Letitia Baldrige died for my sins
November 6, 2012 11:08 AM   Subscribe

We are very, very late with our wedding thank-yous. Over a year. We know we are horrible people, okay? Now what?

I would have posted this anonymously, but y'all know who had her second wedding/meltdown in September of 2011. So here. Have at my shame.

30+ thank-yous need to go out. There are any number of reasons why they haven't. In a few cases, we did send emails saying, "Yes, we did receive it; oh my goodness, thank you so much! Official one coming soon." We hand-delivered one.

I know I may seem a little flippant here, but in truth I was really gobsmacked by the outpouring people had for us when I was expecting close to nothing. One gift, in particular, stood out: a $500 pooled gift card from my mom's old friend group far away, several of whom haven't seen me in over 10 years. I did send them one of those "we got it" emails, but that was it. And I just didn't know how to adequately thank them. (Including the woman who sent me money after I got divorced, out of the blue, and... seriously, I just had no idea what to say. I am not used to people being so nice.) So that's 11 more people who need roughly the same thing.

My ADD thought process and guilt is getting in the way, as is my need for sincerity and the fact that I find written thank-yous totally fake. (I know, I know -- it's not for me; it's for the giver.) And my husband, whom I love dearly and is probably way better with human relations, is even worse with written sentiment than I am. He will sign. That's about it.

So... how should I make this happen? I've seen this post.

I need a strategy for what to do (add a little "what we've been up to" note and pic to every envelope? We're not usually holiday letter people...).
I need a strategy for how to sit down and do it.

Thank you.
posted by Madamina to Human Relations (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
"Dear So and So,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful gift, partner and I really appreciated it!

Our best,

Madamina and Partner"

If appropriate, add a line about how wonderful it was to have them share/join you at your wedding day celebrations.

that's it. that's all you need. stop stressing! it is totally okay. also, anyone who is going to judge you for sending out somewhat impersonal-sounding thank you notes has already judged you for not having yet sent anything.
posted by elizardbits at 11:13 AM on November 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

You put a personal, grovelling apology at the beginning of what you write. You make it sincere. Do not give excuses, because there are none. You do not repeat the same words for different people. You thank the people for your gifts. You tell them how much you are using the gifts. You repeat the thank you briefly. You then write a brief bit of news. You wish them well and hope to see them soon. You both sign the card.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:15 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Less is more. There is no need to belabor why the notes are late or discuss extraneous things. Just give a brief apology for the lateness and then write the note as cheerfully as you would have if you had mailed them timely. In this case, you probably also have occasion to share how you have been enjoying certain gifts e.g. "thank you so much for the juicer. We use it almost every morning to start our day."

The strategy is easy: sit down and do it. I can see how thirty notes in one day could be daunting, but maybe you could do ten per day, or do 4-5 per day over the course of a week. The knowledge that you will be haunted by guilt forever if you don't do this will be your motivation.

Best of luck!
posted by Tanizaki at 11:15 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

It might be cute to send a photo of you and your partner holding up a handwritten sign that says something like "We're so sorry this took so long!" or something more clever. A cute photo accompanying a thank you note that otherwise doesn't mention the lateness.
posted by kdern at 11:16 AM on November 6, 2012 [8 favorites]

Right now, run out and grab some drug store thank you cards. Sit down. Write out:

"Dear X,
Thank you for the ____. We have been amazed and humbled by the generosity of our friends. Thank you so much for making our celebration more special.

With love,"

And that's all. Really, just do it, and don't beat yourself up. If you have gobs of them to do, just knock out 10 a day until they're done.
posted by bfranklin at 11:16 AM on November 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

There is no strategy to sitting down and writing a thank you note beyond sitting down and writing it. Think how happy you will be when they are done and not hanging over your head anymore. Do it while you watch TV. Just DO IT. 30+ will not take that long, seriously.

I would much, much rather get a very late thank you note than none at all. As far as what to say, just say, "Dear X, I have to apologize for how long it took me to write this thank you note. But we just LOVE the [whatever]. We've used it nearly every day/think of you every time we see it/can't believe how thoughtful you were! Thank you so much! Love, Madamina and MrMadamina."

NO ONE cares that much what you say in the card. You can write nearly the same thing for every person to whom you owe a card. Seriously. They just want to be thanked - and it's not like they will be comparing notes. Also, don't feel like you need to make this a REALLY REALLY REALLY GREAT thank you note just because it's late. You don't. You just need to get 'em out the door!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:17 AM on November 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

Just do it. Some fixed number per day (even ONE, if that's all you can manage) might be a good idea (the ones at the bottom of the pile have waited this long, they can wait another week or month). Don't allow yourself to do anything else before you write the notes.

