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Emotional Survival

Some couples ease smoothly into married life, while others stuggle with new issues of shared expenditures, living arrangements, and geographic issues. Remind yourselves why you got married in the first place.

Remember to laugh a lot.

Communicate often.

Cour each other again and again.

Say “I love you” or demonstrate your love daily.

Cherish each other.

Keep your sense of humor.

Don’t go to bed angry.

Try new things together.

Savor the passing moments.

Watch your wedding video whenever you need a glowing reminder of why you two got married in the first place.

You have survived one of the toughest, most emotional highs (or lows) of your relationship: getting married. Now enjoy building the future that lies ahead as husband and wife.

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If You Change Your Name

Send in all the necessary documents as soon as possible.

Make many photocopies of your marriage license so you can fax or mail your name change to the appropriate parties.

Notify all your credit card companies, your bank, the Social Security Administration, your health insurance provider, your alma mater, your employer, and any other necessary parties.

Obtain an extra original, notarized copy of your marriage license. It is easier to order an extra one now, when your original is being processed, than to reorder one later.

If you have children whose names will change as a result of your marriage, deal with this changeover promptly.

If you are opening or have opened a joint bank account with your husband, be sure the bank has your married names in its system so both of you will be able to access funds.

For fun, order new stationary with your married names on it and have things monogrammed such as sheets, towels, and robes to celebrate your new status as husband and wife.

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Thank You Gifts

Give gifts to your parents to thank them for their contributions to your wedding—whether fiscally, emotionally, or just generally.

Give a token of thanks as well as a nice note to anyone who organized a brunch, shower, bachelor or bachelorette party, or rehearsal dinner.

If the priest, caterer, florist, photographer, or musicians clearly exceeded your expectations or went beyond the call of duty at your wedding, consider sending them a token of thanks as well as a personal thank you note citing specific examples of how they assisted you.

Your hired help will be pleased to use your notes of thanks as references for future brides and grooms, so be sure to give credit where it is due.

Appropriate gifts, depending on what you want to spend, include a nice bottle of wine or champagne, a fruit basket, a ceramic or glass momento, a paperweight or piece of glass with your wedding date engraved or etched on it. A gift certificate, or flowers.

Inquire at bridal shops or wedding magazines about companies that specialize in invitation preservation. This is a wonderful souvenir that you two can give to each other to your parents as a thank you gift.

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Thank You Notes

Hand-write thank you notes. Computer printing, emailing or calling will not suffice.

Have stationary printed with your new married names or, at a minimum, your and your husband’s first names. This is a very classy touch and your first opportunity to use your names together.

Try to hand-address your envelopes rather than use computer labels. It’s perfectly okay to order envelopes with preprinted return addresses, though, and you’ll save the time that you would have spent applying return address labels or writing the return addresses by hand.

Have a three-ring binder, index card, or computerized system in place where you keep a master list or each guest’s name, the gift you received from him or her, the date of receipt, and the date you wrote the thank you note for the gift.

Your gift record organizer will become and invaluable reference for your future gift giving, as well as a useful memory aid to help you personally acknowledge the gifts of guests you see in person after the wedding.

Don’t wait until after the wedding to write all the thank you notes. For gifts that arrive prior to the wedding, try to write notes before the big day.

Pace yourself when writing notes. Set a goal of ten notes per day or week depending on what you can handle, in order to preserve your sanity and keep the messages in your notes fresh. Don’t feel that you have to get through all of them in a few sittings.

Keep in mind that modern brides aren’t solely responsible for writing the thank you notes. Grooms should do their share, too.

At a minimum, if you write the majority of the thank you notes, assign your groom the tasks of licking and stamping envelopes, helping you come up with catchy thank you phrases, and mailing them (if you fully trust that he will!).

If there are certain guests that only one of you knows well (for instance, one of your bosses, a college roommate, or a childhood friend), that person should write the note.

For gifts that are solely monetary, it is nice to include in your thank you note what you plan to do with the money. For example, if you are putting it toward something big or using it to save for the future, indicate that in your note.

If a gift does not have a card attached, immediately contact the store where it was purchased (if that information is available.) They may have a record of the purchaser. If not, after you have recorded all of your other gifts and noted who gave them to you, see if you can figure out by process of elimination who gave you the mystery gift.

If you receive a gift and you are not certain of its use or even what it is, contact the store where it was purchased (if that is evident) to see if they can assist you.

If you aren’t able to determine what some gifts are, in your thank you notes, just thank the givers for their generous gifts, and use the remaining space to discuss the givers’ role in your wedding celebration—or, if they did not attend, cite some wedding highlights.

Etiquette states that guests have up to one year from the wedding date to purchase your gift. So don’t be surprised if gifts dribble in for months after your wedding.

Always write a thank you note for any gift received.

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Gift Returns

Any duplicate items you receive should be returned for a full refund or store credit immediately.

If you can get cash back for a gift, choose that option. Be sure to put the money into a bank account specifically designated for items you’ll need for your new life as husband and wife (unless, of course, you’ve both agreed to spend the money on tickets to an event or dinner out).

Check the store’s policy on spending unused credit. Some allow you only one year to spend it.

If your gift comes from a small boutique or non-chain store, in lieu of store credit, try to pick out an alternative gift in exchange. Smaller store may not stay in business forever, so it’s better to spend your credit on a gift now than to lost the credit later.

