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As you begin to explore the concept of name change, it is important to keep an open mind and look at all of the available options. First question: will there be a name change? Will you change your maiden name, will your spouse change his or her name, or will you both change your names?

Many factors influence a name change decision. Look at your relationship, family traditions, careers and possible plans for future children as you consider married name change. Looking for a lighthearted way to delve into name change options? Consider playing the Married Name Game and letting its algorithm suggest your ideal name change. Whether it’s right or wrong, you’ve got the name change ball rolling!

If you are leaning towards changing your name, you have the option to take your spouse’s last name, take two last names without a hyphen, hyphenate both last names, take your maiden name as a second middle name or replace your middle name with your maiden name. There is also the option for your spouse to take your name or both of you to take a blended last name.

While name change choices abound, different states have different stances on what choices are permissible via the married name change process. For example, if you live in California, New Jersey, Ohio or Washing you do not have the option to take your maiden name as a middle name due to state legislature.  If you’re a groom who lives in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, or North Dakota you can file for your name change using your certified marriage certificate, but if you live elsewhere you’ll need to petition the court system to change your name.

Bottom line: There are many name change options available to newlyweds, but it is always best to check your state name change laws before setting your heart on a particular last name or names. Whatever you choose to do or not do with your name(s) enjoy this special time in life and congratulations!

Photo credit: Emily Chidester Photography