I now pronounce you Mrs. So-and-so

Changing your name in the U.S…what a pain, right? I should know. I just got back from the city of Boston’s Social Security office, where I waited two hours for a woman to glance at my passport before clicking her mouse twice and informing me that my my name card with my new name will arrive in about two weeks.

I mentioned a bit back that I’d be reviewing a few of those name change kits for brides that you see advertised on Google sidebars. But as I’ve perused a handful of such kits, I’ve come to realize that it’s not even worth it. So, instead of reviewing any of these flawed name change helpers in depth, I’m going to tell you what it wrong with them and then point you toward some online checklists that will guide you on your quest to become Mrs. Husbandslastname.


My first problem with bridal name change kits is that the product is not equal to the price. For example, I paid something like $25 for Law Guru’s Bride Name Change packet and it’s a good thing I can write it off as a business expense. It was nothing more than a nine-page Word document with some links to actual forms you will use during the name change process and some sample letters to let your utility company know you’ve changed your name. What I’m trying to say is that a quick Google search will net you all of the same information and links you’ll pay for in a kit.

Bankrate.com links to the same governmental forms and FAQs, and has a short checklist of organizations you may want to inform. EHow has a step by step guide with reader comments that may further help you navigate the wide world of post-matrimonial name changes. DMV.org will even outline the specific requirements for name and address changes in your state.

The main problem I have with those kits is that they do not do anything to alleviate your needing to do the legwork. The Name Change Kit for Brides does contain the Social Security and Passport forms, in addition to oddly-formatted, text-heavy forms that I would never send to the electric company for fear of confusing someone. But you’re still going to have to hit up a crowded Social Security office during business hours. You’re still going to have to take a number at the DMV. And you’re still going to have to lick envelops addressed to various governmental and private agencies. There really is no way to get around it.

Somehow, I trust that each of you who plan to change your name will be able to handle letting the phone company and your bank know you’ve changed your name. When in doubt, call and find out what they need to see to make the change happen. If you pre-order 10 or so certified copies of your marriage certificate, you’ll be set in that area. Change your Social Security info first, as other agencies will rely on this to know you are who you say you are. Then get a new driver’s license and send away for your updated passport.

Here are some of those links to get you started:

Change your Social Security info

Get a passport with your new name

Let the IRS know you’ve changed your name

Register to vote

Good luck, and leave the buying of forms in folders to the suckers of the world. The name change process will be just as slow, just as grueling, and, most importantly, just as effective without them.

6 Responses to “I now pronounce you Mrs. So-and-so”

  1. Alaina says:

    I don’t know if this has happened to anyone else, but when I went through the name change process in Virginia I had a terrible time at the DMV and Social Security offices. I had my driver’s license changed first, but they wanted my new SS card for identification, and then at the SS office, they asked for the driver’s license. It was a mess! In addition to that, I had changed residency from Ohio to Virginia when I was married, and proving to the state of Virginia that my Ohio marriage license was official and no, we do not get change-of-name forms was just a blast!

  2. C* says:

    Thank GOD my mother works for the Social Security Administration and I can give her my paperwork to get my name changed (she can’t process it but she can have someone else in her office do it so I don’t have to wait in line). A friend of mine waited 4 hours in the local office here and the actual “name change” took less than 3 minutes. What a waste of time. They really should have an express line or something at the SSA offices for people who are doing quick things like name changes. It’s so unfair to make people wait hours and hours for a 2 minute process.

  3. JC says:

    “Somehow, I trust that each of you will be able to handle letting the phone company and your bank know you’ve changed your name.”

    Each of us? What about the ladies who keep their surname?

  4. Never teh Bride says:

    Well of course those ladies are excluded, JC. I would never presume that all brides change their names – or that all grooms keep theirs! I can certainly change my text to reflect that 😉 And on the subject of grooms, those who do choose to adopt a new surname get the short end of the stick in most of the U.S., as they have to go through normal channels involving court orders to legally change their names after marriage. Unfair!

  5. Pencils says:

    What a hassle. This is one of the reasons why I’m keeping my name. The other is that my husband’s last name is fairly common, but nearly identical to a slang term for penis. Also, I happen to like my name, I’ve had it for forty years, it’s unusual, and it’s shared by a very important mathematician, so I get asked if I’m a descendant at times. (Officially, I have no idea, although I doubt it, but sometimes I say “yes” just to mess with people.)

  6. La BellaDonna says:

    Or you could be like me … after waiting in line on three different occasions at the SSA office, I just started identifying myself as Mrs. Hislastname, without ever doing the paperwork. It would have come in handy, too, if I’d gone back to Ms. Maiden Name after the divorce, but I’ve spent more time with this last name (although I’ve used my maiden name as my “new” middle name with his last name).

    That was back in the Jurassic, though; it’s tougher these days. Or not; some women may be Ms. Maiden Name professionally, and Mrs. Hislastname socially, which is, essentially, kind of sort of what I did.