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Wedding thank-you cards etiquette

Weddings and gifts go hand-in-hand. Couples who are tying the knot can expect to receive scores of gifts, ranging from simple well-wishes to cash to items listed on their registries. Because gift-giving is tradition, couples should plan on spending some time writing thank-you notes to express gratitude to the people who were kind enough to give a gift.

Contrary to popular belief, couples do not have a year's grace period to mail out thank-you notes after the gift has been received or the wedding has taken place. According to the etiquette experts at The Emily Post Institute, all thank-you cards should be written and mailed within three months of receipt of a gift. It is preferable that the thank-you be written directly after receipt of the gift, but time-strapped couples may not have the opportunity to do so. However, writing a few thank-you cards every few days can alleviate having a giant pile to do later on.

Many couples prefer to order thank-you stationery when they order their wedding invitations. This way the paper, font and style match the original invitations. In addition, it may be less expensive to order stationery as a package.

In some cases, a photography package may include thank-you notes with wallet-sized photos to include. Couples can then mail out a nice sentiment with a photo from the wedding. To keep with the etiquette time frame of thank-you notes, it is important to find out when the thank-you photos and cards will arrive first from the photographer. The thank-you sentiments should not be delayed by the photographer.

For those interested in less expensive options, preprinted thank-you cards can be purchased at a stationery store. There are many designs and price points available. Remember, it is not the card itself, but the thank-you that is important.

As to the rules regarding those getting a thank-you, it is just about anyone who contributed in some part to the wedding, even if a verbal thanks was already offered. Anyone who provided an engagement, shower or wedding gift, those who gave gifts of money, anyone who hosted a party or shower, attendants in the wedding, people who may have housed wedding guests, parents of the bride and groom, suppliers and vendors, and employers who have wished couples well should all be included on the thank-you list.

Here are some other guidelines to follow.

* Mail out a handwritten note to each and every person being thanked.

* Do not use form letters or preprinted cards to which you simply add your signature.

* Be sincere in your messages and try to mention the gift and what it will be used for.

* Promptly respond to gifts that were received through the mail so the giver knows they arrived.

* Never mention that you plan to return a gift or exchange it.

* Mentioning the amount of a monetary gift is optional, but it does confirm to the giver that the right amount was received.

* A mass thank-you posted on social media is not adequate.

* Even if you are late with writing out thank-you notes, that doesn't exclude you from doing so.

By adhering to thank-you card etiquette, couples will ensure their guests know that gifts and efforts to make the wedding special were appreciated.