August 13

Ask Etta: Do I Really Need to Change My Last Name?

Cora asks…

I always planned to change my name whenever I married – I wanted to have the same last name as my children, be a unified couple, and follow tradition. But after all of the work I put into my wedding day, I’m ready to relax! I don’t want to spend a lot of time and stress going through the legal process of taking on my spouse’s name. And to add to that, it will be tough to let everyone at work know.  Is changing my last name really necessary in this day and age?


Photo Credit: Jim McGinley

Etta says…

Changing your name is a choice every bride faces, and it’s not an easy choice to make.  I can’t offer a definitive yes or no for this question, because it truly is a personal decision. I recommend you have a frank discussion with your spouse about this choice, and think about how you identify yourself in regards to your last name.

From what you wrote in, it seems as though you want to change your name – you just don’t want to do the work! Well, it’s a fairly easy process if you handle it correctly. Most of the work comes after you’ve filed the appropriate paperwork, and start the process of updating your accounts and records.


Photo Credit: Carla Shierman

If you have decided to go forward with changing your name, take the stress out of the legal process by reminding yourself of the fun that comes along.

  • Update your stationery! Treat yourself to notecards, address labels, and a notepad with your new moniker. It’s a fun way to get used to referring to yourself as the new Mrs., and it will help others adjust to your name as well.
  • Set up a new email address (and be sure to forward emails sent to your old address).
  • Share the news. Letting coworkers and friends know you’ve changed your last name should be a happy moment, allowing you a brief chance to share a detail or two about your wedding day.

And, just so you don’t forget the important changes that go along with a name change, here’s a quick list:

  • Change your Social Security card
  • Change your driver’s license at the DMV
  • Update your bank accounts, credit cards, and checks
  • Change other accounts (this includes your employer’s records, doctors’ records, insurance companies, and your passport, to name just a few!)


Have an etiquette question for Etta? Email us at and she’ll post an answer for you.


2 thoughts on “Ask Etta: Do I Really Need to Change My Last Name?

  1. Juliana Engel Storms

    I hope you are able to decide for yourself based on your values and with input from your new spouse. Curious question about marriage equality and how the legal records policy will be updated: In Illinois, for a woman to change her last name after filling for marriage certificate- it is an additional form. For a husband to change his name, say one was picked between the couple or both wanted to take a hyphenated combined name, he has to pay a hefty fee and appear in court to request permission. How with marriage equality is this not gender discrimination? Do both men pay? Would both women be free to change their names? Thanks. #equalityforall

  2. Ariel Irene

    I just got married on Nov. 16th. My husbands family new for months I was not changing my name and seemed to accept it. My husband to be also wanted to change his name to my maiden name. I have not encouraged that but my husband always felt it was something he wanted to do. The day of the wedding his parents got upset at him for this. Nothing was mentioned to me. For now we have kept our names. I think name changes are a personal decision. For me, I find this tradition antiquated and sexist. A woman does not have to change her name to her husbands name in order to “commit and vow” to be his wife and vice versa. I am not property of my husband, we are equals. I feel obliged to keep my name and not be branded again like cattle or like a slave. Changing my name for me would erase my history and that of my ancestors.


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