Help me thank my co-worker!
June 1, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

How do you thank someone who gave you their wedding dress that you don't know very well?

I'm getting married soon, and my co-worker gave me her wedding dress and shoes. I didn't even ask, she offered it up. (Most people I tell seem very shocked that she did that, so I'm guessing it's a big deal) I tried on the dress and shoes and they fit perfect so I told her that I'd love to keep them. She was more than happy to do it. It wasn't an expensive wedding dress for her. (she told me it cost her $50 bucks with alterations), but I want to make sure she realizes that I really appreciate it. I don't know her very well, nor do I know the etiquette for receiving someone's wedding dress as gift. Please give me an idea of how to show her that I'm grateful for what she just gave me.
posted by Attackpanda to Human Relations (12 answers total)
Well, obviously you invite her to the wedding, and obviously send her a very nice thank-you note. And perhaps try to become a friend, because she sounds like a very nice person.
posted by jayder at 11:55 AM on June 1, 2007

Wedding invite, thank-you card, maybe some sort of small gift once you get back from your wedding/honeymoon? (Maybe pick up something when you're traveling, assuming you're going away for the honeymoon?) I don't think it needs to be huge, the invite to the wedding, which they might or might not feel comfortable accepting, and a thank-you note afterwards are probably the key parts.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:08 PM on June 1, 2007

There are also somewhat non-personal gifts you could get her in return, such as a gift certificate to a department store, a box of chocolates, or a fruit basket. These are things that say, "I may not know you well, but I'm making the effort to give you something most people like, because I really do appreciate what you did for me."

Of course you would probably want to include a thank-you note or card with this, explaining that it means a lot to you and even though you don't know each other well, you wanted to thank her from your heart, and hope you will see her at the wedding. A Hallmark card (or worse, little generic tuck-in card) saying "thank you" with your signature is probably too impersonal. Write a letter, or use a Hallmark card but write a paragraph or two inside it.

I would advise against making announcements at the wedding about "the wonderful woman who gave me her wedding dress for free". That makes you sound cheap, and may embarrass a woman to whom it was honestly no big deal (or she could be shy about accepting praise in front of people). Just treat her like any other co-worker who came to celebrate your special day, maybe with a little bigger hug in the reception line.
posted by gillyflower at 12:11 PM on June 1, 2007

Be sure to give her a special photo of you in the gown after the wedding!
posted by GaelFC at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

The wedding is going to be 5 people and dog so I thought inviting her would be strange. Is that wrong? I can definately do the other things though. Thanks!
posted by Attackpanda at 12:41 PM on June 1, 2007

If you're not inviting outsiders to the wedding, then she wouldn't expect to be included. But a personalized, heartfelt thank you card/letter is definitely in order, detailing how you'd been searching for just the right dress and how she came to the rescue, and how you'll always remember her kindness. Include a photo of you in the dress (even if it's an informal Polaroid taken by one of the attendees), and a gift card to a local restaurant (Applebee's, TGIFridays, whatever) along with the explanation that you didn't have a reception to invite her to, but you still wanted to express your appreciation somehow.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:45 PM on June 1, 2007

Inviting her to the wedding only makes sense if it's the kind of wedding you'd otherwise invite co-workers to.

I'd suggest a wedding photo and a thank you card (and a postcard from the honeymoon if there is one). Thank you gifts are for services and favours, not for things. If you give her a thank you gift of any significant value, you run the risk of giving her a gift worth more (in purely monetary terms) than what she gave you. If you give her a tangible gift of insignificant value, well, that makes the thank you seem insignificant. Better to avoid items of value and just go with heartfelt thanks.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:48 PM on June 1, 2007

(Clarifying to add that I don't mean a Hallmark generic Thank You card with a signature, but a stationery card in which you've expresses your heartfelt thanks.)
posted by jacquilynne at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2007

What would you give to a friend who gave you her wedding dress, regardless of etiquette? Maybe you can just give her the same?

This may be much too simple and I'm probably missing an important point, but why not have some flowers delivered to her home? A spa gift certificate? A very nice box of chocolates? All this could be accompanied by a short letter expressing your gratitude. I would personally give the latter two at work, but would send the flowers to her home to avoid her being asked lots of question by co-workers, but that's me.

I don't know anything about weddings and even less about American wedding etiquette, so my apologies if the following is an entirely inappropriate suggestion. Assuming she knows it's a very intimate wedding and isn't offended by being not invited, why not send her a piece of your wedding cake by express courier? (Regardless of the cake being a fancily decorated tiered wedding cake or just 'regular' cake or pie served at the wedding.) This could be done during the cutting of the cake or just after the wedding. You could even include some polaroids of the wedding and the dress, if you want to.
posted by lioness at 1:21 PM on June 1, 2007

photo with a thank-you note, and then donate the dress and shoes to charity so someone else can have a special day, too.

what a great person your co-worker is!
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:22 PM on June 1, 2007

Now: small gift (eg pretty potted orchid? bottle of wine? something she would like.) and handwritten thank you note saying how much you appreciate it - eg you couldn't have afforded one so nice, or it means a lot to be able to use a dress that gave another couple "good luck" (if they're still together!!), or whatever. My guess for the length of the note: At least a paragraph for this note, probably 2 paragraphs.
After: Photo, second short handwritten thankyou note maybe with some funny or sweet detail of the day (eg the dress is great to dance in, or whatever). This can be super short, just a few sentences.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:31 PM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with jacquilynne about the problem with gifts. For a $50 dress, just about any substantial gift is going to approach the cost of the dress. A warm thank you card with a picture is great, and I'm sure nothing more is expected.
posted by carmen at 8:21 AM on June 2, 2007

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