There are some truths you just don’t find out until you’ve done it—a legal-name-change veteran’s take on making it official.
1. You may be flipping through your wedding album before you have a new passport.
Changing your name is a marathon, not a sprint. Some things will be as easy as walking into your bank’s local branch while others will require the patience of a patron saint. It’s best to be over-prepared—keep a file of important documents at the ready and tote it along on each name-changing adventure (a woman at the DMV gave me proverbial gold stars for my organized dossier).
2. Your marriage certificate will get more views than a viral YouTube video.
Everyone—the cable company, the bank, the social security office—will demand to see your marriage certificate before making things official. Do yourself a favor and order a couple of certified copies (from the state where you were legally wed) and make a few more at your local print shop. You may want to keep a copy on you at all times because the second you leave it at home, someone will inevitably want to see it. Trust me.
3. Your new signature will look kid-ish.
I’ve always prided myself on a legible signature. All of a sudden I was writing new letters in cursive for the first time since the fifth grade! An “r” that sat dangerously close to an “s” made my new last name look like kid scrawl. Thank goodness there was no “z” or “q” to attempt! Full disclosure: It’s been almost a year and it still feels a little like forgery.
4. Your identity will be questioned.
With all the changes you’ll be making, it’s highly probable your new credit card may arrive before, say, your driver’s license. This might get awkward when you’re picking up a bottle of wine. Flash the ring and plead newlywed. Or show the cashier that crumpled copy of your marriage certificate you’ve been toting around for months.
5. You may almost miss your doctor’s appointment.
It will take some time before you get used to hearing your new last name. You may sit in your doctor’s office waiting room and listen to a nurse call it several times before jumping out of your seat and apologizing profusely. People will look at you like you’ve had a lobotomy. Don’t worry—you’ll adjust before your next checkup.
6. You’ll need to upgrade your tote bag.
This is one of the “perks” of all the paper pushing—you’ll have a new monogram! This means out with the old and in with the new tote bags, jewelry, stationery, luggage tags, towels—you get the idea. Word to the wise: Before you start stamping your initials on everything, make sure they work together. If your new letters leave you with something like SUK or FAT, opt for a two-letter monogram or use your new last initial on its own.
7. You may lose your frequent-flyer miles.
Okay, not really. But I left more miles than I’d care to admit on the table. There are so many things you absolutely must change, from bank accounts to government issued IDs, that when you get to the “other” stuff, you’re exhausted. Depending on the airline, you may have to place a phone call or send them copies of every piece of said government-issued identification (oh, and your marriage certificate) in order to have those miles converted to the new you. Tired yet?