The wedding might be over, but the work isn't. Here's what you need to do before you leave your reception venue.
dawn rich wedding sparkler send off

You know planning a wedding is a lot of work—but what you may not realize is that the work doesn't end with your send off. "So much thought and work goes into the wedding day that some very important details—things that need to get done after the last drop of Champagne has been sipped and final bite of cake eaten—often get overlooked," says Beth Bernstein, owner of SQN Events in Chicago. That's why we've created the ultimate post-reception checklist—it's a comprehensive list of everything you'll need to do after you end your big day.

Gather up gifts and cards.

If you're headed straight to your honeymoon, you may not be able to collect your gifts and cards yourself—so don't forget to designate someone to do it for you, says Bernstein. You can also ask this person to record what they've collected, because "creating a list of what you received at the wedding will save you a lot of stress upon your return," Bernstein says. "But make sure the person you ask to take on this role is someone you trust implicitly."

Pack up your personal décor.

If you've purchased any décor items—think: a guest book, card catcher, signage, toasting flutes, or cake knife—don't forget to pack them up at the end of the night. "Have a list of what items need to be packed, as well as a plan for who is taking them and where they're going," says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. While some "venues will allow you to store things overnight and pick them up the next day," she says, "other venues ask that you take everything with you the night of the wedding. Either way, don't forget to have the conversation with your venue's point-person ahead of time."

Get guests home.

If you're offering a shuttle service to ferry your guests from your reception back to their hotels, be sure to put someone in charge of ensuring this process runs smoothly, says Fisher. "They should do a quick walk through of the reception space to make sure that no guests are left behind," she points out, adding, "don't forget to check the bathrooms!"

Save the top of your wedding cake.

If you'd like to save the top layer of your wedding cake—if you freeze it properly, it will be delicious on your one-year anniversary—ask someone local to take it home with them and keep it in their freezer until you can collect it, says Bernstein. "Ask your baker to provide you with detailed instructions on how to properly wrap the cake and then, don't forget to pass this information on to whomever is taking the top layer home with them," she says.

Get your wedding dress and accessories home.

Bernstein says that, "if you're like most ladies I know, you probably swapped your heels out for flip-flops, draped your veil over a chair, and gave your lipstick to your maid-of-honor at some point during the reception." So, ask her—or another friend or family member—to do one last task: "Collect these items and take them back to your hotel suite," Bernstein says.

And return your tuxedo.

To avoid late fees, make sure you turn in your tuxedo on time—even if that means asking a groomsman to do it for you. You can help your friends too, by "assigning one of your pals to collect all of tuxedos and return them to the formalwear company," Bernstein suggests.

Distribute vendor gratuities.

You may want to tip many of your wedding vendors at the end of the night. "So that you're not fumbling with cash after the last song," Fisher suggests, "put vendor gratuities in sealed and labeled envelopes the week of the wedding." However, she adds, "you will probably be too busy dancing and saying goodbyes to remember to actually hand them out at the end of the night. So, ask your maid-of-honor, best man, or parents" to give out the tips, Fisher says.


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