After months — or even years — of planning, your big day finally arrived: You got married! While it can be tempting to kick back and relax after spending so much time and energy planning your wedding, there are still things to handle after you say, “I do.”
From immediately after the ceremony and reception to a month after your wedding, this post-wedding checklist will help you take care of all the little “to do’s” that need to be done after the big day.
Immediately After Your Wedding
Your bags are packed, your tickets are booked, and you’re ready to dash off on your honeymoon. But first, there are a few things to take care of.
- Tip Your Vendors
Without your vendors — the caterer, the photographer, the florist, and so on — your wedding wouldn’t have been the same. One way to thank them for their service is by tipping them after the event.
But who do you tip, and how much should you tip? Read over the contracts you signed with each company to make sure a gratuity isn’t included in the fee you’re paying. Before the wedding, it might be worth adding a gratuity to the fee so that you don’t have to worry about it on the day of the ceremony and reception.
If you didn’t include a gratuity in the contract, here’s what you need to know.
- Who to Tip: You’ll want to tip anyone who isn’t an owner of the company that’s providing service during your wedding. If you hired a photographer who owns their business, you don’t have to tip them. But do tip any photography assistants who are there helping out. The same is true for DJs or bands you booked directly, as they’re receiving the full fee. If you used a booking agent for the band or DJ, you should tip the musicians.
- How Much to Tip: How much to tip depends on the person and the type of service they’re providing. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Hair/makeup stylists: 15% of the cost of service — just like at the salon.
- Wait staff/servers: Up to 20% of the total bill – give the tip to your point person and ask for it to be split among the servers. Keep in mind catering staff typically receive a higher hourly wage than servers in a restaurant.
- Bartenders: 10% of the bill.
- Photographer (non-owner): Up to $100.
- Photography assistant: Up to $75.
- Chauffeurs: 15% of the bill.
- Valets: $2 per vehicle, to be split evenly among all staff working at the valet station.
- Coat check/bathroom attendants: Up to $2 per coat or guest.
- Musicians/bands/DJs: Up to $50 per musician for the reception band — if booked through an agency, 15% of the fee for DJs or ceremony musicians.
- Who Not to Tip: Generally speaking, you don’t have to tip the florist, the baker, or your wedding planner. You can choose to do so if you’re very impressed with the service they provided.
Before your ceremony and reception, visit an ATM and take out the cash you’ll need for the tips. It’s a good idea to divide the cash beforehand and put the money in envelopes, individually labeled for each person you’re tipping. Ask a bridesmaid, groomsman, or parent to distribute the envelopes to the right people near the end of the event.
- Arrange for Clean Up
After the reception, it’s time to clean up. While the banquet facility or venue will usually handle the heavy lifting for you, there are instances when the newlywed couple is responsible for cleaning up. Or, there might be certain tasks you need to handle, such as packing up your wedding cake and having guests take home the centerpieces.
Here’s what to remember as you clean up after your wedding.
- The Wedding Gifts: While many guests send their gifts in advance of the wedding, some may bring along a present or card. Put someone from the wedding party or the wedding planner/coordinator in charge of corralling the gifts so that they make it back to your home safely.
- Your Personal Belongings: If you brought photos of you and your new spouse to display during the reception or if you had a personalized cake-cutting set, make sure you pack those up and take them home with you. Assign the task to a member of the wedding party or a trusted friend.
- The Food: The caterer will most likely not let you take home a ton of leftovers due to safety concerns. But they might pack up a box of leftovers for you and your new spouse to enjoy when the reception ends, since many couples don’t have a chance to really enjoy their wedding meal. Have someone be in charge of packing that up and also collecting any leftover beverages you pre-purchased or provided.
- The Cake: It’s a tradition that the newlyweds enjoy the top tier of their wedding cake on their one-year anniversary. Make sure you bring along a plastic container to take your cake home, or else check with the baker to see if they will provide a box. Ask a friend or family member to place the cake in your freezer or store it in their own temporarily, if you and your spouse are heading out on your honeymoon right after the reception.
- Trash/Recycling: Usually, the venue will handle trash disposal and recycling collection. In case it doesn’t, have a plan for the trash and a way to transport it to the landfill or a dumpster, if needed.
- Decorations/Entertainment Equipment: Usually, bands and DJs will handle breaking down and packing up their own equipment. The venue will also take care of any decorations it provided. But if you brought in any of your own decor or your own entertainment gear, you’ll likely be responsible for packing it up and moving it off-site.
