Traditionally, all women took their husband’s name after marriage. However nowadays, like with most old-fashioned etiquette rules, the decision to change  your name after marriage is entirely up to you. If you’ve made the big decision to change your name, you’ve got a bit of paperwork ahead of you.

How to change your name when you get married

As with so many legal matters, the rules change by municipality, so check with your local city hall to get specifics.

In general, there are several steps everyone who wants to change their name will have to take. Use this list as a guide to get the process started.

Before the wedding

  • Tell the HR department at your place of work so they can start the process of changing your email address and business cards..
  • Tell your bridesmaids and family that you’re changing your name, just in case anyone checks with them before getting anything monogrammed.
  • Make your honeymoon reservations using your MAIDEN name. You won’t have a passport or drivers license in your new name yet, so you’ll need your tickets to match your documentation.

After the wedding

  • Get a new social security card. Once you get your marriage license (which usually takes a couple of weeks to arrive in the mail), download a form from the Social Security website. Then take that completed form, the marriage license and your driver’s license or passport to your local social security office to get a new card. (If you’ve gotten creative with your last name, you may also need to go through more formal name change procedures.)
  •  Get a new drivers license. You’ll also want to change your name on the other main form of identification – your drivers license. Most DMVs will change it with a copy of a marriage certificate, although others require you to wait until your social security card has been changed. Check with your local DMV for their rules.
  • Change that paperwork. Visit your office’s HR department again with your new social security card to change your name on financial information, including your tax deductions. You’ll want to be credited properly with those deductions come tax time, and with your social security contributions when you retire.

    For everyone else, including bank, insurance policies, credit cards, utilities, creditors, and membership organizations, type up a letter with all of your information on it, including name, address, new name, account number, and possibly your social security number, and include a copy of your marriage license. No one should charge you money to change your name.

  • Start using it! It will sound a little funny at first, but as you start using your new last name, everyone else will catch on. Don’t be afraid to courteously correct people when they erroneously use your maiden name.