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. For the sake of an e-mail account definitely snatch it up and start using it as soon as you want IMO!

  2. I started using my married name right after I got married. I live in the UK and I got married here, where a marriage certificate is sufficient proof for adopting your spouse’s surname. However, I come from Bulgaria and this, of course, was a drama back home. (I won’t bore you with the complicated procedure of getting the Bulgarian authorities to accept my name change. Suffice it to say, I felt my name change wasn’t really “official” until I managed to do this.) I also found out that I was still obliged to use my maiden name in some instances in the UK (e.g. applying for a National Insurance number – similar to the American social security number), because that was the name on my passport. So it was only after I got a new Bulgarian passport with my married name on it that I finally felt I was able to freely and officially use my married name on everything, both in the UK and back home. I don’t know what the laws are where you live, but if there is no legal reason to prevent you from using your married name, I say go for it! My maiden name, though unique, was complicated and difficult. I couldn’t wait to take on my husband’s surname.

  3. I just got “legalled” last week and came into work the next day and my colleagues had put a big “Mrs V” on my wall – so I guess I started using it straight away haha. Actually, I’ve been using it a little for last few months, as an above commenter said, anything that wasn’t “official”. So I needed to register at a new vet’s, so I registered it under Mr and Mrs V, since it was changing soon anyway. I have an email address with that name already, it’s forwarded to my old name address currently, but after our wedding in December I’ll swap the order of that.

    But really, whatever you’re comfortable with GO FOR IT!

    • “I have an email address with that name already, it’s forwarded to my old name address currently, but after our wedding in December I’ll swap the order of that.”

      I was going to suggest something like this, if it is purely the email you’re worried about (and do stuff like publication names as and when they come up).

      I mean, I totally agree with everyone who says do whatever you want, but if you WANT to save that name till after the wedding, the two email accounts with forwarding would totally work.

  4. I will start straight away. My current name is my ex-husbands surname which I never changed, mainly for the sake of having the same name as my kids. the kids are pretty much grown up now and can handle mum having a different name. Plus, my fiancee feels strongly about me taking his name especially when the name I use is my exes. For work, my name is my reputation, so I may leave it as is for work – still deciding.

  5. Internet wise I started using my new name pretty much straight away, it’s easier for down the track.
    Regarding using your new last name to be in forms or applications or in in ‘real’ life you should still use your current last name because if something goes wrong and you need to prove who you are you wont have any ID or paperwork to back yourself up.

  6. I say use it as unofficially as you feel comfortable now. I got married a week and a half ago (HOLY CRAP) and we hyphenated. However, with the honeymoon, we didn’t get back until this week.

    I’m in the States, so I have to wait for the government to open back up before I can get my name ACTUALLY changed. However, I was able to change everything at my company.

  7. My wedding isn’t for another seven months, but since I’m just getting started in a freelance career, I’m branding under my new name rather than rebranding after the wedding. I’ve got my website set up under the new name, and just while writing this remembered that I need to get new business cards with the new name and website.

    It’s a little confusing because personally, I’m not going by the new name until after we get hitched, so I’m not telling any friends about my new website so I don’t have to keep explaining about branding and how no, we’re not married yet. But if I’m telling an art director about myself and trying to get hired, I don’t want to have to go back in seven months and be like “okay so I hope you didn’t remember me too well because now I have a different name to remember.”

  8. I got married in June and waited until right after the wedding to start using my new last name. I have been slowly changing everything over, but use both my maiden and married last name on professional communications for now. That way everyone will still know who I am, but will also be aware of the change.

  9. I had no idea you could use it early for non legal things! Felt like a crazy person when I snagged my new gmail name (and joint gmail account name). Might start transitioning over soon… Only 5 months till the wedding 😛 Thanks!

  10. I don’t see anything wrong with going ahead and using it for anything that does not require official ID. Especially from a branding/publishing standpoint. People use names other than their strict “legal” name to publish all the time. I’ve published articles under completely fake names. 🙂 It’ll be easier to go ahead and get the email address and start using the name socially and for your writing now, than to make connections and have to update information after the wedding, IMO.

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