You’re getting married! Congratulations! I couldn’t be happier for you. Truly, I’m excited as you take this gigantic step into adulthood. Having been married myself for well over 20 years, you’re going to love spending the rest of your life with your best friend and soul mate. There’s really nothing else like it in the world.
By now, you’ve had some fantastic professional engagement photos done, and they’ve been shared with the world on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Wickr, Google+, Snapchat, or whatever social media you use, so all your friends and family can see what a perfect couple you are. Maybe your proposal was set to a Bruno Mars song, filmed and uploaded to YouTube, where it’s had over 27,000 views.
And of course, you’ve used your knowledge of Photoshop, or found some really cool apps like Makr, Red Stamp or other design programs to make personalized Save-the-Dates and wedding invitations.
You’ve been on Pinterest ad nauseum to find the perfect way to individualize your wedding at a bargain by making things yourself. You’ve used AirBnB or Travelocity to help plan and book lodgings for your out of town guests. Since your grandparents live halfway across the country, or your brother is serving in Afghanistan, they haven’t met your fiancé, so you’ve Skyped them often enough that you feel they know your soon-to-be better half.
I mean, the internet has just made it so easy and wonderful to pull your wedding together, hasn’t it? You might have used Angie’s List to get reviews on a florist or caterer. Maybe you’ve used Evite to invite friends and family to a shower. Perhaps you’ve gone through the photo albums both your moms made throughout your lives, and cherry-picked pictures leading up to when you met. Transferred photos off your phone from after you met. And you’ve made an awesome iMovie to show at your rehearsal dinner. Oh, and you definitely have all your pertinent information about how you met, how the proposal unfolded, who your wedding attendents are, etc… on The Knot.
But one of the best things about having it all online? All your wedding registry information is just a click away for your guests. Aunt Leslie doesn’t have to run down to Target or Bed Bath & Beyond anymore to find out whether you’d rather have an immersion blender, beige towels, or a pop-up tent as a wedding gift. No, now she can just peruse it all online, and maybe even get Prime shipping directly to your door from your Amazon registry.
This is 21st century living at its finest!!! It’s also 21st century living at its worst.
Because you’ve made such a tremendous effort to include all your loved ones in the joy, celebration, and even preparations, they are kind of invested in your wedding. In your married life, really.
These are the people that gave your mom and dad advice when you were up crying all night with colic as a newborn. They babysat in a pinch when your mom had to take your sister to the ER with a broken arm. These people were the ones who coached your Little League team, or took turns transporting you and your friends to soccer 4 times a week. Some of the people you’re sharing your news with gave you a great deal on their old Honda when you got a driver’s license and needed a safe, reliable car to drive to school and your job at the mall on the weekends. They came to your high school graduation party and sent you off to college with a new set of luggage. Maybe a few of the ones liking your news on Facebook prayed with your parents when you were making some dodgy choices for your life. Some of the people might even be the friends who cried with you when, after 2 years of dating, your last boyfriend or girlfriend decided you weren’t the right one for them.
The point is, these people care about you. They want you and your spouse to have the best life you possibly can have. They’re the ones who will be getting a little teary as your dad walks you down the aisle or you have that mother-son dance at the reception.
So let me give you a little advice: When you’re accepting those gifts that you took the time to register for, and your guests took the time and money to buy, take the time to write a thank you note.
It’s just common courtesy. Just because “nobody does it anymore” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. I’m pretty confident your mother taught you how.
Aunt Betsy and Uncle Rob didn’t have to spend $150 bucks on a vacuum cleaner so you can have clean carpets in your new apartment. Instead, they could have spent it by fixing the catalytic converter in your cousin’s car, so he can get to school and work in a safe, reliable vehicle.
The family that lives next door, whose kids you babysat? You probably were too excited by the check they gave you for your honeymoon fund to notice that some of their drain pipes need to be replaced.
The out of town family that can’t make it to the actual wedding? You know, the ones whose son was your very first best friend in 1st grade? The family that was always the stopover every time your family drove 400 miles to visit your grandparents? They bought you that Le Crueset sauce pan, but really, they’d love to be able to fly their son home for Christmas, because they haven’t seen him in a year and a half.
The woman that sits in the cubicle next to you at work just went through a divorce and is going to bed every night wondering how on earth she’s possibly going to manage as a single parent. Her loser ex is way behind on child support and it’s all she can do to keep her son in shoes that fit. She didn’t have to buy you that 800 thread count sheet set that you showed her online one day.
But she did.
And do you know why she did?
Because she cares about you. That’s why everyone bought you gifts. They don’t buy gifts because they feel obligated; it’s because they want to show their love and support. They care about you. It’s really that simple.
They want you to start your life with as little stress as possible, because honestly, learning to live together as husband and wife isn’t always as easy as you think it will be. Your friends and family would rather you didn’t have to fight over whether to buy pots & pans to cook in or make that car payment due next week. They’ve deposited their time, energy and love into your life and they’d like to see the rest of it go well.
Honestly, if you’ve taken the time to do all the aforementioned things prior to your wedding, you can take some time after your wedding to thank the people that are helping you ease into married life.
As a culture, we often confuse spending time on the internet with being busy. Posting all 449 wedding photos on Flickr or Facebook isn’t necessarily productive. Nice, but necessary the week after you come back from your honeymoon? Probably not. Would it be nice to have it done? Sure. But not until you’ve written your thank-you notes.
Thanking the people who loved you enough to carve out some of their hard-earned cash will be more gratifying and valuable in the long run. And maybe even in the short run. Frankly, letting your friends and family know that you’re grateful for their gift might make them more likely to help you in the future.
But if you neglect to let them know that you’re appreciative, they might think twice later on. Personally, whenever I splash out money on someone’s wedding gift anymore, I hesitate. Of the last 8 weddings we’ve received invitations to, guess how many thank-you letters we’ve been sent for the 8 not-exactly-bargain gifts we’ve bought?
Absolutely none. Zero.
At some point, I may just stop buying gifts for weddings. Showers. Graduations. Babies.
Don’t spoil it for you and everyone else, just because you’re “too busy” to take the time to thank the people that love you. Those people are busy too, yet they found time to procure something for you that you asked for.
Someone loved you enough to buy you a gift. Love them enough back to thank them.
Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion. If you happen to agree, that’s great. If you don’t agree, I’d love to hear your thoughts, but please consider how you say what you say. I post this only as a gentle reminder that saying “thank you” in any and all circumstances is always in vogue.