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Help Wanted: Somebody To Write For Me

I just thought you’d get a kick out of this Craigslist post: (I have redacted any identifying info) 0606-16

Good Handwriting Needed for Wedding Thank You Notes

My wife and I need someone to hand write the thank you notes to our wedding guests. We already have the cards and envelopes and the text of the notes is already composed, we just need someone to actually write the notes and address the envelopes. There are 11 cards that need to be written and the text is one or two paragraphs for each card.

If you’re available, let me know your fee and please send a sample of your handwriting if possible.

I’m sure Letitia Baldrige, Emily Post and every etiquette guru since the Industrial Revolution are spinning so fast in their graves that the direction of the earth’s rotation may reverse.

{ 148 comments }

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  • Peas June 8, 2016, 11:35 am

    They’ve already done all the work EXCEPT the handwriting.

    Isn’t pretty obvious that there’s probably a reason for stopping at the handwriting?

    I’m surprised so many people are calling them names when there’s most likely a medical reason for this one small point not going through.

    I’m sure these are the same people that are appalled to receive a typed thank you note.

  • viviennebzb June 8, 2016, 11:37 am

    I don’t find this rude in the least. They have done all the prep work for the cards, and are willing to pay to have them nicely written. In my mind, they are to be commended, not vilified.

  • ginger ale June 8, 2016, 11:48 am

    So, this week I have learned:
    -Opening someone’s car windows in the rain as a petty act of revenge is good etiquette
    -Wanting to hire a professional to make nice thank-yous for your wedding guests is bad etiquette
    -Criticizing someone for trying to thank their guests is good etiquette

    Either it’s secretly Opposite Week, or it’s time for me to stop visiting this site.

    • Lex June 9, 2016, 3:49 am

      I suspect the latter – I’ve been wondering the same thing TBH. The stories and reactions seem to be getting increasingly petty.

      Ultimately, social mores change over time – things we do now would have been considered the ultimate in poor manners less than 100 years ago. Things change because technology changes how we communicate, or social dynamics and hierarchies are observed differently, and I think we’re losing sight of the purpose and ‘core message’ of etiquette in favour of becoming bogged down in the petty minutiae.

      “Etiquette (/??t??k?t/ or /??t?k?t/, French: [e.ti.k?t]) is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group.”

      Emphasis here on ‘CONTEMPORARY’. Thanking someone for their gift/attendance/services is about expressing your gratitude in a sincere and thoughtful way. If that means you’ve hired a calligrapher to make your personal messages look pretty, then I’d say this counts as thoughtful. The message has been composed personally, so it’s sincere. I don’t see the problem here.

    • Maria June 9, 2016, 8:24 am

      Thank you! I’ve been scratching my head over the last few posts as well.

    • Erindv June 9, 2016, 10:00 am

      Add in the 1960s-esque gender stereotypes and I’m beginning to agree with you!

    • clairedelune June 9, 2016, 10:54 am

      I know, it’s been a strange week!

    • Michelleprieur June 9, 2016, 11:41 am

      I agree.

    • AppleEye June 10, 2016, 2:01 pm

      Agreed!

  • Froggy1 June 8, 2016, 11:51 am

    After our wedding, I wrote out a few thank you notes a night because I knew my handwriting would get horrible after a while. Upon receiving a note, my mom’s friend said to her: “How lovely that [husband] wrote thank you notes! Most men don’t do that.” My mom replied, “That’s [my name]’s writing. [Husband] wouldn’t be the one sending thank you notes.” “Oh,” the friend replied. “Her penmanship looks like a man’s… it’s terrible.”

    *sigh*

    Had I thought it was an option to have someone write the notes for me, I would’ve done it. If one is judged not only on the sentiment of the note, and it’s timely arrival, but also on the quality of penmanship, why wouldn’t one want to put the best foot forward?

  • Huh June 8, 2016, 12:02 pm

    I just had to write a bunch of thank you notes – and I have arthritis – but I did it wondering if this was a custom that was on its way out. Hear me out.