The formula for thank you notes is simple:
Dear X,

We were [truly touched|amazed|knocked over|etc] by your [thing|check|gift|whatever] at our wedding. We [some statement of how you used it]. We think of you whenever we [whatever you do with it], and we're so glad you were part of our wedding.
This is perhaps a bit more effusive than some other formulae, but I think, in view of your dereliction, a little effusiveness is in order.

Your lateness is so obvious that it almost doesn't need mentioning, but you can end with something like "I am so sorry this is late; we were so amazed by your gift that we didn't know how to thank you." People will laugh, but they'll have the note, and they won't think badly of you.
posted by ubiquity at 11:18 AM on November 6, 2012

To get through my wedding thank yous, I did 1-2 per day until they were done. Do them while the coffee is brewing or water is boiling for pasta or while you're waiting in the car for something, so long as it's something you do every day. Or do them during lunch. The above script is fine for most of them. For the woman who did so many nice things:

"Dear Marge,

Thank you so, so much for the kind gift you sent. I apologize for the lateness of my reply; I have been completely overwhelmed with gratitude, and have thought of you many times over the last several months. Please know that David and I appreciate your kindness so, so much and have the best of wishes in our hearts for you. Thank you again so much for your thoughtfulness throughout the years.

Warmest regards,
posted by RogueTech at 11:19 AM on November 6, 2012 [14 favorites]

I believe the Miss Manners response to this question is:

"We are so truly sorry for not having this to you sooner. It was such a joy having you at our wedding, and it was a beautiful day for us both. We absolutely love the toaster! Every morning when I get up to make myself breakfast, I see it and get to think about you.

Madamina et al."
posted by phunniemee at 11:19 AM on November 6, 2012 [7 favorites]

1. Make a list of all the notes that have to go out. Print it out.

2. One spot at your dining room table is for note writing. It stays that way till you're done.

3. Each name on your list gets three check marks. One for when you write the note. One for when you address it. One for when you stamp/mail.

4. Get your note cards, envelopes, stamps, pen set up at your station.

5. Start writing notes. Use one of the scripts above. They're fine.

6. Check off as you go. Try to do batches of at least five. If you want to enlist hubby's help, get him to gather addresses.

You are okay! Do it! A note that's sent -- even with an imperfect sentiment -- is better than the perfect one you are putting off.
posted by purpleclover at 11:22 AM on November 6, 2012

Are you in the US? Write them while watching the election returns tonight, maybe inventing a drinking-style game, e.g., every time someone says "Nate Silver" write a card. It's perfect and here's a template that acknowledges the lateness without grovelling...

Dear X-- We can hardly believe that over a year has passed since [you joined us on] our wonderful wedding day. It's been a whirlwind! We're so grateful to you for your thoughtful and generous gift. [Specific sentence or two about the gift, how you use it, what you spent the money on, etc.]

Have a wonderful holiday season and thanks again! Love/Warmly/Whatever, Madamina and the Mr.
posted by carmicha at 11:24 AM on November 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

I got married over the summer, and all my thank yous are done (I wish I could say the same for my wife's!). This may be obvious, but I wrote a template thank you that was breezy and conversational. The third or fourth paragraph (see below) was a tailored thank you for the gift, with different stock turns of phrase depending on whether the person attended or not, and whether they gave cash or a non-cash gift. This allowed me to churn them out quickly.

Personally, I think the "Dear so and so, thank you for your gift" notes really, really under-deliver, especially when you've delayed a long time. There's no need to write an epic, but something so brief seems lacking to me.

If it were me (and it was me two months ago), I'd go with something along the lines of:

Dear Loved One:

P1 Blah blah, what a year it's been, still so much in love, many happy things have happened.

P2 Have so many fond memories of the wedding, beautiful that so many people came to show their love, etc.

P3 Thank you so much for being there--and thank you so much for the lovely snorgdoodler. We use it every day, and think you whenever we doodle our snorgs. It was so very thoughtful of you and we are grateful for your kind gift.

P4 Can't wait to see you at the holidays/hope to see you in the new year, etc.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:26 AM on November 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

I should add that, in my experience, the full execution of my proposed script fits in the interior of a Crane's small thank you card. The time spent writing the script is well worth it; I have had a number of people come back to say they were delighted by the card and how much effort I put into it. People really appreciate the effort.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:28 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yup, just do it. Now. Tonight, while you're thinking about it.

Awesome things to write as detailed above.

