

Send! People will still appreciate the thought. Maybe add in some sweet note about how the item or $ has helped you along the path of marriage. Something to the extent of, “we really love the blender you gave us! My husband uses it each and every morning to make healthy smoothies for us!” or something of the like. I think your guests will appreciate the sentiment that their gift is still appreciated!

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M September 23, 2013 at 11:29 am

Send them! I’m still waiting for thank you notes from a couple weddings I attended 10 or so years ago. I’d be happy to receive them and my opinion of the couple’s ability to be gracious humans would improve…even after the years delay.

Get them done. Write one per night before you allow yourself a snack or watching TV or playing on the computer or your phone. Don’t read another comment on here until your write one.
DO IT.

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girl_with_all_the_yarn September 23, 2013 at 11:35 am

Better late than never. Two years after her wedding my bff sent out her thank you notes. Her excuse? A year after the wedding of more than 500 people (she has an enormous family and is part of a culture where huge weddings are the norm) they were *finally* all finished, addressed and ready to go out.

The next day her basement flooded and ruined all of them.

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Angel September 23, 2013 at 11:42 am

Better late than never. Go ahead and send them. Include a recent photo of the two of you–or even a photo of you using the gift if you are so inclined. By all means make sure they are personalized and handwritten. Normally notes should be sent within 2-3 months but I think at any time, they would be appreciated.

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Lex September 23, 2013 at 11:42 am

If you hadn’t referred to your mother as ‘Mom’ I’d have thought you were my sister OP! (We’re British, our mother is Mum). She’s been married 3+ years now and she didn’t send any thank you cards either – despite being reminded and me offering to sort them out on Vistaprint while she was on honeymoon. All we got for our troubles was a mouthful.

We were and still are MORTIFIED that she didn’t send out thank you letters. That being said, I think sending them so late dredges up bad feeling. I’d be more inclined to suggest personalised letters explaining that you are writing in lieu of a thank you card with some more personal information – such as how you have enjoyed their gifts over the last X years (for example).

I have previously mentioned our rather ornery Great Aunt E who sent my ungrateful sister a lovely heated serving dish for her wedding gift. I won’t repeat her ungrateful comments, however had I been the recipient of such a gift, I’m certain I would have used it in entertaining and perhaps you may wish to make mention of examples like this?

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Miriam September 23, 2013 at 11:53 am

I would definitely send Thank Yous, with an apology for their tardiness [of the "I'm sorry I have been useless" variety rather than excuses, which can translate as "my exciting life was much more important to me than your little offering"].

I’m a pretty literal person, and the absence of a Thank You tells me ‘loud and clear’ that my efforts in choosing a gift/money spent were not appreciated, so I should save my time and energy in future for those who *will* appreciate it. Even a massively-belated thank you can reverse this, as well as bringing a huge smile to my face.

I’m perfectly happy with a “thank you” in person or a phone call to say “Hi, I loved the whatever”, but after more than a couple of months have gone by, I think the gift recipient is much better off writing a note… I would also make a bit more of an effort in a note, and include a couple of snippets or an amusing anecdote about married life – you’ve had chance to acumulate a few by now, surely?

The worst that can happen is now you are branded “unreliable” or “ditzy”, and how much nicer is that than “ingrate”?

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Meegs September 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

I say go for it!!! Look at it this way: If you do it, people can say that your thank you notes were REALLY LATE, but they can’t say that you didn’t send any at all, right? Better late then never, IMO.
In fact, I am still trying to convince my friend to send thank you notes for her wedding last July (not this past July of 2013, it was July of 2012). She insists that there is no point now, that it’s too late. I can’t wait to tell her about your post! She didn’t send any thank you notes for her shower either, so I think she definitely needs to at least send them for the wedding.

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Dani September 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

My brother’s wedding was over 7 years ago and they never sent thank yous. Part of the reason was that the wedding day was rather disastrous regarding her side of the family (they didn’t speak for over 3 years). She still can’t bring herself to look at the photos, so thinking about anything about the wedding right after was too hard for her. And now she’s in the same situation, way too late to send anything.

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Mer September 25, 2013 at 2:50 am

I kind of understand, but would question, why did not your brother write the thank yous then, sparing the hurt bride from doing it? She would have not even known about it.

