Odds are you just worked your way through a long wedding checklist, so the last thing you want to do is take on a ton of work. But believe it or not, there's still a lot to do after you've put a ring on it. So now that you've walked down the aisle, said your vows, and torn up the dance floor—what's next?
To narrow your post-wedding checklist down to the bare essentials, we asked wedding industry insiders to weigh in on which to-dos are absolutely necessary. We tapped pros Ivy Jacobson, the digital editor for The Knot, and Jess Levin, the founder and CEO of Carats & Cake, to share their insider tips—and they did not disappoint. Trust us when we say this list will help make newlywed life so much easier.
So what exactly do you need to cross off your to-do list after saying I do? Ahead, wedding industry insiders share the post-wedding checklist tasks no newlywed couple should skip.
Pay Your Vendors in Full
Typically, every business you work with will require payment in full on the day of your wedding or within 24 hours after. Levin suggests newlyweds check in with their vendors to ensure everyone has received proper payment, especially if your contracts included overages.
"You might have paid your photographer for eight hours, but let's say your after-party goes over, and in your contract, they said that they'll stay for two extra hours if you ask them to," explains Levin. "Make sure you follow up with everybody to know what you owe so you can take care of that."
Review Your Vendors
If you loved working with the people who helped make your big day possible, go beyond tipping as a way of showing your appreciation for their hard work. "Take the time to review your amazing vendors while your wedding is still fresh in your [mind] as a thank-you for a job well done," advises Jacobson. "You'll also pay it forward with other couples looking for insight into these vendors too," she explains.
Take Inventory of Your Gifts
Tackle that pile of gifts sooner rather than later. Even though you only registered for one toaster, you might end up with two, so you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to make any necessary returns or exchanges. If you realize you didn't get everything you wanted from your registry, don't worry.
"Lots of registry retailers offer discounts to couples for unpurchased items on (and off) their registries after the wedding for a certain amount of time," explains Jacobson. "So if you received gift cards for a store or nobody bought you that vacuum you really wanted, now's a great time to buy what you want at a lower price."
Send Thank-You Notes
While you're taking inventory of your gifts, be sure to keep detailed notes about who gave you what to make writing your thank-you notes really easy. In addition to thanking people for gifts, be sure to thank everyone who made your big day possible. And, yes, you should send everyone a thank-you note—even if they did not give you a gift.
Preserve Your Wedding Dress
"Since you loved [your dress] when you bought it and felt beautiful in it all night, it'll break your heart once you find it yellowed in the closet down the road (yes, wedding dresses can get discolored even if they're stored in garment bags)," says Jacobson.
But how do you know who you can trust with this important job? Jacobson recommends finding a preservation specialist, rather than a dry cleaner, who's up to the task. In addition to asking about the cleaning methods, be sure to read the fine print on any agreement.
"Ask your gown preservationist whether you must sign a release or disclaimer that states the company isn't responsible for any damage done to the gown during the cleaning process," explains Jacobson. "You'll want to find someone who will guarantee every last bead and sequin."
Alternatively, The Knot offers a wedding dress preservation service called Wedding Dress Preservation by The Knot. "We'll send you a mailing kit with a prepaid label and have it back to you within six to eight weeks. It even includes insurance on your wedding dress," offers Jacobson.
Donate Your Wedding Dress
If you think your dress will just sit in the back of your closet collecting dust, consider donating it. "Brides for a Cause, Brides Across America, and Wish Upon a Wedding are just a few of the wonderful organizations out there to donate your dress to," says Jacobson. "If you do donate your dress, make sure it's clean, and leave a note with it about any alterations that were made, what size it is, and other pertinent details a bride-to-be would want to know," she advises.
Freeze Your Cake
This is one of those wedding traditions that comes down to personal preference. "Wedding cake just doesn't taste good after being in the freezer for a year, no matter how tightly it's sealed," Jacobson points out. "Instead, have your baker create a replica of the top tier of your cake for your first anniversary, or freeze the cake and dig into it when you're back from your honeymoon if you want to try a variation of the tradition," she suggests.
Sell Or Donate Your Décor
What should you do with all those leftover candles, vases, and other miscellaneous décor items? "You can take your décor to local consignment shops or post it on Bridal Garage Sales, Wedding Recycle, Tradesy, Bravo Bride, Ruffled, and Craigslist if you'd like to sell or donate your items," says Jacobson. "Check in with local community organizations and schools to see if they need donations for theater groups or other projects."
Shop a few of our favorite products below, and start checking things off your post-wedding checklist today.
Did you preserve your wedding dress, your bouquet, or your cake? Tell us how you chose to keep the memory of your wedding alive in the comments.