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Striking the Set

How to dismantle the party of a lifetime.

The Dress
Whether you want to save your gown or sell it, you'll want it white again. Get the dress to cleaning experts as soon as you can so stains don't set and never ever try to treat a spot yourself. J. Scheer & Co., the gown preservationist to Madonna and Sandra Bullock, will pick up your dress in Manhattan or provide free shipping nationally. If you schedule a pickup more than a month in advance, you'll get $50 off. (From $495 to $795; 800-448-7291; jscheer.com.)

The Shoes
Most wedding shoes are made out of satin, which means they can get very dirty from even one wearing. It also means that, thankfully, they’re easy to dye. T.O. Dey (212-683-6300; todeyshoes.com) will dye your shoes any color that’s darker than white—black being the ultimate ($25). They’ll also lower the heel or replace it with a new one ($29–$40).

The Gifts
Emily Post says you technically have three months to write your thank-you notes, but it’s best to draft them as soon as each gift arrives. The giver will appreciate the confirmation and you won’t be overburdened with dozens of notes at once. Also, keep in mind that you can often change registry selections up to a year after your event. And certain stores, like Williams-Sonoma, give couples a 10 percent discount to purchase outstanding items themselves.

The Flowers
If you know your guests aren’t likely to take home your blooming centerpieces, ask your florist to make delivery arrangements with a nearby charity. Belle Fleur regularly brings bouquets to Ronald McDonald House (rmhc.org) and Gilda’s Club (gildasclub-nyc.org).

The Cake
Even if you’ve micromanaged your catering needs down to the last detail, you’ll likely have some extras when the last dance ends. Have your caterer arrange in advance to donate select unused food items to City Harvest (917-351-8700; cityharvest.org). Unopened bottles of seltzer or fruit juice, boxes of crackers, and individual desserts are welcome offerings. You’ll even qualify for a tax deduction.

From the Fall 2005 New York Wedding Guide

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