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 would start using it for anything that will occur from the wedding night onwards – so the honeymoon booking etc. but nothing before. That’s just me though.

    • For the honeymoon, are you flying? I was upset I had to use my maiden name for our honeymoon flight, but there was no way I could have gotten a new ID by then.

    • Be careful if using your new name when booking the honeymoon. If you’re flying, the name you book your flight under should match what’s on your credit card and ID/passport otherwise there’s the possibility of huge headache. For that reason, we booked most of our honeymoon stuff under my husband’s name, since he wasn’t changing anything.

  2. From a *purely* emotional/psychological perspective, I waited until after getting “legaled” to start using my new name. I do not work in a field that requires any sort of branding and I have never published anything, so the name change had very little to do with my professional sense of self. However, I was surprised by how much I missed (and still miss…I only got married in June) my maiden name. I was happy to keep it until the very last moment, so to speak.

    I don’t regret changing my name, not at all. But there’s still this twinge of loss I feel when I think of my maiden name, or when I accidentally refer to myself as Okaybear MaidenName (usually over the phone at work). I get jealous of my sister-in-law, who got to take MY maiden name as her own when she married my brother. It’s a weird headspace, truely.

    But, assuming you don’t have the same emotional baggage as I do regarding your maiden name, screw it. Start using your new name as soon as you damn well please. 🙂

  3. I started using my new name 11 months before the wedding! We both legally changed our names since our marriage isn’t recognised under Australian law (though you can call yourself anything you like in most contexts). We did it so early because we wanted our passports etc to have the new name and had to organise them long before our wedding for le honeymoon. It would have been so much hassle to get them reissued. Once it was official we just chamged our names on facebook and that was it! haha. This was over 2 years ago and I’m still finding places that I’m still registered under my maiden name. Earlier the better. I recently started my graduate (social work) career and have reverted to my maiden name at work to protect my home life and family. It’s weird to go back after adjusting to new name- I have two identities!! Side story: I struggle with the idea of a woman automatically being the one to drop her name… Even though I married my lady love I refused to do it. I took on my mum’s maiden name and (eew) hyphenated it with my wife’s family name. The decision was because mum has always kept her own name and yet has two children with different surnames to her, which seems unfair. Now I get to acknowledge my dad at work and my mum in my personal life as well as my new family!

  4. Please don’t get me wrong, it’s great to share a name and was important to me too. I wasn’t having a go at women who change their names to that of their husband/ partner. It’s more the fact that society assumes that’s the way it will be, rather than discussing the options equally of him changing his or both parties making up a new name like Spunklebuttom or retaining your old names. It just feels… wrong to me. Do it if you want to. But please do it conciously because you want to, because you have the choice to do it, can own it, and love it!

    • I’m in total agreement about the name being automatically assumed to be the man’s. I debated keeping mine but I don’t want to have a different name to my man or kids (if we have them), and neither does he. My family is very fragmented now (divorced parents and don’t get on with my brother) whereas my man’s family are a close knit Jewish structure (culturally not religiously) and they’ve welcome me in so lovingly it makes more sense to go with his family name. It’s a shame because my surname actually sounds nicer, haha. We’ve both got interesting family history too so if we have kids they’ll have to learn a lot! My side will not be forgotten! But I grew up learning my grandparent’s stories so it’s no biggy 🙂

  5. I’m thinking of waiting until the next school year to change it at my work/school (I’m a high school teacher). Our wedding is in early March, and I feel like it would be weird to change it mid-year, but who knows how I’ll feel at the time.

    Other than that, I’m excited to change it ASAP. I was thisclose to changing it to something random before I met my fiancee, so I’m excited to have her (admittedly awesome) last name.

    Anything new and permanent will have my new last name, even if we haven’t been married yet because it just makes more sense to me. Anything that can wait until the wedding will wait.

  6. I nabbed my “married name” email account months before the wedding, but for the most part waited to begin using my married name until after the wedding. But, like, only three seconds after the wedding. There was a slightly awkward couple of weeks where I went by Mrs. Lastname but all my credit cards and forms of ID still said Ms. Maidenname, but that ironed out pretty quickly.

    My Master’s degree was actually conferred on our wedding day (I didn’t attend the graduation ceremony ’cause I had someplace better to be!) and try as I might, the university would *not* agree to print my married name on the diploma because all the paperwork for it needed to be filed ahead of time and I was not legally Mrs. Lastname yet. I tried to explain that the ceremony was at 10 am so by the time they handed degrees out it’d be official, but that didn’t fly. Still, it’s kind of neat that the last thing issued to me as Ms. Maidenname was an M.S., and it has my anniversary printed on it!

  7. Consider this… what if something goes wrong. The first time I was engaged I found out the night before the wedding that my fiancé had a girlfriend on the side. I had NO idea. I’m proud to say I had the guts to call off the wedding, but it was a nightmare. Can you imagine how much worse it would have been if I had already taken his name?

    • I hear ya on this one…..

      This is my third… (and final) marriage. Having done it before (along with age and wisdom) I am sorely aware of “things” that can happen… lord knows that is not what I expect, but kinda feel like I might “jinx” things if I jump the gun before I jump the broom!

  8. I started changing my name on email and websites the days following my wedding day. I did not start using it on legal documents until after I changed it with the social security office.

  9. My guy was changing his first and middle names anyway, and so he decided to go ahead and change his last name to mine at the same time, so he wouldn’t have to go through two paperwork/money headaches less than a year apart. He’s been Mr. me for almost a year. 🙂

  10. Well I changed my name on fb the next day only cause I could not wait and then started using his last name about a few weeks later once I went to social security

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