Stop using your crippling guilt as an excuse. Just write them already.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:31 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Post back here once your mission is complete. :)
posted by canine epigram at 11:36 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love it. Must use this word.

. . . Anyway, what's helped me with ours is to literally have a script written out (with several options for different circumstances, e.g., cash gift, sent gift but didn't attend wedding, etc.). For the sake of making myself feel slightly better, I did try to vary the wording a bit, but you really don't even need to. Everyone understands that a lot of these need to be written. But, even with a script, they can still be personal. For monetary gifts, it's nice to say where it's going ("SO and I are saving up for our first home/new car/whatever) so people can feel like they contributed to something special for the both of you. For non-cash gifts, include a sentence about how you've used it, too. Really, this can be simple to write without being painfully generic.

But really, to echo Nike, just do it. Come up with a script, sit down, write a card. (And, if you have a script, you can make your spouse do half of them without worrying about needing to get those creative juices flowing). Just do one, do two, do three... as long as you do some every day, no matter how few, they will get done. And think of how good it will feel to finally have that behind you!

On preview: Admiral Haddock's script is excellent, but no matter what, something is better than nothing. Just start, now!
posted by divisjm at 11:53 AM on November 6, 2012

I can't add anything about how to deal with the lateness (other than "just do it") but something that helped us was to go out to our letter-writing place, which ended up being a quiet local restaurant. We'd take address lists, paper, envelopes etc and have a meal and sit and write letters until we got fed up. It took two visits to get them all done and it meant we didn't stress about letter-writing at home.

Good luck!
posted by altolinguistic at 12:19 PM on November 6, 2012

A thank you note takes about 5 minutes to write once you have the script. You probably have the addresses since you sent these people wedding invites. This is less than an afternoon's work and you've carried this burden long enough.

Friday: Procure stationary and stamps.
Saturday: You and husband write/address/stamp ALL thank yous for which you have addresses or can look them up online.
Sunday: Call and get remaining addresses

You're dragging this out and there's no need. Get it done and move on with life.
posted by 26.2 at 12:42 PM on November 6, 2012

My superpower in life is scripts. Here is a script for your pooled gift mom's friends thank you notes.

Dear Person:

Thank you so much for your generous wedding gift last year. I was sincerely gobsmacked by the outpouring of love from all of you, and your gift [or "the gift from the bridge/gym/book club friends"] meant so much to me. I hope you'll excuse the lateness of this note, but it lets me tell you honestly that I've thought often of your gift and I just don't know how to thank you- I feel like words aren't enough to show you how much your kindness meant to me. Thank you again for all of your love and support and for your generosity to me and Spouse.

With all my love,

It is okay to send them all roughly the same note. If you are going to do that, you can add a line to the effect of "I still remember the time you [did funny/fun thing/came over to the house/etc] and it means so much to me that our relationship has continued for all these years." It would go between the last and penultimate sentences in the note.

For the other thank-you notes, here is the script I use.

GREETING [Dear Person]:
ACKNOWLEDGE GIFT WITH SPECIFICITY [Thank you so much for the blender.]
ACKNOWLEDGE USE OF GIFT (LIES ACCEPTABLE) [Spouse and I are having so much fun trying new smoothie recipes- it's great to have a way to drink breakfast on the go!]
AFFIRM ACTUAL PURPOSE OF GIFT (TO LOVE ON YOU) [It was so wonderful to see you at the wedding last year/it was so nice to know that you were thinking of us on our wedding day.]
CLOSE WITH GENERAL GRATITUDE [Thank you again for your generosity at this special time in our lives.]
CLOSING [Best, Madamina]

This is the best format I've found and it is quite adaptable. The traditional etiquette for gifts of money is that you should acknowledge the specific amount and say what you are going to use it for. I find mentioning the amount tacky, so I sub with "Thank you so much for your generous gift" and then say what I am going to use it for. If I used it for something like paying down debt or saving for retirement, I write, "It always makes me sleep easier at night to know that I have a little 'cushion' in my bank account."

Go forth and thank! You can do it! Once you use the script, I find it takes about three-five minutes per note. Watch a movie double feature this weekend and you can both write them and address/mail them.

Congrats on the wedding!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:42 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You asked how to do it. I agree with others about getting organized and collecting your supplies first. I suggest you address all the envelopes first, because it's not stressful and and once you've done it, you've put a big dent in the time that needs to be spent.

Several people gave sample messages above; go ahead and copy them if you like them. You can even make up a few more before you start with the real notes.

