So the countdown to departing for your honeymoon is officially on, all the wedding day planning distilled into hearts full of the most precious memories and photos. Looking at your honeymoon flight itinerary for the first time in a while, you realize your honeymoon flights are booked in your former name—and by now you’ve taken your partner’s last name.
Before you let that blissful, love-filled heart sink even an iota because of this unexpected travel planning wrinkle, here’s the good news, straight from an NYC-based travel advisor who specializes in honeymoon planning. “I get asked this a lot. It actually doesn’t matter what your legal name is on the ticket. It only matters that your (valid) passport and all the tickets match,” says Laura Freeman of The Trip Trotter at Tzell Travel Group, a Virtuoso agency.
Meet the Expert
Laura Freeman, founder of The Trip Trotter at Tzell Travel Group, a Virtuoso agency, is an NYC-based travel advisor who has been planning honeymoons for almost a decade.
So, whether you’ve thus far publicly taken your partner’s last name or chosen a new last name together—including at work, on emails, social media, etc.—or you’ve gone through the steps to legally change your last name to your partner’s, as long as you still have a valid passport with your former name, you are all set to fly.
Wait to Change Your Name on Your Passport
“In most cases, I recommend that my clients wait to update the passport until they return, so they don’t need to stress about getting it back in time," says Freeman. "I am more than happy to advise your honeymoon resort or hotels to address you in person as how you’d like to be addressed as a married couple if that’s something that’s important,” she explains.
The only scenario where you would need to make changes to any of your honeymoon travel plans, including flight tickets, is if you have taken your partner's last name and changed all valid photo identification already, including your passport. “This can be a big deal for airlines and it’s not always an easy change,” says Freeman.
What to Do If the Honeymoon Is Months Away
So, what if your honeymoon is still months away? Even for clients planning a honeymoon six-plus months after their wedding date, Freeman generally recommends holding off on renewing a valid passport before the honeymoon just so your passport and all travel documents reflect your newly-married status.
The legal name change process is not exactly intuitive to navigate or something that can be expected, and the passport renewal process is also variable, in terms of how long it takes to get that new passport back. “You really don’t need that stress right away [as newlyweds],” says Freeman.
If the honeymoon is far enough in the future, and couples are absolutely confident they can get all paperwork completed and processed in a timely way, “then we can look at booking everything in your married name—exactly as your passport will read,” says Freeman. “Your travel advisor can help you navigate how to make the bookings in relation to where you are and will be as you take your partner’s last name, and [they can] help you understand the process. They can make sure that you satisfy all of the legal requirements yet still really feel like you’re on your honeymoon.”
The bottom line, however, is: There’s really no rush. “I’ve had clients who have been married for years who still travel on passports with their maiden name, as the passport still has years of validity,” says Freeman. “It’s totally a personal preference.”