    People wanted to see me open gifts (wasn’t going to originally but they kept asking) so I did, and read cards out loud and thanked the giver. When people went to leave, I thanked them again for the lovely gift and for coming. A few people sent me gifts in the mail, texting me to let me know to look for it. I thanked them then via text, and then thanked them again via text when the gift came.

    I sat down to do the thank you notes (everyone got one, the in-person people and the mailed gift people) and quickly realized something – I didn’t have a lot of people’s mailing address! We do so much communicating now through cell phones/texting/Facebook and the like. I could give you directions to their house (I’m a landmark direction kind of person) but house number? No idea. I know a lot of people through organizations that I see weekly, and have never been to their house. Have their phone number, text-talk almost daily, but physical address? No idea.

    Will hand-written thank you notes morph into texted or emailed notes since that’s how more and more communication is going?

    • Yet Another Laura June 9, 2016, 8:40 am

      I hope so. You thanked everyone twice and in my opinion, that’s good enough. Modern technology is a wonderful thing. Your post made me think, though, of how anything a woman does to say thank you is never good enough. Heaven help her if she wants to use modern technology like pre-printed address labels.

      Reading some of the previous blog posts and various threads on this topic, I picture a beleaguered bride trying to write thank you notes while a dour-looking woman in Victorian garb stands over her with a stopwatch.

      How many men write thank-you notes? And when they do, are they criticized for the presentation anywhere near as much as women are?

  • Nicole June 8, 2016, 12:30 pm

    I can’t fault this. My hands shake due to a genetic defect so my hand writing is abysmal and my fiancee is left handed so his hand always smears ink – and he has simply awful handwriting. This would be a way to give each person beautifully written cards that I know the thoughtful gifts they provided deserve, especially if I have written out the messages for each one using my trusty computer! I think it is one more step to make them more lovely!

    I should add that my mother is gifted at calligraphy so she addressed things like graduation thank yous for me growing up because I always shook so this is a normal thing in my family.

    • NostalgicGal June 11, 2016, 2:21 am

      My normal handwriting has drifted to ‘draftsman caps’ (I had lots of old fashioned drafting classes) as a hope of it being readable. My cursive has ALWAYS been atrocious, and got worse after the one accident (I can write with either hand now at any moment). I *CAN* do beautiful calligraphy however. It takes a while though. Lefty I write ‘hand under’ instead of ‘hand over’ and that solves smearing page. Get a Fisher Space Pen though or where your hand passes ink doesn’t want to go. If you hunt you can find many a ‘handwritten font’ that would look good printed off. I have used those at times, just to give a better touch when I’m not up to the normal methods. STILL make that note personalized, write a real note instead of a few stock words.

  • BlindAsABat June 8, 2016, 3:08 pm

    Blind former bride here – I got married last year and have no remaining vision. My now-husband has horrid handwriting and we had a metric ton of thank yous to finish. I’d hate to be cast in etiquette hell due to the fact I found a very nice cursive font and typed out personal thank yous to all. I tried to give them a more personal touch by hand-signing them and ensuring they were on really nice paper. I tried to even make up for the fact I couldn’t hand-address them by using clear address labels with the addresses printed on them using a cursive font, too (I did this for the invitations, as well.) I’m fairly sure all the people I invited/thanked know I’m blind, so hopefully didn’t have too much of a hissy fit over the printed notes.

    Anyhow, long story just to say I’m in the ‘not so bad’ camp, as they may have legitimate issues/reasons for doing it this way. I should hope that each note is personalized, though it does seem to say ‘1-2 paragraphs each’, which would indicate some are longer than others (thus personalized?)

  • Hollyhock June 8, 2016, 3:17 pm

    I don’t see much difference between this and not hand-writing the wedding invitations. No one bats an eye at printed, engraved or calligrapher-penned invitations, but they are social correspondence just the same as thank-you notes are. Not sure this would actually send any etiquette expert spinning in the grave.

