Congratulations on your marriage! You did it! You got through the wedding; hopefully the honeymoon was as amazing as you had hoped. Now, though, you're back and you're ready to dig in to life as a married couple. So… How do you do that?

It's okay to freak out a little bit. To use a terrible cliché, the actually being married part (while awesome) can often feel similar to the way you feel on the day after Christmas. You spend all of that time planning and then, in just a few hours everything is done—presents are opened, a big meal has had and now… what?

Think about this in terms of getting married. You spent months planning your ceremony and all of the surrounding details. You spent hours trying on dresses, settling on tuxes, interviewing photographers and officiants and caterers. You planned out every decoration, every wedding favor, everything. You spent days stuffing invitations into envelopes, mailing them out and tracking a guest list. You've received and opened presents. You had the big ceremony, the big party and then the big honeymoon.

It's natural to feel a little bit let down as you stand in your home, looking around and thinking "well… shoot. What am I supposed to be focusing on now?"

Things You Need to Do Post-Wedding

While the ceremony, reception and honeymoon are done, the first few days and weeks after you get married are just as jam packed as they were before your wedding. You still have a hefty to-do list of tasks that need to be taken care of.

The Dressy Clothes

If you rented tuxes make sure that they got returned properly. Hopefully you had someone return them to the shop the first business day after your wedding take place. If you waited to start your honeymoon, hopefully this was you. If you did leave for your honeymoon right away, you probably tasked this out to someone. Call the shop and make sure that it was done. Ask if you have any additional fees or charges that need to be paid. Make sure everything for your account is in good standing and taken care of.

While you can just put the wedding dress back on the hanger and put it in your closet, there are other ways to make sure that your dress is preserved. Most wedding dress designers and shops have a service for cleaning, pressing and preserving wedding dresses after the ceremony has taken place. Make an appointment to drop your dress off for these things. If your shop doesn't offer that service, ask them to recommend a service to you. Your wedding dress is now an important heirloom. It is important to preserve it properly! Maybe someday you will hand it down to a daughter or a granddaughter!

Saying Thank You

Some couples ask people to make donations to charity instead of giving gifts at the wedding. This is not yet that common though. You probably registered somewhere for gifts and you probably received things both on the list and off of the list. Be honest: there is a pile of presents sitting somewhere waiting to be put away, right?

Make sure that you send thank you cards for each of these gifts. Hopefully you kept track of who gave what to you as you opened your presents. Now is the time to sit down and write out those personalized thank you notes. You don't have to make them lengthy. If you do a few each night after work, you should be able to get through them pretty quickly! Make sure to mention the specific gift in the note. You might also include a short sentence or two about how you want to use it.

The point is that you should get the thank you notes out of the way now, before they become completely overwhelming.

Making Everything Legal

If you are changing your name to something else after getting married, it is time to get to work making that name change legal. The steps involved in this don't have to be that complicated. There are even tools that you can use to help yourself have an easier time getting through the process of changing your name online. The article about going through the actual name change procedure has more information on making sure that your name is legally changed and the tools that will be most helpful to you during the process.

Figuring Out the Money Stuff

Once you're married you have more options available to you on your taxes, with your banking, etc. It's time to make some decisions. Are you going to be married and filing jointly or separately? Are you joining bank accounts? How will you pay for things? What about retirement? The article about life as a couple talks more about the practical aspects (like money issues) of joining two lives together.

Setting Up House

Are you already living together or is one of you moving in with the other? Have you made plans to move soon after getting married? Make sure that everybody knows how to find you. File the change of address forms with your credit cards, banks, and utilities. Make sure you have your mail forwarded to you at your new place (if there is one). Make sure, if one person is moving into the other person's rented home that their name is added to the rental or leasing agreement. Start packing and prepping for the move if it is going to be happening soon! One great way to save time with this is to include your new address with your thank you notes. It's cheap and easy to buy some pre-made "I moved!" forms for just this purpose!

Take Care of Gift Returns and Exchanges

It is possible, particularly if you didn't register for gifts, that you got multiples of certain things. Toaster ovens, photo albums, picture frames, etc—it is common to get the exact same one of these things from more than one person or family. Decide which one you will keep and which ones will be taken back and exchanged—and for what you will be exchanging it. You might be lucky enough to get all of this done in a day or two if you focus on it.

The Fun Stuff!

Not all of the things you have to do after you get married are tedious and time consuming. Some are fun and time consuming!


You, hopefully, had photos taken at your wedding and reception. Even if you didn't hire a professional photographer, it is likely that plenty of guests in attendance went a little photo-happy. You are probably starting to receive prints or jpg files from them. If you hired a photographer you probably have a lot of different prints to go through. Sit down with your spouse and go through the photos. Figure out which ones you want to put into albums, which ones you want to have framed, etc. You might also think about having prints made of one of the pictures and send it out with your thank you notes. Going through the photos is fun because you get to see all of the moments you missed!


Did you have someone take video during your ceremony and reception? By the time you get back from your honeymoon, you will probably have received a copy of the video or DVD. Sit down with your new wife or husband and watch through it. Spend the evening reliving the moments that made you so happy!


Why not invite your close friends over for a post wedding get together? Sure you probably saw each of them at the ceremony and reception, but you had so much going on then it is unlikely that you got to spend more than a few minutes with each of them. Invite your closest friends and family over for a casual celebration that the wedding prep madness is finally over. You can even make it a potluck so that all you have to provide is the space to hang out!

