After the Wedding - Now What???

So - now that the big day is over, you might think you're done.  You can relax, get to know your spouse, and start the happily ever after stuff.  Well, we hate to be the ones to break it to you, but it's not quite time for that yet.

There are a few things you need to take care of before you can start living your life to the fullest.  Get these things taken care of in a timely fashion, and you are good as gold.

Name change - Secretary of State and Social Security Office

Here in Michigan, you take your marriage license with you to the Social Security Office in your area (or one close by), and they will change your name for you, give you a letter showing the change, and send you on your way.  You will receive your new Social Security card in the mail a week or so later.

Once you have that letter, you can go to the Secretary of State and change your name on your license.  Be aware, if you intend to keep your maiden name, either to have two last names, or two middle names, the Secretary of State will require you to use a hyphen.  Either between the two middle names, or the two last names.

Once you get your license showing your new last name, you can begin changing your name at other places, such as your doctor offices, banks or credit unions, and places you regularly do business. Just remember that most places will want to see your marriage license as proof, so it doesn't hurt to make a few copies.  You don't want to lose the original!

Send out those Thank yous!

This is sometimes a touchy subject.  Sometimes people expect to get a thank you card within a week or two of the wedding.  If you don't want to hear snippy remarks from family members or friends, then it would be in your best interest to get these done ASAP.  Do them in sections.  First, decide whether or not you want to get preprinted cards.  If not, then write out all the cards first.  Then, make out the envelopes.  

A tip from someone who has done this before - don't put the stamps on the envelopes until you are ready to send them out.  That way if you make a mistake on either of the addresses, you aren't wasting your money.

Change your address and let everyone know

Sometimes changing you address with the post office can seem a bit ridiculous.  If you put your new address on something, you would expect to receive it there, right?  Not necessarily.  Sometimes things will be returned to businesses if your address doesn't match that of the post office.  It doesn't take too much time, and there is an online option available, so don't wait too long.

Return duplicate gifts before time runs out

Most stores have a return policy of 60 day or less.  if you registered for the item, they may be more lenient, but don't expect that.  If you wait too long, you might be stuck with 3 toasters.  You don't want that.

Finalize your wedding album and/or DVD with your photographer

This is more important that you think.  Your photographer will have your pictures ready for you within a week or two, and would expect you to finalize your album and DVD within a month or two.  A lot of people forget about the pictures because they are so focused on other things.

Some photographers and videographers have something in the contract that this needs to be done by six months, or you may have to pay extra.

Figure out your finances

While an entirely separate article could be written about finances after marriage, we will keep it brief here.  When two lives come together as one, it can be difficult to figure out who pays what, if you do a joint account, separate accounts, and 

Do the boring stuff - changing beneficiaries, health insurance

This is something that a lot of people forget about, especially if they are getting married later in life.  I know personally for me, I had worked for my company for 10 years before I got married.  My beneficiaries had been set when i hired in, and I didn't even think about changing them.  It is a personal decision on who to make the beneficiary of your life insurance and 401(k), but it is definitely something to discuss with your spouse. 

You also need to look at who has the better health insurance plan.  Most plans have a 'life changing event' section that means you can change coverage at other times than open enrollment.  This would include marriage, divorce, child birth, or something of that nature.  If your spouse's coverage is better, you will be able to drop yours, and vice versa.  If yours is better, you can add your spouse and they can drop theirs.

Taxes - depending on when you get married

This is important if you get married at the end of the year, and will be filing taxes in the coming months.  You will want to figure out if you're filing jointly or married but single.  This is a completely personal decision for you and your spouse to make.  

This list is in by no means any specific order.  These are just some of the things you might not realize, or even think about doing.

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