The Most Pervasive Wedding Myth

Common courtesy, common sense, and yes "etiquette" require that couples (notice I did not say brides) must send thank-you notes as soon as possible.
03/02/2013 12:12 pm ET Updated May 02, 2013

In my writing about weddings I've seen a lot of wedding myths swirling around out there. The most dangerous is probably that the wedding is "the bride's day" or even "the couple's day." It isn't. It's the bride or couple's event, but the day actually belongs to the rest of the world as well. That one small reminder can go a long way to prevent some of the worst cases of bad wedding behavior on both sides. The saddest myths may be that it costs a lot of money to have a beautiful, meaningful event, that weddings are a waste of time, and that wedding professionals are out to cheat you.

But, perhaps the most widely spread myth is that couples have one year after the wedding to send thank-you notes. This is not true.

Common courtesy, common sense, and yes "etiquette" require that couples (notice I did not say brides) must send thank-you notes as soon as possible.

Despite what you've read on forums and bride-centric blogs, there is no rule of etiquette that gives the couple a year to write thank-you notes. No one is sure where this idea comes from, but it's not written down in any reputable etiquette book. There are plenty of writers and experts out there to chastise you about courtesy and gratitude, I just want to look at the practical side of this.

Thank-you notes serve two purposes: The first purpose is to simply let the giver know you received the gift. Unlike a birthday present, a wedding gift is rarely given to you in person. Even if the gift is brought to the wedding (which it shouldn't be), you don't open it in front of the giver. Unless you send a thank-you note the giver has NO WAY of knowing that you actually received the gift. If a gift has gone missing, the giver wants to know as soon as possible. The second purpose is, obviously, to let the giver know that you appreciate the gift, but as I said, I'll let others cover that.

Writing thank-you notes just isn't that hard. Let's take a worst case scenario: Let's say you had 250 guests, all of whom brought your presents to the wedding so you haven't had a chance to write any thank-you notes before the wedding (which happens in many cases if guests have gifts mailed directly to the couple). That means 125 notes for you and 125 notes for your new spouse to write. You can easily write four thank-you notes during an hour of television watching. That's a little over 31 days (remember, you're each writing four a day). Let's build in a few days where you have to work late or just don't feel like writing thank-you notes, and maybe an extra few days if your spouse needs to be nagged to do his or her share. At most, it should take the two of you two months to get them all written.

Your wedding was a beautiful, wonderful event. Why spoil it by failing to thank those who came to honor you?