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What's Up Weddings

What to do after "I Do"

Mar 19, 2012 07:20PM ● By Anonymous


Changing Your Name

If you have made the decision to switch to your new husband’s name, it’s luckily pretty easy to do so—however, it can be time-consuming. Begin by heading to the Social Security office to start the process. Visit to find the closest office—there’s one in Annapolis, another in Glen Burnie for those on the western Shore, and one in Salisbury and Cambridge on the Eastern Shore. By visiting the website first, you can print out a copy of the required forms. Make sure to bring your marriage license, as well as proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate or passport) and proof of identity (such as a drivers license or ID card). Once you’ve change your name with the Social Security Office, you can expect a new card within seven to 10 business days.

From there, you’ll head to the Motor Vehicle Administration, where you can use your new social security, as well as proof of residency, to obtain a new drivers license. You now have proper documentation to change other important items, such as bank accounts, credit cards, insurance, and so on. However, always be sure to bring a copy of your marriage license because many places -- including banks and your mortgage, if you have one—will ask for it, along with your new identification.

Cleaning and Preserving Your Gown

While some brides choose to sell their wedding gown, most gals hang on to their dress. At the very minimum, find a trustworthy dry-cleaner to clean your gown—especially if your gown is silk, as it is the most difficult types of fabric to clean. You might think you managed to avoid dirtying your dress during the reception, so you don’t need to pay for a costly cleaning. However, body oils, white wine, and even water dripped onto your dress can be invisible at first, but appear as yellow stains over time.

When you find a dry-cleaner, know what type of fabric your gown is made of, what type of cleaning the care label indicates, what type of stains are on the dress (such as wine, soil, foundation, and the like), and if any embellishments such as beads or sequins are glued or sewed on.

Before handing over your prized gown, ask the dry-cleaner a couple of questions.

  • Do you clean the dress on the premises or do you send it out to a wholesale dry-cleaner?
  • Do you use a dry-cleaning or wet-cleaning method? (More on that below)
  • If you use dry-cleaning, what type of solvent do you use?
  •  How many wedding dresses do you clean per month, on average?

In regards to wet-cleaning versus dry-cleaning, which method the cleaner uses should depend on the stain and the type of fabric. Wet-cleaning is essentially just using water to clean the gown, which is best for food stains and dirty hems. It also has the advantage of not applying any chemicals to the dress, reducing the risk of damage. Dry-cleaning uses a solvent to clean the garment. Ask your cleaner which solvent they use and why to ensure he knows what is best for your gown.

If you plan to save your gown for any reason, take the next step of preserving it. This maintains the quality and appearance of the dress. The preservationist will pack it properly with archival material and package it in a box that will protect the dress from extreme temperatures, moisture, and sunlight. You can expect to pay between $250 and $500 for this service. If you decide to hang your gown—perhaps because you think a good friend or family member will use the dress shortly after you—pad the hanger with cotton batting and cover it with unbleached cotton. Never leave your gown stored inside a plastic sleeve. It’s important that air be allowed to circulate.


Merge Your Money (or Don’t!)

While we don’t like to talk about possible marital spats in a wedding magazine, money is the most divisive topics for couples—mostly because they don’t talk about it before it’s time to open a joint account.

“Focusing on an overall vision and money plan will keep both of you moving in the same direction,” says Jane Honeck, CPA and author of “The Problem with Money? It’s Not About the Money!” “Once you have done that, the small everyday decisions about what to spend your money on take care of themselves with little or no effort. When we have clear communication and know why we do something, the ‘what to do’ with our money is easy.”

The financial system that works best is completely up to the couple. Some couples choose to completely merge their money into one bank account and joint credit cards. Some choose to keep it separate, while a hybrid system—such as one joint account, but individual credit cards—works best for others. Whichever you choose, have a money management system clearly defined, including who opens the bills in the mail and who actually writes the checks to get those bills paid. And, even if you do have separate account, keep an open, honest line of communication about money (unless, of course, it’s only the cost of your birthday present that he’s hiding from you).

Registry Completion

It’s a shame nobody bought you that electric stand mixer on your registry that you so desperately desired. Luckily, many major registry retailers offer newlyweds a discount on anything that was not purchased from their wishlist, ranging from 5 to 20 percent. Some retailers will send you a coupon in the mail, others will host a one-night event specifically for registry completion. Check with your store for details.

Do Something with Those Wedding Photos

Once the gallery of wedding photos goes online, it’s easy to send the link around to your friends and family and have fun picking out your favorites. However, it’s even easier to forget about the photos and never get any of them ordered. Many photographers only keep the galleries active for six months to one year (though they will often extend the time if asked), so time is of the essence. Never before has there been so many options for displaying wedding photos—traditional albums still exist, but hard-cover coffee-table books, canvases, and collages are all popular choices. Don’t forget about your parents, too. When a photographer creates an album for you and your new spouse, they can create a miniature version for you to gift to your parents, as well.

The newlywed to-do list might sound daunting, but once it’s done, you can sit back, relax, and revel in the bliss of your new, married life.