Just imagine – it’s the most wonderful day of the year, or more accurately one of the best days of your entire adult life: you’re married! You did it! The two of you did it: you tied the knot, threw the bouquet, did that dance, celebrated with your loved ones – and by now, you should have a shiny new marriage license to prove it. So, now what? Ah, yes – for some the next steps are simple: go on, keep living and keep loving. But for most others, there’s a litany of legislative shit to take care of before you actually have a new last name. Most things in life, we want to learn and retain for a lifetime – but when it comes to planning weddings and anything related to it – you gotta figure you’re only doing it once, but when it comes to following the rules – it’s important that you do this one right.
As soon as you bring your signed marriage certificate back to the county of your choosing, make sure that you retain enough copies of your official wedding license so that you don’t mind momentarily parting with one for a few weeks. Most courthouses will let you get multiples for a discount from the get-go, so score a few for good measure – you never know where else it’ll come in handy, or the multitudes of reasons you’ll need to have it at your disposal.
First thing first, updating the most legal version of your name in the eyes of the government: dealing with the social security administration; this is the one that matters the most, closely followed by your drivers license. The good news: it’s free, and you don’t really have to go into their office (unless you want to). The bad: You’ll be without a copy of your marriage license and a government issue document with your old name on it for verification purposes, like your drivers license, state identification card or passport. Or, you can wait in a 2+ hour line. The choice is ultimately yours, but I’ll give you a hint: I mailed mine in. Within 2-3 weeks, I had a new SSN card – and within 2 more weeks I had all my documents back in my little paws. Next, either make an appointment or brave the queue of your local DMV with a copy of your wedding license and your old drivers license. As a warning, you’ll have to forfeit your old ID with your former name so kiss it goodbye so you can say hello to your new moniker.
Before you even have your signed document in hand, you can give your auto and home insurance a call and let them know that your marriage status has changed – most likely you’ll start seeing a discount in your fees immediately (cha-ching!).When it comes to your employer, know that most companies and their health insurance programs have a 60 day window where you can add your spouse to your current coverage if you’re looking for an upgrade in that regard. Then make sure you reach out to your bank, your utility accounts and your employer and make sure that your new name has been updated in their systems; sometimes they’ll ask for a copy of your marriage license, others all you’ll need to do is send them a scanned version.
Last, but not least – your social media accounts! At last – on to the fun part! If you’re on Instagram or Twitter, you can add a “Mrs” in front of your name, if you use your last name – time for a little upgrade, and on Facebook there’s an option for people to search for you by your former name as well.
Or, maybe all that hullabaloo isn’t really for you – you’re digging your old name, it’s been tried and true – and that’s beautiful! Over the last decade, there have been couples here and there that have defied the conventions of marriage and created their own traditions: hyphenated names, the husband taking the wife’s name, and even creating a brand new last name that means something to the couple.
The name change game affects all married couples, simply because choosing to not update your name is still a choice; either way you play it, it’s an adventure you choose for yourself. So, what are you going to do with your last name?