Do I Have To Say Thanks But No Thanks To Wedding Vendors?

[Via Wikimedia]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

After talking with potential wedding vendors and stuff, am I supposed to send a thank you or follow up? These would vendors I have decided not to use.

Sincerely,

Thankful, Really

 

Official Etiquette:

We couldn’t find any official etiquette, but many people on this forum felt that it was nice to send a quick email.

 

Our Take:

Jaya: Oooh. I guess it depends on the type of interaction you’ve already had.

Victoria: So she says they had a three hour tour of one venue and then decided not to go with it.

Jaya: I never followed up with the venues I didn’t choose. I’m not sure if that’s right. But no one emailed me asking where I’d gone

Victoria: I said that it’s probably fine, since it’s a business transaction. And, like, if you are going to go with them, you will let them know.

Jaya: Exactly. Like, it’s easy for it to feel really personal, since it’s your wedding day, and that’s sort of what they’re trying to sell you.

Victoria : Plus you might talk to tons of vendors, so that’s a lot of following up. And even though reading an email takes 20 seconds, if they have 100 people emailing them to let them know they won’t be using their services, that’s actually a lot of time reading emails that aren’t for anything.

Jaya: Yeah, I think it’s only good to respond if you’ve gotten to a certain point. Like if you asked them to hold a date and then say you don’t need it anymore.

Victoria: Oh yeah, definitely! Or in general if you’ve told them yes and then you change your mind.

Jaya: Yeah, thinking back, I didn’t email any vendor just to say I wouldn’t be using their services The only time I can think that you may want to do this is with something more personal, like hair and makeup. If you get trials done by a few people and choose one, you can probably email the others and say you won’t be using them. Though even then, you’ve probably paid them for the trial, so it’s not like they did it for nothing.

Let’s Talk About The Magic Words

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Most people are pretty good at these. Our parents drilled them into our heads as toddlers. They are so ingrained that they barely rate a mention in most etiquette books.

I think that thank you is the most ubiquitous. When I travel, I always make sure to learn how to say hello and thank you in any foreign language, because they pretty much cover most situations and make you sound polite. It’s also the most meaningful of the “magic” phrases. I am thanking you for something. To an extent, I think it has replaced please in a lot of situations. Instead of saying “could you do this, please?” a lot of us will say “could you do this, thanks!” How often have you signed off on an email request with “thanks!” at the end? I think this does add a nice casualness to a request and makes an email seem friendlier.

I was thinking that I almost never say please, but then I do catch myself doing it a lot at work and in situations like ordering at restaurants and other times where I want to be ultra polite. Nowadays, please seems to have taken this passive-aggressive tone, as if you should already be doing the thing this person is asking you to do. Maybe that’s because my mom always made sure “Could you please do the dishes?” sound like a command, not a polite request. Do you say please a lot? When do you use it most?

You’re welcome has fallen off the map a bit in favor of a breezy “no problem!” or “sure!” These are fine, I think, as they do convey your acknowledgement of a thanks, but a stickler for etiquette would say that by brushing off whatever someone is thanking you for, you are diminishing your own actions as unimportant. I struggle with this one a lot and have been trying to make more of an effort to say you’re welcome, but I catch myself throwing out “no problem!”s quite a bit still.

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How To Write A Thank You Note

No matter how old I get, my mom (hi, Mom!) still asks if I’ve written a thank you note for every single present she knows I’ve received.  Well, every present I’ve received from someone older than 40. Perhaps my 20-something friends don’t deserve the stationery, or perhaps they just don’t care. I think it’s the latter. But whatever your personal views on thank you notes are, the fact is that lots of people enjoy getting them. I enjoy getting them! I don’t expect them, but it’s always a treat getting some  mail.

Ultimately the goal of this is pretty obvious: you want to make the person feel appreciated. There are many times when this can be accomplished with a phone call or an email. Seriously. I give you full permission to just call your cousin and tell her what a nice time you had at dinner. But sometimes a handwritten note is really what’s needed.

That’s the first key to this: handwritten. With everyone typing nonstop to each other, there really is something nice about receiving something no one had to stare at a screen to do. Well, except you, staring at this screen, learning how to write a thank you note. Get a nice, blank card (signing your name at the bottom of a pre-written card is cheating) or stationery, and get at it.

