You’ve spent the last year or so planning for the big day, and it has finally come and gone. So what do you do once it’s all over? Couples just starting their new married life want to make sure they are setting out on the right foot. There are some important items to take care of immediately after the big day, and a few other “to-do’s” that will need to be dealt with as well. Not all couples leave for their honeymoon right away, while others can’t wait to hop on a plane and get far, far away. Depending on your timeframe, you may be able to get some of the post-wedding necessities taken care of before your honeymoon, otherwise you will want to start the list as soon as you return home.

The morning after the wedding you will probably be exhausted from all of the festivities from the night before. There are two traditional “day after” activities that you will need to decide on whether or not you would want to host. Some couples will choose to host both events, while others may not want either. The day after breakfast, or brunch, is a great way to spend a bit more time with your guests, especially if they have come in from out of town. Having brunch, or breakfast, with out of town guests can be a great time to thank them for traveling. Some couples will only have immediate family and bridal party as their breakfast/brunch guests, as hosting a large group of people multiple days in a row can be tiring. The other “day after” activity is the gift opening. Some couples will choose to wait until they get home to start opening gifts, while others will gather any guest still in town to check out all the goodies. If you decide to host a gift opening, be sure to assign someone, such as your personal attendant, to make a list of which guest gave which gift. This will be a life saver when writing thank you notes later. If you decide to open gifts later, try writing thank you notes as you open each gift, or simply keep your own list to use once you are all done.

Thank you cards are an extremely important task to complete once the wedding is over. Guests will expect a thank you card for any gift, and may be very offended if they do not receive one. Remember to also send thank you cards to anyone who provided any type of assistance with the planning, or the day-of tasks. You don’t need to try to write every card in one sitting, especially if you had a large guest list. Try splitting up the task by writing 10 per night, and be sure both of you work on these. If your groom is hesitant to help, have him simply write the thank you cards to his immediate family, and then at least sign all the other cards. Be sure to have all the cards sent out no later than two months after the wedding.

Before you get too stressed out over getting all of the thank you cards completed, you will first want to take care of other time sensitive matters. Having your dress professionally cleaned, and boxed up for storage, is very important if you are planning on keeping your dress. Do not try to do this yourself! Hire a professional so that you do not ruin your dress. If you plan on selling your dress, it is still recommended to have it professionally cleaned before selling.

You will also need to decide if you are keeping or getting rid of your flowers. Most brides will preserve their bouquet, and possibly the groom’s boutonniere. Center piece, bridesmaid, groomsmen, and other decorative flower set ups, are usually thrown away. If this sounds like a waste to you, consider faux-flowers. Most companies that work with faux-flowers will allow you to purchase your bridal bouquet to keep, but have you rent any other needed flowers. This allows your flowers to be easily kept without any preservation, as faux-flowers do not wilt!

The last item to deal with directly after the wedding, is saving the top layer of your cake. It is a popular tradition to save the top layer to enjoy on your one year anniversary. If you decide to do this, be sure to follow these steps to ensure it is properly saved. Chill the cake in the fridge for a few hours before freezing, as this will help keep the icing from sticking to plastic wrap. Once chilled, wrap in three layers of plastic wrap, and then one layer of foil. Place this in a sealed, air-tight Tupperware container, and freeze! This will ensure your cake is edible after a year of being in the freezer. On your one year anniversary, check out instructions online for defrosting the cake, as you want to also make sure that is done correctly.

Once all of these details are taken care of, it’s time to change your name! If you are keeping your maiden name, then you are all done, and can relax. However, if you are changing, or hyphenating your last name, there are several places you will need to make sure to contact. You will need to have your Social Security card, your bank account information, driver’s license, passport, tax forms, all insurance coverages, utility bills, etc. all changed over to your new name. Don’t forget your Neflix and social media accounts! The list of places to change your name can be rather daunting. If you decide this will be too overwhelming and you need assistance with all the changes, there are services available to help. Various companies, such as Hitchswitch or MissNowMrs, will not only provide you with a checklist of all the necessary places to change your name, but they will also assist with making the changes.

When the gifts are open, thank you cards are sent, your dress is clean and store, your flowers are preserved, your cake is frozen, and your name is changed, it’s finally time to relax! It may seem like a long and stressful list of items to accomplish, but just remember, you now have someone spending the rest of their life with you to lend a hand. So take a deep breath, make a list, and you will be able to conquer all the tasks ahead of you. Thanks for reading, and congratulations!