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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Changing My Name: Should I or Shouldn't I?

A name change can be a big undertaking! The thought of taking your future husband’s name can be exciting, but several questions may come to mind when considering this:

- Will I lose my identity?
- What if I don’t like my future husband’s last name?
- How will co-workers, friends and family refer to me?
- Can my husband take my name?
- How long will it take for my name to be changed?

These are all legitimate questions! This article is to help guide you to the answers, so you can make the right decision about your name.

How do I go about changing my name?
Ok, so you’ve decided to change your name, and you’ve determined what your name will be. How do you get started? Before the wedding, check with your local municipal government to find out what the process is (this can vary by city). However, the majority of work of changing your name will happen after the wedding!

The most important agencies and organizations who need to know what your new name is are the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Social Security Administration and your employer. As soon as you have received your marriage certificate, make arrangements to have your driver’s license, Social Security Card and employment records updated. Once those are done, then you can make changes on bank accounts, credit cards, and loan accounts. Some companies will allow you to make the changes over the phone, while some will require you fax them a written notice, to include a copy of your marriage certificate.

This can be a lot of work! However, there are tools and kits that can assist you. Google “name change kits” for different options available to you!

One important tip: When booking your honeymoon, book the reservations in your maiden name. You will not have updated documentation (driver’s license and/or passport) to verify your identity, particularly if you are traveling right after the wedding! Airlines and cruise ships will not allow you on board if your travel documents do not match your identification!

Should I hyphenate?
Many brides consider hyphenation for several reasons. Some do not want to lose their identities as an individual. Some may also have built a professional reputation with their maiden names, and do not want to lose that! Whatever the reason, there are options! If you decide to hyphenate, keep in mind that your new last name will be ‘Smith-Jones’, not “Smith” and not “Jones.” Another option for retaining your maiden name is to use is as your middle name, taking your future husband’s last name as your new last name. For example, your name would be “Susan Smith Jones” and your official last name would be “Jones.” Yet another option is to continue to use your maiden name professionally, yet using your husband’s name in other areas. My personal option on this option is that it may be a bit confusing….you will have to keep up with one name in one setting, and another name in another setting!

Do grooms take on the bride’s name?
There are some instances (albeit rare) where your future husband may choose to take on your last name. Although I have never met a person who chooses to do this, it is still an option!

How long will it take to change my name?
Because there are so many entities that need to be officially notified of your new name, it will take some time to accomplish this task. As we mentioned previously, a name change kit can be a big help to you!

Your Planning Assignment
Take some time to think about what you would like your new name to be. Discuss this thoroughly with your future husband…he should be on board with your decision! Remember that you will have this name for the rest of your life, so don’t rush this decision! Finally, be patient with the name change process, and be patient with your family, friends and co-workers. They have to get accustomed to your new name as well!


  1. This is a great post filled with thought-provoking information. I've been married more than once and each time, I took my husband's last name. I finally decided that I wanted to be who I was, not the relationship I thought I was morphing into, so after my divorce, I took back my maiden name and kept it when I remarried. I plan to go out of this world with the same name I had when I came into it and that suits both my husband and me just fine!

  2. Love your attitude Maureen! When I married the first time, I dropped my maiden name. My first marriage didn't work out, so when I remarried, I decided to use my maiden as my middle name. I took my husband's name, but people will always know that I was a Fields first! :-)

    Thanks for sharing!