14 To-Dos You Can't Forget to Complete After the Wedding
All those details you spent months agonizing over miraculously came together. You said your vows, had your party and somehow, here you are—married! But you're not in the clear yet—there are still a few things you have to wrap up. Attend to these final postwedding to-dos during the first few weeks (or even days) after your wedding, and you can enjoy the memories of your special day for decades to come.
1. Say Thank You
While most couples dread handwriting 150 personalized notes, the deed must be done. And sooner rather than later—for gifts received after the wedding, the rule is you're supposed to get thank-yous out within two months after you return from the honeymoon. (For gifts received before, it's within two weeks of their arrival.) Sure, that's nice in theory, but realistically, if you can get them all out by your two-month anniversary, both you and your guests will be happy. To make the task more manageable, we recommend dividing and conquering. If you each put aside 15 minutes a day (or every other day), you can probably bang them out at a rate of 10 a day and be done in the allotted two months. Open a bottle of wine, do it together, and soon you'll be back to using all your new gadgets and gifts rather than writing about them.
2. Change Your Name
Facebook status and Instagram handle changed: check. Now it's time for those other updates. To officially change your last name, you'll need your original (or certified) marriage license with the raised seal and on it. It should've been sent automatically, but if not, you can call the clerk's office to track it down. Then do the following:
- Change your social security card. Visit the Social Security Administration's website to fill out the application and see where to send it.
- Change your license. Head to the local DMV to get a new license with your new married name—bring every form of identification you can get your hands on, including your new Social Security card.
- Change your bank accounts. The fastest way to do this is to go into your local branch with your new driver's license and marriage license. In addition to changing the name attached to your accounts, you should also request new checks and debit and credit cards too.
- Change everything else! Once you've changed your social security card and driver's license, everything else should be a piece of cake. Some places may only require a phone call. Make a list (post office, employers/payroll, voter registration office, alumni associations and so on) and notify each organization one by one.
There is a shortcut though. You can make it easy on yourself and get the Hitchswitch Name Change kit. It's under $100 (so worth it) and requires filling out just one form—Hitchswitch autofills the rest with the information you've provided.
3. Create an Album
Most wedding photography packages don't include prints and albums, so after the wedding, you'll need to do the hard work of you want and deciding how you want to preserve them. Make this to-do a priority or two years will go by and you'll still be album-less. Choosing images takes six hours on average, so don't expect it to be a quick task. However, taking time to reflect with your fabulous photos is part of the payoff for all the planning you did. Start by sorting out the top 20 or 30 that jump out as favorites and weeding out the bad pics (like blinking guests). Then group everything else into categories like getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour and so on. Once you've decided what kind of album you want and how many pages it'll hold, lay out the pictures and keep arranging them until you create a smooth yet dynamic flow that tells a story of the day.
4. Sell Off Your Stuff
If you're less sentimental and looking to recoup some of the money you spent, consider selling your dress, accessories or décor for another bride to enjoy. There are plenty of online resources to help you out. Google "sell your wedding stuff" to find lots of resale and auction sites as well as tips for snagging the best price for your things. (We love Nearly Newlywed for fashion items!) Don't need the extra cash and feel like doing some good? Donation is another way to go. Bonus: You can also deduct some of your wedding costs from your taxes.
5. Keep Your Bouquet
There are two ways to hold on to your flowers for the long haul. The press and frame option simply flattens a few blooms so they can be displayed in a picture frame alongside photos or your invitation. The dome or shadow box option preserves your bouquet in its original shape and vacuum-seals it inside a glass container. Whichever method you prefer, your best bet is to hire a pro for a perfect, polished look. Choose from a local preservation company or a nationwide one and make a reservation about a month in advance. Then all you have to do is pack up your bouquet according to its guidelines, drop it off or ship it as soon after the wedding as possible (a day or two is best) and they'll do the rest. And if you do plan to save your bouquet, be sure to protect it at the reception. Ask the caterer to store it in the fridge or, at the very least, stick the stems in water.