- Items Left Behind by Guests: The odds are likely that someone is going to forget something at your wedding, whether it’s a purse, a wallet, or a phone. Before you leave the venue for the night and after the guests have gone, do one last sweep, gathering up any left-behind items. Let guests know about the items and where they can be picked up.
To make sure post-wedding cleanup goes as smoothly as possible, assign responsibilities in advance so that everyone knows exactly what they’re meant to be doing.
- Return Any Rentals
We’re going to guess that you don’t want to hang on to 30 glass vases or the linens from your reception. Depending on the pick-up policy of your vendors, you might have to temporarily store the items you rented for your wedding. Confirm in advance when and where the vendors will pick up their items or the deadline for someone in your wedding party to drop them off at the vendor’s store.
Common wedding rental items include:
- Vases used by the florist
- Table linens
- Tuxedos or suits
- Chairs and tables
- Check on Your Marriage License
If you’re getting married in Pennsylvania, the officiant of your wedding is the person responsible for mailing the Marriage Return — the bottom part of the license — within a certain timeframe after the ceremony. Check with your county’s Marriage License Bureau for details.
- Take Care of Business Before You Leave on Your Honeymoon
You might be ready to head straight for your honeymoon immediately after your wedding reception. But before you do, make sure you’ve taken care of the following.
- Put Your Mail on Hold: The U.S. Postal Service will hold your mail while you’re away so that it doesn’t pile up in your mailbox, a clear sign to others that your house or apartment is empty. You can schedule the hold up to one day before you leave.
- Set Up an Away Message for Email: You don’t have to tell people you’re away on a honeymoon, but you do want to let them know that you might be slower to respond to messages than usual. This is especially important at work.
- Make Sure Your Passports Are Ready: Several months before your honeymoon, make sure your passports are up to date if you’re planning to travel to another country. A few days before, put your passports in an easy-to-find area where you won’t forget them.
- Check In With Your House Sitter/Pet Sitter: If anyone is taking care of your pets or plants while you’re gone, touch base with them before you leave to make sure everyone is on the same page.
One Week After Your Wedding
You’re back from your honeymoon. The wedding was a week ago — or maybe a bit longer — and there’s still so much to do. Here’s what to tackle within the first week or right after you return from your trip.
- Get a Copy of Your Marriage Certificate: In PA, you can write to the county where you got married and ask for a copy of the record; many counties allow you to order them online for pickup or delivery. You’ll need to pay a fee for your copy. The county clerk’s office might also automatically send you a registered copy of the certificate. This document can be used for proof of a name change, so you may want to consider ordering a few extra copies if either spouse is planning to change their name.
- Change Your Address: If you moved after your wedding, file a change of address and ask the post office to forward your mail. You’ll also want to notify your employer, any subscription services you use, and any financial institutions about your new address.
- Start Setting Up Your Home: If you and your spouse weren’t already living together before you tied the knot, now’s the time to start unpacking and putting your new home in order.
- Send Thank You Cards: Sending thank you cards are a must after your wedding, even if the guest didn’t send a gift. When writing your cards, be sure to mention the gift people gave and how you’ll use it. Also, thank them for coming to your wedding and celebrating with you.
- Open Your Gifts: Depending on how timely your wedding guests were with gift-giving, you might still have a few packages waiting for you after your wedding. Open your gifts and make a note of who sent what.
- Clean Your Dress: Whether you plan on keeping your dress or selling it, take it to a drycleaner that specializes in cleaning wedding gowns. If you’re keeping the dress, also talk to the cleaner about preserving it and how to store it to minimize damage.
Two Weeks After Your Wedding
It’s been a couple of weeks since you got married, and you’re starting to settle into married life; however, there are still a few wedding-related things you’ll need to take care of during this time.
- Return or Exchange Gifts: Even if people used your wedding registry to purchase gifts, you might end up with a few you don’t want or realize you won’t use or need. In some cases, you might end up with duplicates. Gather any gifts you don’t want and their gift receipts, and return them to the store.
- Return Wedding Stuff You Didn’t Use: Speaking of returns, now’s a great time to send back any items you bought for the wedding but didn’t end up using or needing, such as craft supplies for DIY decorations or tableware. If the items have been opened, you’ve lost the receipts, or it’s past the return window, you can try selling or donating them.
- Purchase Gifts You Didn’t Get — but Wanted: If there were gifts that you needed but didn’t receive, use some of your wedding money, if people gave you cash, or some of the refund money to buy them. Some registries will offer you a discount to purchase items you didn’t receive after the event ends.
