5 Ways to Express Gratitude to Your Family and Friends After the Wedding

A family surrounding a bride and groom on their wedding day.

You’ve drank the last champagne toast (or juice), you’ve headed off for the honeymoon (or not), and the venue has been tidied and cleared (or still needs a few finishing touches). One thing is for sure: someone in your family has really showed up in a way you couldn’t have anticipated. People have done such great things to make your wedding day special, and it almost feels like a thank you note isn’t enough. Obviously, prompt thank you notes are deeply appreciated, and should be a priority, but here are 5 ways you can go above-and-beyond for those who went above and beyond for your wedding.

1. Buy Them the Gift of an Experience

While most family members won’t take cash as a thank you gesture, you can create an experience for them instead. This could be simply a gift certificate to a restaurant that’s a little nicer than they’d typically try—but it could also be more elaborate, like a ziplining adventure or a private tour of a museum. These things usually aren’t expected, since we almost all chip in to help our family when needed, but giving them the gift of an experience is a sweet way to show that you noticed just how kind and giving they were during your wedding planning. This can be a good workaround as well if a family member or close friend made the cake or did some photography for you as their wedding gift, without accepting payment.

2. Plan a Trip

A black family eating dinner outside at a wood table.

One of the hardest things to do when it comes to family is just finding time to see each other. If you want to show your parents, for instance, how much you loved their monetary and time contributions to your wedding, plan a trip to see them. If you have access to a vacation spot that works with your budget, maybe that will be a better way to spend quality time together. But even if you and your new spouse simply go home and spend a few days in your childhood home, taking a trip to spend time with your family will show them just how much you appreciate their help and support during your wedding.

3. Offer to Help With Other Family Gatherings

Siblings have weddings, aunts and uncles might be in charge of the next family reunion, and there are harder occasions, like funerals, that also bring family together. One way to show your role as an adult member of the family is to respond in kind when people make your wedding special. Take extra time to offer your cousin as much help with her wedding as possible. Volunteer to provide the cooking for a couple meals at the next family camping trip. In whatever way makes sense for your family, take on a role that helps everyone else have just as memorable and meaningful of a time as you just had during your own wedding experience.

4. Bring Back Meaningful Souvenirs from Your Honeymoon

A young couple shopping on their honeymoon.

Honeymoons may be mostly about the bride and groom, but chances are you’ll do at least a little aimless window shopping (if you’re not camping in the middle of nowhere). A fun way to show your appreciation for those who have just made your wedding so special is to bring them back a gift from the exotic locale you visit. Even better, try to bring a story back with it. If you found the perfect cookbook for your mom, for instance, tell her all about the historical site where you found it in the gift shop. If your siblings love beautiful art, bring them back a unique piece that would work with their home decor. Tell the story of your favorite neighborhood in the city where you stayed, or of a colorful person you met while you were there, and make it clear that your family contributed in a way that made you think of them even when you were on vacation.

5. Make a Homemade Present

Many of the above suggestions imply spending a bit of money, but many of us aren’t flush with cash right after a wedding. Homemade gifts allow you to turn your time into something meaningful and gratifying, though. If you or your new spouse likes to craft, knit, cook, or grow plants, you can usually put together an inexpensive present that is full of love and meaning to show your gratitude. Just having a family member over for a meal is a kind gesture that will stick in their minds, and a cozy homemade scarf or two never hurt, either.

By taking the time and effort to think about expressing gratitude, you don’t simply appear wonderful to your family; you also prolong the wonderful wedding experience. Every time you work on a present or shop for a gift, you remember the great ways that family pours into your lives.

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