bridal shower guests gather around outdoor bar table

Thanks to a seemingly endless to-do list in the weeks leading up to your wedding, finding time to thank your bridal shower guests can be tricky. The good news for stressed out brides: You (sort of) get a pass. Since showers tend to occur closer to the date of the wedding, "it's perfectly fine" to send your notes out post-vows, swears lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann. "The important thing is to make sure you say thank you in writing."

HOW TO WRITE A GREAT THANK YOU NOTE

Get 'em in the mail within three months.

If your bridal shower was a month or less before the wedding and you get bogged down with table assignments and other tasks, you can wait to tackle thanking guests for those registry gifts until after the honeymoon, says Swann, author of Let Crazy Be Crazy. Just aim to send them out within two or three months. If there was a sizable gap between your bridal luncheon and nuptials, says Swann, commit to getting them done before you say "I do."

Put it in writing.

Yes, it takes way longer than typing out an email, but it's absolutely necessary to send handwritten thank-you notes, says Swann. "Someone has spent money on you and therefore you should thank them in a way that shows gratitude," explains the pro, "and a handwritten note is a lot more personable."

Make it a double.

Even if you're writing bridal shower gratitudes just before diving into your wedding thank-you notes, this is not a two-for-one situation. If there were two separate gifts, says Swann, there needs to be two separate cards.

Keep it simple.

"Too often brides and grooms don't send these notes because they think they have to be really long," notes Swann. But she says you can get the job done in three basic steps: "Just address the card to the person, say thank you, name the gift and then say something about the gift, maybe what you like about it or what you'll do with it." Toss on a stamp and you're done!

Acknowledge your tardiness.

Missed the three-month deadline? Sorry, you're not off the hook. No matter how long it's been, you need to take the time to thank your loved one for their gift. In these situations, Swann advises addressing the note's late arrival. Says the pro, "Say, 'I do apologize for the delay,' and then give whatever very brief reason on why."

This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.