7 Things No One Tells You About Changing Your Name

Tips for changing your last name | Adam Nyholt | blog.theknot.c Adam Nyholt

There are some truths you just don’t find out until you’ve done it—a legal-name-change veteran’s take on making it official.

1. You may be flipping through your wedding album before you have a new passport.
Changing your name is a marathon, not a sprint. Some things will be as easy as walking into your bank’s local branch while others will require the patience of a patron saint. It’s best to be over-prepared—keep a file of important documents at the ready and tote it along on each name-changing adventure (a woman at the DMV gave me proverbial gold stars for my organized dossier).

2. Your marriage certificate will get more views than a viral YouTube video.
Everyone—the cable company, the bank, the social security office—will demand to see your marriage certificate before making things official. Do yourself a favor and order a couple of certified copies (from the state where you were legally wed) and make a few more at your local print shop. You may want to keep a copy on you at all times because the second you leave it at home, someone will inevitably want to see it. Trust me.

3. Your new signature will look kid-ish.
I’ve always prided myself on a legible signature. All of a sudden I was writing new letters in cursive for the first time since the fifth grade!  An “r” that sat dangerously close to an “s” made my new last name look like kid scrawl. Thank goodness there was no “z” or “q” to attempt! Full disclosure: It’s been almost a year and it still feels a little like forgery.

4. Your identity will be questioned.
With all the changes you’ll be making, it’s highly probable your new credit card may arrive before, say, your driver’s license. This might get awkward when you’re picking up a bottle of wine. Flash the ring and plead newlywed. Or show the cashier that crumpled copy of your marriage certificate you’ve been toting around for months.

5. You may almost miss your doctor’s appointment.
It will take some time before you get used to hearing your new last name. You may sit in your doctor’s office waiting room and listen to a nurse call it several times before jumping out of your seat and apologizing profusely. People will look at you like you’ve had a lobotomy. Don’t worry—you’ll adjust before your next checkup.

6. You’ll need to upgrade your tote bag.
This is one of the “perks” of all the paper pushing—you’ll have a new monogram! This means out with the old and in with the new tote bags, jewelry, stationery, luggage tags, towels—you get the idea. Word to the wise: Before you start stamping your initials on everything, make sure they work together. If your new letters leave you with something like SUK or FAT, opt for a two-letter monogram or use your new last initial on its own.

7. You may lose your frequent-flyer miles.
Okay, not really. But I left more miles than I’d care to admit on the table. There are so many things you absolutely must change, from bank accounts to government issued IDs, that when you get to the “other” stuff, you’re exhausted. Depending on the airline, you may have to place a phone call or send them copies of every piece of said government-issued identification (oh, and your marriage certificate) in order to have those miles converted to the new you. Tired yet?

Want More? Of Course You Do!
> The easiest way to change your name…Hitchswitch Name Change!
> 5 answers to your most commonly asked name-change questions
> Look who got their marriage license…

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  • Lisa
    09/07/14 at 11:01

    I think it is time to rethink name changing after marriage. Not only is it difficult to change your name but with half of marriages ending in divorce, second marriages and children before marriage confusion gets compounded with each change. Children may feel left out if they are only one with a different last name and the above list doesn’t even mention professional credentials in a maiden name that can’t or shouldn’t be changed. A name change can affect your career and cost you a lot of money.

  • 09/07/14 at 04:28

    It is amazing how much time and effort it takes to complete a name change. 3 months in I’m still finding things I need to change, we also did a blog post about the subject but more from a how it feels to be the one changing your name here: http://sarahpluslaura.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-name-change-life-after-saying-i-do.html?m=1

  • Crystal
    09/07/14 at 11:33

    Here’s a few tips I learned the hard way:
    Keep your maiden name as your middle name. That’ll help with the “are you sure that’s you?” Awkward situations
    If possible, have gift checks written out to mr OR mrs bc I didn’t exist yet!
    Try to get a joint account before getting married

    Oh, and don’t move 3 states away 4 days after getting married. Not so fun.

  • Tracy
    10/11/14 at 09:49

    Or you could just get with the modern times and keep your name.

  • Joanie
    10/11/14 at 10:29

    I never changed my name 16 years ago when I married. I never had to deal with any of these issues.

  • Jade
    10/13/14 at 01:46

    Simple answer, don’t change your name.

  • 10/14/14 at 10:28

    Please recognize in your articles that many women keep their birth names!

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Escort cards are extremely easy to personalize and an excellent way to bring in your wedding day colors -- from calligraphed seating cards set atop a textured linen to apples tagged with each guest's name or small personalized bundles of lavender tied off with string. Other ways to display escort cards: Pin them to a clothesline, post them on a board covered in color-coordinated ribbon, or incorporate them into your cocktail hour using personalized stirrers tagged with guests' names.
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