Kevin Wolf, Associated Press
Scott Anderson, left, and his wife, Lida Fitts, write thank you notes for their wedding gifts in the Washington apartment
Everyone's met one: a bride who feels entitled to an expensive wedding with all the details just so, who orders friends and family to host parties or spend hundreds of dollars on an ugly bridesmaid's dress, who can be overheard barking, ''It's MY wedding!''
The one thing she rarely says is ''thank you.''
Even for nicer brides, those two words are often overlooked in the hectic atmosphere surrounding a wedding. Couples who may spend a year or more planning their nuptials often forget that friends and family are also spending precious time and money to make the day more special.
''You are surrounded by the people that mean the most to you, so don't take them for granted,'' says etiquette expert Peggy Post, great-granddaughter-in-law of manners guru Emily Post and author of several books on weddings. ''Don't just treat them as your personal assistants.''
Guests today go through more than guests in the past, says Sharon Naylor, author of ''The Bride and Groom Thank-You Guide'' and ''The Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette.''
''They have to travel, they have to spend a lot on gifts,'' she says.
Both Post and Naylor recommend writing thank you notes for wedding gifts within a month. The idea that brides have a year to write them is a myth, they said.
Notes must be handwritten -- not typed or e-mailed -- and should be as personal as possible. It's always gracious to mention what you are going to do with the gift, as well.
''Try to sound like yourself,'' says Naylor. ''It ends up freezing a lot of people and they avoid the task.''
Both said that more grooms are getting involved in the process.
''It's really cool for guests to see the groom's handwriting,'' Naylor says.
Thank-you note recipients appreciate a touch of humor, says Lida Fitts, a Washington, D.C., newlywed who married last May in Alabama. To a guest who gave her silverware, Fitts wrote that she hoped the ''lovely gleam would distract guests from poor cooking.''
''It's a time when you are really excited and it's a shame not to show that to people,'' she says. ''I wanted to write them as soon as possible because your excitement about the gift is easy to convey.''
One major no-no is mass thank you notes, says San Antonio event planner Tracy French. She knows one couple who wrote ''thank you'' in the sand after their beach wedding, took a picture and sent it to all of their guests as thanks for gifts.
''That is so wrong,'' French says. ''We're all extremely busy, but I think people are losing sight of etiquette and doing things that are traditional.''
Beyond thank you notes, brides often give gifts to party hosts and wedding attendants, and leave gift bags at the hotel for out-of-town guests. Reduced hotel rates are also standard.
Kevin Wolf, Associated Press
Content Tips: Notes must be handwritten -- not typed or e-mailed -- and should be as personal as possible. It's always gracious to mention what you are going to do with the gift, as well.
Raleigh, N.C.,-based wedding consultant Karen Clark suggests going further by contacting airlines and rental car companies about giving your guests reduced wedding rates. Finding a hotel that includes breakfast in the room rate is also a nice thought, she says.
While many weddings feature endless toasts to the bride and groom, the couple can make a toast of their own expressing thanks to family and friends, says Ivy Robinson, another North Carolina wedding consultant.
''If the band goes on a break, it's a nice time for the bride and groom to get up and thank everyone,'' she says.
As for guest favors, Robinson says not to bother unless they are meaningful. That money could be better spent elsewhere in the wedding budget.
''A lot of people give tacky, cheap favors -- things that are thrown in the trash,'' she says. ''If you can't do something nice, don't do anything at all.''
One option is to make charitable donations in all of your guests' names, she says.
Parents, especially if they are paying for the wedding, should be treated, says Naylor.
''Take your parents out to dinner during the planning process,'' she says. ''Thanking your parents can diffuse some of the conflict.'' Another trend is for couples to give their parents a vacation after the big day.
And it's important to thank the people who put the event together, Naylor says. A simple note or present for your vendors could help everything run more smoothly.
''Thanks you express along the way will make the process better,'' she says.
Post suggests the couple include a note in the wedding program thanking guests for being there.
''It doesn't have to be extravagant -- just remember to be appreciative along the way,'' she says.
First published on December 18, 2006 at 12:00 am