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kingsrings September 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I’m still waiting for a thank you note for a wedding I attended eight months ago. I was unemployed at the time, so I gave them a small monetary gift card to their store of choice via their registry, inside a nice wedding card. It was put along with the other gifts at their family home (where they got married). Not a word since – I hope they did get it. I really don’t appreciate their lack of gratitude.

I say better than never as well concerning the OP. The guests likely still remember they never received a thank you note, so why not right this situation by still sending them now?

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Pam September 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm

When I got married, one person did not sign their card and so did not get a Thank You note…. there was just no way of asking people “did you get us a gift…?” I did mention it around that we’d gotten a nice “such and such” but the card wasn’t signed…. no one ever claimed it, so there may be someone out there thinking ill of us – So to all people who have been slighted by the lack of receiving an expression of thanks… once in a while there is a good explanation :)

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River September 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm

The exact same thing happened to me! But even worse – the gift giver did sign the card, we just couldn’t decipher the name. After about a year of trying to work out who it was, we finally gave up. It’s a shame because we genuinely like the gift.

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gellchom September 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Oh, and also — this is exactly the situation Miss Manners was referring to when she gave her classic answer to the question “When is it too late to send a thank you note?”:

“When the person who was generous to you is dead, and you have to live with the knowledge of your ingratitude.”

There was a string on this a few years ago:
http://www.weddinghellsbells.com/smf/index.php?topic=82901.msg1971278#msg1971278

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June First September 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I would say something like, “I realize now that we never sent thank you notes, but we want to make sure you know we think of you every time we enjoy our popcorn maker. We’d love to invite you over for a movie night so we can all catch up…”

I had someone keep a list as we opened gifts. OP, I’m amazed that you can remember who gave what 3.5 years ago! Or were you thinking of a generic thank you note??

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Miss Raven September 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I would definitely send them out, and use it as an opportunity for a little self-deprecating humor. “[Husband] and [wife] each thought the other was writing thank you notes. Boy, are our faces red!”

Something cute and brief, then as the Admin said, praise, love, and good-wishes to your guests.

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MollyMonster September 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Better late than never. My friend never sent me a Thank You note for the wedding gift I got her (and I know she was raised better than that!) and I am pretty sure that fact features in every story I tell about her crazy wedding. Guests remember; you should too. You should totally have an easier time writing them because you’ve actually had a chance to use the gifts so writing “Dear Aunt Ethel, thank you so much for the egg plate. We just used it at our Fourth of July cookout and I loved remembering that you gave it to me when I sliced up those eggs.” instead of the usual “Dear Aunt Ethel, thank you for the egg plate. I plan to use it at parties. Thank you again.”

Get them notes out!

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Wild Irish Rose September 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Send those thank-you notes! Three years isn’t thirty years, and people will be happy to know you received and enjoyed the gifts. Don’t make excuses, but at least apologize so people don’t think you just found these already-written notes years later and decided to send them out: “We know it’s been a while and we apologize for the delay, but wanted you to know how much we appreciate the [name the gift ALWAYS]–we’ve been enjoying it for three years now! We think of you fondly every time we use it.” Something like that. ( I once read in a Miss Manners book that while you should always name the specific gift, a thank-you letter should never actually contain the words “thank you.”) Either way, do send the thank-you notes. You will not regret that!

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Misty September 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Dear Mr. and Mrs. XYZ

First off I would like to offer my deepest apologies for the lateness of this letter. I’m afraid that, even worse, I have absolutely no excuse for its tardiness other than my own procrastination and allowing life to get in the way of manners.

I’d like the opportunity to rectify that mistake now and tell you how much DH and I truly enjoyed both your presence at our wedding and the gift of the XYZ. As a couple just setting out your gift made the journey of setting up our own household that much easier.

Again, I apologize for my lapse in manners and thank you for your kindness and generosity.

Sincerely,
Repentant EHeller

Or something like that? I agree, send letters, repent, thank them for their kindness, don’t offer excuses if there are none. :)

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gellchom September 23, 2013 at 11:21 pm

The problem that I have with this wording is that it is way too much about the lateness of the note and comparatively very little about the gratitude for the gift and their presence at the wedding (and therefore too much about the writer and not enough about the reader).

