A Quick Guide to Changing Your Name

Etiquette, Planning Tips
Guide to Changing Your Name

Photo: Getty Images

With your wedding day fast approaching, you've likely sorted out most of your important details. The dress has been altered, your reception venue paid for, and the menu chosen. But one important detail you may be forgetting to work on the logistics of? Changing your name!

While more and more brides are choosing to keep their maiden name, plenty of women still opt to take their husbands after the wedding. Now, modern couples are also hyphenating, creating an entirely new name, or even seeing the groom adopt his wife's maiden name. Whichever route you decide is best for you, it's important to handle these details before the wedding.

If you're taking his name:
Several online services, like Miss Now Mrs. and Marriage Name Change (each is $30), simplify the process. Answer a few questions and the site will fill out all the forms (Social Security, passport, driver's license, et cetera). All you have to do is print, sign, and send.

If your fiancé's changing his name:
If you live in certain states (like California, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, and New York), you can just include his new name on the marriage license. But in most states, you have to physically appear at your country clerk's office and get a court order, and he has to run a newspaper ad announcing his name change to prove he's not ducking taxes, an arrest warrant, or debts. LegalZoom can help you through the process.

If you're blending or creating a new name:
You'll have to petition the court. The exact logistics vary by state, but you'll file for a court order, most likely from the county clerk.

If you're undecided:
Go to marriednamegame.com and take the online quiz. Answer questions about your dress, what state you're in, and a few other personal details and it'll tell you whether you'll be happier keeping your maiden name, taking his, or hyphenating. Brides staffers found it remarkably accurate.

Reminder: If you and your husband decide to change your names, be sure that all of the appropriate paperwork is completed before you set off for your honeymoon. Remember that your new name must appear on your passport and boarding pass, so make sure to handle it early, or else wait until you return.

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