25 Sweet Ways To Give Thanks Before, During And After Your Wedding

11/23/2016 11:58am ET | Updated November 23, 2016

By Stefania Sainato for Bridal Guide

In the spirit of the season, we've gathered some fun ways to give thanks before, during, and after your big day.

Photo Credit: Kevin Paul Photography
1. Keep a gratitude journal. Unlike a regular diary, which requires daily upkeep, jot down quick thoughts about your planning "highs" (e.g. what you felt like when you bought your dress) whenever you have the time. You can also use it to store fun mementos like a sketch of your cake.

Related: The 6 Emotional Stages of Planning a Wedding
Photo Credit: J. Wiley Photography

2. Spend quality time with your maid of honor and best man.

Plan a one-on-one hangout before the wedding chaos takes over. You'll relish the opportunity to bond with them before the biggest day of your life.

Photo Credit: J. Wiley Photography
3. Exchange letters on the morning of the wedding. Sure, "meet you down the aisle" texts are charming, but there's nothing quite like putting pen to paper. Thank your future spouse for marrying you and making you the luckiest woman alive. Capture each other's reaction on film by reading the letters out loud for your videographer.

Related: 60 Must-Have "Getting Ready" Photos
Photo Credit: Jennifer Skog Photographers
4. Unveil a fun wedding surprise for your groom. Is ESPN the soundtrack of your home? Give a nod to his sports obsession by having guests sign a jersey as your "guest book." Did he spend his childhood (and beyond) secretly wishing he was Spiderman? We're smitten with this creative take on the groom's cake.

Related: 7 Ways to Surprise Your Groom at the Wedding
Photo Credit: Ryan Ray Photography
5. Savor a quiet moment together. Soak in your surroundings — the stunning reception space that took months to plan, friends and family busting a move on the dance floor, that giddy look on your husband's face that says, "We finally did it."

Related: 35 Romantic Ideas for Your Wedding Reception
Photo Credit: Blink of an Eye Photography
6. Wipe away your parents' tears of joy. Personalize vintage handkerchiefs with embroidered messages for Mom, Dad, your mother-in-law, father-in-law, or any other close family members.

Related: Wedding Thank-You Gifts for Mom and Dad
Photo Credit: Emma Case Photography via A Practical Wedding

7. Dedicate your wedding to both sets of parents.

At the ceremony, ask the officiant if you could read a poem in honor of your family. Here's one example of wording we love, via "We would like to dedicate this ceremony to our parents. They have taught us our values and shown us how to laugh, love and appreciate all that life has to offer. Their generosity, support, and love are unending."

Photo Credits (from top to bottom): Ana Lui; Zenobia Studios and Ashfall Mixed Media

8. Honor your parents' marriage by incorporating their wedding-day photos.

Whether it's one small photo tucked into your armoire or a dedicated corner at the sign-in table, they'll appreciate the sentimental gesture. Or, have your photographer help you re-create one of their favorite shots.

Bouquet at left photographed by Alisha + Brook Photographers / Bouquet at right created by Edge Design Group; photographed by Nadia D. Photography

9. Carry a piece of them down the aisle with you.

Use fabric from your mother's wedding dress as your bouquet holder (like the photo pictured at right), or hang miniature childhood photos from your flowers. Instead of doing a bouquet toss, give a speech at the reception dedicating your bouquet to the most important woman in your life — Mom.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Beasley
10. Give Mom and Dad one last hug before you're pronounced husband-and-wife. Take the time to stop for one final display of affection. Just remind your parents that the officiant is waiting if they refuse to let go.

Related: 200+ Emotional Wedding Moments
Photo Credit: Carrie Wildes Photography
11. Toast to all of the times that your bridal party supported you. Thank your bridal party attendants for sharing in the joy of your wedding day with a quick speech. Don't forget to hand out a glass of bubbly to each bridesmaid before you hit the road!
Photo Credit: Mlle Bagatelles on Etsy
12. Give your bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts they'll actually use. Check out 40+ ideas for bridal party presents, here.
Photo Credits (from left to right): Joshua McCoy Photography and Angel Canary Photography
13. Spend one-on-one time with your flower girl and ring bearer. Give the little ones a bucket filled with crayons and activities to keep them busy at the reception, let them play with your dress, and say "cheese" in the front of the camera for their very own portrait.

