Author Topic: Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)  (Read 1032 times)

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mspallaton

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Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)
« on: August 20, 2013, 10:24:12 AM »
Hi all!

First some background -- I had a bridal shower (thrown by DF's mom) back in May.  DF and I live far away from HomeState and traveled into town for the shower.  While there, we got several presents (I was honestly shocked at how generous everyone was), which have stayed at my parents house in HomeState because we had no way to get them to where we live.  We're moving some furniture and other items from my parents house to our house after the wedding so the plan is to move those gifts then.

I had read that as long as a thank you card is sent within a year, you're not violating proper etiquette, but a few days ago I got some inquiries on whether gifts had arrived and was told by my mother that thank you notes for a shower should be sent out before the wedding.  Here's the problem - the list of who got what is sitting at my house several states away and DF and I are in HomeState until after the wedding.

So - I'm partly asking if I've violated proper etiquette since the shower thank yous now can't be sent before the wedding and I'm partly asking if there is some wording I can use to properly acknowledge both the wonderful gifts and that I know I breached etiquette by not thanking people sooner.  I first thought I would go online and look at the registry listing and try to trace gifts back to people (I remember who gave what for about 3/4 of the gifts), but there were several off registry gifts (really amazing ones, actually -- my future cousin-in-law made coasters out of our save-the-date cards which was maybe the coolest thing ever) and while I remember some, I don't have confidence that I would get them all correct.

I know I got myself into this mess -- any advice on how to make up for it?  At this point I'm leaning toward sending separate shower and wedding thank yous after the wedding and just mailing them at about the same time (about 1-2 weeks after the wedding).

Yvaine

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Re: Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2013, 10:31:42 AM »
I had a longer reply, but I had a network problem and it got eaten. Shorter version: the year thing is a misconception, but kind of a forgivable one because it's been repeated as fact by a lot of credible-looking sources. Is there any way for your mom to access the who-got-what list and email it to you?

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2013, 10:44:32 AM »
Shower gift notes should be sent as soon after the shower as you can manage so I'm afraid you have missed the boat on that one.  The year thing, I believe, is that you have up to a year to send a gift to the happy couple.

You are getting married in Home State and you are already there for the upcoming wedding.  The list of who gave what is at your home in Other State so you don't have access to it, correct?  If there is anyone checking on your home while you are away and you can direct them to where that list might be, I'd get them to send it to you.

But failing that, start writing the notes you can remember now, finish them when you get home and see your list and send out the shower notes first.  Get your wedding notes finished and wait a few days after sending the shower notes to send them, so they don't arrive at the same time.  Or at least, definitely don't put both notes in one envelope.

And do what you can to spread word about the reason that people haven't received notes yet.  So when Great Aunt Agatha asks if you got the crockpot she sent, apologize and let her know that you have forgotten your list at home to write your notes.  But you'll be sending them out as soon as you get home.  You might even say something along the lines of 'Can you believe that I thought that old chestnut about having a year to send thank you notes was proper etiquette.  I'm such dummy.'  If you are comfortable with something like that, of course.

I wouldn't worry about apologizing in the notes, though.  If guests get their shower note, followed by their wedding note a few days later, they'll know you've got it all figured out now.

I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario

Zizi-K

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Re: Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2013, 10:45:32 AM »
The 'year' rule has to do with how long someone has to GIVE you a gift, not how long it takes you to thank them for it!

I would send as many thank you notes as you can immediately, and then find someone to get that list for you so you can send the rest. Those notes should have gone out a week after the shower, not a year!

Also - no need to acknowledge the lateness of the notes. It will just sound like excuses - and really, everyone is busy with something. (You're not the only one moving/having kids/in school/etc) Just send a warm and genuine note for every gift, and you'll have done the right thing.

gellchom

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Re: Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2013, 11:54:03 AM »
The 'year' rule has to do with how long someone has to GIVE you a gift, not how long it takes you to thank them for it!

I would send as many thank you notes as you can immediately, and then find someone to get that list for you so you can send the rest. Those notes should have gone out a week after the shower, not a year!

