Your special day has come and gone and you are left with warm, wonderful memories. It feels like all the planning is done, but your “work” isn’t quite over yet and there still remain several important decisions to be made and responsibilities to be met. Winding down can be a letdown. Keep your spirits up and try to approach these last few items with joy and excitement.
To maximize your time and get your projects done, make a list of tasks and set a realistic goal for when they can and should be completed. Not everything in this article will apply to you, so simply disregard what doesn’t. Begin right after your wedding reception by making certain that you, or a person whom you have designated in advance, take home the following:
- Toasting Flutes
- Cake Knife
- Gifts and Gift Envelopes
- Personal Items: cosmetics, personal care, clothing, accessories
- Guest Book and Pen
- Leftovers: decorations, cake top, party favors, flowers, centerpieces, food, table cards (to check on no-shows)
- Rented or Borrowed Items: cake top, pillars, plants, chuppah, stands, tables, chairs tents, catering equipment, groom’s tux
- Top Layer of the Cake
- Unopened Liquor Bottles
- Groom’s Tux
- Wedding Gown. If you are “preserving” it, have someone to take it to the cleaners
- Wedding announcements that can be pre-addressed and mailed out after the wedding.
- Clean up and “breakdown” of venue, if required
Preserving Your Wedding Bouquet
If you have decided to preserve your bouquet, you have two options for air-drying. One is to bring the flowers to a professional florist and use their expertise to get the project done. If you chose this route, you need to have the bouquet in the florist’s hands as quickly as possible after the wedding. Your second choice is to air dry the flowers by yourself. Hang the bouquet upside down on a wire or taught string. Find a dark location with good airflow (well-ventilated), cool updrafts and that is not too humid. An attic, large closet, dark shed or garage are several good places. Hanging the bouquet upside down will keep the stems as straight as possible. To maintain the best color in the bouquet, get them away from sunlight as quickly as possible. The colors of flowers fade due to oxidation, a chemical reaction that needs both water and light. Removing the light source during drying curtails oxidation. The length of the process depends on the degree of humidity, temperature, circulation of air, and the kind(s) of flowers in the bouquet. The drying process is complete when the flowers feel stiff and dry, rather than limp or damp. Dried flowers need not be treated with anything. The old wives’ tale about spraying your bouquet with hair spray is just that — a wives’ tale.
One word of warning…you may see little moths, called Indian Meal Moths flying around your dried flowers. They find roses and peonies particularly juicy treats. Should that problem arise, the best thing for you to do is to freeze the bouquet, in a plastic bag, in your freezer. About a week there or, in the winter, outside in a garage or shed, should kill the larvae and solve the problem.
To avoid after-drying fading, the flowers should be kept away from direct sunlight and be nowhere near forced air heaters, whose very dry air may cause the flower structure to shatter. Your flowers can be gently dusted with a feather duster, or with a hair dryer, set on low. If you are “keepsaking” your flowers by putting them away, wrap them gently in newspaper and put them in a cardboard box, away from dampness (some basements), and away from very dry air (some) attics.
Wedding Flower Preservation, Pressed or freeze dried
This process, described below by Augusta Rose of Roses Freeze Dry is a great way to keep an important memento “fresh.”
“Flowers are prepared and placed into a vacuum chamber. Then the temperature is lowered to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit and the moisture is slowly removed. Flowers will retain their natural shape and original color. They will appear as fresh as when they were cut, but you will find that flowers tend to become softer in color. Whites mellow to a lovely ivory color. You can have your entire bouquet preserved and placed in a custom designed case or arranged around your invitation, photo, or any special mementos you may have from that day. Special arrangements can be created that make wonderful gifts for the wedding party members, family, or anyone who helped make your day a special day to be remembered.”
After the Wedding Religious Obligations & Customs
For couples who adhere strictly to religious or cultural traditions, it is important to plan for those events, as one would for the wedding itself. Orthodox Jewish custom, for example, devotes seven consecutive evenings after the wedding for the couple to be feted by friends or relatives, at a dinner in their honor. The custom is reminiscent of the “seven-day celebration” after the marriage of Jacob to Leah. The days are to be spent in prayer, studying and in preparation for staring a new family, built upon a religious foundation.
