Guide to Changing Your Name After Marriage

2015 was the year of the name change. I stepped into the social security office on the first business day of the year, handed in my birth certificate and a copy of my license. It took a few hours, the place was packed, but that gave me time to fill out the form. 

Acceptable proof of age and identity forms include a birth certificate, baptismal record, naturalization record, or census record. It has to be combined with a driver's license, passport, employment picture ID or immigration record. It all gets handed into the clerk with the marriage certificate. I saw one girl get turned away because she had been married out of state and the license didn't have a raised seal. Further research indicates if you are married out of the state the license will not be filed there. 

My wedding, officiant, and the couple's origins are all New York so that was a non-issue. This first step was the start of a long road to completion that took almost an entire year. Let me explain.

According to State of New York Dept. of Health "Getting Married" information: you don't have to change your name. You also have the option of combining your last name and your spouse's or hyphenating using both names. So.many.options.

I really wanted an official change-over though, for simplification and ultimately because he asked me. In my opinion, that gesture constitutes a name change in his favor. I thought about that long and hard and recommend that you think long and hard, too. 

The fun really began, though with a trip to the DMV. (Plan to carry that marriage certificate with you everywhere. It was constantly being summoned by someone.) After waiting to get a new license (photo will be taken), so that I would have a backup document to support my new identity, the DMV spelled my name wrong. This warranted a return trip (photo will be taken) though it was at no charge, it was a major inconvenience. 

I applied to school that year and started my application with my old name so transcripts would match up. I couldn't register for a single class, though, until the license was submitted for proof of name change on my school account. 

Once I finally had my new license, I started calling all the places where records were being held with my name including credit cards, my bank, ez pass, etc. You get the idea. Each of these will want something different from you. Sometimes a form you have to sign and mail. Sometimes a copy of your marriage certificate, sometimes a certified copy. (The office that issued the copy can provide one for $10. New York State health department offers them for $30.)

Finally, I went to book an international flight and realized I hadn't updated my passport. When we went on our honeymoon I just booked with my old name because technically I hadn't changed it yet. The passport process for name change includes new passport photo, (Walgreens did mine for $15), a form, payment according to whether you're expediting and how old your passport is, and a certified copy of the marriage certificate. I sent a printed copy and they wouldn't accept it.  

Naturally, you can google all of this, and I am sure when the time comes that you will. If you are getting married and making this decision, I thought this info would come in handy. I know I couldn't find everything in one place when I was looking! 

Of course, these hoops are there for our protection and five years from now I probably won't remember all of these steps I had to take along the way to truly become Mrs. Maybe in some weird way I'll even miss it. If you're wedding planning, I wish you the best of a luck on your wonderful day.  If you're thinking about name change, I hope this helps you make the right decision for you! :)

Headlining photo: Timothy Shields [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons