The very detailed guide to changing your name after your wedding

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I got married. It’s pretty exciting. We tied the knot July 25 — six months ago already! — but I began my name change prep several months before that. Changing your name takes a lot of work. It’s not that any one thing is difficult or costly, but there’s a lot. And because so much of what we do online is connected, changing one thing often means having to change four or five other things.

There are services like this that promise to change your name for you for a fee, saving you hours of work. I have no reason to believe these aren’t reliable except that I never trust anyone ever and am a if-you-want-it-done-right-do-it-yourself kind of person. Also, these services will help you with identification, government and banking forms. But they’re not going to contact your internet service provider or update your Spotify account for you.

Before we get into the list, the very first thing you should do is decide whether you want to change your name when you get married. For lots of reasons, I decided to go from McDonald to Wink. Make the decision that’s right for you, and if you choose to change your name, I recommend doing it as quickly as possible. Having everything so fresh (including some of the legal documents you need) makes it easier. Rip the bandage off or you’ll be picking at pieces for way too long.

The important stuff

Google
Do before: purge outdated contacts, photos, documents and whatever else you store

How: Months before the wedding, I created a Google account with my new name. Just after the wedding, I set up an automatic reply on my original account directing contacts to the new email address. I exported contacts from the original account and imported them into the new one, and used Google Takeout to archive my Drive. Takeout created to zip folders for me, and I chose which contents to upload into the new Drive.

Drivers License
Do before: Get a certified copy of your marriage certificate. I picked up extra copies when I dropped our signed marriage license the Monday after our wedding. Here’s how to get one after the fact in Pennsylvania.

Have ready: current license, appropriate forms, check book, marriage certificate
Cost: $27.50-$35

How: My drivers license is the very first thing I changed. My case is a little nuanced because I let my license expire (just a few days before the wedding), so I was renewing the license and updating information at the same time. I spent about an hour at the PennDOT Center in Chinatown. I’d already mailed my renewal form and $29 check to along with it, and had been sent back the camera card, which is what you need to get your new photo taken. When I arrived at PennDOT, I was asked to fill out an additional form and provide a $5 check or money order (no cash, no cards). So I had to go get a money order and head back to PennDOT.

Social Security Card
Do before: Update your drivers license, get a certified copy of your marriage certificate

Have ready: marriage certificate, drivers license

I filled out the update form online, but ended up not needing it. I was in and out of the office in 20 minutes. They asked a few simple questions about my address, birthplace and parents’ names. The new card came in the mail just a week later.

Banking info
Do before: update your drivers license, get a certified copy of your marriage certificate

Have ready: license, marriage certificate, existing bank cards

I went to my nearest PNC branch and spent about 20 minutes with a customer service rep. Using the information from my name change documents, as well as my existing debit cards for reference, he updated my information on the accounts, printed new cards and ordered new check books. The checks came in the mail about 10 days later. Don’t forget to change your online banking settings and preferences, too! Make sure your statements and notifications go to your new email address.

Passport
Do before: Get married

Have ready: a certified copy of your marriage certificate, existing passport, application

Fill out the appropriate form based on the details of your existing passport. There are pretty specific requirements for the photos, so I recommend going to a nearby photo center (I went to CVS) and having them do it for you. Mail the photo, current passport, marriage certificate, form and a check ($110 in my case). My updated passport arrived in

Credit card
Do before: Nothing, apparently

Have ready: Your existing account information

Changing my information with Visa was surprisingly easy to do over the phone. All they asked for was the last four digits of my Social Security Number, which you have to provide every time you call. From there, all they needed was my new name and the security code from the back of the card. The card came in the mail about 10 days later. Annoying: While the expiration date on my new debit cards was automatically updated, my new credit card still expires in less than a year.

Payroll
Do before: update your drivers license, apply for a new Social Security card

Have ready:- a copy of your new SS card or proof that you applied for one, and a copy of your new drivers license

This was pretty easy for me. I work for a small company, so I simply emailed my paperwork to our HR person and she made the change immediately. I also teach at a university (and luckily have a friend in their HR department who pointed me toward the right person). Similarly, I emailed the documents to her and she made the change in the system. It took about 36 hours for the change to go through and for my email address to be updated.

Secondary changes

Voter registration
Do first: Update your drivers license

Have ready: your current voter ID card

In Pennsylvania, changing your address on your drivers license triggers an update to your voter registration. I got an updated voter registration card about two weeks after I changed my address online with PennDOT. But a PennDOT name change doesn’t automatically update your voter identification. Fill out this form and mail it in. My new card arrive in the mail in about a week.

Verizon (my cable and internet provider)
Do before: Update your email address and payment information

Log into Verizon, or your internet/cable provider of choice and change your name and email address. Verizon does not allow you to change your username. A new name means new bank account information and in my case means a new security code on the debit card we pay our bill with. So make sure to update your payment information if you have to.

Apple ID
Do before: Update your email address

This was the most difficult, so I suggest following these directions exactly. Update your Apple ID information once you’ve logged out of your account on every device. It makes logging back in so much easier.