  • NostalgicGal June 8, 2016, 3:40 pm

    I have terrible handwriting but do beautiful calligraphy. Something like this I’d do for a few dollars each, if they had all the addresses, text, materials and stamps. Nothing wrong if they want them to look nice, at least they’re going to do the thank yous. Nothing wrong having them done by someone with nice handwriting (notice they do want a sample of the handwriting).

  • Samantha C June 8, 2016, 5:24 pm

    Tangent time!

    It’s come to my attention again that when I read the word “handwritten”, I don’t assume “in cursive”. To me it literally just means “written by hand”, and I’ve written everything in print as long as I can remember. (I used to know how to write in cursive, but it took me so much longer to remember how to do it than to just write in print that it wasn’t worth it. My printed letters join when it’s convenient and don’t when it’s not, so it’s a fast hybrid I guess.)

    If I’m reading etiquette stuff and I read “handwritten”, do people actually really mean cursive? Would it be less perfectly polite to write in print?

    • Amanda H. June 9, 2016, 2:20 pm

      I don’t know about others here, but I figure writing in print is just fine. The thought is still there, and some people can’t write legible cursive at all. I myself have a sort of fast hybrid, but I do still know how to write cursive when I need to use it (not often, but I personally find cursive faster so I took notes that way in college).

      Of course, if someone had a condition where their hands shook too much or they had crippling disorders or the like that made it impossible to handwrite their thank yous, I’d accept a printed one so long as the personalization is still there in the note (rather than the generic fill-in-the-blank thank yous that are decried on this site) and they took the time and effort to make it look nice to make up for not writing it by hand. Choose a nice font, pretty stationery, etc. and make it look good if you’re going to go that route. That shows you care about the thought behind thank you notes and aren’t just doing it because someone else is making you.

      • Samantha C June 10, 2016, 7:06 am

        I feel like we need a new word for “letters written by hand with a pen not in cursive” because my first association with the word “printed” is “typed on a computer and put onto physical paper by a machine”. But when other people see “handwritten” they think “in pretty, formal cursive”. This is getting confusing!

        • Rose June 13, 2016, 4:16 pm

          The term you’re looking for is “hand-printed”.

  • Betsy June 8, 2016, 5:36 pm

    I’d be thrilled to get the thank you note no matter what. So many times I have mailed gifts or ordered them through the internet and have just assumed they arrived.

  • Jo June 8, 2016, 6:21 pm

    They have composed the text of the thank yous themselves (and nothing indicates that the haven’t composed a different message for each person), the text is not just a couple of lines, but a couple of paragraphs! They want to pay someone to do this for them, they don’t want something for free. I see zero issue with this and I fail to see why we should all ‘have fun with this’. I wonder how the people involved would feel if they read this? There are multiple, perfectly reasonable reasons as to why they could want someone to do this for them. Even if there isn’t a medical reason, big deal. I would have zero problems with receiving a thank you card done in this fashion. The whole tone of this post is overly precious and snobby.

    • Lex June 9, 2016, 4:09 am

      ^^ THIS. You hit the nail on the head!

  • PatGreen June 8, 2016, 8:19 pm

    Unless I have been mislead this type of jobs exists – a calligrapher is someone whom you hire to write things in a fancy or formal way. I know the basics of web design, I have build a website for myself, but if I wanted it done professionally I would hire someone. Same thing with baking a cake or cleaning a house. I can, but if you have the funds to hire someone to do it for you and don’t want to do it yourself I see no problem with it.

  • Denise June 8, 2016, 8:44 pm

    It sounds like they have done all the work and effort of personalized thank you cards and are going out of their way to have them beautifully written.

  • mark June 8, 2016, 9:25 pm

    Why handwritten thank you notes? Does typing it or sending an email (or some other electronic format) make it less sincere? I personally like electronic given it’s more real time.

