During the chaotic, yet magical, time that is your wedding and honeymoon, it’s easy (and totally understandable) to want to relax after experiencing two big life events. But there are still a few important items left to tackle. Many couples forget about the important tasks that they still need to cross off their to-do lists after the wedding is over, from thanking your guests and vendors to finding creative ways to utilize your florals and favors.
To be sure you're not missing a step, read on for everything you need to cross off once you've said "I do." Consider this your ultimate after-the-wedding checklist.
Send Thank You Cards
The most obvious and important after-the-wedding task? Writing thank you cards. And when it comes to sending these out, the sooner the better. Brenda Cascio, founder and creative director, and Audrey Craig, president and CEO, of GB Design House and its subsidiary, Gracious Bridal, say it's best to aim to have this finished within 90 days after the wedding. “Your mother and mother-in-law will thank you,” says Cascio in regards to the 90-day window.
Craig suggests writing them on the plane to and from your honeymoon. The Wi-Fi-free zone will help you focus.
Consider Gifting Printed Wedding Photo Albums
Even in this digital age, people still cherish a printed photo album. After you get your professional wedding photos back, consider giving custom photo albums to your in-laws, family, and bridesmaids (sites like Shutterfly make it easy to design one). These albums double as mementos and gorgeous coffee table books. “It’s a great thing for them to remember the wedding by,” says Craig. “You can customize it so the in-laws’ book will look a lot different than the one for the bridesmaids.” Don’t forget to order one for yourselves too! You and your spouse will cherish the keepsake for years to come.
Ensure You’ve Paid and Tipped All Your Vendors
Double (and triple!) check that you’ve paid and tipped all of your hardworking vendors. Review the contracts just to be sure you didn’t forget anyone, and send payment immediately if you realize you still owe them. And when it comes to tips, it really is all up to you. There are some etiquette considerations to keep in mind, but ultimately, the choice is yours when it comes to vendor tip amounts.
Leave Vendor Reviews
If you were happy with your vendors, let the world know. The best way to accomplish that? Send a personal review to the vendor or post online reviews. Other couples will appreciate your real feedback, and your vendors will love the potential to grow their business.
“A testimonial from a happy couple goes a long way. Feel free to tag exceptional vendors on social media too. They love the love,” says John Tobey, owner of Denver-based John Tobey Event Design. Tobey also advises writing thank you cards to vendors that went over the top. They’ve earned the extra praise.
Freeze the Wedding Cake
Toasting to your one-year anniversary with a slice (or two) of wedding cake requires a bit of pre-planning. Ask your caterer to wrap up a piece or the top tier of your wedding cake, and have someone you trust transport the cake back to your home. Cascio advises covering the slice in saran wrap and then tin foil before you pop it in your freezer. And be sure it’s in a protected place. You wouldn’t want the cake to get crushed under anything in the freezer.
Have Your Wedding Dress Cleaned and Preserved
Your gorgeous gown deserves love after you’ve taken it off. If you plan on preserving your dress for years to come, have it cleaned as soon as possible. Stains will set the longer you wait. Even if you don’t think you'll pass down your wedding dress or veil, you’ll want to remember how fabulous you looked.
You can call your bridal dress shop to get recommendations for companies that clean and preserve gowns. Some shops may have discounts on the service that you can purchase when you get your wedding dress, says Cascio. Point out the stains when you mail in your dress so the company can be sure to remove all of them.
Repurpose Your Flowers
Don’t toss your flowers—recycle them instead. Besides encouraging your local guests to take home the excess blooms, you can also arrange to have your beautiful flowers dropped off at hospitals or nursing homes and coordinate the delivery with your florist. “You have so many leftover flowers after the wedding,” says Craig. “Bringing them to a nursing home or a hospital could really just brighten up their day.”
Reuse Leftover Wedding Favors
Ask your event planner to pick up any extra wedding favors—and then put them to good use. Consider giving them as gifts. Extra cups? Use them in your kitchen. Have any monogrammed towels? Use them in your guest bathroom. Cascio says that the key to reusing favors is to leave the wedding date off from the beginning to prevent literally dating each item.
Give Your In-Laws and Parents a Personalized Gift
If your in-laws or parents helped you out in a major way with your nuptials (maybe they hosted the rehearsal dinner or helped you pay for the wedding), show them that you appreciate their contribution with a personalized gift.
One of Casio and Craig’s favorite gifts? A wooden cheese board and serving tray that’s engraved with your wedding invitation. It’s a practical, personal, and downright beautiful way to say thanks to those who supported you along the way.
Finish Your Registry
Don’t forget to snatch up whatever is left on your wedding registry. Many retailers will even offer discounts on the remaining items. But don’t wait for this task. This offer is usually only good for about 30 days after your wedding, which will fly by. Now’s the time to purchase more expensive items and complete sets. After all, you don’t want one salad plate, three dinner plates, and a single cup and saucer. Close out your registry when you’re finished purchasing what you want.
Do a Social Media Review
You worked hard to come up with that clever wedding hashtag. Now, be sure to get good use out of it. “If the bride and groom created a fun, personalized wedding hashtag, the following day is the best time to check the relevant social platforms,” says John Creamer, event manager and wedding specialist at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix. “With Facebook and Instagram Stories ruling the content world, newlyweds will want to make sure they take time to view all the fun wedding footage posted before the 24-hour expiration time.” If there's anything you really love, ask the guest to send it to you so you can save it to your own highlight reel.
Properly Store Your China and Silver
If you received wedding china or silver, you’ll want to store it properly. China should be packed well in fabric boxes that zip up, suggests Cascio. “They’re invaluable to keeping such an investment safe,” she says. Cascio recommends not stacking plates too high (the bottom ones can crack under the weight) and placing a piece of felt between each plate. Silver should be stored in silver bags to prevent tarnishing. (Unless you want to be up all night before your next dinner party polishing everything.)
Change the Name on All Your Accounts
Perhaps the most boring, but oh-so-important task on the list is to change your name on all your accounts. No one says that one or either of you has to change their last name. But if one of you does choose to do so, make it a priority to complete the change across the board. “Do this immediately,” says Craig. “Life will happen, and you will forget.”
The list is long, but it’s good to start by updating the most important things first. This means your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, bank accounts, and social security card should be tackled first. Be sure to let HR know that you’ve changed your name so your company can update your insurance and tax information.