Etiquette Daily’s Greatest Hits: Newlyweds who disregard thank-you notes

Etiquette Daily’s “Greatest Hits” are questions that generated a great deal of conversation when they were originally posted. At the Emily Post Institute we have learned that some etiquette questions never go out of style and are bringing back a few of these popular conundrums for your further consideration. Enjoy!

Q: I attended a wedding last year and haven’t received a thank-you note from the newlywed couple. It’s been more than six months since I sent the gift. Should I call to make sure they received it?

A: If you’re genuinely concerned that a gift has been lost in the mail, you could check with the store or post office. But I suspect what you really want to do is give these newlyweds a wake-up call about the missing note. And you may certainly go right ahead. The couple deserves embarrassment. Neglecting to send thank-yous is a chronic problem made worse by the myth that newlyweds have up to a year to pop those notes in the mail. The actual deadline is right away, with three months as the outside limit. What might make it easier is that thank-yous are no longer the brides responsibility–today’s grooms can do their fair share of the scrawling.


  1. D

    I whole-heartedly agree. I’ve worked with quite a few brides who seem to think that the thank you note is ancient history. It’s a necessity! I also think the quality of the note counts… sending a handwritten note is MUCH different to getting a generic “thank you” photo of the bride and groom in the mail.

  2. This is a nice coincidence that you mention the subject about ‘thank-you notes’. In the September issue of The Rotarian it was also a subject. Not so much about wedding gifts but in general. Their title was:
    Much obliged
    Writing thank-you notes is hard. Too bad.

    This is such a fundamental social skill and it looks like it’s getting worse and worse!
    Your reply above is to the point; I’m fully with you on that one.
    Mariette’s Back to Basics

  3. jordi

    Also one of my pet peeves. I know that people try to get out of taking the time to write thank-yous. I used to work at a card store and brides-to-be used to come in and try to figure out the easiest, fastest way to do thank-you notes. One wanted the note to have a sentiment pre-written so that all she had to do was sign it. Another actually wanted people to print their own address on thank-you envelopes at the reception so that all she had to do was sign a thank-you note, throw a stamp on it and toss it in the mail. I also spoke to many people who had been to weddings and not received thank yous and believe me they were not impressed. When asked by brides if it was ok to send out general email thank yous I would tell them that I know for sure that people appreciate a personal thank you note with mention of the specific gift not just a general “thanks for the wedding gift” type note.

    When my husband and I attended a wedding for one of his cousins and gave them cash we asked several months later if they had received it ok in front of one of their parents and they had to admit that they did and apologized in front of the parents. That got the message to them.

  4. Willy Beardall

    Just got married, ready to send Thank you cards however there were two couples that came and also went to the dinner reception, however there were no cards or gifts! Which by the way is alright! But I can’t imagine them coming with out and I am hoping none were lost since we did not handle the gifts or cards till we got home. I don’t want them to have sent something and we don’t send them a proper Thank you. What should we do?

    • Elizabeth

      Occasionally, some people forget or do not have time to secure a gift for the wedding and will send it later. It’s possible that these people are undergoing financial hardship and cannot at this time give you a gift. It’s also possible that they simply chose not to give you one. Whatever the situation, it is impolite to ask about gifts because it indicates that you were expecting one. So, you should say nothing. If you are concerned that they did give you a gift but it was misplaced, perhaps (if you’re friendly with them and are hanging out one day) you can say, “Whew, we just got done with the thank you notes last week!” They might say, “oh, ours didn’t arrive…” and that gives you an opening to say “Actually, we didn’t see anything from you…”

      If these are couples that are closer to your parents, they could also have a similar conversation with them. If you are friends on Facebook, you could also post something like – “We just finished our thank you notes! Please let us know if you don’t receive yours, the mail has been fickle lately!”, and then see if they respond. If they don’t, you’ll know that they didn’t send you a gift.

  5. Sharonna

    The utter lack of consideration and bad manners these days by newlywed couples who do not send thank-you notes – whether they are first-timers or remarrieds – is why I check out a couple’s wedding registry months ahead of their wedding date and buy a useful – but not expensive – gift. The last wedding to which my husband and I were invited, I bought the couple-to-be a set of glassware from Target, which they had put on their store registry. 8 juice glasses, 8 tall glasses = $10.00. Easy, quick, and first out of the block – glassware is heavy and looks pricey but isn’t. I advise you to do the same. Nope, we never received a thank-you card from them, either.

    • C

      I’ll go you one better. After consistently failing to receive thank you notes after the last few weddings I attended, I no longer give any wedding presents at all. This I think is the best way to educate couples on the true meaning of their wedding.

      Anyway, why do newlyweds even deserve presents in the first place? They are no longer helpless young waifs moving out on their own for the first time. Today, they either already live together, or they are autonomous adults with two households to merge, with double sets of forks and spoons and lemon zesters to begin with. It’s time to do away with this outdated custom.

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