Wedding Wednesday: A New Name

Did you change your name when you got married? Will you? It's no longer a given that a new wife will take her husband's name when they marry.

For me, although I loved my maiden name and that connection to my family, I'd waited my whole life to get out of the end of the alphabet and was thrilled to move from W to K! Also, professionally, since Jason and I work together and our brand is based on our name, it definitely made since for me to make the switch.

For every couple the pros and cons stack up differently and I'm always intrigued to hear how other couples approach the concept of changing names. When I heard the beginnings of this story, I knew I wanted to blog about it. It's a unique twist on changing names and includes some great tips for couples who are going in a more non-traditional name change route.

Meet Meredith & John, when they got married, they both took a new name. Here's the story straight from Meredith:
After I got engaged to my husband John, we began discussing what last name I would want to use. I was pretty attached to my maiden name and we briefly considered him taking my name but, realizing that my husband and father would then have identical first and last names, decided this would be too confusing. Neither one of us were very fond of his last name, though. John never felt like he had the same connection to his father's side of the family as he did his mother's. After some discussion, we decided to both change our last names to his mother's maiden name - Clarke. We thought it would be great to both go into our wedding day with our original last names and then be announced as Mr. and Mrs. Clarke for the first time together.
The logistics of this, though, turned out to be a giant headache! Being consumed with wedding details (and having already booked a honeymoon cruise in our original names), we didn't legally change our names until after we were married. For John, it was relatively simple, though somewhat time consuming. He simply had to mail in a legal name change form to a judge and have them process it (we were living in Northern Virginia at the time and the process is different depending on where you live.) It took a couple months and a phone call to the county court to actually get the form but at the time we weren't in a hurry.
For me, though, things were a little trickier since the name I wanted to change to did not match my husband's last name on the marriage certificate. I was able to get a new social security card relatively easily (which, looking back, is a little worrying!) John and I went together in person, showed someone our marriage certificate and his legal name change form, explained our situation, and both got new cards. No biggie. My driver's license was only slightly more challenging. I showed the same information to the woman at the DMV counter who had to get approval from a manager in order to process my request.
That was back in early 2011 and I hadn't thought much about it again until this year when I decided to finally renew my passport.  And then the real headache began. First, I was told I had not provided adequate information for a name change. When I tried to explain my situation, I got put on a call list for the office that was directly in charge of processing my passport. The person I spoke to could not provide me a time frame when I could expect the call. At the time, I was about 3 months out from an international trip, so was getting fairly anxious. When I hadn't heard from them after a week, I began making frequent calls to the office. On about the 5th call, someone finally informed me that I would need to have a legal name change in order to get my new passport.
Very luckily, I was able to go to a county courthouse in my area and receive a name change form in about 45 minutes. I got my passport about a week after mailing it in and am now ready for my trip! But I learned some valuable lessons about the easiest way to go about changing your name. Here are my quick tips:
*If you and your fiance(e) are thinking about doing something non-traditional with your names after marriage, look into all the legal stuff well in advance of your wedding date/honeymoon travel date.
*If you both want to change your last names, have the male change his name legally before the wedding date and include the new name on your marriage certificate.
*If the husband wants to take his wife's last name, make sure that a marriage certificate will be enough for all of his legal name changes (this wasn't the case in Virginia but could be in other states).
*Plan for any imminent travel accordingly. Make sure you know how long the process of changing your name will take and decide whether to travel under your old or new name.
*When turning in my legal name change form for my passport, the State Department required that the address on that form match the address I was applying from. If you'll be moving at some point in the name change/marriage process, take that into consideration!

Thanks so much Meredith for sharing your story!

Questions for Meredith? Or anyone else want to share their name-change (or not change!) story? Leave a comment!

1 comment

  1. I finally just changed my last name just shy of four years later. I always planned on it, then started to waffle, and then one thing led to another and bam -- 2009-2013 passed in split-second! (it was a pain though, so I can't even imagine the hassle and stress of doing something like in this story!)