To-dos for After “I Do”

Freeze Your Topper. Here’s our bride-tested secret to avoid freezer-burned cake on your first anniversary. Seal in a generous casing of plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, then more plastic wrap. A box or tin will protect it from bumps in the freezer. 

Preserve Your Bouquet. Consider having your bouquet professionally preserved at a place like Forget Me Knot in Mobile. After the festivities, place it in the fridge, or at least a vase of water. Then get a friend or family member to deliver it to the preservationist as soon as possible after the wedding. Flowers can be pressed and framed or dried and displayed in a shadow box.

Clean and store your gown. Preservation services clean, steam and seal a dress so that it will not yellow or deteriorate. Clifford Waite, of Waite’s Cleaners, warns, “The difference between a spot and a stain is time. Gowns are usually in grass or dirt, so you can expect spots around the bottom.” How long can you procrastinate? Waite says two or three weeks, at the latest.

Mail announcements. “Wedding announcements shouldn’t go out until the deed is done, ” says Kristen Laraway, from Stationery Studio of Fairhope. Ask someone to post the letters the Monday after the ceremony.

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Finish up thank-you notes. Savvy brides often start writing as soon as gifts come in, but if you choose to wait, Laraway advises, “The larger the wedding, the more time that is socially acceptable – with three months being the absolute max. A respectful bride will write three to four notes per day.”

Knock out registry returns. You’ll need to exchange duplicates for items you still need or store credit. Organize which gifts came from what store to avoid making multiple trips to the same place. Also, brush up on shops’ return policies.

Pick your photos. Make sure you know your photographer’s deadline for selecting pictures. When picking your favorites, Mobile photog Jeff Tesney says, “The best advice is to not overanalyze them. If you look at them quickly, the best ones will jump out at you.”

Get official copies of your marriage license. Good news! Both Mobile and Baldwin County commissions will automatically mail you a certified copy with the raised seal that you’ll need to change your name on other legal documents – just make sure someone is designated to mail in the license after the ceremony. 

Change your social security card. Residents of Mobile and Baldwin counties should complete the application for a new card, available at, then gather the necessary documents and take or mail them to your local social security office.

Mobile County: Social Security, 550 Government St. Suite 100, Mobile, Alabama 36602
Baldwin County: Social Security, 101 Courthouse Drive, Fairhope, Alabama 36532

Change your driver’s license. You’ll need your new social security card and your marriage license when you go to the DMV.

Change your passport. The process depends on the age of your current passport. Visit for details.

Consult the accountant. Is it better for your new family to file taxes separately or to opt for joint filing? Call your tax team and find out.

Change your bank accounts. Visit your local branch, and remember to ask for new debit cards and checks. Decide whether you want to keep separate accounts or set up a shared one.

Change … everything else! Don’t forget: payroll at work, the post office, utility companies, credit card companies, alumni associations, mortgage companies, insurance companies, the voter registration office and, of course, your favorite magazine subscription.

Finalize legal decisions. Formally add your spouse as your life insurance beneficiary, and choose which spouse’s health insurance plan best suits your needs. Then meet with a lawyer to modify your respective wills (if you have them). ❤

Margaret Fowler

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