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The Bride's Guide Blog

The Battle to Change My Name

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Okay, I have to be honest, I've never really been a fan of changing my name when I got married. However, when it came right down to it, it meant a lot to my now-husband and I think it will be easier when we have kids, etc. so I decided to take the plunge.

I started by enlisting the help of the site missnowmrs.com. It's a great site that takes all of the guesswork out of changing your name. It gives you all of the forms you need to fill out, tells you where you need to send things, and what paperwork you need to send with your forms (like, you must send the original marriage license to the Social Security office, not a photocopy).

Things were going great: I had all of my forms filled out well in advance, and as soon as I had that marriage license, I was going to be well on my way . . . that was a year ago.

A few months ago (I was definitely procrastinating), I finally sent my papers to the Social Security office. About a month later, I received my original marriage certificate back from them along with a letter that said they were "processing" my request. Then another month went by and I received a letter saying I had been rejected. What?

They claimed I had sent a photocopy of the marriage license instead of the actual license, which was so not the case. When I called, they apologized and said someone in their office did not process the license properly and if I can, I should come into the office to reprocess my paperwork.

But guess what -- they're only open from 9 to 4, Monday through Friday . . . of course. And after that I still have to stand in line at the DMV, get a new passport, and change all of my credit cards and bank accounts -- oy! I'm tired just thinking about it.

So why am I doing it after all this? Because in the end I know it will make my husband happy, and as I said before, I'm hoping it will be easier when we have kids, etc. Because all of this work has got to have some sort of payoff right? So what do you think -- should I still go through with changing my name? How many of you are planning on changing your name or have? Share your stories below; I'd love to hear from you.

Comments (12)

  • I've been married for over 2 months and am constantly fighting this battle. It's so frustrating. Why do you need a copy of my marriage license when I have a new driver's license and social security card? If I just chose to change my name, they would just do it, but since I got married, they need it? So silly and unnecessary.

  • What a nightmare fighting the bureaucracy. I see a shift in brides changing their names over the last 6 years. Now about 90% of the brides I chat with are planning to change their name to the groom's one. There is no hyphenation anymore either. They relate the hassles and confusion with the kids as one reason and the idea that they are a team.
    On the other hand, when my sweetheart and I married 30 yrs ago - she bucked the trend and didn't change her name. Did we get some hassles and confusion with the kids - sure we did. But so what. Changing your name can also wreak havoc on a professional reputation since your name is your brand.
    One advantage is it was great with telemarketers. If they ask for Mrs. Viau, I tell them that she is deceased (which my mum is). It is a great way to tell if someone at the end of the line really knows you.
    Some grooms do change their name to the bride's one. I've also seen couples change both their names to a new third one.

  • Honestly? I think it's a hassle too. Of course, it would have meant a lot to my now-husband, but I had a good looooong talk with him (or two, or ten) and we sorted it out. We compromised on the names that our kids would have, and it was solved.
    My mom and dad are divorced, and to this day she still has loads of trouble because some of her document still hold her maiden name (which she has re-acquired), others her old married name. The mess! I say stick with your name. Good luck anyway! :)

  • Just curious for those already married and have gone through the name change deal, do you correct those that refer to you as "Mrs. X"? Being engaged my fiance doesn't really care (thankfully) and not sure what I'm going to do. I'm thinking to keep my name and don't bother those that refer to me as Mrs. as long as its not on any official documents. I'm not really looking forward to the hassle and when we have kids, Mom just has a different last name. How often will that issue even come up?

  • all these issues seem like a sign - don't do it!

  • I always knew I would keep my name when I got married-- I just like my last name! My husband respected it but I think it bugged him just a little bit in the beginning. Then he came home one day and said he had been Googling people's names with several co-workers, and said "Do you know what comes up when you Google your name? You had more than anyone!" Apparently it was a good page or so of entries related to my job and some academic accomplishments. He seemed sort of proud and I think it helped. I'm flexible about it don't mind when someone calls me by his last name, but I think what matters most is that the two of us are comfortable with it.

  • The last comment from Melissa brings up a point that I am struggling with. I work in public relations and have great relationships with local members of the media, as well as a robust online presence, that all revolve around my maiden name.

    However, I do want to change my name to reflect my marriage. I know it means a lot to my fiance, and it's important to me as well.

    Moral of the story: I'm not looking forward to it, and I'm definitely nervous as to how it will affect my relationships and name recognition.

  • Author Comment:

    Kristin and Melissa, I totally agree! I had a really hard time with that too being in publishing. In the end I've decided I am going to go through with changing my name legally because it means a lot to my husband, but I will not be changing it here at work or professionally.

  • Author Comment:

    @Kristin:

    I'm the magazine's etiquette expert, and there *is* a custom of keeping the maiden name as a middle name. In fact, I once ran across a book that insisted the bride *should* use the maiden and married names both for minimum of one year.

    I kept my own name, partly for that professional reason. And partly because I saw my name as an homage to my family, which is the force that turned me into the professional I am today.

    Once, my MIL told me that she'd been showing off my name on some magazine masthead, and the person said, "Well, when are we going to see Terdoslavich on there?" (that's my husband's last name)

    My MIL told me she'd responded, "Well, why should we? Our family isn't the one who made her into the editor she is. HER family did that."

    I have kids, and I can tell you (from the perspective of 16 years of experience having kids w/ a different last name than me)--it's just not that much of a problem.

    I do sometimes wish I had the same name as everyone else in my family. When that happens, I just refer to us as "the Terdoslaviches." It makes me feel better.

  • I believe the name change becomes a symbol of your relationship and partnership you have now formed with your spouse and having the same last name shows the togetherness you now share. You, your spouse, and your future kids will all be apart of the same family so why wouldn't you share the same name-showing your family connection? After all you've created your own family now and the same last name shows that you've moved forward with your life and new family. (this doesn't mean you leave your parents and old name behind, maiden names can be kept in the name as well as used in your future kids names - keeping your family heritage intact)

    Also, if you are in a position where a lot of people know and recognize you by your original name than go by that name in your professional setting, and in all other settings (and documents) you can have your new spouse's name. I don't think anyone would stop calling you by your maiden name just because your documents or license didn't. They'll call you what they have always called you and your friends (new and old), hubby, kids and their teachers can call you by your new last name. best of both worlds. :)

    p.s. what do you say at the end of a family christmas card? love, the jones + mrs. smith. a little silly.

  • Perhaps your husband could take your name and go through all of the trouble with the paperwork if it is that important to him that you two (and any future children) share a name? Or perhaps he could take time off work to accompany you on the many errands you must run in order to change your name? If neither of these possibilities of sharing the change and its burdens is an option, it might be worth asking whether you (and he) want to subscribe to the gender hierarchies that require women, but not men, to give up their pre-marital identity and to go through an enormous amount of trouble to do so?

  • I think changing your name is definitely one of those things that you just have to dedicate the time to and get it all done in one swoop. Doing bits at a time just doesn't work!

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