How to tell family you didn’t change your last name (…and how to cash those checks written to the wrong name)

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Mrs. Patton closeup
When I get married, I am not planning on changing my name.

Our families are not forward-thinking and are bound to assume I will take my future husband's last name.

My family tends to give money/checks at weddings and I am concerned that they will write out checks to “Mr. and Mrs…” and we wont be able to deposit them.

How do we let our families know that I'm keeping my name with out mentioning gifts on the invitation?

-Ticia

Ah, the never-ending Offbeat Bride issue of last names.

This specific issue's actually got an easy solution: there's no need to mention gifts or last names on the invitation.

If you receive checks written out to “Mr. & Mrs. His Last Name,” check with your bank. At my bank, they just ask that BOTH parties sign the back of the checks and write “FOR DEPOSIT ONLY.” (Your bank may have different policies — give 'em a call!)

But there's a larger issue, of course: letting your families know after the wedding that you're keeping your last name. That's got a relatively easy solution, too… thank you cards, which offer two opportunities to share the news:

  • Your return address on the envelope should include both of your full names.
  • Sign the cards with your full names — and you want to really drive the point home, draw a little arrow to your last name and note: Yep, I kept my last name! 🙂

Ultimately, it will likely still take your families a while to fully get it. But this will ensure that you've done your part to get the news out there.

Comments on How to tell family you didn’t change your last name (…and how to cash those checks written to the wrong name)

  1. Yeah, the name-on-the-check thing isn't a big deal. Due to circumstances, we got checks made out to all different people, from Mr. and Mrs. HisFirst HisLast to a completely made up name that we've been telling people we're going to adopt. The bank didn't even blink an eye.

  2. One thing regarding checks – you can deposit them with “For deposit only” in place of a signature. My husband and I did this with a teller at the counter in case there were any questions (she was super helpful).

    We’re sort of not worrying about the extended family knowing I’ve kept my name, but our close friends and parents were told up front. The parents were a little surprised, but my friends and coworkers cheered me on!

  3. Be aware of you banks deposit rules! I work for a major national bank, and we no longer accept checks endorsed "for deposit only." We get newly married couples in all the time and usually if you have a joint account it's not a big deal. However, some banking centers are more strict than others. Best to go into the bank together and ask an associate the best way to go about depositing.

    • Former bank employee chiming up here too: when I was a customer service manager at a Canadian retail bank we did try to be understanding of the name issue (though it *is* bending the rules), especially if there was an existing joint account. However, Canadian banks at least generally do not accept cheques payable to 2 people into single accounts unless both people are at the branch to sign with identification (and a copy of the marriage certificate if you haven't changed your name/you're still waiting for new ID).

  4. I'm pretty sure my bank required both signatures on some (but not all!) of our checks. I wouldn't have any hesitation signing Myfirst Hislast tho – there's no intent to defraud, and it's still *you*. Your ID can only say one thing at a time. I have occasionally had checks written out to me using a name I haven't used in a couple years and i've never had a problem depositing them as long as i sign the name that's on the check. (I also get fullname and nickname variants, which is also not a problem.)

    • Yes, my ex and I received a check in both of our names (First and First Lastname) and we both had to sign it – It was returned to us because only my ex signed it! I would not give this a try unless your bank specifically says it is allowed.

  5. We had our officiant announce it by saying "please join me in congratulating the newlyweds, Warren HisName and Sabrina HerName", instead of "Mr and Mrs HisName", as they sometimes do. We also had it at the end of our ceremony program. We STILL had people who didn't get it, but that's when you just gotta tell them! Good luck to you 🙂

  6. I also worked for a large bank and it is true that they are getting a lot more strict on check endorsements. However, as long as you bring your marriage certificate and proper ID, you shouldn't have a problem.

  7. I didn't take my husband's name, and never discussed it with anyone until it came up. At one point, there was a tense, blustery moment with my father in law "but our last name is a fine last name!!" to which I replied "so is mine!" and that was that.

    Also, I once had a discussion with a woman who ended up taking her husband's last name about five years into the marriage because she said she "felt" like her new last name, like she had grown into that identity, and I found that idea appealing, since right now I still feel like my Ms. Maiden name and not Mrs. My husband's name. So there's always the option to change it down the line as well.

  8. But how to tell your family you will be changing your name? My Dad is DEVASTATED (he thought he raised me as a feminist).

    • Just be honest: you want to be Mrs. [HisName]. You’ll still be a [YourName], but you’ll also be a [HisName]. And at the end of the day, it’s your decision – being a feminist is all about having that choice. 🙂

  9. We've put it in our contact info that we posted on our wedding website. "Once we're married, our contact information will be…" with our full names and our address. You could maybe include this in your invite (a separate little business-card insert people can hang on to?) or website. This way it's under the guise of giving your address and not just your name. People will want to know your address to send gifts!

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