The period before a wedding can seem like one of the most exciting, but also the most stressful times of your life. There is so much to think about and organize before the big day. Then, once the ceremony has concluded without a hitch, you can relax at your reception and toast the days ahead. But, what happens when the honeymoon is over and you truly start your new life as a married couple? There is still a lot to think about and organize. So, it helps to have a post-wedding checklist in mind.
The post-wedding checklist includes the following:
- Legally changing your name and informing all the right people
- Figuring out the financial implications of your marital status
- Dealing with the companies and loose ends after the wedding
- Thanking and spending time with guests and family
- Spending quality time together as a married couple.
Step 1 – Official Last Name Change
Did the officiant at the wedding pronounce you with your married name? Have you ever considered what your married name is yet? There are options here. You can stick with your birth name. This may be important to some women because of family history or if they have made a career with name recognition. Others can’t wait to legally take the name of their husband.
There are still expectations and conventions with a woman’s married name. Yet equal rights and gay marriage have opened the doors to other options. What if the man wants to marry into the woman’s family? Many blend family names as a union between the two. Whatever the choice here, you need to make it legal. Following the legal steps is important, your name alone on the marriage certificate is not enough. For Social Security, you need to use Form SS-5.
It is best to use your original marriage certificate in order to apply for your new Social Security Card. Don’t use a photocopy because they may not accept it. The main details of your Social Security Card remain the same but need to have your legal name next to them. The new card is then proof of your change of name, and you can use it to deal with other important agencies.
Both the DMV and Passport Office should accept your new name on this card. Your new driver’s license then allows you to update your main forms of identification. These new, legal forms of ID are then valid for use in other agencies.
Once you are officially recognized with your new name, you need to let all the important agencies and companies know. You need to inform your bank to change the name on any cards, so payments aren’t disrupted. You also need to handle voter registration to retain the right to vote, your utility companies to handle your bills and your employers.
Step 2 – Updating Financial Records
There are plenty of financial considerations, so it is best to get them out of the way early on.
With everyone informed of your new name and marital status, you can look at some of the important financial decisions. This can be a little daunting, but it is best to sort them all out early on. This way there is no confusion or risk of penalties.
A) Talk to your bank
Do you want to keep separate bank accounts or set up a joint account as a married couple? The answer will depend on your income, outgoing money, and any joint purchases. Some women like the security and independence of their own account for their own salary. Others find it easier to switch to a joint account for bills and mortgage payments.
B) How To File Your Income Taxes
Again, there are different options here depending on the choices and believes of couples. Some married couples prefer to file jointly once married. This means a fair amount of paperwork to handle but can allow for some helpful tax breaks in the long run. The sooner you sort this, the easier it will be.
C) Prepare A Will And Consider Life Insurance
There are lots of decisions to discuss as a couple and potential changes that some may prefer to avoid. Life insurance is one such issue. It makes sense to take out a policy after marriage to protect spouses in worst case scenarios. On that note, it may also be a good idea to consider a will or last testament. This means that you can be sure that everything goes to your spouse. It can seem a little bleak to put all this in writing so soon after the wedding. Yet, it does offer peace of mind.
Step 3 – Tie Up Loose Ends
There are some fun things that you can do among all errands.
So far, the work all sounds as though it is getting a little heavy and morbid. But, this is what people really mean about the honeymoon being over. This is part of the harsh reality of marriage and beginning a new life together. Thankfully, once you get all these important, legal matters out of the way, there are more fun things that you can do.
A) Taking care of the dress
All of the clothes at the wedding party will need some attention. You will need to clean and return any rented or borrowed outfits, such as bridesmaid and flower girl dresses. Then there is the dilemma of the dress. Many women choose to keep it as a memento or to pass onto offspring. This means that it requires careful cleaning and preservation to keep it in the best condition. Take it to a professional to get rid of any spots of champagne and seal it up. Alternatively, you might consider giving it away to a charity or store to help other women find a more affordable dress.
Source: www.marthastewartweddings.com, Wedding Dress Preservation
B) Thank you notes and letters to those that donated money or gave presents at the wedding
If you wait a little while to do this, you can make it a little more personal. Instead of just a basic thank you card, add a photo of the two of you using the present at home or enjoying any money given for the honeymoon. This is a great way to really show appreciation and include people post-wedding.
