All tomorrow’s parties

Worried you’ll be at a loss after the big day? Don’t be – there’s still plenty to do!

Words by Sarah Gillespie

1. Take a break

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Below: Sandals Resorts have been a popular choice for honeymooners for over 30 years, www.sandals.co.uk

First things first: what are you doing about a honeymoon? The days of skipping out mid-reception into a can-trailing sports car laden with suitcases seem to be over, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect the planning of your first big adventure as newlyweds. More and more couples opt for staycations or mini-moons, and not just for budgetary reasons – Scotland is consistently voted one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world. Others might have a short break at home and splash out on a big trip a year later, giving them time to save up, as well as something to look forward to once the wedding excitement is over. Whether you fancy a houseboat in Helensburgh or a cabana in Havana, a honeymoon is a major perk of getting married and one that shouldn’t be missed!

2. Insure your ice

INSURE_Laingedinburgh_Hearts On Fire Transcend Engagement Ring Stack

If your rings are as beautiful as these Laing Edinburgh dazzlers, make sure they’re insured www.laingthejeweller.com

It’s worth a call to your home insurance provider to establish what cover your engagement and wedding rings have.

You’ll treasure them, of course, but so did every bride who’s trying to grin graciously when she’s reunited with her ring after it has spent three months going through the sewage system. Save yourself from being headline news in your local paper and make sure your bling can be easily replaced if lost.

3. Dressing issue

Every bride fears something happening to her dress on her big day. I’ll take to the grave the shame I felt after I spilled red wine on a wedding dress when I worked in a hotel (I feel a bit sick just thinking about it now). But not all stains are a clumsy student’s mis-pour or an overzealous auntie’s red lipstick. “Some stains, such as champagne, sugar and perspiration, aren’t visible to the naked eye,” explains David Begley, ‘cleanologist’ at Johnson Cleaners. “But they can cause discolouration over time. To preserve it perfectly for years to come, I’d recommend you take your dress to be professionally cleaned after the big day.” Aim to get your dress cleaned as soon as possible, and pick a cleaners that offers a proper packing service. 08456 023134, www.johnsoncleaners.com

4. Gorge on gifts

The day after is all about nursing sore heads and opening presents. If you set up a gift list, your pressies should be winging their way to your house. If you had your heart set on an item that has not been purchased, fear not – some retailers offer a discount on ‘leftovers’.

For example, Debenhams offers 10%, but also gives you a £50 gift card if £250 is spent on your list. If you’ve given everyone free rein, you’re in for lots of surprises – and sadly they might
not all be nice surprises. It may feel harsh, but re-gifting items you’re not keen on or have doubled up on saves money when attending weddings after yours. Another great way to rid yourself of presents you loathe is eBay. Remember, everyone’s tastes are different, so there’s bound to be someone out there who would love a flashing LED dove that plays Endless Love, even if that person isn’t you. 0844 800 8877, www.debenhams.com

5. Give thanks!

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Even if their gift went straight up on eBay, it’s still essential to send thank-you cards to all guests within three months. Nothing beats a nice handwritten note, but my fridge is currently covered in cute w-day postcards thanking me for coming to last year’s weddings.

6. The name game

Over the course of your engagement you’ve probably been asked ‘Are you going to change your name?’ more times than you can shake a hydrangea pomander at. These days we have more choice. Many brides keep their own name, some opt to create a hyphenated mix, and others stick with tradition and take their hubby’s surname (although we did have a groom last issue who took his new wife’s name). Don’t let anyone try to sway your decision – true feminism is the right to choose, not the right to oppose every tradition going.

If your decision means a name change, you can either tackle this gradually, or in one fell swoop. Passport, driving licence and bank accounts should be at the top of your to-do list, followed by pensions and insurances (if you have them), and then things like storecards (you’ll chop up that Topshop card one day!). Deal with bills like council tax and utilities as and when they come through. We’re willing to bet your gift-list Magimix Juicer that you can’t go longer than 48 hours without updating your name on Facebook, though!

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Bouquets and buttonholes can be beautifully preserved

7. Dry or donate

I didn’t attend a single wedding last year where the bride tossed her bouquet. My cousin had a gorgeous brooch bouquet, but it was more likely you’d end up concussed than betrothed if you’d tried to catch it. My friend took her bouquet to her gran, who was sadly too ill to attend the wedding. Another friend decided to have her bridal bouquet preserved, and it now hangs in pride of place in her spare room (which she promptly decorated to match the colours. Bridezilla lives on!).

Fife-based Viva Design are experts in flower preservation (check out the stunning arrange-ment above) and think that something as important as your bouquet should be cherished for years to come. 01333 313275, www.flower-preservation-by-vivadesign.co.uk

8. Back to black

If you’re lucky enough to say ‘I do’ debt-free, you can count yourself very lucky. Unfortunately, that’s pretty rare. Loans (Bank of Scotland, or Bank of Mum and Dad) and credit cards normally take a bit of a battering as you realise you simply can’t get hitched without a butterfly release or an ice sculpture. The only two things you need to get back into the black – apart from dough, duh! – is strategy and commitment. Set a realistic timescale based on a monthly payment that won’t completely ruin your exciting new life together, but bear in mind that the more you sacrifice, the sooner you’ll pay it off. Going forward, some couples choose to pool their incomes and outgoings, so now’s a good time to cough up about that secret card you use for ‘emergencies’ (normally of the shoe variety) and remind casino-happy hubby that he can bet he’s in the doghouse if he’s frittering away joint bank-account funds.

9. BSW says relax

Your wedding doesn’t have to be perfect to be perfect for you. So what if some guests left the handmade favours you devoted so many Saturdays to? Does it really matter that only half your guestbook was filled or that your niece scribbled over the first page? Giving little niggles like this headspace takes up energy that could be used to savour every happy memory from the day. It’s more than likely you’ll have a post-wedding slump. After all, you plan for months and pour your heart, soul and hard-earned cash into it, then you wake up and realise it’s all over. Remember this cheesy line: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ Unless you’re Katie Price, that was your one and only wedding and you won’t get another (renewals aside). If you’re really missing the planning, add up how much time you spent each week on it and see if you can allocate a similar amount to a new pursuit. Learning Spanish? Japanese cookery? Swing dancing?

10. Premier Club

If you’re having trouble shaking the post-bridal blues and your honeymoon is done and dusted, you’ve still got one more surprise to look forward to: your wedding photos and film!

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A gorgeous album from McBeth Photography, www.mcbethphotography.com

Every photographer works to a different timescale, so check when booking how soon after the event to expect   your photos. Some might have them back in two weeks, while others – especially during the busy summer months – might take up to three months to return them to you. (Another factor that delays the turnaround is how much retouching the photographer does, either at your request or if it’s their style of photography.) Once you have the album and DVD back, you’ll be inundated with requests from friends and family. Even the most obsessed bride will struggle to sit through her wedding film every weekend for three months, so why not arrange a get-together? It’s a great excuse for a party!