Newlywed Life | The Practicals of Changing Your Name



Your Social Security Number cannot be verified. Please renew in person. Was this really happening? My state MVA begging me to come renew my Driver's License in person after an hour's worth of automated phone menus and a page of instructions requiring that all residents under 40 spare them the crowds and renew online?

Then I remembered. I applied for a new Social Security Card with my married name within a month of my wedding, and then all of my other name-changing pursuits ground to a halt. I was moving to another state for what I thought would be a year, which turned into two, during which I figured I'd take care of everything once we moved back home. Fast forward to a month before my third anniversary, back in my home state and staring at my mail notice and computer in frustration, wondering why I couldn't renew my license.

After I trekked to the MVA, I realized the problem was obvious: in the eyes of the Social Security Administration, I had my new married name, but in the eyes of my state, I still had my maiden name assigned to my Social Security Number. By logging into their website with the number, I was essentially committing fraud. Against myself. So much for taking care of everything later.

My license was actually the last holdout of a transition that I allowed to take way longer than it should've, and I'm happy to say that all my legal and personal information now officially profess me a Mrs.

Special circumstances

If you're relocating after marriage: Since a driver's license is most people's go-to form of ID, it's smart to prioritize getting a license with your new name, in your new state, before making changes or enrolling with new programs or institutions (like accounts at a new bank, utility companies, and voter registration). Requirements vary by state and can be found on your state DMV's website.

If there is published, recorded, or other work attributed to your maiden name: Women who legally change their last names to their husband's after marriage can consider either continuing to use their maiden name professionally, or can add their married last name to their maiden name in future works (e.g. after marriage, graduate student Ann Johnson publishes her work as Ann Johnson Smith). For academics, journals and other publications typically list work under your maiden name and married name as the same author. For small business owners who opt to use their new last name professionally, a name change announcement and change to your website URL and other communications does the trick.

The Leaving + The Cleaving

For as much beautiful spousal imagery the Bible contains, there's actually no Scriptural basis for a woman taking her husband's name after marriage--legal name changes are a comparatively new tradition in Western culture. But if you're choosing to change your name, dwell still in the fulfillment of our heart's desire for communion that it signifies: This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh (Genesis 2:23). I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. (Song of Songs 6:3). And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one...(John 17:22-23).

To help you simplify the process, we've put together a printable checklist for changing your name. Download yours by clicking here.

And tell us: any tips or circumstances we didn't cover here? Anything about the name-change process you'd like to share with other brides?

About the Author: Stephanie Calis is Spoken Bride's Editor in Chief and Co-Founder. She is the author of INVITED: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner (Pauline, 2016). Read more