  • Kira June 9, 2016, 12:12 am

    As someone who has horrible writing due to a disability, I think it is possibly poor taste to assume these people are being lazy. If the cards were handpicked, the messages personal what is the problem with someone acknowledging their writing skills are not up to doing something beautiful. There are master scribes who spend years perfecting their handwriting. I think this is a better alternative than say printing out their messages, they are spending time and money to ensure the cards they give are something beautiful. I personally would have no issue getting a handwritten (by who I don’t care) personal card of thanks as I can easily see the consideration and time already there. Horrible handwriting could really make well-picked cards and messages just not as nice, especially if you are trying to figure what they wrote. If we are going to get picky why didn’t they make their own cards *shock horror store bought or handmade by someone who knows what they are doing* or make the paper for the envelope and glue for the stamp etc. A lazy person who doesn’t care wouldn’t bother to pay someone to do a good job. Why is there a problem acknowledging that one may not be the best suited for a job and instead of half-assing it actually sourcing someone who can so they have a good quality product.

  • Sarah June 9, 2016, 1:15 am

    I also don’t see the problem. No one personally cooks the food for the wedding meal. They hire a caterer. They are still welcoming their guests.

  • wren June 9, 2016, 12:14 pm

    I thank everyone for the many suggestions regarding why the couple may have needed someone to do the writing. It was so enlightening to read the possible reasons. Once again this site has reminded me why it is not good to make assumptions.

  • Powers June 9, 2016, 6:32 pm

    If there is a medical reason why they can’t hand-write the notes themselves, then they are in the clear etiquette-wise to use a computer. The only reason to hire someone to do the writing is if they wanted it to appear as if they wrote it themselves, which is deceptive.

    If there is no medical reason, then it’s far more important that the message reflect personal effort in applying ink to page than that it look pretty or some such.

    • Anon for now June 14, 2016, 1:58 pm

      Ah, but is it not even more important that the recipients be able to actually read the message? If the handwriting is not pretty, but legible, then by all means, do it yourself. But if your handwriting is illegible to any but a privileged few, then it behooves you to make sure your recipients can actually read your sentiments. Otherwise, what good is it?

      And since there is no telling how many recipients would know of the medical condition (since MANY people cherish their privacy), odds are that at least one recipient would be upset at receiving a thank you not that was printed from a computer, or even typed on a typewriter. But if someone writes it out, legibly (not necessarily prettily, just legibly), it doesn’t matter so much whose actual handwriting it is. After all, how many of your friends and neighbors could you identify by their handwriting, alone?

  • BMS June 10, 2016, 7:40 am

    I’m in the terrible writing camp. Although I did write my own thank you notes, I wonder if the recipients ever deciphered my hieroglyphs. When it was time to send out my invitations, my mom, with her perfect Palmer method script, pretty much tackled me, snatched them from my hands, and wrote them out herself. I did not object, and gladly cooked her dinner to say thank you. My handwriting looks like someone was chasing me down a street with a weapon while I was writing, during a hurricane. So to my wonderful relatives – I hope the sentiment got through somehow!

  • Lucy June 10, 2016, 6:14 pm

    This couple could be doing it out of laziness, but since they are willing to pay I think it is more likely that they are unable to hand write the notes for some reason. Some members of my family have a neural condition that makes their hands shake, so it is difficult for them to write quickly and clearly. My mom especially is having more and more trouble writing by hand, and always asks me to write things like birthday cards for her. I think in this case it’s the thought that counts; as a guest of this couple, I would be happy to receive a thoughtful thank you note, even if they did not physically write them.

  • BrownEyedGirl June 10, 2016, 7:41 pm

    I can see both sides here. Without any further information provided, it could easily be the case that this couple is being really lazy, wanting someone else to write their notes for them, or it could be that one or both halves of the couple have some kind of handicap keeping them from writing the notes themselves. As others have said, it could also be that one or both of them have really bad printing/handwriting. We simply don’t have enough details here to know. I figure that as long as they are sending decent thank-you notes within a decent amount of time, who are we to kick up a fuss?

  • InTheEther June 11, 2016, 3:32 am

    This is kinda a history question.

