Photo: Kina Wicks
Everything about getting married is exciting — well, almost everything. Along with buying your dress and honeymoon lingerie, there's something else you need to check off your wedding to-do list that's not as sexy but just as important: filing paper work. Below are three important steps to take care of (name change, anyone?) to avoid unnecessary headaches before and after the big day.
Marriage License: Check your state's application rules six months before the big day, says Ali Phillips, president of Chicago's Engaging Events by Ali. On the day of, have a plan for when you, your officiant, and witnesses (if they're required) will sign — usually right after the ceremony. Phillips also suggests asking the officiant to make a copy before she sends it in. Destination brides: Quadruple-check local laws; some countries have residency or blood-test requirements. Or hold a quiet (even secret!) civil ceremony in the U.S. before you go to be safe.
Name Change: Start with your Social Security card, then your driver's license (both in person). The rest (credit cards, bank accounts, airline rewards programs, et cetera) can usually be done online. Check your spelling, because a mistake equals disaster. It all must match.
Passport: You may be gung ho to change your name before the honeymoon, but the application process can take up to six weeks. If there's any chance you won't get it all done, wait until your return; the name on your tickets must match the one on your passport or you'll have trouble at customs, says Kara Bebell of the Travel Siblings. Also, if your passport doesn't have several empty pages and at least six months until it expires, it will be difficult to get into certain countries, especially with a visa. "This is an incredibly common mistake," says Bebell. "Update it!"