In the first few weeks after all the wedding festivities wind down, your big day is still probably all you'll be able to think about. You'll want to ride that post-wedding high for as long as possible, but then, before you know it, you've been married for six months... and there's still a pile of unused wedding favors sitting on your kitchen table. Here are 10 things you're going to want to take care of before your first anniversary rolls around.
1. Send out thank you notes. Your friends and family traveled from near and far to be with you on your special day, and they probably got you nice gifts as well. So don't wait too long to complete this oh-so-important task; we suggest you and your partner block out some time on your calendars to take care of it as soon as your honeymoon is over. Avoiding it because you don't know what to say? Here are some tips for what to write in your thank you notes!
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2. Have your wedding dress cleaned and/or preserved. If you're planning on keeping your wedding dress for posterity, you should have your dress professionally cleaned as soon as possible. Even if you don't think your future daughters will wear your dress some day, it's a good idea to get it cleaned soon rather than later to deal with any stains and smells. When you pull it out of your closet in the future, you want to remember how pretty you felt in it, not those 5-year-old champagne and sweat stains.
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3. Order your wedding album. After you've posted the digital images of your big day on Facebook, you might forget to create an album IRL. But at some point, you'll probably want the actual photos, so schedule a weekend date with your new spouse to choose your favorites and order your album. This is an especially important thing to cross off your to-do list early on if your album was part of your photography package — you don't want to forget about something you already paid for!
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4. Review your vendors. Your wedding vendors worked tirelessly to make your day feel so magical and special, so return the favor by posting a great review on Yelp and wedding boards. It's a great way to express your gratitude and help your vendors grow their business. And don't just do it for them — do it so other couples can discover your amazing makeup artist or fabulous florist. It's just good karma!
5. Return or exchange any unwanted wedding gifts. Even if you take the time to put together a registry, duplicate purchases and off-registry gifts will still happen. You'll want to take those not-exactly-your-style gifts back to the store as soon as possible and choose something that's a better fit; if you wait too long, you may not be able to do so.
6. Purchase any gifts you didn't receive (and still want). This step is especially important if there's anything you didn't get that comes as part of a set. You may have only received five of the eight place settings you wanted or two out of the four towels on your registry. Put those gift cards to good use, and complete these sets while the items are still in stock. And remember, even though most stores offer couples discounts on items that remain on their registry after the big day, the offer is often only good for 30 to 60 days after your wedding.
7. Take down your wedding website and registry. If you're paying to host your wedding website, you'll definitely want to take it down after the big day to cut costs. But also consider that both your registry and your wedding website may show up in Google results when people search for your name; remove both from the Web if you don't want others to see them. You should probably leave the registry up for a few extra months in case some of your guests still want to give you something (common etiquette says they have up to a year to send their gifts), but if that seems unlikely, go ahead and remove it earlier.
8. Return any items you bought for the wedding and didn't use. The supplies for the photo booth backdrop that you never got around to making; the glitter frames you were planning to use for your table numbers until you decided to do wine bottle table numbers instead; the cute striped straws that you forgot to bring to the catering staff. Whatever it is, you're probably going to have some unused and unopened items after your wedding, so make time to return them (and recoup some of your wedding expenses in a tiny, tiny way). Can't return them? Consider donating them or passing them on to your newly engaged friend!
9. Do something with all your wedding décor. There are a lot of little things that come together to make your big day look possible, but after you tie the knot, what are you supposed to do with them? If you find that 15 glitter-covered Mason jars and 25 vintage suitcases are making themselves comfortable in your guest bedroom, do yourself a favor and find them a new home. You could sell the items to other couples planning a wedding (try eBay, Craigslist, or just post a note about the items you want to unload on Facebook), put together a garage sale, find a way to work them into your home (or holiday!) décor, donate them or, at the very least, toss them. You'll feel relieved once you've de-cluttered!
10. Legally change your name. If you're planning to, that is! Changing your name on Facebook and Twitter is the easy part, but you also need to make time to do it legally. Take an hour to collect the necessary documents (like your passport, social security card, and driver's license, to name a few) and start to check items off your list. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that you'll create more headaches for yourself (especially when it comes to taxes and travel) or you might even end up misplacing your marriage license. (Not that we've ever done that...) Commit to your name change early to make your transition into married life much easier.
Have you been putting any of these tasks off post-wedding? What do you wish you'd taken care of sooner?
—Rachel W. Miller
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