For many, the concept of extending the festivities past the wedding day, is very appealing. Hence the “invention” of the day-after brunch, breakfast or lunch. You can choose anything from a catered affair to an open house that you host at home. The event can be enhanced by reviewing the wedding day, looking at videos or photos, opening gifts, special ‘thank you’s’ to the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom, distribution of wedding attendant gifts, or any number of other things that feel right to you.
Brides and grooms, particularly those who are sentimental, will have enjoyed putting together samples of everything they “collected” during the planning stages of their wedding…a complete wedding invitation, a photo of the bride trying on wedding gowns, notes from friends, photos taken at the bridesmaids’ fittings, magazine articles and Wedding Planners, invitations to engagement party, bridal showers and rehearsal dinner, mementos from the bridal showers, bridesmaids’ luncheon, trip and travel memorabilia from the honeymoon, a party favor, any imprinted items, a wedding program, and reservations, cake knife, toasting flutes, a bottle of “leftover” champagne (for your first anniversary celebration), garter, Guest Book, wedding planner, guest list (for future celebrations and holidays), bouquet, boutonniere, cake topper, and decorations. You will continue to collect memories by including honeymoon ticket stubs, brochures, photos and postcards.
Several businesses have been built around the “keepsaking” concept, companies who will take your materials (photos, scrapbook items, newspaper articles, etc.), and artistically combine them with graphics and music. The completed DVD can be shown at one of your events (shower, rehearsal dinner, reception), or used as a unique keepsake favor your guests, and/or for keeping after-wedding events and mementos.
Reuse & Recycle
Couples often make use of wedding-related items, by giving them “new life.” The Unity Candle has become a popular, meaningful wedding tradition. It can be a simple taper, a plain white or ivory pillar candle, or a fancy decorated candle. After the wedding, the candle can be converted to an “anniversary” candle, that you re-light on each anniversary.
Share Your Wedding
Your wedding web site is not only useful to your guests, but also valuable to those loved ones who could not attend your wedding. It will allow those who are far away to feel a part of your plans, your special day, your comments after your wedding, and, perhaps wedding and honeymoon photos. It also offers a way for people who will not be present to share your wedding day, to communicate with you.
Wedding Announcement in the Newspaper
Ask your photographer either to take a black and white portrait of you at the wedding, or to print one of the portraits in grayscale. Send it, along with the details of your wedding, to your local newspapers. Consider submission to out-of-town newspapers where close family or friends reside, or where you lived previously, or grew up. Keep in mind that newspapers have different rules about what and how to submit. Most will not return a photo, unless a stamped-self-addressed envelope is included.
When You Return From Your Honeymoon
Look at your wedding gifts and decide what to keep, what to return and what to re-gift. Return items as quickly as possible and you will encounter the least amount of difficulty. Thank you notes should be written and mailed as soon as possible after the wedding. One way to make the process easier and quicker is to have the envelopes addressed in advance and to have your return address printed on the envelope. If you are moving to a new home, you may include that information in your Thank You notes, giving them double duty. If you haven’t sent our wedding announcements, do so.
If you are having a “late” reception, word your invitation to say that you are having a (reception, dinner, BBQ, etc.) to celebrate your marriage. Wedding announcements can be included as part of the invitation, i.e., “Jane and John Doe are pleased to announce…” followed by the reception invitation information. They can also serve to advise people of your new address and phone number.
Reconfirm dinner (do the inviting before you leave on your honeymoon), in your home, with your parents, immediate family and/or very close friends. It’s a really nice way to again say “thank you.”
If you have not already done so, make any changes of addresses, as needed, in such places as your driver’s licenses and registration, credit cards, bank accounts, and insurance policies. Make sure that the bride’s name is changed wherever necessary. Notify businesses of your change of name and address, as needed.
Wedding Photo Opportunity
Review your proofs and select your wedding photographs. Consider having an informal get-together for members of your wedding party and family to see and, where appropriate, to select wedding photos for their albums.
From This Day Forward
Plan a weekly and monthly budget to keep yourselves on an even financial keel. Talk about and make decisions about such things as homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, health benefits, maternity benefits, and, if you have not already done so, draw up both a Living Will and a Health Care Proxy. Different rules apply in different states.
With all your tasks completed, you can settle into being an “old” married couple.