There are 5 sentences in this letter; 3 1/2 are about that the note is late. Late or not, the point of the letter is still to thank them for their good wishes and generosity, not to apologize for the lateness. So that should predominate.

If you mention the lateness at all (and I’m not sure I would; you may vary it depending upon the recipient), get in and out of it as quickly and simply as possible. I like Wild Irish Rose’s wording very much:
“We know it’s been a while and we apologize for the delay, but wanted you to know how much we appreciate the [___]. We think of you fondly every time we use it.” (I left out the “It’s been three years now!” — you already apologized). And I also like the brilliant idea of wording that doesn’t make it exactly clear that this is the first thank you note for the gift.

Avoid overly dramatic self-flagellation. It sounds like trying to get them to tell you, “Oh, it’s okay, don’t feel bad.” Just take your lumps in a dignified way and move on.

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Lerah99 September 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm

I agree with the admin. Send them now. No one is going to be upset to receive an honest and heartfelt thank you note even years after the wedding.

In fact, I have a cousin who sent out her thank you notes on their 5th wedding anniversary. No explantion added, just a “Terribly sorry this thank you is so late. We really love the towels you sent us. They have made our home bright and cheery.” It was really sweet to get the much delayed thank you.

The only blow back I heard of was his grandmother sent a thank you for the birthday present they sent her that same year. The grandmother’s thank you note stated “I was going to delay five years before sending this card in deference to our new family tradition. But I feared my demise may come first. Please pardon this terribly early thank you for your lovely birthday gift. I really enjoyed the tea sampler.”

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River September 26, 2013 at 8:37 pm

His grandmother sounds hilarious! I laughed my head off when I read that.

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JK September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I think it is never to late to show appreciation. Go for it.

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sv September 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm

A thank you card may be a small thing, but it is an acknowledgement of the time and thoughtfulness that was put into a gift. The older I get the more I realize how important they are. I’m always aware when people don’t send thank you cards, and it rankles a bit because you kind of wonder if the gift was liked, appreciated or even noticed. Send the cards. Don’t make excuses, but do poke a little good natured fun at yourself. Perhaps many of the people don’t care, but if one person was hurt or offended by your lack of recognition it just might make them feel better :)

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Lakey September 23, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Lo, if you can’t remember accurately who gave you what, how about just sending notes to the people on your guest list acknowledging that you never sent out thank yous and adding something general about how much you appreciated their presence and generous support. Also, say something about how sorry you are that you took so long.

Also for those who keep procrastinating because it seems like such a big job, as a teacher, I would do my Christmas gift thank yous by doing a couple per night. If doesn’t seem so overwhelming that way.

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Lo September 24, 2013 at 6:35 am

It’s a good suggestion, thank you for it!

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gellchom September 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

I am surprised by how many people don’t remember who gave them what. It seems so obvious to keep a list as gifts are opened; didn’t anyone suggest it to you if you didn’t think of it yourself? It’s really easy just to make an extra column in the list for invitations.

It’s also a kind of a sad byproduct of the way registries have gotten so extensive and how bullied guests feel into choosing gifts only from the registry. I’ve been married over 31 years, and I can look at most of the things we got for our wedding without consulting the list — which I still have — and tell you who gave them to us, because THEY picked them out, so the gifts remind me of the givers. That makes them all that more precious as the years pass and people pass away.

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Stacey Frith-Smith September 24, 2013 at 1:29 am

For those gift givers who are in your sphere, perhaps you can view this as an opportunity to recharge the relationship, OP. Send the thank you with the hints Admin provided. Follow up with a phone call and, if you can, an invitation. There’s nothing like a sincere apology and some love to smooth over an offense. It will work wonders in most cases. You’ll be so glad that you did this- don’t let yourself be stopped by embarrassment. People are often willing to forgive and forget if given a chance to be gracious.

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Lou September 24, 2013 at 7:27 am

Please, oh please do send the thank-yous! I’ve attended 7 weddings this year (8, if you count my own ;-) ) and have so far received 2 thank-yous. What irritates me the most is that the majority of the couples were not in the least bit shy about informing us of their present expectations (mainly through little gimme-piggy poems in the invitations, ugh). If you’re going to specify what you’d like for a present, at least have the courtesy to say thank-you when you get it!