    Why are hand-written thank you’s the only etiquettly correct option? I mean, once upon a time writing a thank you was the ONLY option, so the etiquette rule was simply “Thank people for gifts”. Keeping in mind, you couldn’t be positive you’d run into everybody face to face promptly nor was it really practical to go house to house.

    Phones weren’t really broadly available until the early 1900’s , and even then I think they were a little sketchy up until at least the 40’s. And then it wasn’t until even later that you could leave a message and you had to catch whoever it was at home, meaning that letters were still probably the most convenient option to thank people. Only now we can send e-mails and leave messages on phones to let people know we appreciate what they’ve done.

    So is the whole idea that “thank you’s must be handwritten” just a holdover based on “well, this is how granny did it” and because there’s a romanticized image in our heads of a classic Victorian lady carefully writing out notes? (And that image is false as several people have already pointed out that anyone who could afford to would have a secretary to do the work, and if you went more than a few steps further down the class ladder there’s no guarantee of literacy).

  • Anna June 11, 2016, 2:33 pm

    The purpose of a thank you note is to communicate gratitude and appreciation to the gift giver. Having someone else hand write the notes does not impede the functionality of the note in any way. In fact, unless the recipient of the note knows how the handwriting of the bride and groom looks, they may not even know.

    Those who feel gratified only when they are satisfied that the note writer has expended physical energy to write the note in their own hand are missing the point of the exercise. It feels to me something along the lines of complaining how much someone spent on a gift they bought for you, even if it was something thoughtful and personalized. It is the thought that counts, not the amount of money spent or the amount of hand cramping endured.

  • Anon for now June 12, 2016, 6:38 pm

    I am aghast at the number of people who do not even consider the possibility of disability here.

    “Oh, come on! A broken wrist? But what are the odds of them both having a broken wrist at the same time?” Slim

    What are the odds of them both having some form of disability at the same time? Rather large, I should say, considering the vast number and type of disabilities in the world, and the fact that like tends to marry like. Able bodied people are more likely to marry able bodies people, and disabled people are more likely to seek out someone who UNDERSTANDS, which generally means someone who is either disabled, themselves, or who has family who is disabled.

    In my household of four, we have two on disability, one applying for disability, and one who is just plain old and arthritic. BTW, two of those disabilities are exactly the same. It runs in the family. On both sides.

    These people very politely composed all eleven messages (1-2 paragraphs each means that they personalized them, as they are NOT all the same length). They did all the prep work. They aren’t asking for a freebie, but are looking to pay someone to write the things out neatly, so that the people who get the cards can actually READ them. What good is a hand-written note, if you can’t make out who it’s from or what it’s for?

    But all the people who say they should just type the notes, or print the notes… You do realize that non-hand-written notes are etiquette hell, don’t you?

    Seriously, Admin, what’s up with this? Your response just seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction, tossing them into e-hell, without any thought, consideration, nor explanation as to why. At least give an explanation, please.

  • EO June 13, 2016, 11:44 am

    My word. Half the people I’ve seen on this site lose their minds when they receive a typed thank you note. The couple in this story have already done all of the work, including writing the text. If they have horrible handwriting, this seems like a good compromise to those who would turn up their noses at a typed note. They are paying someone to make them look nice. If they’d asked for a calligrapher, it would be deemed OK. I don’t see why this is problematic.

  • Calli Arcale June 13, 2016, 1:15 pm

    I don’t see a problem with hiring someone to write the thank-you notes for them. They’ve already done the composition part — this is just a transcription job. To me, this shows they want to make the thank you notes special because they are willing to spend money to have them done up nicely.

    Honestly? I don’t think the form of a thank you note matters anywhere near as much as the content. Just as you should not be offended if someone gives you a stupid but well-meant gift, you should not be offended if someone gives you a heartfelt and individual thank-you that obviously came out of Microsoft Word. Would it be better if everyone had adequate penmanship to write thank-you letters out by hand themselves? Absolutely. But a lot of things in this world can be better. Rather than pining for a perfect world, I think we should focus more on content than form. I would far rather have a long, heartfelt typed letter than a hand-written “thank you for the ___” one-liner.