- 6 years ago
- Wedding: April 2014
In several posts over the last few days, a few people have claimed that a couple has a year to send thank-you notes for wedding gifts. People have claimed it as if it’s an established rule of etiquette. I believe it isn’t and that perpetuating the idea that it is does brides a real disservice, if they rely on it and their guests become upset that so much time has passed without a written thank-you (this actually was the case in a recent thread–it wasn’t anywhere close to a year, but the sender did grumble that the thank-you note hadn’t arrived yet).
A year is an enormous amount of time, so the rule doesn’t really make sense on its face. It doesn’t pass the smell test and I’m wondering if people are confusing it with the commonly cited guideline that wedding guests have a year from the wedding in which to send a gift.
Someone cited Emily Post as the source of the “rule.” This is the relevant excerpt from her 1922 book, Etiquette. It’s clear that she thought thank-you notes should be sent out ASAP:
THE BRIDE’S THANKS
The bride who is happy in receiving a great number of presents spends every spare moment in writing her notes of thanks, which must always be written by her personally. Telephoning won’t do at all, and neither will a verbal “Thank you so much,” as she meets people here and there. She must write a separate letter for each present—a by no means small undertaking! A bride of this year whose presents, because of her family’s great prominence, ran far into the hundreds, never went to bed a single night before her wedding until a note of thanks was checked against every present received that day. To those who offered to help her through her overwhelming task, she, who is supposed to be very spoiled, answered: “If people are kind enough to go out and buy a present for me, I think the least I can do is to write at once and thank them.” That her effort was appreciated was evident by everyone’s commenting on her prompt and charming notes.
Notes of thanks can be very short, but they should be written with as little delay as possible. When a present is sent by a married couple, the bride writes to the wife and thanks both: “Thank you for the lovely present you and Mr. Jones sent me.”
And this is the modern version, from the Emily Post Institute:
Contrary to popular myth, the happy couple does not have a year’s grace period. All thank you notes should be written within three months of the receipt of the gift. Ideally, a response should be written on the day you receive a wedding gift. If that’s not possible, set a daily goal. It’s a lot easier to write three or four notes a day than to have to write a hundred notes in a month after the wedding!
(The bold is in the original, by the way!)
I think we should put this one to bed. There is no one-year rule as far as I can tell, and it’s not helping brides to advise them to take their time in the absence of an accepted rule.