Wednesday, September 8, 2010

my wedding Wednesday: changing my name

When we got engaged, I decided that I would change my last name once we got married.  I liked the idea that we would have the same name.  Now that I have gone through the process, I thought I would reflect on what it has been like for me (and share how I actually did it which might be useful for some of you).

I should start by saying that my mom never changed her last name - she kept her maiden name.  It hasn't really been an issue (at least for me anyway) except for the few times my dad accidentally booked travel under her married name (which of course isn't her legal name). I actually had to bring their marriage certificate to the airport once.  I have read that if moms have different last names than their kids, that they have a hard time flying or crossing international borders.  I didn't ever encounter these problems - easy to do when your first airplane ride is at 17 (to a math tournament in Chicago) and your first border crossing is at 18 (France to be an exchange student).  :)

Anyway, after about a month of marriage - I started the research on how to officially change my name.  I felt like I was in limbo - what do I introduce myself as?  I was soon-to-be legally a Mrs., but because it wasn't yet my legal name - I felt I couldn't use it.  It was confusing so I started the process right away (the process which I'll describe below).

I will say, that it is strange to call yourself something new at first.  In my case I got rid of my middle name and took my maiden name as my new middle name (I didn't want four names - what would I put for middle initial?).  I was excited to get my new name, but it is strange how much of my identity is wrapped up in my name.  My maiden name is very obviously Irish (my heritage is mostly Irish and English), my new last name is an American take on a French surname.  It was also a little bit hard to see my middle name go - it was my grandmother's maiden name and also connected me to my family.  I'll say that after almost 6 months, my new name is starting to feel more and more like mine - but I'm not all the way there yet.  My friend Niki says that her new name felt like an itchy sweater for about a year - something she noticed.  It is worth it though (for me) - I like being on the same (name) team.

my married monogram

So how do you change your name?  Here's how I did it (in California for those of you wondering):

Marriage license:
  • First - get married!  ;)
  • Wait until the state you got married in sends you the official copies of your marriage license (embossed in my case).  Louisiana got this done pretty fast - I had my copies within a month or so.
Social Security Office: This MUST be your first stop
The DMV:
  • Next up - the DMV.  Next you have to change your drivers license and vehicle registration (I included links to the CA info pages).  I waited until my new social security card came in the mail, but apparently you can go before that (after waiting a few days to let the Social Security changes percolate to the DMV).  They gave me a temporary license at the DMV and I should warn you - that rental car companies outside California look at that the temporary license as NOT valid.  I had to beg the Enterprise Rent-a-Car in New Orleans to let me rent a car with a paper California license.  
Banking, credit cards, and insurance (auto, renters, etc.):
  • After that, I called my car insurance, bank account, renters insurance, and credit cards.  I had new cards issued and new checks printed.  
  • Investment accounts (401k)
  • Any store credit cards you might have (cough* JCrew *cough)
Human Resources:
  • I then contacted HR at my company (I wanted to be able to cash those paychecks in my new name)!  
  • HR then updated my health insurance (which I get through work)
  • I then updated my passport.  It wasn't too bad.  I filled out this form and dropped it in the mail with my passport, two photos, and a check (for faster processing). 
Airline miles programs:

  • So here is the REALLY painful thing that people don't tell you - airline miles programs are a huge pain to update with your new name!  You have to write a letter and mail it in to each airline (mail, not email).  Then 8 weeks later you get your updated card.  In the meantime, you have to fly without your numbers and remember to add them back later. Frustration!!
  • So here is my gift to you.  I typed up the letters and I want to share them with you.  Copy the text into your own word document (or Google document) and then edit where you see the yellow text.  Double check the airline addresses before you send them.  I have already gotten back the Delta and United numbers (Southwest is being slow).  
  • Magazine subscriptions (I didn't update mine, but I didn't think it was necessary)
  • Email signature at work, email alias
  • Online profiles at places you shop often (ebay, amazon, paypal are a few of my favorites)
Did I forget anything?  So that's all I can think of right now.  I hope that this helps!  


  1. Interesting. Southwest was the only one I found would just do it over the phone. I fly them a lot so I was thankful for that. Continental was a pain. Paypal is actually also a huge pain. I ended up just closing my old account and opening a new one in my new name.

    There are also lots of other things not to forget: car warranties, gym memberships (not applicable to you though), alumni directories, . . .

  2. Thanks for the comments Rachel - I hadn't thought about the car warranty! I have also been putting off paypal. I just recently (last week) got my passport taken care of - I am trying to tackle this one at a time. :)

  3. I really like your monogram, do you know what font was used?

  4. Hi Brynn!

    I had my monogram custom made by a wonderful woman named Brenda Griffin based in Meridian, MS. She is lovely to work with and so so talented. We went back and forth on the design until we both loved it. She then gave me the digital file and I have used it to make my own stamps and stationary with it.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Almost forgot the most important part! Brenda's website is:


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