Transitioning from Ms. to Mrs. - A Guide to Changing Your Name
With so much planning going into creating your perfect wedding day spending at least one year with your wedding planner hiring vendors, trying on wedding gowns, comparing fabric swatches, tasting cakes, and teaming up with your planner who will ensure every detail has been covered, but not nearly as much thought goes into what happens after your I Do’s!
Changing your last name isn’t as daunting a process as you may believe it to be. First of all, don’t worry about the name change process until after you return from your honeymoon. This is the best advice we can give you for the sake of both sanity, (You have just spent a year planning a beautiful wedding. Trust us and take some time off!), and for travel reasons. Even if you’re not traveling abroad, all airlines today require a Photo ID, and the name on it needs to match the name on the ticket. If you are leaving the country, you’ll need your passport, and the process of changing your name on that usually takes six to eight weeks, so it’s best to just use your maiden name, enjoy your honeymoon, and get to work on the name change process when you return.
When you get back to reality, this is what you will need to do to legally change your name:
Take your new marriage license (the real one, not the dozens of copies you will want to keep on hand) to your local Social Security office, along with two forms of identification. They'll file it and issue you a confirmation page that you'll take to the Department of Motor Vehicles, along with your marriage license, to get your new driver's license. Don't forget to change your passport too, as that can be a hassle if you forget and try to travel internationally. It's a simple 1-2-3 process with the third step completed by mail if your local U.S. Post Office doesn't provide on-site facilities.
Here are a few more tips to make your transition from Ms. to Mrs. less difficult personally and professionally:
1. If you plan to change your name, do it right away. There are certain states have time limits for filing it that easily. If you're going to be adding one of you to the other's health insurance plan, it really is much easier if you don't have to change that after you've done the initial paperwork.
2. Decide which name you will be using professionally and send an email to your coworkers, clients, and vendors when you return from your honeymoon, re-introducing yourself with the name you are using. This will be especially important if your company plans to change your email address to reflect your new last name. If you do not plan to change it, let them know that, too. This will eliminate any confusion.
3. Consider keeping your "maiden" name as your middle name. My real middle name will always be what you were given at birth, but for legal and paperwork purposes, using your maiden name when you marry can prove to be invaluable over the years as you slowly discover places where you had forgotten to change your name. For example, random car rental points or airline frequent flyer miles...you don't want to loose those! It's also important for reconnecting with old friends through social media.
4. Make a list of all your bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, and other important financial documents. Then make another list of memberships, like the gym and airline loyalty programs. Be sure to check their websites. Some will let you change all of your information online. However, most credit cards and financial institutions will require a copy or scan, and a name-change authorization letter, for each one of them. If your bank is nearby, it really is much easier to simply go in person. If you and your new spouse haven't already put your names on each other's accounts and changed your beneficiaries you can turn it into a double date adventure! Just think of how fun it would be to be together when you get your new driver's license with your spouse's last name on it!!
Believe it or not, changing your name is the easy part. Here is what happens after all your paperwork has been filed away.
1. You will probably find yourself flipping through your wedding album before you have a new passport.
Remember, changing your name is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Some things will be simple like walking into the local branch of your bank. Other things, however, will require the patience of a saint. It is best to be over-prepared for any inevitability, keeping a file of all important documents at the ready and just tote it along on each name-changing adventure.
2. Your marriage certificate will definitely get more views than a viral video on YouTube.
Everyone from the cable company, your bank, the social security office, your credit card company, will demand to see your marriage certificate before making things official. Trust us, do yourself a favor and order a couple of certified copies from the state where you were legally wed and make a few more copies for yourself. If you really want to save yourself a headache, you may want to keep a copy on you at all times because the second you leave home without it, inevitably someone will request it.
3. Your new signature will look kid-ish.
If you have always prided yourself on a legible signature you may need to come to terms with the fact that all of a sudden, writing new letters in cursive for the first time since the fifth grade are going to take some serious getting used to. Practice your new last name before you have to sign all sorts of legal documents to avoid it looking like kid scrawl. Full disclosure: It will take nearly a year before it no longer feels like forgery.
4. Everyone will question your identity.
With all of these new changes you are making, it is highly probable that your new credit card may arrive before your new driver's license. This might get awkward when you're picking up a bottle of wine. You can always try flashing your ring and pleading newlywed, but if that doesn't work, show the cashier that crumpled copy of your marriage certificate you've been toting around for months.
5. You may almost miss your doctor's appointment.
It will definitely take some time before you get used to hearing your new last name. You may sit in the waiting room of your doctor's office and listen to a nurse call out your new name several times before jumping out of your seat and apologizing profusely. People will look at you like you've had a lobotomy, but don't worry. We promise that you will adjust before your next checkup.
6. It's time to go shopping!! You will need to upgrade your tote bag.
One of the "perks" of all this paper pushing is that you get to go shopping. You have a new monogram, after all! This means out with the old and in with the new tote bags, jewelry, stationery, luggage tags, towels, well, you get the idea. A word to the wise, however, before you start stamping your initials on everything, make sure they work together. If your new letters leave you with something like SUK or FAT, opt for a two-letter monogram or simply use your new last initial all on its own.
7. You might lose your frequent-flyer miles.
Okay, not really. But we have heard more than one story of someone leaving more miles on the table than they cared to admit. There are so many things you absolutely must change, from bank accounts to government issued IDs, that when you get to all the "other" stuff, you are simply exhausted. Now, depending on the airline, you may have to place a phone call or send them copies of every piece of said government-issued identification (oh, and your marriage certificate) in order to have those miles converted to the new you.