AOW A-Z Of Getting Married – O is for Oh My God There Is So Much To Clear Up (or…The Day After)


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O is for Oh My God There Is So Much To Clear Up (or…The Day After) by Katy


There were two aspects of the day after our wedding that I really hadn’t considered in the run up – the first, practical (hence the title) and the second, emotional.  Both hit me with the force of a traction engine (whilst nursing a very definite First Hangover As A Married Woman – ouch).


When Mr W and I were planning our wedding, we had lots of spreadsheets, timetables and to-do lists (although I managed to leave all 5 copies of my last minute to-do list at home on the morning of the wedding and had to rely on my dad’s emails on his mobile – so I wasn’t quite as organised as I’d thought) – all of which stopped on the day of the wedding.  Our wedding was fairly full of details and our venue had a lot of rooms that were all for us and all fillable – so we had a cake-and-photo-booth room, a Ukelele-band-room in the bar (which was also where the evening guests were greeted), lots of tables decorated in the main hall, a disco room, a children’s room (which I am ashamed to say I never even went into!), plus the rooms upstairs where I’d got ready.

First, third and final photographs by Karl Randay of Foster Hargreaves

I think you can take it from these two facts that a) there was a lot of STUFF at our wedding and b) we were pretty organised with how to get all said Stuff to the venue and into the right places.  I drew diagrams for the venue with how I wanted the tables to look (I might have been reading too many wedding blogs in the run up).  We had loads of boxes with different labels on.  My sister in law made personalised party bags for all the 17 children, and put together a room full of craft activities for them.  My mum and dad were fantastic on the morning of the wedding, helping with the arrangements while I got ready upstairs.  The place looked lovely.

Photograph taken by a family friend

HOWEVER.  In all our military planning, we really truly had not considered what was going to happen to all this Stuff when the wedding finished.  Luckily, as my mum and dad had been through two other daughters’ weddings, they were very keen to give as much of the Stuff away as possible to guests as keepsakes – so many teacups and flowers got given away as people were leaving in the evening.  But when we arrived back at the venue the next morning, they had cleared everything into a big pile in one room for us to take – and there was a LOT of it.  Cake, craft stuff, picture frames, teacups, bowls of sweets, more cake, flower arrangements, owls made of icing, more bloody teacups, moustaches on sticks, sheep masks (um), other people’s Tupperware and cake tins, and more cake.  Because there was another wedding on at our venue that day, we had to be in and out pretty sharpish.  It was stressful.  I got grumpy.  Things were doled out to whoever was around without much thought.

Here is what I learnt:-

1. Think in advance about how all this magical stuff you are planning will be dismantled afterwards.  Even if you are having a hotel wedding reception where the staff will clear everything away for you there may still be things that you have brought with you that you will want back.  Making quick decisions when you are tired, emotional, possibly hungover and a bit overwhelmed is stressful.  Having planned for those decisions will make them easier.

2. You know how people offer to help with the wedding?  Ask them to be your Day After Co-ordinator (or just help to shift stuff, or move people to where their cars are if they’ve left them at the venue overnight).  It is not as glamorous as hand-stamping your invitations or coming dress shopping with you, but it is just as useful.

3. If you are being lent anything, make people label their belongings/cake tins /Tupperware.  Seriously.

The scale of all this will be different for everyone – if you’re having a village hall or garden affair where you decorate everything yourselves, you’re going to have a lot more clearing up to do than if you have a hotel reception (although your time pressures might be less).  Wherever you get married, you’re going to have presents, cards, a marriage certificate (keep hold of that), a wedding dress, flowers, etc to keep track of.  You might have suits that need returning to the hire place, or relatives you need to say goodbye to before they start back on their 800 mile return journey.  Which leads me on to…

The Emotions

I didn’t find my wedding day overwhelming – I was excited, and happy, and nervous, and silly, and stressed, and all sorts of other things – but I felt able to enjoy the whole day, and I really had fun.  The next day, however, was a real rollercoaster and I definitely felt overwhelmed, particularly when my family left at around lunchtime.  Mr W and I were incredibly tired, and emotional – and I don’t think I’d expected that at all.  Well, I’d expected the tiredness – but not the weeping.

