How *Not* To Plan Your Wedding: What’s in a name-change? A lot, actually . . .

April 17, 2018 by Kelsey Haywood Lucas

Fast forward to step #5: Treat yourself to monogrammed *everything* with those new initials (like this Stoney Clover Lane clutch).

Everyone will tell you that planning a wedding is hard. You will be busy. “It’s a full-time job!” they say. “So much work, but soooo worth it!” they say. We’re all in agreement here. And it’s nice that nobody tries to pretend otherwise because at least when you’re a semi-stressed bride-to-be, most people will cut you a little slack because they get it. “Oh, you’re planning a wedding? You poor thing, you must be exhausted!” Well yes, actually, thanks for noticing. Can I take a nap?

But what nobody talks about is how busy things get after the wedding. 

There is unpacking. There is logging of gifts. There are hours spent writing thoughtful thank-you notes to family and friends and vendors. Maybe there is moving (as there was for me). There is the putting away of things; the storing of mementos for safekeeping. 

There is the printing of wedding photos and the hanging of frames for your new gallery wall. (But first you must meticulously map and measure said gallery wall, which is no easy feat, as anyone with a gallery wall well knows.) Preserve your gown. Dry your bouquet. Review your registry. Return those impulse earrings you bought but didn’t wear. Store everything safely. 

These are joyful things. Tasks to truly be cherished. Tasks I’d happily do, on repeat, forever. 

But there’s another task. One I avoided for as long as I could. (Almost six months, to be exact.) And that task, dear readers, is the monumental challenge of changing your name in the state of Maryland.

The MVA is not joyful. (There are wonderful people there, I assure you, but the lines. The lines! Those lines aren’t joyful.) But with some planning and preparation, you can do it. I promise you. I know because—even though I was terrified from all the name-change horror stories my friends told me—I did it. And while I’m not a lawyer or an expert—so follow my advice at your own risk!—I’m sharing everything I learned while becoming a Lucas . . . 

Step 1: Get the right marriage license

Write this down: You need the one with the raised seal. (Not to be confused with the “commemorative” licenses which are also a thing you will receive.) Our officiant (hi, Dr. Bregel!) picked one up for us when he filed our paperwork a few days after the wedding. Be sure that you specially request the official license with the raised seal—it costs about $5. So whether it’s you or a family member or a pastor who does it for you, just be sure to get one (or two or three, actually, so you have a few extras for safekeeping). Another thing to keep in mind: This must be done at the register’s office in the same county where you were married; important to keep in mind if you traveled for your nuptials. 

Step 2: Change your social security card

Grab your marriage license (yep, the one with the raised seal!) and your I.D. (license, passport, whatever) and get to the social security office before they open, if you can, to avoid the lines that build up as the day goes on. (I went at 11:30am. DO NOT GO AT 11:30AM!) There are lots of different waiting zones at the SS office—so be aware that you’re there for a “correction” and make sure you’re waiting in the right place. When your name is called, you’ll hand over your paperwork and tell the clerk how you’d like your new name to appear. You’ll receive a temporary document and the social security system will be updated with your new name within 24 hours (they say). Do NOT go straight to the MVA.

Step 3: Wait a day and *then* go to the MVA

Since social security can take 24 hours for the system to update, I’d suggest waiting at least 25 hours (or a week, like I did, to be on the safe side and also because I procrastinate everything) before making the trek to the MVA. (Make sure you go to a full service location. If you’re near Baltimore City, the Glen Burnie location is pretty convenient and absolutely huge, so I hear it’s nice in the morning. Don’t go at 3pm. Why did I go at 3pm??) Take your marriage license (yep, STILL the one with the raised seal, not the other one!) and your current license. For a cool $20, you can change your name (and your address, if you need to).  They’ll also take a new photo (they’re black and white now, FYI), give you a temporary name change paper to keep with your license, then ship the new hard copy within 3 to 5 business days. 

Step 4: Update everything you can think of 

You’re on your own now—I haven’t gotten this far yet. Just be sure to Google the lists of all the places that you’ll need to update (passport, bank accounts, house deed, checks, credit cards, employment payment records, PayPal, insurance, car title, doctors’ offices, etc. etc. etc.) and do your research on what’s involved (for example, a passport will cost you $165…and for legal docs like a will or a living trust, you might need help from a notary and/or lawyer). Godspeed to you—and if you have any great tips, post them in the comments! 

Step 5: Celebrate your new initials

After what felt like an eternity in line, I commemorated my new monogram by picking up “K” and “L” initial necklaces from Anthropologie—and I’ve been wearing them together ever since. To be totally honest, changing my name was a little more difficult than I expected . . . and I’m not talking even talking about my afternoon at the MVA. I always loved my last name, Haywood. It has history. It connects me to a family that I cherish and am so proud to be a part of. It’s the byline on everything I’ve ever written! So I made the decision to keep it with me forever—it’s now my middle name—but also fully embrace the new family name I’m sharing with Danny. And (I’m not going to lie), I also really love that when I put *all* my initials together, they spell out KAHL—which I’ve decided to use as my full, four-letter preferred monogram that’s pronounced either “kale” or “Khal,” depending on whether I’m talking to a Game of Thrones fan or not. Hey, I always wanted to be a Khaleesi—and now I sort of am. 

Kelsey Haywood Lucas is the content and marketing director at Girls’ Life magazine. As a #Hitched blogger, she’s tackling topics like ways to enjoy your engagement, anti-advice for dress shopping, bridesmaid boxes, wedding wellness plans and producing your engagement shoot. Follow Kelsey on Instagram for snaps of her adventures as a (now newlywed!) bride in Baltimore. 


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