Phone

Do before: Update your Apple ID, email account and social media accounts

I have an iPhone, so changing the Apple ID was part of a larger process for me. You need to also remember to update the email accounts (and related things like contacts, calendars, etc.) that sync with your phone. Any usernames or logins you changed for social media accounts or other apps will need to be re-entered. Keep in mind if you’re on a family plan that you need to update that, too. I’m still locked into a contract on my parents’ plan and when I needed a phone replaced post-name change, AT&T gave me a hard time because my ID doesn’t match my name on the account.

Voicemail

I rarely check my voicemail, so this was one of the last things I remembered to do. Change your outgoing voicemail message!

Here's another photo from our wedding. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT GODFREY/FAIRMOUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Here’s another photo from our wedding. PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT GODFREY/FAIRMOUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Social media

Reddit
This one’s pretty simple. Reddit does not allow you to change your username. Accept it and move on.

Pinterest
Pinterest makes the change very easy. Just log in, hit edit profile and change what you want. You’ll get an email notification of the changes, but aren’t required to verify the new email address.

Twitter
Do before: Create your new email address, squat on your desired handle

This was the most nerve-wracking because I use Twitter extensively. I sought advice from someone who’d done it a few months earlier. I created an email address under my married name several months before the wedding and I used that to create a Twitter account with a matching handle. After the wedding, I changed the handle on the married account to some throwaway name. In a separate browser, I update my original account using the married handle. I went back to the new account and plugged my original handle back in. Then I swapped the email addresses on both accounts. This way, you can have your new name and original account. I tweeted about the change from both accounts.

Facebook
Do before: Update your email address

Under Settings, edit your name. You can only do this every 60 days. Facebook allows you some options for name displays, so mine displays as “Shannon Wink (McDonald)” so people can still find me under my maiden name. You’ll also want to update your email address, which you can do under settings. I did not update my username, which is the URL unique to your page. This is something you can only do once in a lifetime, so put some thought into it.

Instagram
Do before: Update email address

The Instagram interface is pretty simplistic. Just click “Edit Profile” and enter your new username. I didn’t sit on my new name ahead of time the way I did for Twitter. Don’t forget to update your email address here, too.

Things I forgot about until something went wrong

Amazon
Do before: Update your payment information and email address

Have ready: new credit card info

Log into Amazon with your existing credentials and update your name and email address. While you’re at it, save the information from your new credit/debit card. I’d already had multiple addresses and payment options stored in Amazon, so fortunately on my first post-wedding order, the questions about the destination reminded me to update everything.

Dropbox
Do before: Update your email address

This is as simple as changing your email address, but I encountered an annoying issue: Everything I’d shared via email under the old address was no longer an active link for the person I sent it to. So when my intern tried to open a document I’d shared while using my maiden name, he couldn’t access it. I had to re-share from my account, which is now under my new email address.

Slack
Do before: Update your email address

Making account changes on Slack is easy, but keep in mind you can only make one change per day, so I updated my username one day and my email address the next. I never would have remembered to do this until a coworker messaged me and I saw my username pop up with my maiden name still there.

Website
Do before: Update your email address

I changed my WordPress account information, my User information and my Gravatar information. Don’t forget to update any self-identifying information on your site (i.e.: links to your social accounts and resume details). Not until I was halfway through this post did it occur to me I had to update all this stuff. I purchased the domain months beforehand, but had to set it as my primary domain. I’d been slowly letting other domains with my maiden name expire, and kept just one of those.

Medical

Insurance
Do before: Change your name and email address

It might seem weird that medical information was an afterthought, but it was the calendar reminder about my dentist appointment that set off this chain of events. I was able to change my email address on my own my logging into my health insurance provider’s site. Because I use my husband’s insurance (we were sharing pre-marriage), he had to file the request to the company to change my name and issue me new cards. We also have a vet, emergency vet and pet insurance. I never would have thought to update my information there, but we happened to need all three shortly after I changed my name, so all of that needed to be updated. Those didn’t require any proof or paperwork.

Doctors
Do before: Change your name (and your email address, if your doctors keep that on file). Change your insurance information.

This was a mostly hassle-free process, and none of my doctors required paperwork to process the request. Sometimes I notified the scheduler when I called to make or confirm an appointment. Sometimes I just showed up for an appointment and made the change there. I updated the information with my primary doctor, eye doctor, dermatologist and gynecologist. I hit just one obstacle: I showed up to an x-ray appointment I’d scheduled under my married name. But the office entered me under my maiden name because I’d been there several years before. It took them 30 minutes to realize I did, in fact, have an appointment there.

Odds and ends

Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Etsy: These are all pretty simple. Just update your email address and payment information.

Student loans, retirement account, pet microchip: These were a pain in the butt. All three required me to send (or fax – who has a fax machine?!) a letter that included a copy of my new Social Security card. I got no response to these letters. One day I just logged in and my account information was updated. It took a solid month to see these changes reflected on the respective accounts.

Summary

All said and done, this took me about four months – mostly because it took me awhile to stumble across accounts I don’t use often. Hopefully this guide can make someone else’s name change a little more efficient.

 

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