The vows have been said, the rings are on your finger, and all of your loved ones have proclaimed your wedding to be the best of all time. What happens now?
We’re going to take a look at thank you notes, what to do with your gown, how to save your bouquet, and freezing the cake.
How to Navigate the Thank You Notes
There is no better way to start your marriage off on the right foot than by diligently thanking all of the wonderful people who took the time to come to your wedding and give you a gift. (Or, even if they didn’t make it to the wedding but sent a gift.)
Although you should take some time for yourself and your spouse during the honeymoon, you won’t want to wait much longer than that to get started on the thank you notes.
Thank you notes should be handwritten, as should the envelopes – this is one time you’ll want to skip using email. Obviously, this makes the whole process more time consuming, but it’s is well worth your time to properly thank your loved ones, without whom your special day wouldn’t have been the same.
To start with, consider who deserves a really special thank you: your parents, your wedding party, and any vendors you really connected with who went out of their way for you.
For parents, you might want to consider sending flowers or a small gift as well to thank them for all the work they put into the wedding. Your wedding party should have already received your gifts, but a heartfelt thank you is also well deserved and appreciated. And vendors love thank you notes, as they can use them as referrals to get more business, which is really the best thank you you could give them.
Try to be as personable as possible with all the thank you notes, however, not just the parents/wedding party/vendors notes. Describe how you’ll use the gift, mention how great it was to see them (or sorry you missed them if they didn’t make it), and ideally you should make a reference to a future visit together.
Example: “Dear Aunt Hilda and Uncle Jack, Thank you so much for the panini press. We love having paninis for dinner and look forward to many more excellent meals – it will definitely get a lot of use! It was lovely seeing you both at the wedding. Please let us know next time you’re passing through town and we’ll make sure to grab lunch or drinks together.”
For monetary gifts, it’s considered bad etiquette to mention money in the thank you note. In this case, you’ll want to simply make a mention of how generous they were with their gift.
What to Do With the Dress
Regardless of whether or not you’re keeping the dress, selling it, or donating it, it’s recommended to get it professionally cleaned after the wedding. You can expect to spend a few hundred dollars on this; it’s probably not a job for your regular dry cleaner. Ask the shop you bought the dress from for a recommendation.
The exception to having the dress cleaned afterwards is if you’re doing the “trash the dress” – a fairly new concept. After the wedding, some couples now do an additional photo shoot where the bride might say, jump into Saratoga Lake.
Other brides have played around with paint, rolled in a field of hay, and otherwise weren’t afraid to get dirty. The idea behind the Trash the Dress is to contrast beautiful, elegant clothing with an environment in which it’s out of place.
Keeping the Dress
If you’re holding onto your dress you’ll want to store it away from direct sunlight and dampness. In your closet is probably the best place; avoid basements and attics. If you’re hanging the dress up, do so by the lingerie straps it comes with, not the actual straps, or the gown could get weighed down and stretched out. Use a padded hanger.
Believe it or not, you should not drape the dress in a plastic cover, as this can lead to yellowing and maybe even mildew. Cover it instead with a clean white sheet.
A fairly new trend for brides is to preserve the wedding dress in a picture frame. For this, you’ll likely want to consult a professional preservationist. As with getting your dress professionally cleaned, this is something you might want to ask the shop you bought the dress at for recommendations.
The dress will be cleaned, pressed, and folded to fit into the frame of your choosing, and then the frame is secured around the dress. It’s fairly similar to simply preserving the dress, except obviously with a picture frame.
Pro tip: If you’re choosing to have the dress professionally preserved for a picture frame or to keep in a box, be wary of shops that only guarantee preservation if you don’t break the seal on the box or frame. You should open it and check it about once a year, wearing latex gloves.
Getting Rid of the Dress
Not so attached the dress? Nothing wrong with that – many brides aren’t.
Most engaged women want their own, brand new dress for their big day, but if you have a friend or family member getting married who is looking for a secondhand gown you could offer yours up.
You could also sell it, via eBay or to a consignment shop. Or, you could donate it to a good cause such as to a women’s shelter. There are also organizations like Brides Against Breast Cancer you can give your dress to, who will then make it affordable for someone who needs it.
Preserving the Bouquet
Maybe you’re the type bride who not only wants to save the dress, but the bouquet as well. If so, this is something you’ll need to get on top of fairly quickly after the wedding, once again going with a professional preservation service. If you’re stumped on where to turn ask your florist for advice.
Before getting it preserved you’ll want to gently wrap your bouquet in paper and store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You might want to choose a few large blossoms instead of the entire bouquet to save a bit of money.
Here are your bouquet preservation options:
This is the best way to keep the authentic shape of the flowers. Flowers are flash frozen at -20 degrees F then reheated to room temperature over several weeks. The flowers will then be kept under glass.
The flowers are separated into small bunches and hung upside down in a dark and dry place, much like herbs are when they’re dried. This will take one to four weeks.
The classic way to preserve flowers – between the pages of a heavy book. They can then be kept under glass or in a shadow box.
Each flower head is covered with silica gel which absorbs the moisture.
A few flowers at a time are microwaved in a paper towel for one to three minutes. Results can vary widely for this one.
Some flower-drying services will also have bouquet turned into potpourri, which is a really nice and generally not as expensive option.
Freezing the Cake
Freezing part of the wedding cake and enjoying it together on the first anniversary has been a longstanding tradition with married couples.
Some cakes freeze better than others. Cakes with whipped cream, custard, or fresh fruit as a filling will not freeze well. And you’ll want to remove any sugar flowers and wipe the frosting off before attempting to save those.
Refrigerate the cake overnight first, to harden the icing and prevent it from sticking to the plastic wrap. Then, wrap it in two layers of plastic followed by a layer of aluminum foil and put it in the freezer.
When you’re ready to eat it, transfer the cake from the freezer to the fridge to defrost for a few hours before you start digging in.
Of course, preserving your dress, bouquet, and freezing the cake are all optional. You can simply skip these steps if you’d prefer, although many brides choose these methods to be able to better remember and celebrate their big day.
However, the thank you notes are not optional. But, try to think of the process as more than just an obligation – it’s a chance to connect to the people in your life in a really meaningful way. And, you might just kick off a pattern of always being on top of thank you notes and cards, a skill that will serve you well throughout your marriage.
- The Wedding Book: The Big Book for Your Big Day by Mindy Weiss with Lisbeth Levine