From This Day Forward

By Nicole Reino

December 21, 2007 6 min read

FROM THIS DAY FORWARD

There's still plenty to do after you've said 'I do'

By Nicole Reino

Copley News Service

You're coming off a wedding planning whirlwind, a fabulous day of officially becoming man and wife and a honeymoon that you're wishing never ended. But the reality is, it did. Now what? While it might seem like a good time to sit back, relax and revel in the fact that you "really did it," your work isn't done just yet, newlyweds. Riann Smith, deputy editor of TheNest.com, shares the top 10 to-do's after saying "I do."

TACKLE THE LEGALITIES

Chances are, you still have your parents listed as your beneficiaries. Consult with your family attorney and appoint your spouse as your beneficiary within two weeks of the wedding, Smith said. Also within that time period, figure out whose insurance plan you want to use. If your spouse's insurance is less expensive and you can continue going to your trusted doctors, merge onto his or her plan.

FIGURE OUT YOUR FINANCES

Prior to getting married, you should have discussed and decided how you want to handle your finances. Within two weeks following the wedding, you'll want to put those decisions into action. If you decided to have two separate accounts and one joint account, go to the bank and open up the joint account. If you received checks as wedding gifts and they're addressed to both of you, you'll need to decide how you're going to spend or save that money. Make the decision together and quickly.

SEND OUT THANK-YOU NOTES

Old-school etiquette says you have a year to send wedding guests a thank-you note. Today's etiquette recommends doing it sooner rather than later. Don't wait longer than six months, Smith said. The longer you wait, the foggier your memory will be. Guests want to be acknowledged for the time and energy they used to pick out a gift for you. Don't just say "thank you for the gift." Each thank-you note needs to be personalized and specific. You might say something like: "Thank you for the red Le Creuset dutch oven. The color matches our kitchen perfectly." Since personalizing each note takes quite a bit of time, Smith recommends splitting the task up between the two of you and each doing 10 a night between commercial breaks.

GIVE EVERYONE YOUR NEW ADDRESS

In this technologically advanced society, it's perfectly acceptable to send out a mass e-mail letting everyone know your new address. However, not all your guests may use computers. If your 90-year-old grandmother is more of a traditional mail user, send her card (check out movingannouncementstore.com) with your new address. If your best friend eats, works, sleeps and vacations with her Blackberry, sending her an e-mail with your new locale is probably best. This should be done within six weeks.

TACKLE BRIDAL REGISTRY RETURNS

Don't assume you can return gifts for up to a year. Make sure you know and understand each store's return policy. Even if a store has a 90-day return policy, don't wait that long. Return items within two months after the wedding, Smith said. Things go on sale and you want to make sure you get the full value of the item. Smith said the most painless way to return wedding gifts is to group them together by store and tackle each store at one time.

CHANGE YOUR NAME

Whether you're going to take your husband's name or hyphenate, do it within three months post-wedding. Smith suggests beginning with your driver's license, then moving on to your Social Security card, credit cards and passport. If you don't have the time to do this or just plain don't want to do it, visit www.uslegalforms.com and pay them $169 to do it for you. They also have a name-change kit that includes all the required government forms and a checklist for around $32.95.

CLEAN AND STORE YOUR GOWN

Whether or not you think you want to keep your dress or you're unsure, Smith says "clean it anyway." The fabrics used on wedding gowns are typically delicate and require special cleaning. If you leave that streak of self-tanner or that spot of red wine on your dress for two years, then decide you want to preserve your dress, chances are the stains won't come out.

AGREE ON WHERE YOU'RE SPENDING THE HOLIDAYS

It's not even so much that there will be tension between you and your spouse, it's your in-laws, Smith said. Whether you're getting married in October or February, Smith urges couples to make the holiday location decision within three months of the wedding. If you and your spouse celebrate different holidays, the time commitments for each holiday celebration may be different. "Work out a solution that will make everyone happy," Smith said. Some couples find success in alternating holidays with each side of the family - Thanksgiving with her family, Christmas with his. Or, host the holidays at your home and invite everyone.

CHOOSE PHOTOS/FINALIZE DVD

Getting your wedding photo proofs and/or DVD back is one of the most exciting post-wedding moments, but choosing which of the proofs you want to order can be rather daunting. Within six months after your wedding, go through the photos with your spouse and select the ones you think best capture your day. And, make sure you like the edit on your DVD. Make sure you read and understand your contracts so you aren't faced with any surprise charges.

CALL THE TAX MAN

Figure out if you're going to file taxes separately or jointly by December of the year you're getting married, Smith said. Decide on which one of you has the better accountant and go with that person. You'll most likely get more of a tax break if you file jointly, but this is something to discuss with the accountant you decide to employ.

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