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Hell no, you don’t have to change your name! This is 2022. We are way past forced tradition, aren’t we?
The tradition of a woman adopting her husband’s surname actually started in the 9th-century doctrine of coverture in English common law. Under the doctrine, women were essentially thought of as property to be handed over to a husband by a father. We know, crazy isn’t it? It’s also a historically heterosexist tradition.
But… we totally get that tradition means a lot to people, and many women are redefining the meaning behind changing their last name.
More than 70% of women marrying a man still choose to take their husband’s name when they marry. And that’s OK. It’s all about doing what’s best for you. We’re just happy that couples have options nowadays.
Let’s take a look at a few of those options and how to make them happen.
- Keep your name: This one is easy. Your marriage license will reflect your marriage, letting the powers that be know you’re wedded. Otherwise, proceed like normal. Except now you’re married to your awesome partner doing awesome married couple stuff.
The con to this is, if you have children together, your kids will have a different last name from one of you.
- Keep your name professionally but change it personally: For a lot of people, your name is your brand. It’s how people know you in the professional world. Changing it could be detrimental to your career, but you want to take your spouse’s name.
Easy peasy — change your name legally but stick with your given name for all professional matters.
- Keep your name and add your partner’s name: Whether you hyphenate or not, this is an option. Simply slap your spouse’s last name behind your name and voila, you’ve kept your maiden name but given a nod to tradition.
This is also nice for couples who decide to have children because now the children and parents will share a name. You’ll need to legally change your name, which requires some steps that we go over below.
- Each of you takes your partner’s surname: This is actually pretty cool … and egalitarian. Neither of you has to give up a name; instead you both gain one.
Some couples add one name before the other so that each last name is the same, as in John Smith Johnson and Susie Smith Johnson, or they go for a mixed option, like John Smith Johnson and Susie Johnson Smith. You can also pass the dual name on to your children.
It’s really up to you as a couple. However, you’ll have to make it legal. See the list below for more on how to change your name.
- Pick a new name: That’s right. You’ve always wanted to have autonomy over your life. What can be more autonomous than choosing your own name?
Prepare for some hurt feelings from family members but if this is what you want, go for it! Pick a name that says something about you as a couple.
Once again, you’ll have to make it legal, which requires the steps we outline below.
- Take your partner’s name: Maybe you’ve always hated your last name. Maybe you’re just a traditional person and want to take your sweetheart’s name and share a name with your children.
All reasons are valid and this is your life, so go for it!
Here’s How to Change Your Name
Not gonna lie — it can be a pain to change your name. There are hoops to jump through, but don’t worry. We’ll walk you through it.
If you’re OK with spending a little money, there are services that can help with the whole name-changing process. Take a look at this list to see if any of them seem right for you.
If you want to do it yourself, here are the steps in the United States (and if you’re not in the U.S., check with your country’s specific laws):
- Get a copy of your marriage license. If you both got drunk on wedding reception champagne — or, better yet, tequila — and can’t remember where you put your license, no worries. You can always check with the county clerk’s office. You’ll need this document to prove you’re actually hitched.
- Change your name on your social security card. Visit the Social Security Administration website for the details for getting this done.
- You’ll need to change your name on your driver’s license, which means a dreaded trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Click here to access links to DMV offices in each state.
Make sure to read your state’s requirements carefully so you’ll know what documents you need to bring.
The last thing you want to do is stand in line for three hours only to find you’ve brought the wrong paperwork. Seriously… been there. Zero stars, do not recommend.
- Change your name on your passport. Odds are you’re going to have some epic adventures together. You’ll need your passport if they involve overseas locations. Get all the details for making this happen here.
- Change your name on your bank accounts. We advise visiting a local branch with your marriage license and new driver’s license and/or social security card. You’ll need to order new debit cards as well.
- Make sure your name gets changed on your investment accounts. Contact your account provider to find out how it’s done.
- If you work for a company, notify payroll and HR about changing your name within their systems. After all, you want that paycheck to keep coming.
- Contact your credit card companies to find out what needs to be done to be issued a new card.
- If you’re moving to a new abode together; contact the post office to change your address and your name.
- Don’t forget to change your name on your voter registration so next election you won’t face any issues. If you’ve never voted, this is a great time to start.
- You’ll also want to contact your insurance company, doctor’s office, landlord or mortgage company and your attorney to have any and all legal documents reflect your awesome wedding bliss.
Whatever you decide, remember there are no wrong choices here. It’s your marriage and your life. You be you!
So, are you ready to start planning your badass elopement or micro wedding? Check out our packages to see if one speaks to you or contact us below to chat.
McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to micro-wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. An experienced wedding photographer, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s helped well over 700 couples elope in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.