OP, I like the suggestions of PPs to make your thank-yous a bit jokey and self-deprecating but don’t take the joke too far or it might come off a bit ‘we’re so amused by our lapse in manners we just had to share it with you!’. Keep it humble and grateful and you shouldn’t go far wrong. Good luck!xx

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earthgirl September 24, 2013 at 8:20 am

Definitely do send the thank-yous now, despite their lateness. I think one could even make a case that later notes might be easier to write, since you can describe how exactly you use the gifts, whether they be items from your registry (“My husband has used the super juicer every day this summer, since lemonade seems to be the only thing I want to drink anymore!”), or cash/gift cards (“Thanks to your generous gift, we were able to put a down payment on our dream house/furnish the nursery/etc.”)

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A September 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

Send them! It might be a little embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as never sending them. At worst, people might get a laugh out of the lateness but I couldn’t imagine anyone being truly upset.

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Catherine September 24, 2013 at 10:52 am

I never got a thank-you note for the gift I gave to my friends who got married last summer. But you lnow what I did get? An invitation to their baby shower, complete with registry information. My response? “You’ve got to be kidding me” as I dropped it in the trash. Even more appalling as it was an obvious gift grab- I live across the country and had bent over backwards to travel to their wedding, and they had to know I wouldn’t be able to do the same just for a baby shower. And while the shower was hosted by the bride’s sister, I know the couple knew about my invite, because the bride had Facebook-messaged me to verify my address just a few weeks before. I had thought it was for the long overdue thank you note. Joke’s on me.

All that being said, I would still appreciate a thank you from those people, even more than a year later.

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June First September 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

So what’s the right response when the happy couple is shocked/disappointed when they ask why you won’t be able to make it? Do you just tell them you won’t make it? Do you “take one for the etiquette team” and tell them that you were hoping to get a thank you for the first gift before sending them a second? (I say that knowing it’s an etiquette breach, will damage the (already weak) friendship, but may also clue them in as they raise their kid)

Side note, did you send the wedding gift, or bring it to them? If you sent it, you can always use the classic, “Oh, did you ever receive that wedding gift last year? I didn’t hear from you afterward, so I wasn’t sure.”

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gellchom September 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Wow.

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karyn September 25, 2013 at 5:58 am

when we got married 25 years ago…….i would address about 10 envelopes at a time and write the gift where the stamp goes.whenever i was waiting in line someplace,md’s office,gas station etc….i would write the ty note and stamp it.when i passed a mailbox i could just drop it in.it was a lot less painful doing it that way.

when my kids had their bar or bat mitzvas–we did something similar…..but they were not allowed to write more than 4 ty at a time.my oldest did 20 in one shot and then was so burned out by it—it took a few weeks before she could write more.

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gellchom September 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm

We told our kidz they couldn’t spend any of the cash or gift cards they got until all the thank you notes were written. That sure worked!

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ddwwylm September 25, 2013 at 7:38 am

Just do it. I once found a thank you note I thought I had sent, but oops! Maybe 2-3 years after the fact. this was for a b-day party, not wedding, but I wrote a letter saying I had found it, apologizing for not sending it and my friend loved it! I also agree, keep the apology and excuses short. I learned that back during my teen years, writing a friend. I actually had pretty legitimate excuses of moving, then moving again and finally finding her address, and this person totally held it against me and made fun of me for my excuses (obviously not really a friend). This was just for a pen pal type situation, but I think when you go on and on about the reason, even if legitimate it just feels like too much. I also agree with others that for some reason, people just remember those who did not send them thank you notes. I’ve attended several weddings over the years, I couldn’t tell you what I bought as a gift for most of them, but I can absolutely remember the couple from 10 or so years ago that did not thank me for the glasses I sent them from their registry.

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acr September 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

I say go for it. I think most people will be tickled and pleased.

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Whodunut September 25, 2013 at 11:14 am

I don’t care much for thank you’s, because of course you are going to say you loved it etc. but I like to see a thank you just to know they DID get the gift. I always wonder when I don’t get a thank you if my gift didn’t get to them so are they thinking I didn’t care enough to send them something?

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wolfie September 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I would only send the thank you notes if you are not close to another gift giving occasions. If you send me a note and then 3 weeks later I find our you are pregnant I am going to assume you did that because you realized not being thanked might affect my generosity so you wanted to correct that right away.

