Timothy Whaley Photographic Artists

After the “I Do”: The Truth About Changing Your Name

Believe it or not, the wedding isn’t quite over once the marriage license is signed. There’s one last step before your marriage is official, and that’s changing your name! No one will tell you when to do it, but they will all tell you how hard it is. We are here to tell you the truth! Take a moment to check out the truth behind your name! 

1. Patience is key

Truth be told, changing your name is a marathon, not a sprint. Some things will be as easy as walking into your bank’s local branch while others will require the patience of a saint. It’s best to be over-prepared—keep a file of important documents at the ready and tote it along with you on each name-changing adventure.

2. Your marriage certificate will get a workout

Everyone—the cable company, the bank, the social security office—will demand to see your marriage certificate before making things official. Do yourself a favor and order a couple of certified copies (from the state where you were legally wed) and make a few more at your local print shop. You may want to keep a copy on you at all times because the second you leave it at home, someone will inevitably want to see it. 

3. Practice makes perfect 

For a while, your new signature will look like chicken scratch. That’s okay though, for the first time in your life you’ll be writing letters in cursive for the first time since the fifth grade! Practice when you can, this will help you feel confident in writing your new last name!

4. Your identity will be questioned

With all the changes you’ll be making, it’s highly probable your new credit card may arrive before, say, your driver’s license. This may cause issues when shopping or when you need to show official id. Most places will understand that you’re a newlywed, but this is where your marriage certificate will come in handy.

5. It will cost you

Passport- Cost to Change Name: $140 for a passport book and card, $110 for just a passport book, $30 for just a passport card, and an additional $60 for expedited shipping

To determine how much you’ll be spending on a new passport, take a look at the issue date. If it was issued less than a year ago, there aren’t any fees associated with changing your name (unless you want to pay an extra $60 for expedited service, in which case you’ll get your documents in three weeks). If your passport is more than a year old, you’ll have to pay for new documents to be processed. Expect to wait four to six weeks for your passport to come in the mail, so if you have a big vacation planned (or your honeymoon) wait to change these until after you come back.

Social Security Card- Cost to Change Name: $0

While some websites can charge about $30 to make changes to your Social Security card, let it be known that the Social Security Administration will send you a new card with your new name for free. Simply fill out the form online (you can find it on the administration’s website), and send or bring it to your local Social Security office. Done and done.

Driver’s License- varies by state

The cost varies depending on the jurisdiction and state, but it typically comes in at less than $50. The real hassle is digging up every form of identification you can find—then waiting in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you still need help, we recommend HitchStitch- HitchSwitch makes it easy to officially change your name after marriage by taking care of all the prep work for you. The name-change packages range from $29 to $59 depending on the type of service you need. All you have to do is complete one easy form, sign, and send the information to the company. Check out its options for yourself here.


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Timothy Whaley is a 3rd generation photojournalist. His father, along with his grandfather, a Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame inductee, passed down a love for telling stories through pictures.

Mr. Whaley has taken this passion and assembled a group of award-winning photographers who are dedicated to providing couples with excellence and care. Visit us at twaphoto.com to learn more.