One of the things on your post wedding to-do list will be deciding how and when to legally change your name after the wedding. Whether you’re taking your partner’s name, sticking to your maiden name or using a combination of both surnames, there are a few options to consider when it comes to changing your name after marriage and some legal requirements you must do to officially change your name.
Image Credit - JK Photography
From the emotional considerations to the legal practicalities, check out our guide to find out everything you need to know about changing your name.
The Emotional Lowdown
As well as the specifics, legalities and decision making, the process of changing your name is more emotional than anything. While some brides can’t wait to grab a hold of their partner’s surname, there will be others that are totally toying with the “do I, don’t I”. For grooms it can also be emotional – seeing a partner distressed or confused about making the decision or even taking offence if their partner doesn’t want to take their name.
Does it Take Away Your Independence?
There are plenty of reasons why a woman could feel like she is losing some form of identity by changing her name. It could be that you’ve built up a strong and successful career in your maiden name, are an only child who doesn’t want to lose the family name or just have a strong sense of identity that you fear will disappear.
Changing your name doesn’t take away any independence you have, not does it change you as a person but it’s a really huge decision to make and having any of these feelings is totally normal.
Communication is Key!
Changing your name is a big deal and if you feel strongly that you don’t want to do it, speak to your partner about it well before the wedding. Communicating openly about the issue, and explaining that the name change is nothing against him but, rather, an important part of who you are, is the best course of action if you want to avoid arguments in the run up to the wedding.
Same Sex Couples
For same sex couples, getting married or entering into a civil partnership, there is no name changing convention. But couples may still face a dilemma over name changing: in fact, because there is no legal convention, deciding whose surname to share – or whether to change names at all – may be even more contentious. Again, communication is key: talking calmly about your options well before the ceremony is the best way towards reaching a compromise.
Your Name Changing Options
Before you enter into a world of panic, stress and decision making, we have all of your options lined up for you:
Taking your Partner’s Name
This is the most traditional route that couples choose to go down, with the woman more often than not taking the man’s surname. Although it is less common, there are some men who opt to take their new wife’s surname too.
Some men and women decide to adopt a double barrelled surname. This works well if you both have fairly short, easy to pronounce surnames like “Sullivan-Jones” or “Smith-Patel”. Longer, more complicated surnames might be less appealing, but if you wish to “double barrel” your name, you can do so.
Changing Your Maiden Name to Your Middle Name
Another option is to change your maiden name to a middle name, so it is still part of your legal name – and your partner could adopt your maiden name as a middle name too. This is a great choice for women who want to keep in with tradition but don’t want to completely let go of their family name.
A new idea, growing in popularity, is to combine your surnames – also known as meshing. The most famous example happened when the journalist and TV presenter Dawn Porter married the actor Chris O’Dowd and changed her name to Dawn O’Porter.
Fusing your surnames is a good choice if you want to make a statement – and a totally fresh start – as a new married couple, and it’s seen as a good choice for equality. Do be careful if the new name you create sounds silly or is chosen with tongue in cheek: remember that this is going to be your legal name from now on, and a name you’ll pass on if you have children.
Keep it Informal
Another, less formal, compromise is to keep using your maiden name unofficially, not changing your name or email address at work, for example. You’ll still need to let your HR and accounts departments know that your name has legally changed (particularly if you’ve changed the name on your bank account), but you can let your colleagues know that you’d like to continue using your maiden name in a professional capacity.
The Legalities of it All
Once you have decided what you want to do about your name after you get married, there are a few legal basics you should know:
Taking your husband’s name after marriage: you don’t need to change your name by deed poll to do this, but you do need to send a copy of your marriage certificate to all relevant authorities, such as the DVLA, and your bank – check if the organisation you are contacting requires the original marriage certificate or will accept a copy. You will also need to apply for a new passport: if you want to book your honeymoon tickets in your new name, you can apply in advance.
Same sex couples: if a same sex couple decides to share one of their surnames, the partner who is changing their name will be able to use their marriage or civil partnership certificate to update their personal records and will not need a deed poll.
Keeping your maiden name: if you decide to keep your maiden name you don’t have to do anything as none of your personal records or accounts will need to change.
Using a maiden name as a middle name: if you choose to do this, you must apply to change your name by deed poll using a specialist agency or a solicitor. You’ll need to supply a copy of your marriage certificate to make this change, and you’ll need to have your deed poll certificate before you can apply for a new passport – so it’s probably safest to book your honeymoon tickets in your maiden name if you’re heading straight off on holiday.
Using a double barrelled name: If a woman wants to double barrel her surname she will need to change her name via deed poll. If a wife and her husband want to adopt the same double barrelled name, the man could change his name via deed poll before the wedding and then his wife can simply use her marriage certificate to apply for a new passport/change her records after the wedding (saving on the expense of two deed polls). The same applies to a same sex couple if one partner changes his/her name before the wedding/civil partnership.
Taking your wife’s name after marriage: if a man wants to formerly change his surname to his wife’s, he will need to change his name by deed poll.
Meshing your names: You can mesh two surnames (e.g. John Smith and Jane Doe become John and Jane Smoe) or create a totally new surname to share. Doing this requires a deed poll and if you want to keep your old surname as a middle name, you can do this at the same time.
Expert Advice from NameSwitch
To help couples totally understand the process of changing your name, we spoke with industry specialists NameSwitch – a company who have compiled a database of hundreds of companies and all of the information needed for each one when changing your name.
Using their service can save men and women an approximate time of 15 hours when changing their names.
You simply visit their website, fill in your details, and tick the boxes of every company that you need to inform about changing your name. NameSwitch then automatically generates every single one of the letters you need to send off and a set of personalised instructions.
They offer both electronic and print packages, depending on whether you want to print the letters yourself.
Who You Need to Notify
The passport office (see more details below)
The DVLA (driving licence, vehicle registration
HM Revenue and Customs
Local Authority (Council tax and electoral register)
Your bank or building society
Your mortgage provider
Your pension providers
Credit card companies
Your phone & broadband provider
Your motoring organisations (breakdown cover)
Utility companies (gas, water, electricity providers)
Your insurance company (motor, home , travel, pet)
Store cards & online accounts
Any clubs or societies you are a member of
Useful Information For Passport Changes
Changing your name on your passport: You can change your name on your passport up to 3 months before the ceremony. Your old passport will then be cancelled.
The new passport is ‘post-dated’ which means it is valid from the date of your ceremony and you can’t use it before the ceremony. Some countries won’t issue visas for post-dated passports so do check with the country’s consulate.
To renew your passport you can either:
- Apply online here.
- Apply using a standard passport application form which you can pick from any Post Office branch.
- You must also send A 'Post-Date Form 2' along with your application.
The religious minister or registrar who will conduct the ceremony must sign this, as must you with your current name and signature.
For more information on changing your name, be sure to check out NameSwitch's listing!