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Cherry September 30, 2013 at 10:04 am

I do sympathise, because I’m one of those people who finds that a situation seems to snowball the longer I leave it (I didn’t do it, and then I get scared that if I remind people of it, they’ll want to know why I didn’t do it sooner, so I put it off, so it goes undone for even longer…). I definitely agree that the best thing to do is to own your mistake without trying to excuse it. I’ve found that a fair amount of people have enough respect for you admitting to screwing up that it helps them forgive you a little faster.

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Jennifer December 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I got married a little over a year ago, and still haven’t sent my thank-you cards. They are about half complete, but now, should probably included an additional “Sorry for the tardiness” note.

Not to make excuses, but life is BUSY. The tardiness of my notes in NO WAY is an expression of my gratitude, or lack thereof, for gifts received, it just means that I have a job (with obscene amounts of overtime involved), my husband has a job, we have a house and a dog to take care of…it just was never a priority. I intend to send them, but it’s been a slow process getting them completed.

I am confused by the folks that say they’re “still waiting for a thank you card from such-and-such a time ago”…you were invited to celebrate whatever occasion you speak of. You were chosen (sometimes instead of someone else that the bride/groom, mother-to-be, etc. could have invited) to spend these times with them. I know it isn’t proper etiquette, but just relax. Your gift is appreciated, I can guarantee it…you were thought of enough to choose to share moments with these people. Sometimes life just gets in the way. I feel it’s just as rude to dwell on the fact that a thank-you card (that you’re just going to throw away, anyway) wasn’t received than to not have sent them at all…

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Katie May 27, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Uh no. Nice try, but no. I know you probably won’t see this, but I’m responding for the benefit of everyone else here.

Look, you had time to plan a wedding despite having jobs, a dog and a house. You had time to register for gifts, send invitations, open gifts, etc. You probably booked florists and toured venues – all despite having a lot to do. Why? Because it was important to you.

Now suddenly, your life is just too busy to send thank-you notes? You’d find the time if it was important. It’s clearly not important to you – don’t make excuses for it. People took the time to send you a gift because it was important – but you can’t find 5 minutes to thank them?

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Softly Spoken December 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I think the lateness should be acknowledged in the note. Maybe a large helping of groveling mixed with a little humor:

“If time flies when you are having fun, then I have been enveloped in a marital bliss that made the wedding seem like yesterday…but it has really been over three years! Consider me mortified! Of course my gratitude for your thoughtfulness and generosity has remained all this time, though sadly unspoken until now. I therefore wish to humbly thank you for the [gift person gave] you gave me on my wedding day. I greatly enjoyed [using the gift however I do/did], and I am so grateful/impressed you thought of it/were so generous. I hope you will accept my sincere thanks, and please forgive the lateness of my reply.”

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Moja February 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I have been writing notes little by little during our first year of marriage (our 1-year anniversary is just over a month away). Today I got an email forwarded to me by my mother in law from one of her relatives: “Dear ____, my mother sent your son and his new wife a check for $100 dollars, which they cashed, but never acknowledged. Thought you should know this.” I felt like this was EXTREMELY rude, not just of the relative but of my mother-in-law for sending it on in what was certainly an attempt to shame us into a thank-you note! Surely the relative can’t know we have been sending them out as we get them done, but I do not think it in any way is appropriate to point it out to the sender. Just think poorly of us and move on – don’t jab around in the wound! I already feel guilty for taking so long. Remember though, it hasn’t even been a year. I responded graciously, explained the situation to my mother in law, and wrote a letter GUSHING with gratitude to the relative’s mother to be sent out first thing in the morning. Personally it made me rather UNgrateful for the gift, and if it wouldn’t sever ties forever I would send her back a $100 bill with the thank-you note. Although my negative feelings are probably misguided as the letter came from not even the gift-giver, but the gift-giver’s daughter. I guess it’s guilt talking here. Still rude though! On both our parts!

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Shot April 18, 2014 at 4:37 pm

My son and daughter in law separated about 6 months after the wedding. I am sure most, if not all, of the gifts were not acknowledged. It is now 1 1/2 years after the wedding. They are probably divorcing. Should acknowledgments be sent at this point? Should the “bad/sad” information about their marriage be included?

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