Also - no need to acknowledge the lateness of the notes. It will just sound like excuses - and really, everyone is busy with something. (You're not the only one moving/having kids/in school/etc) Just send a warm and genuine note for every gift, and you'll have done the right thing.

This, exactly.

I can understand why people WANT to believe that they have a year to write thank you notes.  But why anyone WOULD believe it is harder to understand.  What would be the justification for waiting so long to thank someone for their generosity and in many cases even to let them know that the gift was received?  No one (actually two, for a wedding) is THAT busy -- a whole year.  You get a little more leeway for occasions like weddings when there are so many to write, but the basic principle is the same: you thank people as promptly as you possibly can for any kind of gift.

But if you can't be prompt, do it anyway!  As you commendably are going to do.

And now you also know how important it is to WRITE DOWN who gave you what gift.  First of all, it makes it possible to thank the right person for the right gift.  A thank you note for "the generous gift" is nothing more than a handwritten form letter and makes it obvious the writer doesn't connect the givers to their gifts, but is just writing the notes as a chore (as Miss Manners once put it, "[t]he proper expression of thanks must be accompanied by a vivid detail, as convincing evidence that the reply is not a form letter but was inspired by the actual and particular present. ")  It also makes it much nicer to use the gifts when you can think of the givers as you use them.  After 31 years of marriage, I still do, and it gives me great pleasure.

Don't say anything about your lateness in your notes.  Just thank the people as quickly as you can now.  I might even go ahead and thank them for both the shower gift and the wedding gift (and anything else they did for you) in the same letter.  True, it won't look so great, but honestly two notes close in time at this point will look pretty much the same.   Think about each person and decide if this will work for them; for some it will.  Like your favorite aunt, but maybe not for your mom's boss.

You're going to feel funny as you do it, but you'll feel great when you finish!  And after all, it's about their feelings, not yours.

Good for you for not letting your embarrassment stop you.  I remember someone once asking Miss Manners "When is it too late to write a thank you note?" and her answer was, "When the person who was generous to you is dead, and you have to live with the knowledge of your ingratitude."

Yvaine

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Re: Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 11:57:39 AM »
But why anyone WOULD believe it is harder to understand. 

They believe it because it's being said by supposed "etiquette mavens"--I think someone said it's promoted on The Knot? The trouble is that anyone can set themselves up as an expert and become popular enough to influence people, just like anyone can say they're an expert on, say, the job market and promulgate bad job-hunting advice. If you see bad advice enough times, you might come to think it really is the consensus of experts, and with weddings a lot of people are looking for etiquette rules and guidance from experts even if they're pretty informal in daily life.

mspallaton

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Re: Late Thank You Notes (my etiquette violation)
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 12:12:11 PM »

They believe it because it's being said by supposed "etiquette mavens"--I think someone said it's promoted on The Knot? The trouble is that anyone can set themselves up as an expert and become popular enough to influence people, just like anyone can say they're an expert on, say, the job market and promulgate bad job-hunting advice. If you see bad advice enough times, you might come to think it really is the consensus of experts, and with weddings a lot of people are looking for etiquette rules and guidance from experts even if they're pretty informal in daily life.

That's exactly the mistake I made here.  I'm just now at a point in my life where I am learning more formal etiquette (mostly because I'm getting married and the formality with DF's family helps avoid accidentally upsetting someone).  Within my own family, there is very little emphasis on etiquette.  We, of course, say thank you for things, but usually with a phone call or even just next time you see the person. 

I can't, for the life of me, remember where I read the supposed one-year rule, but it was that reading that caused me to prioritize the thank you notes below things like booking travel and securing vendors for the wedding.

That being said - once again eHell helps tremendously.  I will work to get notes out to the 3/4 of people who I can remember for certain right away and finish the rest of the notes when we get back home and I can consult the list.  I was truthfully honored and touched by each of the gifts so it shouldn't be hard to write personalized notes to each person.  When we set up the registry (at the insistence of parents on both sides) we were very careful to only put things on there that we had a specific use and need for.  That should make the notes and details flow a bit easier.

Thank you everyone for the advice and assistance!