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The Complete Guide to Your Last Name Change After Marriage

April 27, 2023

Like the design of your engagement ring or the style of your wedding, your last name change after marriage is entirely a personal decision. The majority of women adopt their husband’s last name, according to one of the largest data analyses in recent years, showing that this long-standing tradition is still widely popular. 

For many, this is because taking on their partner’s name is a symbol of unity. It’s a way to show the world that you chose each other. It symbolizes your new journey together as a family. There is no right or wrong way to move forward, but many couples look forward to making the change since it affirms from the very beginning the union in their marriage.

“I personally think it symbolizes a union of two people who love each other very much,”

Colie Christensen

Although legally changing your last name isn’t as much fun as planning your wedding, it can be less of a hassle if you know what to anticipate before you start. 

The necessary steps to changing your last name are listed below, together with the most important paperwork you’ll need to gather and bring along with you.

Grab a glass of wine and have a seat, because it’s time to learn everything you need to make a successful last name change after marriage!

10 Steps to a Successful Name Change After Marriage

Welcome home from your honeymoon! Now that you’re setting back into life after the wedding, and hopefully already ripped off the bandaid of writing all the thank you notes for your wedding gifts, it’s now it’s time to rip off the other bandaid: legally changing your name

This doesn’t have to be a headache-inducing process. I’ve included every step below, in order, to include exactly what you’ll need to bring. 

Bride and groom wedding portrait | Florida wedding and elopement photographer

1. Obtain a Marriage License 

You’ll actually do this prior to your wedding. The county clerk’s office in the state where you intend to get married is the best place to get a marriage license. Having a destination wedding?  Research the location’s laws and plan ahead so you have enough time to get a license in the city where your ceremony will be held.

Things to Bring:

  • Birth certificate or passport
  • Driver’s license or other photo ID
  • Money (the amount varies depending on location)
  • Witness (if your state/country requires)
  • Your partner (you’ll both need to sign the license) 

Then, after your wedding, once your marriage license has been filed and you have an official copy, I recommend making lots of copies! And a digital PDF copy as well, that you can send via email. You’ll need them to disperse to the various institutions where you need to change your name and you certainly don’t want to risk losing your original document. There may be a case where the organization needs to see the original, especially the first few steps, but in most other instances, a copy will do. 

Bride and groom wedding portrait | Florida wedding and elopement photographer

2. Social Security Card

Luckily, this one is free! And this is the first change you’ll need to make after your wedding. It doesn’t actually change your social security number, it just associates your current number with your new last name. So, don’t worry, you won’t have to memorize a new SS number. 

You can choose to change your SS either in person at your local Social Security office or by mail. However, bear in mind that if you choose by mail, it may take up to 3 weeks, as opposed to the 3 hours it may take you by going in. If you do go in person, make sure to arrive early to cut down on wait times! 

Unlucky for me, I got married in 2020. Despite living less than 5 miles from our local social security office, I had to mail all my documentation because the office was closed during that time. Literally, everything that legally documents my identity had to go through the US mail and be out of my possession for several weeks. I was so nervous! Thankfully, it all worked out, though. 

Things to Bring: 

  • Marriage license (official document, not a copy)
  • Proof of ID (driver’s license, state ID, or passport)
  • Proof of citizenship (passport or birth certificate)
  • Form SS-5 (they’ll have this in the office or you can print it online and fill it out ahead of time)
  • Current Social Security card (not a copy)
Bride and groom wedding portrait | Florida wedding and elopement photographer

3. Driver’s Licence or State ID

Unfortunately, this one is not free. Depending on the state, this could cost anywhere between $10-$90. You can only get this after you receive your new social security card, which may be 1-2 weeks in the mail. 

Things to Bring: 

  • Marriage license (official document, not a copy)
  • Current passport
  • New social security card (with your new name)
  • Current (old) driver’s license 
  • 2 proofs of address from within the last 30 days (utilities, tax documents, etc.)