C) Returning gifts from those that didn’t follow the plan
Of course, for every thoughtful, considerate gift given by a family member, there is always someone that didn’t get the message. This is why so many couples now turn to a registry for gifts. But, there is still sure to be that stubborn aunt that wants to do things their way. There may also be times when guests end up giving the same thing. Just how many toasters and coffee machines do a newly married couple need? Plan a trip to go around exchanging these items for something different. This is a fun bit of post-wedding shopping.
D) Check in with the companies that you hired
Call around to business and rentals to make sure that they received their fees while you were away on honeymoon. This is especially important if this job was the responsibility of a member of the wedding party. They may have since forgotten in the post-wedding hangover. Make sure to settle everything with photographers, bands, and the venues. This also means checking that your guests didn’t cause any damage or upset while you weren’t looking.
E) Leave reviews for the businesses that helped with your special day
Once you have cleared everything with these businesses, you can then leave a review on their website or social media. If a venue gave 5-star service to meet your needs for the ceremony, let other couples know. If a photographer created a perfect shot of the two of you, share the image online and give them the credit. This is a simple goodwill gesture that shows your appreciation.
Step 4 – Spend Time With Family And Friends
A) Create your wedding album
On the subject of the photos, you are sure to return home from honeymoon to find lots of photos to look through. There should be the ones from the official photographer, but family members are sure to have sent prints and files too. Spend some time going through them and reliving the day. Decide which ones you want to put in the wedding album, and which you might want to frame. Don’t overlook the potential of a family shot. Someone may have a caught a beautiful, natural moment without you realizing. Show your photos to family and friends.
B) Throw a post-wedding party
Why not throw a little post-honeymoon party at your home to tell everyone about the trip, catch up, and show those photos. Weddings can be pretty chaotic and over in an instant. Try as you might, you may not get quality time with everyone at the reception. These parties are a great way to celebrate married life in a more comfortable setting.
Step 5 – The Honeymoon Is Over Now What?
Enjoy your time as a married couple and be realistic about it all, because the relationship may not be perfect all the time. There will be an adjustment period.
This is something that some guides won’t mention. They are good to talk about all the important changes or all the fun things to do but don’t mention you developing your married relationship. You are likely to go through a bit of a rough patch not long after the wedding. The highs of the ceremony and honeymoon have gone. Now you have the reality of “till death us do part” with the spouse sharing your home. You may blow little moments and disputes out of proportion. Doubts may even begin to set in. But, you can help to avoid that with the following.
A) Keep communicating with your spouse
This is essential. Let them know when you have a problem with something or feel overwhelmed by any changes. If they are rushing you into changing your name, tell them you need to step back. Or, if they are too indifferent about some choices, discuss their importance and why you want your partner’s input. Don’t bottle up feelings. Instead, work through them together.
B) Make time for date nights
Just because you are a married couple now, that doesn’t mean you can’t go off and have fun. Yes, there are lots of responsibilities and big joint decisions, but there has to be a balance for the sake of your relationship. Act like an adult on the weekdays and check off this post-wedding checklist. Then plan a couples date night on the weekends when your time is your own. Go to a make-out spot, go to the movies, go somewhere you went when you first met. Remember why you fell in love with them and married them.
C) Plan your next big adventure
The old cliché is that your wedding day is the happiest of your life. This seems like a pretty defeatist attitude when you have so many years ahead of you. There is always the chance of another big adventure or moment around the corner. Perhaps you are renting a property and want to finally own your dream house. Perhaps there is a big trip you want to save for now you have paid for the wedding. Perhaps you are both eager to start a family. Whatever it is, talk about it, dream about it, and work together to make it happen.
There is a lot to consider when starting out a new life as a married couple.
At first, it can all seem a little overwhelming. The legal and financial implications probably won’t hit home until you get the forms and paperwork. That is when the reality of marriage sets in. It is natural to feel a little stressed and down in this period.
The high of the wedding and honeymoon is over and any bumps in the road can become overblown. But, communication and quality time can help ease the burden. For every stressful, important decision there is something fun to do.
Keep this post-wedding checklist as your guide. Remember after signing your new legal name on government documents, write it at the bottom of those thank your cards. After figuring out financial implications, spend some wedding money, or exchange those gifts. Even after fighting about something small or negative in your marital home, think about the big positive changes. The post-wedding period is as important as the pre-wedding period. Make the most of it and set yourself up for plenty of good times ahead!