We’d decided to stay one night in our flat before leaving for honeymoon and once both families had left, we locked ourselves in, slept for hours, ordered Chinese takeaway, drank champagne, ate leftover cake, checked facebook as friends’ photos of the wedding started popping up, and watched Bugsy Malone (one of the songs ended up being a real highlight of the wedding disco).  It was just what we needed, before heading to the seaside and then to Gatwick and the honeymoon proper.

Everyone’s different and friends of mine have left for honeymoon straight away – others have had barbecues or lunches the day after to carry on the party.  My only piece of advice would be to make sure the two of you have some time alone together on the day after (schedule it in to your military planning set out above if you have to).  And have tissues at the ready.


Categories: A-Z of Getting Married
16 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Caroline
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    My mum started giving away the vases from our centrepieces the morning after. She had managed to off load about half before the florist arrived to reclaim them as they won’t part of the price package. Big Oops, lots of apologies.
    Great post…I didn’t even think about the “day after” and wish I had been a bit more organised. There are a few bits that got binned or given away that I wish I had kept and A LOT that I kept only to discard a couple of weeks after the honeymoon.
    On another note – i love your dress x

    • Katy W
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

      Thank you! Oh no re the vases – luckily our florist didn’t want ours back (good job, they all got handed out at midnight on the night of the wedding…). The stuff that we have left is in our storage unit – I am a bit oversentimental and probably won’t end up chucking it but probably should! There are a few things I wish we’d kept hold of too.

      K x

  2. Fran
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    V useful post. I want to ebay a few bits after our wedding which is fast approaching, so will need to make sure we get it all back home. Haven’t thought about how we’re going to fit it all in our car (it won’t!) or who’s going to help us load it all back up – but will sort this now – added to the ever-growing to do list!

  3. Lara Blue
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    This is great advice. I was in the exact same situation and it’s something that deeply amuses me- how could I have been so organised and considered about everything to do with the wedding day and COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN about the day after??? Yes, I considered the days after and even the years after in my head, but apart from asking the venue at our first meeting about leaving stuff there after the wedding, the details of the day after escaped my attention.

    I don’t know why. I made arrangements for the marriage certificate to be taken in so clearly the planning aspect wasn’t the problem. I think I was just so focussed on “the day” that I hadn’t looked directly past it unless something required obvious attention.

    My oversight came to light at some point during the evening reception when my Step-Dad asked me what was happening with everything in the morning as the venue needed everything moved by 10am (during the first meeting they had told me that there was plenty of spare rooms to keep stuff even if another wedding was going on the day after so this was unexpected). It was the most stressed I had felt all day. My parents couldn’t help me in the morning but packed up as much as they could to take home. We gave away flower arrangements and decorations in a flurry to delighted guests. I was horrified at the thought of someone else dealing with the consequences of my carelessness but my father & his girlfriend insisted on collecting everything in the morning so that we could sleep in a little (I believe she threatened to stab my new husband with her shoe if he turned up) so we packed and organised everything after our last guests departed to be ready for the morning.

    The next day was a nightmare. I shall draw a veil over the details but it included being screamed at by my father, a frantic taxi journey, hurried honeymoon packing and a hire car horror. We joked that it was a “trial by fire” for our marriage and generally made light of the situation where we could or made each other laugh with angry witticisms where we couldn’t.

    That day was more stressful than the entire wedding planning process and I wish I had been more organised, but in the end, it still didn’t matter.

    • Lara Blue
      Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      PS: Love the photo of you and your husband with all the cake. Your dress is gorgeous :)

    • Katy W
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m sorry you had a stressful time of it the day after – it’s so weird that it comes as such a surprise – like you say, I’d thought loads about how marriage (as a general long term concept) was going to be, but just neglected to think about the time immediately after the wedding!

