I've mentioned before that when my husband and I got married, I had only been to one wedding when I was sixteen. I had no idea what was supposed to happen at weddings! My family was really helpful, but honestly, it had been an awfully long time since my parents got hitched, so they weren't dishing out that much advice for the post-wedding tasks. While our wedding went off without any problems (thank goodness I had event-planning experience!), we totally failed at making a plan for getting from our reception to our bed and breakfast! So first things first, couples, remember to get yourself home from your wedding reception!
When you wake up the next morning or get back from your honeymoon a few weeks later, here's important post-wedding tasks to take care of when you're not daydreaming and fondly remembering your big day.
Freeze your wedding cake
Most people like to freeze the top tier of their wedding cake, if they had a traditional wedding cake. Your bakery should be able to provide a box for you to hide it away in the back of the freezer safely. You might consider putting the box in a plastic freezer or wrapping it in plastic wrap to protect it from moisture.
Send thank you notes
While your big day is fresh in your mind, send thank you notes for your wedding gifts. Hopefully you've kept track of which gift came from which guest, so you can easily thank each person or couple for their generosity. Try to remember this formula: your greeting, a message of thanks, how you'll use the gift, when you might see each other again, reiteration of thanks, your goodbye. If you find a large stack of thank you cards too daunting, break it into more manageable chunks or give yourself little rewards. Tell yourself, if I write ten thank you notes, then I can have a glass of wine or bar or chocolate. But perhaps don't continue the thank you notes after too many glasses of wine!
Clean and store your gown
After your wedding, you'll want to get your gown cleaned and stored to preserve it for years to come. It's a bit of an expensive investment, but it will be worth it when you see your daughter try it on thirty years from now! When you decide how to store your dress after it's cleaned, keep in mind whether you think you'll want to try it on again anytime soon. I had my dress cleaned by a professional who specializes in haute couture dresses. The gown is now sealed in a box on a half bust, which makes it hard for trying on later!
Write down your wedding day memories
One of the things I wish I had done after my wedding was to write down all the special memories I had from the day. Even if you have a thorough videographer, you won't be able to remember every moment or feeling from the day unless you write them down. Sit down with a cup of coffee and a treat, and remember the whole day from start to finish, jotting down memories as you go. How did you feel when your parents first saw you in your dress? Were there any funny moments with your bridesmaids? Did your husband shed a tear when he saw you coming down the aisle? Take it from someone who's been married long enough for those tiny memories to fade just a little - write them down and you'll remember them longer!
Change your name
You'll likely still be changing your name on things you didn't realize needed name changes for at least a year, but start with this core set of changes. Your driver's license, passport, bank and credit cards, social security card and health insurance card will all need changing and each of those changes can take time. Before you can change anything, you'll need your original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate. Start with your social security card and try to bring as much identity documentation with you to each place.
Return gifts and purchase from your registry
We've all done it. You let returns stack up in a drawer and when you finally get around to returning them you've waited too long and you only get the sale price in value. Such a bummer! Avoid the disappointment by returning any unwanted wedding gifts within thirty days. While you're at it, purchase gifts from your registry you may not have received but would still like to have. This is especially important for sets of glasses, dishes and cutlery.
Order your wedding album
Once your photographs come back from your photographer, which might take a few weeks to a few months, finalize your wedding album order. Make a date with your husband to decide which photos you want to include, and also choose photos to have printed for your home and for family and friends.
Review your vendors
One of the biggest thank you's your vendors can receive is a testimonial or good review from couples who have used their services. Take a morning and send your vendors reviews or post them online on local wedding directories. If you had a bad experience, try to take it up with your vendor directly before posting something online. A bad review is hard to erase from the internet, so make sure you know the full story before you press publish.
Take down your wedding website
Once your wedding is over, as sad as it may be, it's time to take down your wedding website. Once you're married you really don't need anyone who Googles you to find your mushy love story for months or years after your wedding. Take screen shots of each page to add to a wedding scrapbook, and then rip off that bandaid.
Repurpose or ditch your wedding decor
Do you have thirty turquoise frames that you used for table numbers now taking up space in your closet? Six old suitcases and a vintage typewriter living in your garage? Decide what to keep and what to throw now, not ten years from now. With a little paint, you can repurpose those frames into a great gallery wall for your living room. And if you can't think of a creative way to reuse those suitcases in your home decor, take them to goodwill or put them up on Craigslist for another couple to use for their wedding decor! But pretty please, don't let them gather dust for ten years before clearing them out. You'll be happier with the space and a fresh start now.
There you go, the surprising and ultra important tasks you should check off after your wedding day. Any you'd add, recently wed readers?
Emily Westbrooks is an American-born writer and blogger based in Dublin, Ireland. She is the Online Editor for Confetti Magazine, one of Ireland's top bridal magazines. She also writes her own lifestyle blog, From China Village, where she chronicles her adventures in Dublin, travels around Europe, DIY projects and Irish design. She shares her home with her husband, one cat, and four sassy chickens!