You’ve said your vows, kissed your spouse, and cut the cake, but you and your dearly beloved can’t relax just yet. Some items on your newlywed checklist will need to be taken care of before you jet off on your honeymoon. Be they small (finding someone to remove those champagne stains from your dress) or large (budgeting for your future), the sooner you start tackling these tasks the better.
1. OBTAIN YOUR MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE.
While the requirements and procedure vary by state, chances are you took a trip to City Hall to obtain a marriage license before the main event. In order to receive your marriage certificate, this license must be signed by you, your spouse, your officiant, and witnesses following the ceremony and returned to the City Clerk’s office (again, the exact procedure varies from place to place). Often, this must be done as quickly as possible; in New York City, for example, your signed marriage license must be returned (either in person or by mail) within five days of your ceremony.
2. HAVE YOUR WEDDING OUTFIT CLEANED AND STORED.
Do you have visions of your children one day walking down the aisle in your wedding garb? Then you better be quick about getting your outfit to a professional cleaner (stains and yellowing hardly say romance). If you wore a suit on your big day, you’re in luck: Any dry cleaner should be able to help you out. But wedding gowns require cleaning by specialists who know their way around beading, lace, and delicate fabrics. They can also pack your dress in acid-free paper, which will help prevent discoloring over time. Wedding dress cleaning and preserving can cost hundreds of dollars, however, so if you have the luxury of time, consider this expense when you make your wedding budget.
3. TACKLE YOUR NAME CHANGE.
If you or your spouse—or both of you!—have decided to change your name, then you have a lot of paperwork ahead of you. For the smoothest sailing, you’ll want to make sure you apply for your new Social Security card, driver’s license, passport, and other forms of identification in the right order; then update places like your employer, banks, and utility providers with your new information. Use a resource like Allstate’s name-change checklist to help you navigate the process.
4. UPDATE YOUR HOUSING DOCUMENTS.
If you and your spouse did not cohabitate before your wedding, this will likely be one of the biggest adjustments you’ll face as newlyweds. Be sure to make your co-resident status official by adding your spouse to your lease or title as well as your homeowners or renters insurance policy.
5. ADJUST YOUR RENTERS INSURANCE POLICY.
When you combine insurance, it’s also wise to update your policy. Make sure you add enough coverage for all your possessions, including any big-ticket items (such as your rings or valuable gifts) you’ve recently acquired.
6. MAKE A FINANCIAL PLAN.
Every couple handles their finances differently. But whether you decide to combine accounts or maintain separate ones, you’ll need to establish a clear plan for how you two will spend your money. Sit down together to discuss your income and create a realistic budget that takes into account your short- and long-term goals.
7. EVALUATE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS.
Now that you’re married, you may qualify to join your spouse’s healthcare policy (or vice versa). If you both work full-time, compare your plans’ coverage (does one have a lower deductible or larger network?) and costs. Making the switch to your spouse’s policy could save you hundreds of dollars a month.
8. DISCUSS YOUR TAX OPTIONS.
Depending on when you got married, you might be months away from tax season or it could be right around the corner. Regardless of your wedding date, your “single” status has been officially revoked, and you will need to decide whether you want to file your taxes jointly with your spouse or separately. Filing jointly will usually yield a larger tax refund or less taxes due, as the rates for married people filing separately are high. But, as with all financial decisions, do your research and consider all your options before deciding whether you want to file jointly or separately, and speak to a tax professional if you need additional guidance.
9. PLAN FOR YOUR FUTURE.
It may seem morbid to plan for the worst so soon after the happiest day of your life, but updating your life insurance and estate is essential. You will likely want to name your spouse as your new beneficiary and durable power of attorney, as well as include them in your will. And if you think you’re too young to have a will, think again. You’ll want to consult a lawyer to draw one up while you’re healthy, not wait until it’s nearly too late.