Is there a "Miss Manners" attachment to this thing?
February 22, 2011 12:42 PM   Subscribe

Plate o' wedding beans: We're starting to receive early wedding gifts, both from people attending and not attending the ceremony in 3.5 weeks. Should we open them? Acknowledge their receipt? Send proper thank-you notes? Help me, Emily-Post-i-fites.

We've only gotten a few so far, but I guess more are coming if this is a pattern. They're all from our Amazon registry, and they range from baking sheets (from someone not attending the wedding) to a stand mixer (!!!-- from my family who are attending).

I guess with people who are coming, it's a convenience thing, so they don't have to store the thing and drive up with it. But I feel like they have the tracking numbers, so they know we've gotten it, and I know that they know I've gotten it, and so on ad infinitum.

I figure I have three options: ignore them until after the wedding, which seems odd since I'll see these people before then; tell the sender that we got "something" from them, i.e., play dumb (seems disingenuous); or go ahead and send proper thank-you cards-- the same ones we'd send to people bringing a gift to the event itself.

Yeah, I'm thinking way too hard about this. We're just so bowled over that we want to express our gratitude as soon as is proper to do so, rather than being coy for the sake of outdated etiquette.

(Plus, tracking numbers and two-day shipping sort of make all that anachronistic anyway.)
posted by supercres to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If it's someone who's coming to the wedding, then just thank them verbally at the wedding (if it comes up), followed by a written note afterwards.

If it's someone who's not coming, then it's up to you. I don't think anyone will be offended if the note comes before or after the wedding, but who knows? People are weird.
posted by muddgirl at 12:44 PM on February 22, 2011

One of the gifts we received beforehand was intended for us to have AT our wedding. I didn't open them until after. Oops.
posted by galadriel at 12:46 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would wait the 3.5 weeks and send everything out after your wedding. I think it would be nice to write the thank-you now (that way you can send them out as soon as possible) and then add an "informal" "p.s. we loved seeing you both at our ceremony, thank you so much for spending this day with us" at the end of the note after the wedding.

I don't know if that's an official answer, but it's what seems the most appropriate and genuine to me.
posted by phunniemee at 12:48 PM on February 22, 2011

I don't think anyone would be offended by opening them up early- it would also save you a bit of trouble on the after wedding thank you notes.
posted by raccoon409 at 12:48 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Echoing what phunniemee said - just be genuine. If you've already opened the gifts then there's no reason to pretend that you haven't when you see them in person, but on the other hand no one expects you to send out thank you notes the minute you open the presents.
posted by muddgirl at 12:49 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Open when received, send thank-you note as soon as is reasonable. However, don't use the gift, or in any other way render it unreturnable, until after the wedding, unless it's something like galadriel spoke of.
posted by Etrigan at 12:54 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this helps or not, but here is the "most traditional" answer (from the original Emily Post's Etiquette (1922) source

" soon as they are out, the presents to the bride begin coming in, and she should enter each one carefully in her gift book.... All gifts as they arrive should be put in a certain room, or part of a room, and never moved away until the description is carefully entered. It will be found a great help to put down the addresses of donors as well as their names so that the bride may not have to waste an unnecessary moment of the overcrowded time which must be spent at her desk.


The bride who is happy in receiving a great number of presents spends every spare moment in writing her notes of thanks, which must always be written by her personally. Telephoning won’t do at all, and neither will a verbal “Thank you so much,” as she meets people here and there. She must write a separate letter for each present—a by no means small undertaking! A bride of this year whose presents, because of her family’s great prominence, ran far into the hundreds, never went to bed a single night before her wedding until a note of thanks was checked against every present received that day. To those who offered to help her through her overwhelming task, she, who is supposed to be very spoiled, answered: “If people are kind enough to go out and buy a present for me, I think the least I can do is to write at once and thank them.” That her effort was appreciated was evident by everyone’s commenting on her prompt and charming notes.
Notes of thanks can be very short, but they should be written with as little delay as possible.

So traditional etiquette would actually demand that you unwrap the gifts as soon as you receive them.
posted by anastasiav at 1:01 PM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

A wedding is not Christmas. There is absolutely no expectation you will save the gift to open on a specific day. Indeed, etiquette dictates that you open them on arrival and send a thank you note. Traditional etiquette dictates that you send thank you notes immediately on arrival, prior to the wedding because it smooths social interaction at the wedding; Aunt Mildred will not have to ask you if you got her gift (she's not using tracking!) and you will not have to remember if indeed you did and if it was the blender or the place setting.

Tip: Use your invitation list to print thank you mailing labels and pre-address the envelopes. Alphabetise them in a shoe box. When a gift arrives, pull the sender's card, fill it out immediately after opening the day's deliveries, and it is all less cumbersome. Thank you notes are the pits but being able to trim the list in advance of the wedding is actually very helpful, long term!
posted by DarlingBri at 1:13 PM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

Indeed, etiquette dictates that you open them on arrival and send a thank you note.

Yes, this is it. You don't have to use them until after the wedding, but you should at least check and make sure everything arrived in one piece, etc. And every thank-you note you do before the wedding is one you don't have to write afterwards.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:18 PM on February 22, 2011

I'd open them and log each one carefully and not send any thank yous until after the wedding and all gifts have been opened. They'll be easier to do all at once.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:51 PM on February 22, 2011

Open it now and send a regular thank you card. You'll have lots of thank you cards to write after the wedding, might as well get a jump on it when you can.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:12 PM on February 22, 2011

Write them as you get them, even if you don't send them until after the wedding -- writing thank-yous after the wedding takes forever as it is!!!!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:16 PM on February 22, 2011

We opened all the gifts as they arrived and sent thank-you notes immediately, often with a PS - Looking forward to seeing you! type note if we knew they were coming to the wedding. It really helped cut down on the time it took to do the notes afterwards -- doing one note is easy to get over with. Looking at a stack of 100 makes doing the dishes sound like a lot of fun.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:22 PM on February 22, 2011

Open and write the thank you card.
posted by emd3737 at 2:50 PM on February 22, 2011

I would open now, even write the thank-yous now, but not send them until after the wedding. A wedding gift is given in contemplation of you guys getting married, so that has to happen, right?

Or maybe not. As long as you send a thank you card is the main thing.

As a wedding attendee, not getting a thank you card fills me with Teh Rage. Don't do that. Yes, you're busy. We're all busy.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:01 PM on February 22, 2011

They'll be easier to do all at once.

A thousand times NO!

You have a chance to get some of your thank you notes out early, before you're staring at a list of hundreds of them that all have to be done at the same time.

Be grateful the the good manners of your guests in not bringing things directly to the wedding has also allowed you the blessing of spreading out the task of sending thank you notes. Open now. Send now. Rejoice at how much shorter the list will be later.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:15 PM on February 22, 2011

Response by poster: Awesome. Sounds like solidly in favor of spreading out the work by at least writing the cards now, and I'm inclined to side with those who are saying to go ahead and send them. I just wanted to make sure that was "a thing that is done".

As soon as we get our cards, they're getting written and going in the mail.
posted by supercres at 3:20 PM on February 22, 2011

The traditional etiquette position on this is that you open the gift and write+ send thank you notes immediately. Yes, it's before the wedding. It's ok. They sent it early, they want to know you got it, send a thank you note and say how much you're looking forward to seeing them, or how much you'll be missing them on the big day.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:24 PM on February 22, 2011

I would open the gifts and send the letters now. Nobody is going to think "How rude! supercres has sent me a thank you note, but they're not legally married yet!"
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:54 PM on February 23, 2011

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