The Feelings

It's okay to go through some rough feelings after you get married. Suddenly the reality of joining your life with someone else's sets in. It becomes about more than just flower arrangements, dresses and venues. Now comes the living up to your vows and being with another person (mostly) every day for the rest of your life.

It's common to experience some issues with your new spouse. You might have a few arguments about things that probably seemed silly before you got married but now feel like the end of the world. This is especially true of couples who didn't live together before getting married. Now you have to figure out how to live together full time! That's stressful!

It's also common to experience some routine hiccups—both during the day and at night (if you know what we mean).

You are going to probably spend some time feeling scared and freaking out over these emotional rushes. Try to take comfort in knowing that they will pass. If they seem to be dragging on, it might be good to go through some couples' counseling—just to get some outside advice on how to be happily married (instead of just happily engaged).

In the End

Eventually you will get through these early weeks. You will send out the thank you cards, get all of your hired helpers (photographers, caterers, etc) paid and set up your home. You'll figure out who is responsible for what. And then—before you know it—you'll feel married. You'll feel those feelings that everybody told you that you would feel automatically after you exchanged vows.

And now? Now that you've gotten here? Now the fun of being married can really get started!


  1. Brenda

    I'm getting married and want to change my name but my honeymoon is just right after the wedding. What do I do about my passport? Is there enough time to get it done before I leave? What do I do about everything else?

    1. Valera

      What do I do about my passport? Is there enough time to get it done before I leave?

      That depends on how soon you're going to depart after you get married. There'll be a short turnaround time to process your passport name change and have it sent back to you. If you're leaving soon, you'll want to make sure you have enough time to get this done, otherwise you're going to be stuck—literally.

      If you think you'll be cutting it too close, it may just be safer to wait until you return from your honeymoon to change your name. So, you'll just be traveling under your maiden name for the time being.

      One final thing to keep in mind, that when you travel it's important that the name on your passport matches your airline tickets. So whatever you decide to do (change your name now or wait until after) you'll want to make sure your tickets are squared away.

      Good luck and safe travels.

  2. Debb

    I need to know what to do about my life? I mean having post wedding depression is well known but Im actually having the worst one about everything and we need to get it all done as soon as possible and Im worried sick… Please answer my question

    1. Valera

      I mean having post wedding depression is well known but Im actually having the worst one about everything and we need to get it all done as soon as possible and Im worried sick… Please answer my question

      Hi Debb. What is your question and what are you trying to accomplish? Is there a particular task that's troubling you? We do have an article discussing post-marriage depression that may be of some value to you.

  3. Angie

    After the wedding when should your spouse get a name change, change insurance documents etc…?

    1. Valera

      Hi Angie. The process can begin once your spouse acquires a certified copy of the marriage certificate, which serves as proof of marriage.

  4. Julie

    No, people will not automatically send you copies of the pictures or video. You will have to pry it out of them.

  5. suzannah

    I got married then seperated for six months now we are back together ..how do i obtain my marriage cert and change my name

  6. Tini

    Just got married but do I wait until I receive the certificate before I make official legal changes to anything?

    1. Valera

      Hi Tini. Yes, your certificate (make sure it's certified) must accompany your forms when you go about completing your various name changes.

  7. Rachel

    Hi Valera,
    I got married a year ago and have already changed my surname to my husbands on my drivers license and ssn. I havent done this yet on my green card but was wondering whether I can just apply for citizenship right away instead of changing my surname on it? Do I have to change my surname on green card or can I just leave it like that for awhile? Thanks!

    1. Valera

      Hi Rachel. It's important for the name on your green card to match what's on your SSN. You can get in touch with USCIS about updating your record with them.

  8. Linda

    I signed the license with my last name hyphenated. DO I have to change everything to show the hyphenated name? I mean, if I have changed my mind about the legal name change, even though I signed the license that way, do I still have to change it legally?

    1. Valera

      if I have changed my mind about the legal name change, even though I signed the license that way, do I still have to change it legally?

      No, you are not legally required to change your name, regardless of what you signed or previously decided. If you've had a change of heart and no longer want to change your name, then do nothing and your current name will remain the same and unaffected.

  9. Brianne

    How does making the decision to have a hyphenated last name work? Do you know the pros and cons to it, and who you are to speak to?

    1. Valera

      Hi Brianne. Hyphenating a name, typically as a result of marriage, is just like any other name change after marriage. You don't have to discuss it with anyone. You just go forth and get it done. You can read more about hyphenating your name to get better insight into the pros and cons.

  10. Lisa

    Can I ask if I get married and call myself Mrs. ……… do I legally have to change it with banks, my passport which has 5 years left on it, am I able to continue as normal on paper with my maiden name?

    1. Valera

      Hi Lisa. You're not required to, but you'll have to deal with juggling both name universes, which could lead to some problems down the road. For instance, how do you cash checks and obtain airline tickets if the name on your ID doesn't match. If you haven't yet updated your ID, what happens when you do? It would have to be in your married name, which could cause a rift in the way you've been maintaining your documents.

  11. Maria

    Good morning, I got married almost a year ago but when we got married I didn't change my last name I stayed with mine, now I want to change to his. Is that still possible even thou our cert. says my last name originally? I hope someone can help me.

    1. Valera

      Hi Maria. You can still change your name, although there are a few states that make it tricky if you didn't specify your "change to" name when you got your marriage license. For example, California is this way.


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