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!
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!