Wedding Advice: Name Change Pitfalls

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Marriage CertificateOne of the most iconic wedding traditions is the changing or merging of the couple’s last names.  Most brides opt to change their last name to that of the groom’s – a whopping 80% in fact.  But it’s definitely easier said than done, as on average it takes more than 10 hours to figure out the process, complete the necessary paperwork, contact the various agencies, etc.  What follows is some advice to help make this process as smooth as possible for you.

One tip is to decide on whether or not you’ll be taking the groom’s last name well in advance.  The reason is that in many states the bride’s future married name is what must be on the marriage license application.  Sure, it’s possible to change the name later, but that is definitely a hassle.  It’s much better to get it right the first time.

Next, after the actual wedding, it’s important for the bride to update her social security number and get a new card.  The process is to complete an SS-5 form with the Social Security Administration.  You’ll then need to provide ID’s and some supporting documentation.  And then – gulp – make a trip to the DMV for a new driver’s license.  After this, you can then opt to update other accounts and documents, like your passport, bank accounts, etc.  Failure to follow these protocols will result in hassles down the road – that is, the next time you need to validate your identity.

Another pitfall when doing name change tasks is sending “official” copies of the marriage certificate as proof, even when regular old photocopies will do.  The only agency that requires an original is the Passport Service.  Requesting official documents is time consuming and costs money, and as such should be avoided in all other circumstances.

Finally, if you will be going on a honeymoon, delay the name change process until you return, if possible.  Book the trip under your maiden name.  The reason is that you never know when something will be delayed, and if you make all the arrangements under your married name, you might run into problems if, for example, your passport is held up somewhere in the process.  That said, some states require that the name change paperwork be filed within 10 days after the wedding, so make sure to do a quick check online to learn your state’s requirements.

So, that’s really all there is to it.  Make the name change an integral part of your wedding planning activities.  Yes, it’s difficult, but at least (hopefully) you’ll only need to do it once.  And if you really can’t stomach all these tasks, there are companies that will take care of the bulk of the work for you for a very reasonable fee (we’re talking less than $50). 

The bottom line is that one way or another, it’s got to get done, so don’t think about it, just do it!

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