How early is too early: When can I start using my new married last name?

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Mrs. Awesome
Photo by Heather Compton

My surname now is ridiculously common. Googling me is a waste of time. There are zillions of us. After I get married, though, my last name is going to much more unusual.

My school will be taking away my email address, and I'm going to sign up for a Gmail account — can I put my new surname on it and start using it, or do I update everyone's info again in six months after my wedding? What if something I've submitted for publication gets accepted? Can I put my new name on that? How about my website?

I guess my question is this: How early is too early to start incorporating my new last name into my personal brand? -Kallisti

When to start using your new last name socially

Many people who take their partner's last name start using it socially immediately after the wedding. Like, SUPER immediately. One Offbeat Bride told us: “I still have to do all the paperwork to make it legal, but as soon as I was announced Mrs. MacKinnon after the ceremony, that is what I used.”

Some folks even start using it before the wedding. A few examples we heard from Offbeat Bride readers:

  • I started using it as I was establishing a new business while we were engaged. Bought a domain name, set up and used a new email address, etc.
  • I started a new job 2 months before my wedding and started using the new last name in email and business cards. I didn't want to confuse people and it was kind of exciting!
  • I set up my new gaming system with my married name but I'm not getting married until next year.

The big risk with using your new last name socially before the wedding is that, well, weddings can get canceled, for a variety of reasons.

When to start using your new last name legally

Legally, obviously you should wait until after the paperwork is filed.

This means that if you're talking about stuff like bank paperwork, plane tickets, or even registering for classes, do not start using your last name until all your name change paperwork has been filed.

If you're changing your last name after getting married, we suggest going the easy route using HitchSwitch.
They make the name change process simple, guiding you through the process step-by-step. Prices start at $39, and they make way easier than dealing with all the paperwork on your own.

Comments on How early is too early: When can I start using my new married last name?

  1. I started “using” mine about 3 weeks beforehand. I wished I’d started sooner though, because our son ended up going to school this year and all the documents were wrong. Then I had to prove who I was! It was a PITA.
    The reason I started early was for similar reasons to yours: I knew there were some people I was giving my cards to that I wouldn’t be in contact with til after the wedding. For some who knew it was coming up, I put Kelly (Smith) Jones and for others who did not, I just put Kelly Jones.
    So far, like I said above, the only problems I’ve had were with the school. Most places understand name changes and are very accommodating.

  2. If you’re super worried about etiquette, etiquette training taught me to only use it after it’s your legal or religiously-sanctioned name.

    But my honest opinion is … I’d say the minute you’re comfortable using it, go for it. If that’s what you’ll be using in your career, snag that email addy ASAP!! No reason not to, except in cases where your legal name is necessary.

    I already identify by my married name even though the date keeps getting re-adjusted due to finances. I’m already bound to my partner, we just haven’t had the celebration/ceremony yet in my opinion.

  3. Speaking from the perspective of someone who’s keeping her last name because of branding reasons (I’m a freelance writer and blogger, and don’t want to confuse my client base or readership by switching names on them), I’d start changing ASAP if you intend to change, because then in a few years you’ll have spent more time in the professional world with your new name than your old.

  4. It’s never too early! I started using my married name right away because my maiden name was terrible.

  5. I started using my new name before, during, and after the wedding. It just depended on what I was using it for. I’m normally very Emily Post-ish about things, but this was one area where I threw all the rules out the window.

  6. I started transitioning to my new name before the wedding! Anything that didn’t require waiting for my new social security card (so anything other than official IDs, work information, tax information etc) was changed as soon as I could. We helped reinforce the name change by using it in our thank you notes, which were signed “Hisname and Hername Lastname” for his family and “Hername and Hisname Lastname” for my family (with non-familial guests getting whatever we felt like signing at the time).

  7. I started using it soon after we got engaged; I set myself up a new email address a few months before the wedding, and started using it (mostly for business purposes). I had my work set me up a new email account with the correct new name (they were about to set up a new system so I was going to have to change my email anyhow). Anything official, of course, I had to wait until after the wedding and I had the legal docs in hand.

    I’d say if you are wanting to start using it, go ahead!

  8. For me, I’m going to wait until it’s all said and done 🙂 but I agree with everyone else: if you want to, go for it! Especially for e-mail addresses and stuff, go right ahead!

  9. I would say start using it as soon as you feel comfortable! I haven’t started using it on anything official yet, but I did just order a monogrammed item and I ordered it with my initials and my “near future” last name. There is no point in starting new email accounts, etc. with your maiden name when it is going to change in the next 6-9 months…

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