Start to Finish: The Process of Changing Your Name After the Big Day

Image Source: The Knot/Lens Cap Productions

Image Source: The Knot/Lens Cap Productions

The big day is coming up fast and you’re putting together your last minute to-do lists. One of the top items? How do you change your last name after the wedding? Well, if you’re going the route of taking your groom’s last name, it can be a lengthy process. You may not realize just how many things have your name attached to them that will need to be updated! It’s like when you get sent a new credit card and all your auto-pay purchases get angry… but on steroids. But have no fear, we’re reviewing both the process you’ll go through and our list of things you may not think of to avoid missing anything. As an added bonus, we did our best to add up the general fees associated with each step, so you can factor that into your budget to avoid being caught off guard.

Make sure you check your state laws for any additional regulations, but most states are pretty uniform when a bride is taking her groom’s last name. Some states do have different processes if you are:

  1. A man taking his wife’s last name;
  2. A couple choosing a last name different from either partner’s; or
  3. A same sex marriage partner changing his or her last name.

Step 1: Obtain Your Marriage License

Image Source: Style Me Pretty

Image Source: Style Me Pretty

Obviously you need this to officially be married, but it will also serve as your official document to get the name change process rolling. You’ll need to use the original or a certified copy as documentation for many of the changes below. The cost of your marriage license varies significantly based on location, anywhere from $10 to $115. Obviously, this is a necessary expense as you’re not legally married without it!

Step 2: Get a New Social Security Card

Don’t worry, your number will stay the same. You’ll need to fill out a form to change your name and provide your marriage license as proof. If you go directly through Social Security, this one is free!

Step 3: Get a New License at the DMV

The dreaded DMV… unfortunately you’ll have to do this one in person. Bring your marriage license, new social security card, and your old license. This is one where you should definitely check your specific state laws!

Step 4: Get an Updated Passport

If you have any plans to travel in the near future, get this done ASAP! It can take a few months to receive your new passport, it’s expensive enough as it is without having to pay rush fees. If you already have or have previously had a passport, this will run you $110. If this is your first passport, it will be $145. There is one thing to note here: if your passport was issued in the last 12 months, you can apply for your name change free of charge! Definitely a bonus there if you fall in that category. Getting your new Social Security Card/Driver’s License before your passport application will also make the process move quicker and more smoothly. If you’d rather wait out the time on your current passport until it expires to change your name, make sure you book any traveling with your maiden name.

Step 5: Bank Accounts

Whether you’re transitioning your accounts to joint accounts with your new spouse (if you don’t already have joint accounts) or are keeping your accounts separate, it’s important to change your name here as well. Changing the name on your account shouldn’t cost anything, but being issued a new debit card could potentially render a fee. The process should be fairly simple if you visit your local branch with your marriage license and new ID.

Image Source: Bridal Guide/Visionyard Photography

Image Source: Bridal Guide/Visionyard Photography

Step 6: Notify Employers and Update Payroll

This is an important step! Especially as you’ve transitioned your bank accounts, make sure you notify your employer of your name change for payroll purposes. This includes your direct deposit as well as any retirement accounts and benefits provided through the company. If you’re changing your name professionally, your employer should be able to assist you in transitioning into a new email address (if applicable) with your new name. Don’t forget to update your email signature, too!

Step 7: The Rest of the Puzzle!

There are so many things associated with your name. Below is a list of the most common places you’ll also have your name listed. They shouldn’t cost anything additional to change your name (other than credit cards -- there may be a fee in requesting a new card). Chances are, you’ll get some pieces of mail over time where you realize you didn’t notify the company of your name change. No biggie, just let them know as it comes! If you’re looking to be proactive, make sure you check on the following:

  • Post office
  • Electric and other utility companies
  • Credit cards
  • Landlord or mortgage company
  • Insurance companies (auto, home, life)
  • Doctors' offices
  • Voter registration office
  • Investment account providers
  • Your attorney (to update legal documents, including your will)
  • Phone/cable bills
  • Student loans
  • Voter registration
  • State tax authority (IRS is notified automatically through the SSA)
  • Professional licensing boards/associations
  • Magazine subscriptions

There are sites like Hitch Switch that will help you with the majority of the process for an additional fee. This can be helpful if you’re overwhelmed, but keep in mind that they can’t cover everything you need to switch, just the basics, so be sure to double check all the additional places even if you opt for a service!