The One Thing I’d Never Fault a Bride for

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There are a lot of things wedding guests have every right to expect from the couple hosting the reception. That they’ll be fed enough that they don’t have to leave mid-wedding in a hunger-fueled frenzy to hit up a Burger King. That the conditions will be comfortable, as in an A/C is on if it’s 85 degrees out, the heat’s on if it’s 45, and if it’s outdoors, the venue isn’t infested with mosquitoes. That every effort will be made to show them a good time–so there’s music for listening and, with any luck, for dancing too. But there’s at least one expectation that I don’t have.

I would never hold it against a couple for not sending me a thank-you card.

Newlyweds are often at major crossroads in their lives. When Paul and I got married, I was switching jobs–which wasn’t unusual for me back then, but I literally had my last day at one place, had my rehearsal dinner the next day, got married, went on our honeymoon, and started a new job the day after coming back. On top of that, we were trying to buy our first home. We were going into contract on an apartment when we left for our vacation. Reality quickly set in upon our return when a voicemail from our lawyer informed us the seller had backed out. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we weren’t also getting kicked out of the apartment we were renting so our landlords could “move in their daughter.” Some of my friends got married and immediately relocated, one had never before visited her new town, as soon as they were hitched. Others had just lost jobs or were coming out of grad school and on the hunt for employment. So yeah, it’s a tumultuous time. I couldn’t take it personally if someone prioritizes getting her life in order over mailing me a greeting card.

Besides all this, brides and grooms are gracious at their weddings, thanking you–in person–for coming, serving you ample food and booze, and sending you home with a parting gift. That’s enough thanks for me, even if their lives as they knew it weren’t changing dramatically.

But still, I was downright embarrassed when our first anniversary had come and gone and we hadn’t yet written all our thank-you cards. One of our outspoken pals, who gave a too-generous gift, called us out on it. “I thought a writer would want to write thank-you cards,” he said. In my defense, Paul and I had agreed to split up writing duty–I’d take my side and he’d take his–and this pal was on his list. That didn’t change the fact that I felt awful that a great friend had felt slighted.

“I’ll do it for you right now, but I don’t have any paper,” I said (and I now always carry a mini notepad with me!).

He pushed a cocktail napkin in front of my seat at the bar. I whipped out a pen (because I did always carry one back then) and got to writing what he deemed to be a heartfelt enough note to keep in his wallet wherever he went for a couple years. And then he lost the wallet, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, if I asked for a thank-you note from a couple who didn’t send me one, I know I’d get a message of genuine gratitude because they had already expressed it through the grand gesture of including me in their festivities. So I don’t need written proof. But anyone who does and didn’t get it from me and Paul, just let me know. I’ll even break out the good stationery.

Do you think thank-you cards are necessary? Would you get offended if you didn’t receive one?

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Photo by Bobby Dimitrov

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  • Alyssa Loring

    It’s funny how much I’ve heard about this topic lately – more traditional people complaining about it while newlyweds say there’s just not enough time. I think, like many wedding-related items, it depends on the couple. For me, someone who still writes note cards and letters just because I love getting and sending mail (weird, I know), I can’t imagine not sending thank yous. But for my boyfriend’s sister, who has a one year old and a stack of unwritten thank yous, maybe it’s not such a priority. But I totally agree- many verbal thanks and parting gifts are just fine :)

    • mereditor

      I don’t think it’s weird to write and send cards! I always love when a note arrives for me in the mail. But I’m struck by how offended people are if they don’t get a thank you card, like they wouldn’t have given a gift if they weren’t going to get a card offended. I’m sure older generations think I’m nuts for not thinking they’re necessary!