If your china, crystal, or silver registries have been completed, consider getting a few additional place settings to allow for future breakage, loss, or damage. For example, if you registered for twelve place settings of china, you may want to purchase two extra sets, since patterns can be discontinued and dishes may break through the years. You’ll keep yourself covered for a while by having some extra on reserve.

Just because you registered for something moths ago and received it as a wedding gift does not mean that you’ll necessarily like it today. Tastes and needs change. If you have doubts about something, by all means, return it and get something you really want.

Not that some gifts are not returnable. Artwork, special-order items, and personalized pieces are yours to keep.

If a gift is not your taste but the giver is special to you, tuck it away; if that guest ever comes to your home and expects to see it, pull it out of your closet to display.

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Handling Post-Wedding Syndrome

The honeymoon is over, the wedding but a memory. Now what? While you don’t have to come down from cloud nine entirely, there are some tasks and details that you have to attend to: gift returns, thank you notes and name change issues. Welcome to the world of Mr. and Mrs.

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Final Nuts and Bolts

Get traveler’s checks for your trip. Have them in both your name and her maiden name so either of you can cash them.

Book your bride’s tickets in her maiden name or, if you must use her married name, take a copy of your marriage certificate with you on your trip for identification purposes.

Make photocopies of your tickets, passports, traveler’s check receipts, and any emergency phone numbers or other information you may need. Take these with you on your trip, and keep them in a separate place from the originals.

Don’t write thank you notes on your honeymoon. This is the time to focus on the two of you and not do “homework.”

Honeymoon disasters have been known to happen. If you experience one, just be sure to keep your sense of humor. They make for great stories afterward.

Grooms beware: Your wedding band may feel strange at first if you are not accustomed to wearing jewelry. Keep it on your finger at all times and be sure it is tight enough. One groom lost his while snorkeling and another lost his on the beach. Don’t fiddle with it!

Keep a honeymoon journal together where you two can record your memories and save fun, small items such as ticket stuffs from shows you watched or sightseeing you may have participated in, restaurant match-books, or other small souvenirs.

Be sure to pack a deck of cards, some good books, and Scrabble or any other games that you two will enjoy playing on your honeymoon. Things will be hectic and busy when you return to the real world, so enjoy this opportunity to drop out and play together.

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Honeymoon Romance

Be sure to pack some romantic items to have on hand. Scented candles, bubble bath, oils, chocolates, body paint, an instant camera, a book of love poems or romantic stories, a black journal to write your romantic stories in together, lingerie, romantic CDs, feathers, and soft silky robes are some fun ideas.

Pack music and mini-speakers for your portable CD player so you can enjoy your own romantic music in your hotel room.

If your room will have a VCR, bring a “how-to” message or other sensual video and practice with your partner.

If you arrive at your hotel and find that your room does not meet your expectations, speak up immediately. Where you sleep (and play!) makes a lot of difference in the mood and tone of your honeymoon.

Decorate your room to enhance the romantic mood. For example, put some scented oil on the light bulbs as soon as you check in. When the lights heat up, the fragrance may inspire romance.

Book a special couple’s massage or other romantic spa treatment you can do together if your resort offers it. Two masseuses or masseurs can even come to your room with soft music, candles, and scented oils and give you massages simultaneously.

Spray your favorite special perfume or cologne on your sheets and pillows.

Take a bubble bath.

Light scented candles.

Order room service, a fruit basket, or champagne and strawberries, and fee each other.

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Budget Honeymoons

Go to an all-inclusive resort where you pay one flat fee up front, so there will be not surprises or shocks at the checkout counter. Most all-inclusives offer accommodations, meals, activities, drinks and even honeymoon goodies for one fixed price.

Check into the major discount travel Internet sites for great air and hotel package deals.

If your wedding date permits or if you choose to postpone your honeymoon until a few months after the wedding, plan to travel during your destination’s “off season” or “low season” for cheaper rates. Seasonal discounts are not offered everywhere and will differ by destination, so consult your hotel and plan your honeymoon travel accordingly.

If you are traveling by air, fly on off-peak days of the week. Sunday through Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly between cities for both departure and arrival.

Use frequent-flyer miles for your honeymoon. They are free and offer great flexibility (except for high season blackout dates that may apply).

Whenever you book a hotel (or car rental), ask for all possible discounts. For example, check to see if they take the Entertainment card; have any promotions related to Diners Club, Visa, or other credit cards; offer any frequent-flyer-mile deals; or offer student, AAA, military, or government discounts or reduced honeymoon rates.

Read the fine print when booking any hotel’s honeymoon package. Often the added perks, such as airport transfers, champagne, and hotel robes, wind up costing more than if you just booked directly with the hotel and paid separately for those extras.

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Off the Beaten Path…

Head to the Poconos for an inexpensive and cheesy but also romantic and fun honeymoon. Many hotels offer heart-shaped bathtubs, private swimming pools, and fireplaces in the rooms.

Las Vegas is fun for honeymooners who want an active night life, great spa amenities, fabulous shows, and romantic honeymoon suites.

For total privacy, how about renting a houseboat or sailboat? Call your local visitors bureau and ask for the names of marinas and agencies that handle such boat rentals. Make sure your bride is not prone to seasickness though!

Borrow or rent an RV and drive around the county. Maybe you have generous relatives or friends who will let you convert their RV into your own honeymoon love next. Chill champagne in the refrigerator daily and enjoy!

If you get married in the United States, staying domestic and driving instead of flying is often worth it. How about combining sightseeing major landmarks and hitting the most romantic bed & breakfasts along the way?

Rent a private cabin in the woods or go camping to get away from it all.

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