So you decided to get hitched — congrats! This is undoubtedly an exciting time in your life. Of course, there are many things to consider after you say "I do" and, if you've decided you are indeed going to take your new spouse's name, how to change your name when you get married is probably somewhere near the top of your checklist. As someone who already went through that whole song and dance, let me break it to you gently: The steps you take down the aisle are just the first in a long path that ultimately leads to you winding up with a different surname. Not sure where start? I've got you covered.
Before we start racing toward the last name finish line, though, keep in mind that the process varies from state to state. Yes, this can be very confusing. In this modern day and age where the answer to any query or conundrum is sought with a simple internet search, turning to Google can lead to extra work in the long run if you follow the protocol for another state. The good news is that there are several steps that are nearly universal, meaning you're gonna have to take care of them at some point in the process. Why not now? Putting it off isn't going to make that line at the DMV any shorter.
So let's start with some of the basics, and you can work out the details specific to where you live later.
1. Get a Marriage Certificate (And Maybe Some Extra Copies Of It)
While there are obviously other reasons you might petition to change your legal name, the act of getting married is what allows to allows you to change your name in this case in the first place, so it makes sense you can't get very far without the original marriage certificate. You should have been sent one automatically from the clerk's office in the county you were married, but you can always call to get copies. (More on why you might need extras in a bit.)
2. Update Your Social Security Card
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there's just no way to make this part of the process sound nice: If you visit the Social Security office, it'll probably suck. I waited in line at the Social Security office for over two hours when I changed my name, and it was hot in there, y'all. Perk? You can now go online to the Social Security Administration's website, fill out the form to get a new Social Security card, mail that form along with your marriage certificate and other required documents to any Social Security office, and have your new Social Security Card send to you within 10 business days. Easy peasy! (Don't worry; they'll mail back any official docs you send.)
3. Change Your Driver's License, Too
Unfortunately, you probably can't get around having to make a trip to your local DMV. Again, this process may vary depending on where you live; in my state, for example, you only have 10 days to update your driver's license after your name or address changes. The upside is that, with most DMVs, this update will then be reflected on all of the vehicle and driver records that pertain to you.
To change your name, you need to fill out a name change form (you can likely print online from your state DMV site) and take it to your local DMV. There, you will present it, along with your old license and your marriage license. For good measure, you should probably bring along that brand spankin' new Social Security card, to boot. In some states, this does not automatically entitle you to a new driver's license — the information will be current in the system, but you won't receive credentials reflecting your new last name unless you fill out a form for a new driver's license and pay the fee associated with getting one (typically around $10).
4. Head to Your Bank
It will be difficult to deposit, receive, or withdraw money if your bank account information still reflects your old name. So grab your marriage certificate, your new Social Security card and driver's license, and make your way to your local bank branch to request all of your accounts be updated with your married name. At this point, you'll probably want to order checks and/or a debit card with your new last name.
5. Update Everything Else
Here comes the tedious part. I know what you're thinking: Wait, we haven't even gotten to the tedious part yet? Don't stress too much, though. While this last leg of the journey is pretty darn tedious, it isn't terribly difficult. It's just a matter of tracking down everything else that sports your maiden name.
If you've got a recent stack of mail sitting around, that's a good place to start jotting down names of companies to contact. This includes calling the post office, credit card companies, utility companies, insurance companies, health care providers, the voter registration office, any schools you or your children attend, your mortgage company and, well, you get the picture.
I know it's lot, but it's OK. We'll get through it together. And hey, if you don't want to change your name at all, that's A-OK, too. As they say in the vernacular: You do you.