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5 Lessons I Learned While Changing My Last Name

Just when I thought the wedding logistics were behind me, I had a not-so-pretty project to tackle!

bride and groom recessional

bride and groom recessional

Photo: Story & Rhythm

After we got hitched at my parents’ Eastern Shore home on September, 20, 2014 (P.S. See the photo gallery here!), my husband and I jetted off to the hot and humid country of Costa Rica for our 10-day honeymoon. When we returned to reality, I had a not-so-pretty project to tackle: changing my last name. Just when I thought the wedding logistics were behind me! Wrong. (Pro tip: Try HitchSwitch, a service that legit takes care of all the name change paperwork for you.)

Here are five lessons I learned throughout the process:

Do Research Regularly
I can not emphasize enough how important it is to read your state’s marriage law requirements. Both my husband and I were present to obtain a Maryland marriage license two months prior to our big day. After exchanging vows, our officiant was asked to sign, seal, and deliver it to the Dorchester County clerk’s office for a certified copy.

Schedule Ample Appointments
A social security card is that it is free of charge (yay!), but you cannot apply online (bummer!). I waited in a L-O-N-G line to sit down with a staff member for maybe fewer than 15 minutes. The solution to this problem is either to: 1. Mail in your application and proof of identity to the nearest office in your area, or 2. Schedule an appointment via phone between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tip: Do this for your driver’s license too!

Money Matters
I am NOT referring to combining credits cards or blending bank accounts. Every new document costs a pretty penny. It adds up! My expenses were as follows: $35 for a marriage license, $5.50 for a certified copy, $32 for a driver’s license, and $140 for a passport. I recommend that you save money sooner rather than later. Yes, you will have other items to purchase such as bridesmaid gifts, but you will feel better knowing that you stayed on budget.

Consider a Character Limit
I absolutely loved my middle name, Emma—it came from my great grandmother! However, I knew that I wanted to keep my maiden name instead. (Sidenote: It started with a Z, and I enjoyed the memory of standing at the end of every line in elementary school.) But keeping both would have made my signature way. way. way. way. too many words. Who cared the most though? My mom! My suggestion is to keep it a secret until it is official. Otherwise, feelings might get hurt.

Get Over-Organized
I treated myself to a tabbed file folder from Target. Remember, I admitted being a Type A bride? It was better to come prepared to the dreaded DMV on a weekend with a cup of coffee in hand, rather than a piece of paper crumbled up in my purse. Be sure to check, double-check, and triple-check anything and everything. And remember, the only other thing that has to be done after this is thank-you notes.