      K x

  4. Katielase
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Great advice, I second the suggestion to delegate the day after tasks. My Mum and new Mother in Law took charge of the clearing up (although actually, I didn’t delegate this as such, about a week before the wedding I mentioned that we’d need to sort things out the day after and was firmly told by The Mums that it was their job and all I had to do was show up and collect my things). They drafted in some of my friends and family and we had the marquee cleared in 30 mins. What I learnt: locate the organised efficient people in your wedding party and get them to worry about it :-p

    Also definitely agree with the emotional side, we drove to Cornwall the day after our wedding and by the time we got into our gorgeous hotel room, I was done. I absolutely could not see anyone other than my husband. We ordered room service, because I refused to even smile at waitresses by this point, and we ate in bed, watching NetFlix on the iPad, before passing out and waking up the next day a lot more ready to enjoy being newly weds!

    K x

  5. Katy W
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Thank you everyone! Just rushing out so will reply properly later but I’m glad if this was useful for those planning (or resonated with those who are on the other side!)

    K x

  6. Posted November 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Ah the wedding clear-up. Like you I hadn’t really thought about the logistics of the day after or how it would all pan out, but in the end we had to clear the room on the evening of the wedding itself as the tables belonged to the catering company and had to be packed up at 3am when it all finished. As a result family members and friends (most of whom were a bit worse for wear) helped us pack everything up once most of the guests had gone home and then we left everything in bags/boxes to be picked up from the chateau on Monday morning. I sent lots of family members home with the flower arrangements and photo frames and all the rest was just jammed into Ikea bags to get it off the tables. It was annoying at the time but actually worked out quite well in the end as we had the next day free to catch up properly with friends and run people to the airport during the day without having to go back to the chateau as well!

  7. Laura
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I too was shocked with just how much stuff we had to clear up and squeeze back into the car! The thing that got me through it was tthat I did it whilst wearing my veil again! I though “why not, when will I get to wear it again?!”
    Sometime I regret not hosting someting the day after but we went for pizza with some friends that had travelled for the wedding then went home to open pressies. It was very chilled out and great fun!

    • Katy W
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      Slightly regretting not having a veil now to be able to do this!

      K x

  8. Posted November 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Amazing advice! We did think it through and we went with the magic of delegation!! We left from the reception straight to the airport so it felt a bit magic and we never had to face the reality of the mess and the horrible day after feeling.

    I highly recommend it! If you can rope in volunteers!!

  9. Martha
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad someone has put into words the strange Next Day feeling! Eevryone knows wedding planning is stressful but the first day of marriage is so much more emotionally draining and I really admire anyone who can just jet off on homeymoon immediately! Like many above mention, we had to collect all our stuff before 10 am the next day and since we’d not been to bed until 3.30am and I’d consumed more alcohol that night than I did in my entire Freshers Week many moons previously, it was a most unpleasant way to start of married life. I do wish someone had warned us about the crying, the constant butterflies in tummy, the feeling of being overwhelmed…this post is a must read for all soon-to-be-marrieds! Opening all the presents and cards felt obscene, the generousity of loved ones and those I’d never even met, all the good wishes – it all felt like too much but so unbelievably heartwarming too. We didnt cry until 3 days later on the first day of our honeymoon, when husband started sobbing uncontrollably at the steering wheel of hire car after going round the Cordoba one way system at least 15 times ;-)

    • Katy W
      Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

      Oh noooo – that sounds like a stressful experience all round although you tell it very well so I did laugh a bit about the one way system (although I’m sure it was the opposite of funny at the time….!). Agree that opening presents and cards etc is overwhelming in itself which again I wasn’t prepared for. In my next life I am going to do more forward thinking.

      K x

  10. Posted November 30, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I have a really clever way of getting out the clearing up completely: wake-up the morning after your wedding with a migraine so bad that your new husband has to carry you into the bathroom and you can’t even get out of bed until 2pm. Magic, everything was done without me!

    The next day was weird for us. I kind of resented having to do anything and hated having to ask people who had done so much already. There is so much good advice here, soon-to-be-brides: take note!

    • Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      That resenting doing anything really resonates – I sort of felt like ‘I have made so many decisions over the last few months, I am DONE’. Not terribly helpful when you have loads of stuff to shift, limited time, and people disappearing off to their own homes. I think there’s a sense of anti climax as well, probably inevitably, which adds to the feeling of resenting having to do stuff!

      Boo to the migraine (although I guess there was a beneficial side effect that things got done without you…).

      K x

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