Step 1: Who do you send thank you notes to?

If you sent a note to everyone who ever did anything nice for you, you’d probably be responsible for the genocide of the whole Amazon. I don’t write thank you notes for birthday gifts, or for holiday gifts I receive in person. For instance, I’m not gonna write to my mom about the sweater she gives me in person on Christmas morning, but I will write to my aunt in Minnesota to thank her for sending me new pajamas as a gift. I do write thank you notes for engagement/wedding gifts, gifts sent a long distance, and other instances where someone has really gone out of their way for me. (P.S. There are instances where you write thank you notes for job interviews and other business interactions, but that’s a whole other conversation). It is also generally recommended that you send one to your grandmother, even if you thanked her when you opened it. She will appreciate hearing from you.

You do not need to send a note for a thank you gift. So if you are a bridesmaid and the bride gives you a little gift to thank you for your help and participation, leave it at that,  lest you end up in a never ending circle of thanking.

Step 2: How does this person want to be addressed?

When in doubt, use Mr./Ms. Firstnames Lastnames on both the envelope and salutation. I generally like doing something like Mr. Obediah Pennywitt and Mrs. Lucreca Pennywitt, instead of Mr. and Mrs. Obediah Pennywitt, because we’re all modern people who understand women have their own first names. But if you know how said person wants to be addressed, use that. If you’re a bit closer to the person in question, you can just use their first names in the salutation. For example, address Ms. Muffy MacSween on the envelope, and say “Dear Muffy” on the inside. For your signature, the rule is to go as formal as you’ve addressed them. If you said “Dear Ms. Muffy MacSween,” sign your full first and last name. If you said “Dear Muffy,” your first name will suffice.

Step 3: What do you actually write?

As usual, this depends on the situation, and on your relationship with the recipient. But whatever you do, make it personal. Saying “Thank you very much for the gift/meeting/reference, it was very nice” makes it sound like you’re 11-years-old and your mother is hovering over you and forcing you to write. Once, a friend’s mom got a note for a Bat Mitzvah present that said just “Thank you for the $50.” Don’t be that girl/boy/cat.

Did someone get you a nice gift? Tell them how you plan to use it. Cash? Say how generous it is and what you may be saving up for, but don’t mention the exact dollar amount. Did you meet with someone in your field who gave you some good advice? Tell them how it’s helped you, or a specific situation in which you’ve used it. It doesn’t have to be any longer than 3-4 lines.

Step 4: The tricky stuff.

There are times where you will have to write a thank you note for something you can’t be specific about. It may be a gift that you think is hideous and plan on returning, or something you already have, or to someone you just don’t know all that well and can’t get specific with. One way to solve this is to lie, which obviously you shouldn’t do because it can totally backfire. You don’t want to be writing “We loved the crystal bowl and will be so proud to display it in our foyer” only to return it and then someday have them come over and see that your foyer is decorated with some other bowl and feel hurt.

The better option is to be specific about the thought.  Say how much it means to you that they thought to get you a gift, instead of the gift itself. Mention something about the last time you saw them, or the next time you’re getting together. If you take the focus off the physical thing they got you, they’ll rarely think to ask about it.

Sample thank you notes:

Thank you for a gift from a friend or relative:

Dear Grandma,

Thank you so much for the lovely scarf. I can tell you put a lot of effort into making it for me and I can’t wait to wear it all winter. Purple is my favorite color! It was great seeing you at my birthday dinner the other night, isn’t Chez Fancypants a great restaurant?

Love,

Matilda

Thank you note for a monetary gift:

Dear Aunt Trudy,

Thank you for the kind graduation gift. I’m sure it will come in great help when I am setting up my new apartment in New York City! It was so kind of you to come to the ceremony, I could hear you all yelling when they called my name!

Love,

Tammy

Thank you note for a gift from a stranger (weddings/engagements)

Dear Mrs. Doolittle,

Thank you so much for the beautiful bowl! It is so kind of you to think of us at this exciting and happy time. Craig has such happy memories of playing with Tommy back in pre-school!

Warmly,

Susie and Craig

Thank you note for a favor:

John-

Thank you so much for hosting me when I was in New York! It was so great to get the chance to catch up after my interview. What a great bar that was- I hope we will get to hang out there a lot if I get this job.

-Joe

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