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The 6 Etiquette Rules You've Got to Follow When It Comes to Thank-You Notes

Wondering if thank-yous are necessary? Or if every guest gets one? Find out here.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated May 06, 2021

You know the drill: Sending thank-you notes is one of the most important aspects of planning a wedding. Loved ones will start to shower you with presents from the moment you get engaged, which means you'll need to thank them in a timely (and appropriate) manner. Before you put a pen to paper, there are a few wedding thank-you card rules to brush up on. While wedding thank-you note etiquette has evolved over the years, some rules never change. You might wonder if every guest gets a card, or if wedding thank-yous are even necessary anymore. Not to worry—if you have wedding thank-you card etiquette questions, we have answers. Here, we've outlined the six thank-you card etiquette rules you've got to follow when it comes to expressing your gratitude. We break down the proper etiquette for writing wedding thank-you notes, along with our best tips and tricks to help you get your salutations in the hands of guests as fast as possible. 

Are Wedding Thank-You Cards Necessary? 

So, do you really have to send wedding thank-you cards? The answer is yes—plain and simple. While sending thank-yous may seem time-consuming, it's one wedding planning task that must be completed. It's proper etiquette to thank your guests for sending a gift and attending your big day, and this is one wedding rule that won't go away. 

After you've selected a wedding theme and stationery suite, browse The Knot's extensive selection of thank-you cards to have on hand as gifts start arriving. We have hundreds of modern designs—including styles that can match your invitations and wedding website design—that'll make you excited to pull out your tools and start writing. 

Who Gets Wedding Thank-You Cards? 

You might wonder if every guest needs a wedding thank-you card. Once again, the answer is yes. Everyone who attends your big day deserves a thank-you card, even if they don't give a wedding gift. Keep in mind that buying a wedding present is highly encouraged, but it's not mandatory. While most loved ones will give you something, whether it's a registry item, a monetary gift, a honeymoon fund donation or something else, some might not. Guests technically have up to a year after your wedding day to give a gift, so your present might arrive later than expected. Regardless of the gift status, though, every guest should receive a thank-you card. 

Do You Have to Send Thank-You Cards for Every Wedding Event? 

Thank-you cards for wedding gifts are a must, but it's also important to send gratitude notes for additional presents received too. You'll need to write thank-you cards after every single wedding event (save for your bachelorette party, unless your friends bought you something special for it). In other words, every single engagement gift, bridal shower gift and wedding gift should be individually acknowledged. So, even if one person gave you three gifts—one at your engagement party, one at your bridal shower and one at your wedding—you should still write them three separate thank-you notes acknowledging each one. It's for this reason that we recommend starting early and sending out thank-yous as you receive gifts to avoid a backlog of notes to tackle after your wedding day. 

What Should You Write in Wedding Thank-You Cards?

Wedding thank-you cards are just like any other gratitude note. When writing your message, start by addressing each guest who attended (or signed the gift's card) by their name. Express your gratitude for their presence on your wedding day (or at your prewedding event), and mention any gifts received by name. Write a line or two about why you like the gift and how it'll be used—especially if they gave a monetary gift. Taking the time to personalize each thank-you note will show guests your appreciation for their generosity. 

If you're not sure exactly what to write in your cards, we're here to help. We've created this helpful guide of 11 wedding thank-you note examples and templates that you can copy word-for-word. Use these ideas to cut down your writing time and get your thank-yous in the mail as soon as possible. 

When Should You Send Wedding Thank-You Cards?

Now you know that wedding thank-you cards are a must for each guest. Next, you might wonder if there are any timing rules to follow—and there are. It's recommended to send wedding thank-you cards within two weeks of receiving a gift before your wedding. Then, for all gifts received after, aim to send thank-yous within three months of your wedding date. 

Sending late thank-you cards isn't the end of the world, but it's recommended to send them within this given time frame to express your gratitude in a respectful, timely manner. We explain why (and answer more thank-you card timing etiquette questions) right here

Can You Send Digital Wedding Thank-You Cards? 

Today, more couples are opting for digital stationery. (In fact, it's one of the biggest stationery trends of the moment.) Virtual save-the-dates and RSVP cards help cut down on costs, and they're also an eco-friendly option for couples focused on planning sustainably. That's not to say that paper stationery will ever go out of style though. It's still recommended to send some parts of your suite in the mail, like formal invites and thank-you cards. But, wedding etiquette is evolving, and there are digital options (or eco-friendly materials) for just about every form of paper you need to give guests. 

So, yes—technically you can send digital wedding thank-you cards if you want, especially if you're focused on your wedding's environmental impact. But, nothing replaces a classic handwritten thank-you note. While virtual thank-yous are an option, we recommend sending guests a physical card in the mail to thank them for their generosity. 

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