Changing Your Name After Marriage: Who Should You Tell First?


If you are planning a wedding, you’ve got to make lots of decisions: What kind of dress?  DJ or band? Inside reception or outside? Change your name or keep it?

The last will be the trickiest; either way, you might be hassled by friends and family who disagree with your choice. Be aware that, if you opt to take your spouse’s name, there will be a fair bit of paperwork involved.

When Your Name Changes.

Your name doesn’t automatically change upon getting married. In New York City, for example, you (and/or your future spouse) need to check a box on the marriage license application to signal that you want to take this optional step.

The change doesn’t legally take effect until after you kiss the groom. You’ll probably need to keep your family name on your honeymoon, too, so that the name on your airline ticket matches your passport or driver’s license. Of course, when you get to your hotel you can still register for the bridal suite as Mr. and Mrs.

How to Let Everyone Know.

Once you return home, you’ll have to inform everyone that touches your financial or legal life about the change. A handy website, walks you through the process and helps to make sure you don’t miss anything.

But, it costs $30. Worth it? You’ll still have to fill out and file the paperwork yourself, plus you’ll be responsible for any fees that individual agencies ask for. That said, this site lends some serious efficiency to the process.

If you opt to do it on your own, remember that you can make a lot of the initial changes online and over the phone.

What To Change ASAP.

1. Social Security Number.

So much of your life is connected to your social security number that you want to make sure it’s attached to the right name. Start by downloading the administration’s form and following the instructions that go with it.  This change is free.

2. Inform Your Employer.

Make sure that taxes and social security deductions are credited to the right person, so tell HR knows about this change in you life. (While you’re in the HR office, you can fill out a new W-4 form and, if you want to, name your spouse as the beneficiary on an employer-provided retirement or life insurance plan.)

3. Tell Your DMV.

A new driver’s license and car registration will most likely set you back a few dollars, plus time waiting in line. Save some time by getting downloadable forms, checklists, and fee schedules from your state’s DMV website.  Having this new ID along with your marriage certificate and Social Security card will make all the other changes (and any mistakes you need to correct down the road) less of a hassle. Bonus: You might be able to change your name on the voter rolls via your DMV paperwork.

4. The State Department.

Get your passport changed so you can take your next trip as Mr. and Mrs. You’ll have to pay the fee for a new passport (as opposed to the lower fee for a renewal) plus have photos taken. Again, you can start the process at the government’s passport website and file your paperwork by mail.

5. Bank, Credit Card, Mortgage And Insurance Companies.

You’ll want to be able to do basic financial transactions (like having your paycheck directly deposited) without extra hassles. You’ll also want the name on your car and home insurance to be consistent with your auto registration and mortgage.  Make sure your credit history doesn’t wind up with strange gaps or errors because of name confusion. There’s a good chance you’ll have to mail a letter to some of these different organizations, but start by phone or by stopping by a branch (with a copy of your marriage certificate).

What To Get Around To Later.

1. Credit Reporting Agencies.

It’s a good idea to get your annual free credit report during the year after you get married to make sure all your information is accurate and attached to the right name.

2. The Rest.

Websites including Bankrate and TheKnot have lists to help you sort out the lower-priority stuff. You’ll eventually want everything to carry your new name, but you might not care if your cable bill or magazine subscriptions have your old name for a few months while you take care of other post-wedding stuff.

And remember, all of these steps are the same (and just as easy) if he decides to take your name instead!


LV Basics: What You Must Know Before Moving In Together

WalletPop: 10 Tips To Avoid Credit Card Debt Disaster In Marriage

PopEater: Madonna Offers Love Advice on 'Marriage Ref'

Lemondrop: Three Dots $100 Gift Certificate Giveaway


Financial planning made simple.

Get your free financial assessment.

Related Tags

Get the latest in your inbox.

Subscription failed!

You're Now Subscribed!