Related: Adorable Pics to Take With Your Ring Bearer and Flower Girl
Photo Credit: Woodlark Designs on Etsy

14. Give your bridal party kudos in your wedding program.

Explain what their relationship is to you (a sister, friend, coworker) and include a few fun facts about them.

Photo Credit: Becky Brown Photography
15. Dedicate a special song to your 'maids and groomsmen. Don't require them to practice a dance beforehand, unless you're Zumba buddies or were in a dance troupe back in high school! Just have your DJ or band play a song from your past and watch unscripted hilarity ensue.

Related: All Together Now: Choreographed Wedding Dances That Make Us Smile
Photo Credit: Cami's Paperie on Etsy

16. Thank your vendors for making your wedding vision come to life.

After all of those emails, calls, brainstorming sessions, and, yes, the times that they saved your behind, express how much you appreciate them with a heartfelt card. Pay it forward by writing a positive review online, if you were happy with their service.

Photo Credit: Muriel Silva Photography

17. Give vendors a shout-out in your toast.

If you plan on saying a few words to welcome guests to the wedding reception, mention all of the vendors who helped make your night (or day) a success.

Photo Credits (from top to bottom): K and K Photography and Rachael Foster Photography
18. Create a heartfelt guest book alternative. Your wedding day is the one time when you're surrounded by everyone who loves you, all in the same room. What better way to bottle up all of their good wishes than by preserving and displaying them in your home afterward?

Related: 50 Unique Wedding Guest Book Ideas
Photo Credit: Taylor Lord

19. Incorporate "thanks" as part of your wedding décor.

One popular option is to display a special thank-you on the menu. Or, you could include a meaningful blessing or prayer.

Photo Credits (from left to right, top to bottom): Minerva Photography; Casey Fatchett; Blink of an Eye Photography and Liquid Courage Flasks
20. Give out thoughtful favors. Gift creature comforts like cozy slippers, a yummy scent or donuts for the ride home.

Related: 30 Favor Ideas From Real Weddings
Photo Credit: Ashley Brooke Designs
21. Have fun with your thank-you cards. A custom illustration makes signing all of those notes that much more bearable (and, dare we say it, fun).

Related: Etiquette Q&A: "What Should We Write in Our Thank-You Notes?"
Photo Credit: Mari Darr
22. Pay it forward and give back to your community with charitable favors. Donate to a cause that is close to your heart and include a note explaining the significance behind your choice.

Related: 15 Simple Ways To Use Your Wedding To Pay It Forward
Photo Credit: Snappy Shots by Bev

23. Donate your dress.

After the big day, you can donate your dress and any other bridal accessories to Brides Against Breast Cancer, which will resell it and use the proceeds to help a woman with cancer. Or, you can gift it to Brides for a Cause, which collects and resells gowns to support Wish Upon a Wedding, a non-profit organization that grants weddings to couples in need.

Photo Credit: Amanda Marie Photography

24. Donate flowers.

Organizations such as The FlowerPower Foundation (based in New York and L.A.), Blooms From the Heart (San Diego) and Floranthropy (Seattle) will re-assemble your donations into new floral arrangements for hospices and nursing homes that could use some cheer.

Photo Credit: Bowersock Photographers

25. Donate food.

Arrange to have any extra food from your reception "rescued" to feed hungry people in your area. Find out more at Second Harvest.

Photo Credit: Betsy's Wood on Etsy
Bonus: Keep the spirit of gratitude going in your marriage. Leave secret messages for your spouse to find. At dinner, take a cue from The Queen of Giving, Oprah Winfrey, and tell them about three blessings that happened to you on that day. "When you focus on what you have, your abundance only increases," the talk show host has said.

Related: 10 Ways Your Wedding Prepares You for Marriage

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