The Wedding Letters, a new book by a New York Times Bestseller Jason F. Wright (author of The Wednesday Letters and Christmas Jars), goes on sale today. And just as The Christmas Jars spurred a new Christmas tradition for families around the country, this book set me to thinking of how you could do your own wedding letters – letters of advice, encouragement, and happiness for the bride and groom – either for your own wedding or as a surprise gift for someone else’s.
So I came up with a few tips.
1. Designate someone to be in charge of the project. This should be someone who doesn’t already have a lot of responsibility with the wedding—and definitely someone other than the bride and groom.
If this is something you want for your own wedding, find a member of the family or a family friend that you trust and who would be excited to be a part of your big day to coordinate the letters. That way you will have one less thing to worry about, and you will make someone else feel valued and a part of the excitement. Then pass this guide on to that person and relax.
2. Collaborate with someone who knows the other side of the family; you want to include friends and family of both the bride and the groom. If you only know one side well, look for a partner who may know the other side as well. You can each gather the letters from the respective sides individually to combine later or have them sent to whomever is compiling the actual book.
3. Start with plenty of time. It’s never too early to start a wedding letters book. Once you find out the couple is engaged, get prepared. Have a submission date, but plan with enough time that you can be flexible. Be patient. Follow up with a phone call (if possible) the week after you send invitations, and send out a reminder post card somewhere between the time you sent the invitation and the submission date.
4. Create a website. If you send out a hard copy invitation, or send e-mails, it’s probably a good idea to have a website where people can go if they lose your address or other information on the letters. You can create a professional website, or you can use one of the many free blog sites that are available. Just make the address simple enough that people can remember such as thejonesweddingletters.blogspot.com. For those who are more tech savvy, you can also use Google documents to allow people to easily input their information and advice into a submission form and send out e-invites using email and social networking sites.
5. Include tips or a prompt. Each letter should be a personal note of love, encouragement, and congratulations to the couple as they celebrate their wedding. Encourage the participants to send handwritten notes to add a personal touch but accept typed letters as well. Suggest that the letters be uplifting and hopeful, not lengthy lists of do’s and don’ts.
6. Provide postage and stationery if budget allows. This increases your chances for the contributor to respond, cutting out a trip to the post office or dollar store to get envelopes. You may even consider printing and providing custom stationary. Be sure the letters go directly to you, the letter gatherer. That way they are all in one place and you don’t have to track down who sent their letter to whom.
7. Presentation is everything. After you send out the invitations and while you wait for the letters to come in, take this time to arrange the way you want to present the gift to the bride and groom. Some ideas you may consider include: a three-ring binder (using sheet protectors to safeguard the contents); a personalized leather binder with their names, date of the wedding, or some other meaningful phrase; a professionally bound book; or an unbound collection in an attractive gift box.
To learn more about Jason Wright's new book The Wedding Letters, click here.