While you’re at the DMV, you can take advantage of this time to make a couple of other necessary changes. 

  • Change the address on your license (if moving) 
  • Apply for a Real ID (you’re gonna need one eventually)
  • Change the title on your car registration (you’ll need form REG-256)
  • Change your name on your voter registration
Bride and groom wedding portrait | Florida wedding and elopement photographer

4. Passport

This one can be a bit of a hassle, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. You’ll need to mail in your current passport, so make sure you find a time when you won’t be needing your passport for roughly 12-16 weeks. You’ll also have to submit a new passport photo along with it. 

For more details on applying for a new passport, visit the US Department of State

Things to Send In: 

  • Form DS-82
  • Current passport
  • Passport photos
  • Original marriage certificate to verify name change (don’t worry, they will return it)
  • A check for the fees made out to the US Department of State (find the mailing address depending on your state)
  • Color Passport Photo
Bride and groom wedding portrait | Florida wedding and elopement photographer

5. Bank Accounts

It’s important to remember your name change at the bank both to keep your money secure and to avoid problems in the future when trying to access your accounts. 

Now, this is a very personal decision, but I recommend a joint bank account when getting married. Among other things, this displays a level of team effort and brings you to a new level of intimacy with your partner where you can openly talk about and share your money. 

If you combine your bank accounts, it’s as simple as changing your auto payments, closing your account, and receiving a cashier’s check which you can then bring to your new bank. Don’t delete or close your previous credit card, this could negatively affect your credit score. 

It’s also a great idea to meet with a financial advisor who can help the two of you make the best financial plans for your family. Dave Ramsey has some great resources on finding financial planners in your area who can help you plan your investments, savings, life insurance, IRAs, and more. 

While at the bank, it’s a good idea to ask for new debit or credit cards and new checkbooks if you use them. You can also use this visit to update your address if you’ve moved (just remember to bring your proof of address if you do!). 

Things to Bring:

  • Marriage license
  • New social security card
  • New driver’s license 
  • Cashier check from the old bank account (if combining bank accounts)
Bride and groom wedding portrait | Florida wedding and elopement photographer

6. Credit Cards

Each credit card company is different, so this step will change depending on who you’re with. It’s a good rule of thumb to have handy all of the above documents, just in case. For the most part, is as simple as giving them a call or visiting your online portal to change your name.

7. Landlord, Mortgage, and Utility Companies

These are all fairly simple as well. Just give them a call or visit your online portal and you should have your name changed in no time!   

8. Post Office

Changing your name at the post office ensures you receive all your mail and nothing gets lost. In many places, you can do this over the phone, online, or you can visit your local post office in person. 

Things to Bring: 

  • Social security card
  • Driver’s license

9. Doctor’s Office

Changing your name at the doctor’s office doesn’t require much work. In fact, it doesn’t require a special call or visit. Simply change your name at your next appointment. Make sure you arrive 10-15 minutes early to have time to fill out any forms. 

Things to Bring: 

  • Social security card
  • Driver’s license

10. Law Offices and Insurance Companies

It can be tricky remembering all the places you need to make a last name change after marriage! But the rest is simple and can be changed as you go about life and recognize the need. Think of any law firms or insurance companies that might need to be advised of the change (such as life, health, or car insurance). Give them a call or visit your online portal if available to make the change. 

Bride and groom wedding portrait | Florida wedding and elopement photographer

Ripping the Bandaid Off and Making the Change

Making these necessary legal changes definitely aren’t the most exciting part of your new life together as husband and wife, but if you take the time to get it done quickly after your wedding, you’ll avoid lots of unnecessary headaches and complications down the road.

Hopefully, this guide to your last name change after your wedding has been useful to you as you prepare and adjust to married life! 

As an elopement and adventure wedding photographer, I pride myself on not just documenting your elopement, but also being available to help you navigate all the small details — like figuring out exactly what you need to legally and painlessly get your name changed after marriage. Get in touch with me for a free elopement photography consultation. 


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