15 Nov 2022

After the wedding...

The tradition of seating newlyweds side-by-side at formal dinner parties during their first year of marriage now seems archaic and outmoded. But it reflects the ‘special’ aura that surrounded couples as they embarked on their life together – normal social expectations were waived, and they were allowed to enjoy their new togetherness.

The early days of marriage are still seen as a special time. Up to a point, newlyweds are expected to dote on each other, find it hard to keep their hands and eyes off each other, and generally behave as if they’re passionately in love with each other. But only up to a point…

However rosy the afterglow of the wedding and honeymoon, normal life must resume at some point. Planning for, and anticipating, the wedding will have taken up a lot of emotional and practical energy, and there is bound to be a feeling of anti-climax. Your big day may well have filled your every waking thought for many months, so it is not surprising that everyday life can feel troublingly empty.

Resist the temptation to fill up the weeks immediately following the wedding with manic socialising. Concentrate instead on being together and spending tranquil hours with each other, which will cement your bond. Once this period is over, newlyweds should begin to gently break down the aura of coupledom that suffuses them by starting to invite people into their lives. This means asking people around to the marital home and offering hospitality.

If you are a relatively recent couple, now is the time to bond with your respective families and to bring them together, so that everyone can get used to relating to you as a married couple – there will be endless wedding photographs to admire, and reminiscences and anecdotes to share.

Be patient and accept that you will be bombarded by questions. Many of them will be of the “how’s married life?” variety, and you must learn to parry these questions with good grace. If the questions become over-intrusive, for example enquiries about when you plan to start a family, you really are not obliged to answer – practice a sphinx-like air of imperturbability and respond with a curiosity-dampening “all in good time”.

The following practical tasks must be undertaken:

• Check that all paperwork and invoices are now settled with suppliers. The wedding dress and morning suit should be cleaned as soon as possible to avoid any deterioration or damage. You will also need to collect any clothes or possessions you left with members of the family or at friends’ houses before the wedding.

• Formal thank you letters must be sent for all wedding presents. This should be done before the weeks slip into months. Split the task between you to prevent thank you letters becoming a chore.

• It’s a pleasing gesture to also send effusive thank you letters to parents, in-laws, the best man, ushers and bridesmaids, acknowledging – gratefully – all their hard work on the day.

• Now is the time to browse through your wedding photographs and decide which images you want to order. You can also distribute the link or album to parents and family members so that they can place their own orders. Check if the best man, ushers or bridesmaids would also like to order any prints.

• If a name change is planned, the practical bureaucracy should be attended to, avoiding a confusing interregnum in which both names are being used. If either party in an opposite or same-sex marriage chooses to take their spouse’s name, a deed poll is not required; the marriage certificate is sufficient documentary evidence to show that they have changed their surname. Remember that a name change will involve a great deal of further bureaucracy, as you will have to update your details with doctors, dentists, banks, the DVLA, Inland Revenue and so on.

Finally, don’t over-prolong the after-wedding glow. The world is full of married people and getting married doesn’t make you unique. The wedding itself was your big day, and sometimes it’s hard to come down to earth after the festivities or to accept that other people have moved on with their lives. You may have become used to being the centre of attention for several months during the lead-up to the marriage and – if the wedding has gone according to plan – you will have basked in all the admiration and good wishes.

But weddings are one-off rituals, not models of how life ought to be. Remember this, and concentrate on embracing, and welcoming, post-nuptial normality. Don’t be depressed if you feel a little anti-climactic, that’s only to be expected. Just remind yourself that you’re embarking on life’s next big adventure.

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