After the Wedding: Newlywed To-Do List

bride and groom legs and feet
Photo: Getty
Feeling overwhelmed now that you're back from the honeymoon and real life has begun? Use our cheat sheet to get a jump on those post-wedding tasks (hint: The longer you put them off, the worse it'll be!).
  1. Cheat Sheet: Clean and Store Your Gown

    Photo by CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY BY STEPHANIE

    Have your dress dry-cleaned within six months of your wedding (the sooner, the better!). Use a service that specializes in wedding dresses so they use the right solvents. Make sure they stuff it with acid-free tissue, avoid using metal pins or buckles, and store it in a box. Once it's back home, store it in a cool, dry place (like an out-of-the-way closet, not the dank basement!).

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  2. Cheat Sheet: Change Your Name

    Photo by DEBORAH JAFFE

    Ideally, you should change all your IDs within 90 days of getting hitched. Here's how:

    1. Change your driver's license by going to DMV.org to find state forms. Most states require you to bring your marriage license to the DMV as proof of your new name.

    2. Change your passport. Go to Travel.State.gov for more info. You'll send in a current passport, a photocopy of your marriage certificate, and possibly new passport photos.

    3. Change your social security card. Check out SocialSecurity.gov to see how. Depending on where you live, you may need to apply in person.

    4. Call all of your credit card companies to get your name changed.

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  3. Cheat Sheet: Call the Tax Man

    Time to check off a new (married) box on your tax forms! Now that the two of you are a legal unit, you need to decide whether you're going to file together or continue to file separately (joint filing isn't something mandated by law, though it's generally recommended). Before deciding, consult your accountant to see what he or she advises for the two of you. Do this ASAP!

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  4. Cheat Sheet: Send Those Thank-You Notes

    Photo by ALEX CAO

    If you don't want snippy comments from family and friends, toss those thank-you notes in the mail within two months of your wedding. Set a goal (like 10 a night) and fire 'em off during the commercial breaks of your favorite shows. Divvy up the project with your spouse (say, he does his buddies and his side of the family and you do yours) and the job will be half as daunting. But if one of you refuses to pick up a pen, still agree that you'll each sign your names on every card. Hint: Print off address and return address labels on your computer if you can -- it's neater and will save you major carpal tunnel.

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  5. Cheat Sheet: Give Everyone Your New Address

    It's perfectly fine to send a mass email or an e-card with your new address. The traditional route? Buy store-bought moving announcements and slip them in with your thank-you note or have them custom-designed. Paperless Post has cute online styles to choose from (and don't have to waste money on stamps).

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  6. Cheat Sheet: Tackle Registry Returns

    Photo by ANTONIS ACHILLEOS

    Sick of looking at those three toaster ovens gathering dust in the corner? Bite the bullet and return 'em within two months of your wedding. While stores are likely to be lenient with couples who've registered with them, each store will have a different policy on when you need to make returns by and what they'll take back.

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  7. Cheat Sheet: Finalize Your Wedding Album and DVD

    Photo by ANTONIS ACHILLEOS

    On your first anniversary, wouldn't you love to pop in your wedding DVD and flip through your album? Don't put off your photo selection and video requests too long! Most photographers and videographers issue a standard contract that gives you six months to a year to select album photos and edit footage for your DVD. If you don't, you may have to pay extra. Talk about a buzzkill!

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  8. Cheat Sheet: Figure Out Your Finances

    No one likes having "money talks," but hopefully you had this one long before you walked down the aisle. Many married couples opt to merge their single accounts into a combined one, so definitely bring it up now if you haven't yet. All that entails is a trip to the bank to fill out the necessary paperwork and get new debit cards and checks made.

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  9. Cheat Sheet: Make It Legal

    When the two of you made it official, it meant more than just a tacit agreement not to hog the covers. In the next two weeks, you'll want to talk about changing beneficiaries -- most newlyweds switch their spouse to their beneficiary on work and life insurance docs. Call your insurance company and HR department at work for these forms.

    Next, decide whose work health insurance plan you'll use by comparing cost and treatment options. If you're the one making the switch, make sure the doctors you like are on the new plan. If neither of you have health insurance, get it now! Getting married is considered a qualifying life event for special enrollment, which means don't have to wait until a certain time of the year for open enrollment to sign up for health benefits. You can also look into plans through the government's Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov regardless of your income or medical history.

    Within a few months, also talk about drawing up a will that reflects your newly combined asset. Use your family lawyer or ask friends for a recommendation.

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