Couple toasting with Champagne
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We have been married, according to an electronic wedding countdown that is now counting beyond the wedding, 41 days and I just last week changed my name.

I'm not going to lie. I was dreading it.

Not for any particularly rational reason. My husband's last name is pretty good. And, although I liked my (now former) name, I was completely on board with changing it. Strange details get me sometimes, but for some reason I really want to have things like checks with our mutual last name on them.

So no, really nothing rational about my procrastination. Aside from the fact that I didn't really know how to go about changing my name to begin with. And the creeping suspicion that the process would involve standing in more than one line, holding a numbered slip of paper and every bit of proof of my own existence that I could scare up.

After some research, I figured it out. And, for those of you heading out to the DMV in the near future with your own name on the line, I offer you two things: my empathy, and a very, very basic version of what I learned must be done (bowing, scraping, and bribing the people with the power not included):

1. Gather together the crucial documents. This means a copy of your marriage certificate, your driver's license, your social security card and your passport. You will probably really only need one or two forms of identification for each step, but more is always better (and safer).

2. Locate the nearest Social Security Office. You can get online at to do this. You can also send your documents through the mail and receive a name change on your card/a new card that way, but I didn't feel like giving up my driver's license for an indefinite amount of time. And the line at the office provided the perfect opportunity to finish the book I'd been working on for weeks. Then, block out a morning and head that direction. Take a form of picture identification (driver's license) and your marriage certificate. You'll also need an SS-5 form, which you can find and print online, but they'll also have them at the office if you'd like to fill it out there. You'll wait in line for a couple of hours and get your new card (and new name!) in about a week or two.

3. At least 24 hours after changing your name with the social security office, head to the DMV. You'll need your license, your marriage certificate and proof of address (any bill should be fine, but they won't keep it). More lines here, but again, your license will be in your hands within a week or two. With your new name! And, unfortunately, a picture of you taken after you ran through pouring rain for five minutes trying to find the front door. Sigh.

4. If changing your passport, expect a charge of just over $100 unless you got your current passport within the past year. You'll also need your own (small) photo of yourself to use as your passport photo, and the same group of paperwork you've been taking with you (probably everywhere by now). Getting your passport changed will take much longer than either of the previous two items four to six weeks is the time frame advertised on, which is where you can print out applicable forms and locate local offices.

5. Notify everyone of the change. Your bank. Your employer. The post office, especially if you've changed addresses (by the way, changing your address is a piece of cake. Get online at and bring a dollar in credit card form.).

6. Figure out how to sign your new name. I usually get about halfway through my last name before I realize I'm still signing the old one. Work in progress 20 plus years is a lot of practice to undo.

Don't forget to bring, along with the important stuff, a book (or three), your iPhone, and a charger for when you kill your battery playing Angry Birds and you're still 23 numbers from being helped.

Okay, I'm kidding a little. It's not too bad. And totally worth it when that driver's license shows up with your brand new name on it.