Traditionally speaking, all women in the U.S. were expected to assume their husband's surname after marriage. Nowadays these kinds of old-fashioned etiquette rules have fallen to the wayside. The decision to change your name after you get married is entirely up to you, but if you've decided to change it, you've got a bit of paperwork ahead of you.
As with many legal matters, rules vary by municipality, so check with your local city hall to get the specifics.
Generally, there are several steps anyone who wants to change his or her name will have to take, regardless of where they live. Use this list as a guide to get the process started.
Before the Wedding
- Tell the HR department at your place of work so they can change your email address, business cards, etc.
- Tell your friends and family that you're changing your name, just in case anyone plans on giving you a monogrammed wedding gift.
- Make your honeymoon reservations using your maiden name. You won't have a passport or drivers license in your new name yet, so you'll need your tickets to match your documentation.
After the Wedding
- Get a new social security card. Once your marriage license arrives in the mail, which usually takes a few weeks, download a form from the Social Security website. Take the completed form, the marriage license and identification to your local social security office to get a new card. If you've gotten creative with your last name, you may also need to go through more formal name change procedures.
- Get a new drivers license. Most DMVs will change it with a copy of a marriage certificate, although others require you to wait until your social security card has been changed. Check with your local DMV for their rules.
- Update any necessary paperwork. Read this name change checklist to make sure you cover all of your bases: banks, insurance policies, credit cards, passports, etc. Visit your office's HR department again with your new social security card to change your name on financial information.
- Start using it! It will sound a little funny at first, but once you start using your new last name, everyone else will catch on. Don't be afraid to courteously correct people when they erroneously use your maiden name.