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The Bride's Guide Blog

Etiquette: Should You Ask Guests to Address Their Own Thank-You Notes?

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Posted by Talley Sue Hohlfeld, Etiquette Expert

There's an alarming new trend going around at showers -- don't let it happen at yours!

Under the mistaken impression that they are helping a busy bride, shower hostesses are asking guests to address envelopes to themselves. They then give this pre-addressed stationery to the bride, to use for her thank-you notes.

No matter how many people are saying, "Oh, how sensible!", there are many guests in those rooms who are insulted. They are too good mannered to ever say anything out loud, but they are FURIOUS! And they will blame the bride, not the hostess.

The *best* way to handle it is to head it off.

• Tell your hostess well in advance, and often, that you can't wait to use your gorgeous thank-you stationery. This will make it clear that the thank-you notes are your territory.

• Before the shower, give the hostess a list of names and addresses, and ask her to pass it among the guests to check for accuracy. This will give her "something to do with her hands."

• Bring a similar list to the shower and use it for recording gifts; mention after the present opening that you'd welcome having people check it for accuracy, and set it where they can find it.

• If your shower hostess mentions that she will do this, ask her directly not to—"It may seem like it's helpful, but I know that some people will be offended. I don't want to risk that in any way."

* If you are handed a stack of envelopes like this, thank her lukewarmly, and throw them out when you get home. If she asks about them later, say, "It was nice of you to do, but I felt uncomfortable sending people a note from me that was addressed in their own handwriting."

Have you seen this happen in your circles? And have you picked out your thank-you note stationery?

Comments (14)

  • I attended a recent shower where the hostess took a photo of the bride-to-be with each attendee. At the time, we all assumed she was just recording the day, or planning to put together an album for the bride. A few weeks later, my thank you note arrived and the picture of me and the bride was on the cover of the homemade note card. The hostess made the set of cards for the bride as a shower gift. I thought it was a sweet thing to do and I enjoyed seeing our picture on my notecard.

  • Great points and ideas presented here. There really is a delicate balance to follow. I agree that saving time is not worth losing the personalness of a thank you note.

  • give your hostess, the person throwing you a party, "something to do with her hands"?? thank her "lukewarmly" ?? that is so rude. first and foremost, i think etiquette should be about making sure everyone is aware of how grateful you are for their kindness, hostess included. if you don't even treat people with kindness and appreciation... you have poor etiquette. PERIOD.

  • This has been happening at bridal and baby showers in Arizona for at least 12 years now. I remember first doing filling out my own envelope at a shower in 1998. Most of the hostesses I've seen turn it into one of the shower games, and use it for a raffle.

  • Our cousins do this. When we went to the first wedding shower, we were all shocked. Since then we have been to two wedding showers and a baby shower where it was requested. I would never.

  • Being that this is part of one's thankfulness to each guest for their presence at the bridal shower, I believe that it is respectful for the bride to fill these out herself. Nothing says thank you better than a personal, handwritten letter.

  • I have hosted two baby showers and provided addressed envelopes (that I hand-wrote) to the mom-to-be, wrapped up as a present. I stamped each, as well. All she had to do was hand-write the cards. I don't think this is offensive in the least. If i had done labels that would have been tacky.

  • Yes, very insulting! This is not a time for convenience.

  • I definitely see why this isn't a great idea, but who are these people who will be rendered "FURIOUS" by a request that they write their name and address on an envelope? That seems a bit much to me.

  • I am having a hard time seeing what the major problem is here. It's not like the hostess is actually writing the the thank you notes for the guest of honor. The tone of this blog entry appears to be much harsher than anything else I have seen here. Why is that?

  • I can't really muster up much opinion either way. But at least recycle the envelopes if they are filled out and you don't want to use them. Throwing them about wasteful.

  • @Anni and Lindsay -- I actually think it's not so bad for the HOSTESS to address the thank-you note envelopes for the bride.
    What's really bad is to ask the GUESTS to address their own. What Anni did isn't in the same category.
    It's majorly jarring to find an envelope in the mail with your own handwriting! Plus, to be given the message, when you've shown up w/ gift in hand at a shower, that it's so much work, that *you* have to do it, is sort of insulting. The guests will have spend quite a bit more time than that purchasing the present, even if they did just go online to the registry.
    @bunniesnbeagles: in my world, "toss" means only "get rid of"; if you can recycle, fine; I figure you know your own city's trash system.

  • After just finishing hand writing over 400 thank you notes on behalf of my husband and I, I saw this trend at for the first time at a baby shower, and personally I was not the least bit offended and thought it quite ingenious. I understand how someone can be offended by writing their own thank you note, but come on people, it's just an envelope! You might have took an hour or two to go pick out a gift and spend the money you earned, but that's for one person. The guest of honor then should write a thank you note for each of her guest, not just one of them. Aren't we all there to express love and support for the new mother? If addressing the envelope makes it easier on a new mother, is that really too much to do to help!?! I thought it is about the thought expressed in the note, not the handwriting on the envelope it arrives in!?! You don't think she is busy enough? Doesn't have her hands full enough? I hope one day when I have a shower, my hostess will do this trend to help me, because I'm already feeling overwhelmed thinking of the daunting task of hand writing thank you notes again and all the numbness in my hand! I think you people have put a little too much weight on the envelope and presents at a shower. I thought it was about showing love and support to the guest of honor, not about you receiving a hand written thank you note later! Are you that bored and lonely that you put that much weight on the writing of an envelope? If so, maybe you should take on the busy schedule of a working new mom! I think it is pretty obnoxiousness that people are complaining about who is writing an address! Where are you trying to help the mother to be?

  • I do find this appalling. I know it can take hours to address thank you notes, but it's tacky - that person spent hard-earned money on your present. They don't want an envelope in their own handwriting. Computer-printed labels are better than their own handwriting.

    Also, every present deserves a paper thank-you note - not an email. Not a facebook message.

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