We all know wedding planning involves a lot of time, energy and usually a healthy dose of stress at some point. But what makes that all worth it? Wedding gifts! (Okay, and maybe the whole being married to the love of your life part, too.) But in all seriousness, you will probably receive more gifts for your wedding than at any other time in your life. From outfitting your kitchen with matching silverware to fluffy, monogrammed towels for your bathroom, you will be given plenty of thoughtful items that you actually want and need. The only catch to this plethora of presents? Writing the thank-you note.

The etiquette on this item is pretty clear, you have got to send a thank-you note to every single person who gives you a gift. The note both communicates your appreciation and also confirms that you received the gift so that the giver knows it was not lost in transit. Thank-you notes should always be handwritten, as a printed message comes across as cold and thoughtless. While you can arguably take up to three months after your Big Day to send a thank-you, the gesture feels more sincere when sent in a timely manner. It is perfectly fine to send your notes before the wedding for gifts received at showers ahead of time.

Newlyweds can sometimes feel unsure about what to say or how to structure a thank-you note, especially since sending handwritten letters is pretty rare these days. We have simplified the process for you and laid out everything you need to know to make sure you are sending thoughtful thank-you notes that everyone will appreciate.

The Note

Traditionally, wedding thank-you notes are small, folded-over cards with a monogram on the front. If you choose to take the traditional approach, you can use your new married monogram. If your wedding vibe is less traditional and more laid-back or modern, you may want to choose a colorful, creative and less formal thank-you note. Pick the style that fits your personality, and feel free to use more than one style of thank-you note depending on your audience. You may want a more casual or spirited card for close friends and something more formal for distant relatives and casual acquaintances. And don’t forget that you can register for your thank-you notes as well!

The Format

Thank-you notes are typically small for a reason – you don’t need to write that much! You should always start with a greeting – “Dear Whomever” is always appropriate – and then include two to three sentences of text. In the body of your thank-you note, be sure to mention the specific gift you received and how you will use it. It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to say ‘thank you!’. End with something personal – “We can’t wait to see you soon!” or “We are so happy you could celebrate with us!” – to help your thank-you feel meaningful.

Dear Aunt Helen and Uncle Mark,

Thank you so much for the beautiful vase you gave us. We cannot wait to display the fresh-cut flowers from our garden in it. We are looking forward to seeing you both at the Fourth of July party soon!

Love,

Jennifer

The Gift

It is quite common to receive money as a wedding gift, which can make writing a thank you note feel a bit awkward. Never mention the exact amount given. Rather, treat each monetary gift as a “generous gift,” and write how you plan to spend the cash in your card. For example, “Thank you so much for your generous gift. We were so excited to be able to book a snorkeling excursion on our honeymoon!”

If you receive an item that is a duplicate or that you plan to return, keep that information to yourself. Mention the specific gift given in your note and focus on your gratitude to the gift giver. If you received three toasters, your thank-you might look like this: “We really appreciate the four-slice toaster. We can’t wait to have you over for brunch soon so you can see it in action! It means a lot to us both that you thought of us at this exciting time in our lives.”

There is a chance you may receive something that you’re unsure of how to use or what exactly it is. In that instance, be as general as necessary while focusing on the person who gifted it and how appreciative you are.

The Recipient

Model your greeting based on how familiar you are with who gave you the gift. It would be weird to address your sister or close friend with a formal pre-fix, but your Dad’s work friend that you’ve never met should be addressed with a Mr. or Mrs. as appropriate. You should also think about the recipient when signing your own name. Traditional etiquette states that since you are writing the card yourself, you should only sign your name. For a more modern approach, both names can be signed. For those who are close to you, your first name should suffice. It’s best to use your full name – first, maiden, and married – when sending a card to someone who may not recognize just your first name.

Remember that thank-you notes are not solely for gifts, either. You should send a hand-written thank-you to anyone who helps you plan, prepare and celebrate your Big Day. This includes your wedding planner, photographer, officiant, the host or hostess of any wedding showers or events and any others who contributed significantly to your ceremony or reception.

The Organization

Staying organized and on top of your wedding thank-you notes will make life so much easier. Keep track of every gift – who gave it, what it is, when they gave it – in a spreadsheet so you can clearly mark when you have sent a thank-you note for each item. If you have several wedding showers, try to send those notes immediately after the event so they don’t pile up. If you wait to send any notes until after your wedding day, the task may feel overwhelming.

At the end of the day, guests genuinely appreciate knowing that you received their gift and that you are grateful. Make writing your thank-you notes more fun by writing while watching a guilty pleasure TV show or listening to your favorite podcast while you crank them out. Take a moment to truly reflect on how thankful you are for the generous people who celebrated your Big Day before sitting down to write – the grateful spirit will come through in your notes. The most important thing is that you actually send everyone a thank-you note, so stay on top of your gift list and make sure you address, stamp and mail each and every card of gratitude. Your hand may hurt by the end of the process, but once you are done, treat yourself to a bubble bath and one of those new, fluffy towels you just received.