6. Preserve Your Gown
A gown as gorgeous as yours deserves safe-keeping. Your first step (regardless of what you plan to do with it) is to have it professionally cleaned by someone who specializes in wedding gowns. Ask your seamstress or the store where you purchased your dress to recommend a cleaner as well as a skilled preservationist (FYI, they're often one and the same—Wedding Dress Preservation by The Knot does both, for example). While it's generally safe to wait as long as six weeks after the ceremony to have your dress preserved, it's best to get it cleaned a few days after the wedding—so if you're leaving for your honeymoon, have your mom or maid of honor bring it in and point out any stains to the cleaner. Until then, store it in a dark, dry place, rolled or folded in a clean white sheet. Before you hand over your one-and-only gown, ask about procedure and warranties and request an estimate, since prices for can vary based on the complexity of the gown's beadwork, train length and stain damage. After preservation, find a place to store the box where it's protected from extreme temperatures, moisture and exposure to direct sunlight.
7. Save the Cake
You don't have to let those yummy wedding cake memories end with the last bite. Instruct the catering staff to take off the top tier at the end of the night and box it for transport. Appoint a "cake captain" (one of your family members or close friends) to take it home and prepare it for preservation. Remove any sugar flowers or decorative adornments then chill the cake well before wrapping it up so the icing hardens and won't stick to the plastic wrap. Wrap the (unadorned) cake in several layers of plastic wrap (not aluminum foil, which may cause freezer burn). Seal the wrapped cake in an airtight bag, tie a ribbon around the package so you won't mistake it for anything else and place it in your freezer. Pro tip: Some cakes freeze better and longer than others. If you're hoping to focus on taste as well as nostalgia, consider placing an order for a fresh cake tier in the same flavor as your original cake to enjoy on your first anniversary.
8. Write Vendor Reviews
While it's still fresh in your mind, take the time to review the experts who worked hard to make your wedding come together. We're talking everyone from your planner, florist, venue and photographer down to your hairstylist and even the crafty designer who made your ring pillow. You know by now how important reviews are to the planning process, so take the time to offer newly engaged couples insight and reward all your fabulous vendors by leaving reviews that'll help them get more business.
9. Tackle Registry Returns
Stop trying to convince yourself that two blenders may actually come in handy—just bite the bullet and return registry items within two months of your wedding. While stores are likely to be lenient with couples who've registered with them, each store will have a different return policy, so research who will accept what, and for how long. And based on the store, you may also get discounts for any items you want to scoop up that still remain on your registry.
10. Merge Your Finances
You've likely had the "money talk" long before you said "I do," but now's the time to merge accounts if you choose to. If so, head to the bank to fill out the necessary paperwork and get new debit cards and checks made. (Spoiler alert: Combining finances is thought to increase marriage satisfaction.)
11. Have the Tax Talk
Time to check off a new (married) box on your tax forms. Now that you and your spouse are a legal unit, you need to decide whether you're going to file together or continue to file separately (joint filing isn't something mandated by law, though it's generally recommended). Before deciding, consult your accountant to see what they advise for the two of you. Do this ASAP!
12. Settle on an Insurance Plan
You'll also want to think about changing beneficiaries—most newlyweds switch their spouse to their beneficiary on work and life insurance docs. Contact your insurance company and HR department at work for these forms. In addition, think about whose health insurance plan you'll use by comparing cost and treatment options. If you're the one making the switch, make sure the doctors you like are on the new plan.
13. Give Everyone Your Updated Address (If Applicable)
If your marriage involved a move, it's perfectly fine to send a mass email or an e-card with your new address. Or go the traditional route: Buy moving announcements and slip them in with your thank-you note. Websites like TinyPrints.com have cute styles to choose from that you can customize, and they'll usually be ready within a few business days.
14. Plan Something New
Last but definitely not least—start planning something new to look forward to, like a romantic getaway or dinner party. It'll help ward off postwedding blues, and you'll get to put those organizational skills acquired over the past year to good use. Invite friends over for a happy hour to christen your new barware, throw an après-wedding name change bash or start researching ideas for a one-year anniversary vacation. Soon, you'll be counting down the days until the next milestone.