Keep in mind that these guests showed up at your wedding because they care about you. Think of them as individuals that you actually like, not as a group. It's so easy to start thinking, "Everybody must think I'm a (something bad)" but you're not writing to everybody at once. It's just one or two at a time.

A couple of these friends and relatives are going to say "It's about effing time," but most will say "Better late than never."
posted by wryly at 1:48 PM on November 6, 2012

Take Nike's advice: Just Do It.
posted by Cranberry at 2:32 PM on November 6, 2012

I might add that Leticia Baldridge was a classmate of a relative.
posted by Cranberry at 2:33 PM on November 6, 2012

Shoebox. Blank notes and envelopes. Pen. Stamps. List of gifts and addresses. Watching tonight's election results would be a great time to do them. Or any other televised event. 30 is a breeze, they'll be done before the wine bottle is empty.
posted by raisingsand at 2:38 PM on November 6, 2012

Yup. Just do it.

Like you, I was amazed by the outpouring of generosity when I gave birth a few months ago, and the task seemed daunting. I made a checklist online with each name, address and the gift, and then got a lot of satisfaction checking a few off every day until they were done.

One thing I found helped ease me into it a bit was sitting down first and addressing and stamping all of the envelopes - at that point it both created a tangible to-do pile and a sense that I'd already done half the work and sunk the cost into the envelopes and stamps. That made it easier to then tackle the more emotionally-challenging task of expressing gratitude.
posted by judith at 2:59 PM on November 6, 2012

How you should do it is you should sit down and write a note to each person who sent you a gift. "Dear Susie/Aunt Myrtle/Mrs Jefferson, I just wanted you to know how very much we appreciate the banana bender/hand-thrown pottery thing/wheel of Gouda you gave us. We no longer suffer the misery of straight bananas/we admire that thing every day, whatever it is/we feel blessed to be in cheese for the rest of our lives. Thank you so much for your generosity. Sincerely, etc"

There is no way to do this except one by one until there are none left, and saying "but I'm so chaotic" won't change that. Everyone is chaotic and socially inept, and many of us have ADD, and everyone finds it easier to get gifts than give thanks. That's just the way it is. Look at it this way: if you were able to pull off a little thing like getting married, you can steel yourself for the enormity of this next challenge.
posted by tel3path at 4:30 PM on November 6, 2012

hmm, I don't want to be a downer, but I think it's unrealistic to expect that you'll do this in 2 hours. At 40 notes (including you're mom's friends) that's only 3 minutes per note and that's with no breaks or hand cramps or anything.

Do you already have a list of names/addresses/gifts? Assemble that first. The more you can do by rote the faster it will go. If you're doing the bulk of the writing, your husband should do the addressing/stamping/mailing, if possible.

You need to decide how much time you're willing to dedicate to these notes from now until say Sunday. If you can only stomach 3-4 hours, then I'd use phunniemee's script. I was always taught that you thank them for the presence first and only after should the gift be mentioned. For your mom's friends maybe add something like "I really appreciate your ongoing well wishes and support."

If you have more time to put into it, I think Admiral Haddock's script is the best though. 1-3 sentences per paragraph is all you need too. If you're having trouble figuring out what to write, just talk out loud as if you were thanking them in person and write that. You could even record yourself if that would help.

You can totally do this by the end of this weekend! Just be realistic about the amount of time you have to put into it and what that means for the length of the notes.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 4:47 PM on November 6, 2012

Great advice above (except for the scripts that begin with the words 'thank you' - anything but that!). In addition, buy yourself a fun new pen! It can be purple.
posted by palliser at 5:46 PM on November 6, 2012

I agree that it's more than a 2-hour job. It takes me 2-3 minutes just to address each envelope and that's when I have the address at my fingertips.

I think you will have to block out an entire Sunday for this, and maybe more than one.
posted by tel3path at 4:03 AM on November 7, 2012

If your husband refuses to write, he should organize the envelopes, get the addresses and stamps, etc. There is NO REASON AT ALL that this should be your job just because you feel more guilty or are more willing to think of what to say or whatever. Writing thank-you notes is tricky for everyone even when you're genuinely grateful. He doesn't get to shirk just because he doesn't feel like doing the task.
posted by Cygnet at 11:04 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I had gone to your wedding and received no thank you, I'd be delighted to finally receive one, no matter how late it arrived--because then I know you actually cared that I attended. It is very annoying to attend a wedding and then receive no thank you for the gift. It's very rude. Better late than never!
posted by cass at 12:20 PM on November 7, 2012

« Older What's the best way to fix and care for this...   |   Is a JD 4 me? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.