- Clear Leftover Wedding Decor Out of Your Home: You might have somehow ended up taking home half of the centerpieces from the reception, or maybe you’re left with a few big banners or other decorations from your wedding. While it’s OK to keep a few pieces of wedding decor, you probably want to donate, sell, or discard most of it.
- Take Down Your Registry and Wedding Website: There’s no need to pay for a wedding website after the wedding, unless you post pictures to it. Even if the website is free, the event has passed, so there’s no need to keep the site up.
- Update Your Social Media/Email Accounts: Let the world know you’re married! If you’re changing your name, update your social media profiles and email accounts. Even if not, you can still update your “status” to married. We’ll go into more details about legally changing your name below.
Changing Your Name After the Wedding
Changing your name on social media and email is easy. For other things, you’ll need to gather some paperwork and follow a step-by-step process.
- Get Your Marriage Certificate: You’ll need a copy of it to prove you’re married.
- Contact the Social Security Administration: The next step is to change your name on your Social Security card. You can fill out an application for a name change and take it along with the appropriate documentation to your local Social Security office.
- Change Your Name on Your Driver’s License: This is most likely going to require a trip to your local DMV if you live in PA. Bring along your new Social Security card, your current driver’s license, and your marriage certificate. In PA, you’ll also need form DL-80.
- Change Your Name With Your Financial Institution: At PSECU, you can change the name on your account by filling out this form and either faxing it or mailing it to our office. This is also a good time to add your spouse to your bank account if you’re combining finances.
- Change Your Name on Your Passport: Changing your name on your passport essentially means getting a new passport. You’ll need to send in the appropriate form, a copy of your marriage certificate, a new passport photo, and your passport. If you got your passport less than a year ago, the update is free. If you’ve had the passport for longer than a year, you’ll have to pay a correction fee.
- Change Your Name Elsewhere: Don’t forget to change your name with your employer and on any insurance policies you have. Since the procedure can vary from institution to institution, check with each company to find out what you need to do.
Three Weeks After Your Wedding
You’ve been married for three weeks — congratulations! Now it’s time to focus on the logistics of your life together. If the two of you haven’t sat down to discuss your financial future, now is the time to do it!
Budgeting and Finances
Ideally, you should have covered the basics of your finances with your spouse before you got married, such as how much debt you each have, if any, and your spending and saving preferences.
Now that you’re married, it’s time to create a budget for your new life together, if you haven’t already. Examine your joint expenses, your individual expenses, and your combined income. Decide how much you’ll save as a couple each month, how you’ll split costs, and how you’ll handle individual spending.
For example, you can decide to give yourselves an “allowance” each month. Each of you gets a certain amount to spend however you want, with no commentary from the other spouse. To make it easier to track your spending, get just enough cash to cover that month’s allowance by withdrawing from an ATM or asking for cash back at a grocery store.
You’ll also likely want to open or adjust your insurance policies after you get married. For example, you and your spouse might decide to get a life insurance policy that names the other person as the beneficiary just in case something should happen.
Another thing to consider is your health insurance. Marriage counts as a qualifying life event, so you can enroll in a new plan even if it’s outside the open enrollment period. It might end up being less expensive for you and your new spouse to be on a plan together through one of your employers or for you to purchase a plan together on the open market.
After your wedding, you’ll also want to update your will, or create one if you haven’t already, so that your final wishes include your spouse. You might also consider creating a last will together.
One Month or More After Your Wedding
View Your Wedding Video and Order Photo Albums
Two to three months after the wedding, your photos and wedding video might be ready to view. If so, review the pictures with the photographer or online, and choose the ones you’d like to have printed. Your videographer might schedule a time for you to view the wedding video to make sure it meets your expectations.
It’s a good idea to check in with the photographer and videographer after the wedding to get an idea of their timeline. Depending on how busy they are, it might be a few months after your marriage before the prints or final video is ready. But if you need just one or two photos quickly, perhaps for thank you cards, they may be able to get you those sooner.
Review Your Vendors
This last “to do” item is completely optional. But if you were very impressed — or the opposite — with the service you received from various vendors, it can be worthwhile to write a review of your experience and share it online. Writing a positive review of a business is another way you can say “thanks” to them for doing a great job.
Now that you’re ready to start your new life together, you might want to merge your finances, or at least a portion of them. You may want to consider opening a new account for this purpose. At PSECU, we believe your money should stay where it belongs – with you. That’s why we offer free checking, surcharge-free ATMs, and cash rewards credit cards. It’s easy to become a member. Once a member, you can add a spouse to your account and change your name by downloading, completing, and returning the appropriate form.
For more money-saving tips, visit our WalletWorks page.