  • Olivia Crossman

    I have to somewhat disagree, having been recently on the other side. I was the master of ceremonies at my friend’s wedding in May. I was honoured to be involved and was happy to put in the work that was needed. And of course, I didn’t buy her a gift just so I could get a thank you card in return. But the wedding was stressful; on a moment’s notice the night before the wedding, I was at the hall to help decorate and I arrived early the day of. The ceremony was 3 hours long, and we didn’t get booze or parting gifts. So, as self entitled as it might sound, I did feel a little slighted when I didn’t receive a thank you card until December. I think since mail is so seldom used, it makes it extra special when someone puts in the time to write a note. I understand newlyweds are busy, so are law students (like me). I don’t think I would feel the same was had I just attended the wedding and brought a gift; but it’s always nice to feel appreciated when you go the extra mile. In any case, I would never hold it against her or mention it. 

    • mereditor

      That stinks that you felt slighted, especially since you went above and beyond. :( Did she say thank you in person or did you feel unappreciated all around?

      • Olivia Crossman

        To her credit, she did say thank you at the end of the night and the next time I saw her. Maybe that’s enough? 

        • mereditor

          I guess what’s enough is relative. I’d likely feel slighted if I did all that for a friend and got two quick thank yous. But if she were to take me aside and say something like I will forever be grateful for all you’ve done for the wedding–and I know how busy you are, so it means the world to me, I’d be good. But yeah, I’m with you on the standard wedding guest thing. I show up, I give a gift, the couple feeds me and attempts to drop by to thank me for coming and I’m all set.

          • Olivia Crossman

            Agreed, that’s good general rule :) 

          • Olivia Crossman

            And I just remembered that I never got a thank you card from a wedding I attended in June. That one doesn’t bother me in the least. 

          • mereditor

            Ah, look at that! I think it’s a question of effort: If you put in a lot, you expect a certain amount in return. But if you didn’t break a sweat, you’re less likely to feel they should. There’s no question I’d be hurt if I moved heaven and earth for a friend and didn’t feel like she appreciated it.

  • lealorali

    I agree, Unfortunately I just throw thank-you’s out pretty quickly, unless there is a photo on the front or something.
    But you think guests are owed a mosquito- free venue (something no one can control) but they don’t deserve a thank-you card (something a bride can control)?!

  • http://twitter.com/27andaphd 27 and a PhD

    I know my mom (and possibly my MIL) would be offended if we didn’t send thank you notes. They’re both very “proper” when it comes to gift-giving and accepting gifts. I remember defending my thesis and inviting the people in the choir at church to attend. None showed up, which was OK since my thesis had a lot of jargon and they would’ve found boring. But then a fellow choir member mentioned like 1500 how proud they all were in front of my mom, and I said yes 1499 times. The one time I didn’t say thank you was the one time my mom remarked as me being rude (and not the repetitive “we’re so proud of her” … which yes, it’s not rude, but still, saying we’re so proud more than 2-3 times? it gets tiring, no?).

    This makes me think that I probably won’t have an excuse not to send them (not even that we’re dead poor). I’m moving in a few weeks (from Queens, NYC to the South) and my parents can’t chip in for our wedding because my dad lost his job and did a bunch of shitty money moves). My mom retired and her income is very restricted. My in-laws offered to pay for our reception, which is their gift to us. Of course they’ll get a heartfelt letter/thank you card. But hon and I are covering everything else, mostly me since I’ll be the one with the steady job (he’ll be freelancing). And I’m already worried about the cost of mailing the invites (we’re not doing save the dates, bachelor/bachelorette party or rehearsal dinner). So, to think about thank you notes sends me on a downward spiral. I mean, there’s enough time between now and the wedding to save on simple thank you notes. But still. Aaaaagh, tradition is expensive. I also thought of going together with hon during the reception and for people with cameras and phones, perhaps making time for them to take a picture with us. I know it will take time, but hopefully it will give us a chance to acknowledge each guest and say thanks, regardless of how late we send the thank you notes (sorry for the length).

    • mereditor

      Tradition IS expensive! I love the idea of taking pictures with all your guests–I always feel special when the bride poses with me.

  • Ambaa

    Personally I do not care at all! But one generation back…my mom seemed a little hurt and confused when my best friend took over a year to send a thank you note for the gift she gave. I kept telling her that I know my friend loved the gift, but she just did not feel reassured until she got that note!