Just because you’ve said ‘I do’ to the man, it doesn’t mean you have to say it to his last name too – there are lots of options to consider.
Take His Name
This is the traditional approach – historically in the United Kingdom the woman would assume the man’s last name upon marriage and the title ‘Mrs’ which is an abbreviation for ‘mistress of’. If you plan on taking your new husband’s last name you can start using it from the moment you’re married, but you will need to update it anywhere your name is registered.
Keeping Your Own Last Name
If you decide to keep your own last name following marriage, you don’t need to change anything. You just need to decide whether you want to be known as a Mrs, Ms or Miss and notify those that need to be made aware of your change in title.
Double Barrel Your Names
If you’re not ready to leave your surname behind, but you still want to take on your partner’s, you can always double barrel your name, adding your partner’s last name to yours with or without a hyphen. It’s up to you which order you put the last names in, although typically the man’s tends to go last.
To ensure your double barrelled surname is accepted by all organisations, including financial institutions such as banks etc., you will need to change your name by deed poll. If you and your husband both decide to take on double barrelled names, you can save on the cost of two deed polls by getting him to change his before the wedding – then you can just assume his new name once you’re married.
Making Your Maiden Name a Middle Name
Those who want to take on a new married name but still want to have their family name included can always change their maiden name to a middle name by deed poll. So Jane Elizabeth Love could become, upon marrying John Smith, Jane Elizabeth Love Smith, but would be known mostly as Jane Smith.
Merging Your Last Names
Couples looking for a contemporary way to mark the fact they’re married could consider merging their last names to create a totally new family name. So the couple in the example above, Jane Love and John Smith, could become Mr and Mrs Smove or Mr and Mrs Loth. This would need to be done by deed poll, but again the man can do it first and then his wife can just assume the new name following marriage.
Keeping Your Name Professionally
If you have a distinctive name in your chosen field, or work somewhere where it could cause confusion if you changed your name, you can always go down the traditional route of taking your husband’s name outside of work, but choose to still be known by your birth name at work. Check your employer is happy for you to do so because when at work you are acting on behalf of your employer.
Husband Takes Wife’s Name
A husband who chooses to take on his new wife’s last name will need to change his name by deed poll.
If you’ve decided to go for a name option that involves changing your name by deed poll, you have two options when it comes to how to proceed. You can apply for the deed poll ahead of your wedding (allow around three weeks for this) and write in the date of your wedding in the comments box of your application. This means the deed poll will be dated for the day of your wedding and you can sign it on the day and have your new name right away.
Alternatively if you’re not in a rush to use your new name, you can apply once the wedding is over and you’ve returned from honeymoon.
Want to see your new name in your passport ready for your honeymoon? You can apply to change your name in your passport up to three months before your wedding ceremony but you can’t travel on your new name until you’re officially married, so if you have any pre-wedding trips planned it’s probably best to wait.
Who to Notify
Once you’ve decided what you want to do with your name, you’ll need to notify all the relevant people and organisations. Print out our checklist below so you can keep track of who to notify.
You will need to send HMRC an original version of your marriage certificate as proof of your new name.
Make sure you let your bank know, especially if lots of guests have made out cheques to you in your new name. Your bank will need an original of your marriage certificate as proof of your name change.
Credit Card Companies
Let your credit card company know so you can be issued with a new card with your married name on it, and they can send any future bills and statements to you under the correct title.
Let your managers or HR department know of your new name – they can update your company email address and your name on their records.
Your Pension Providers
If you have a pension, make sure you let the providers know by sending them a letter with your marriage certificate so they can update your name on your pension scheme.
Your Local Authority
Send a copy of your marriage certificate and a cover letter explaining your recent marriage and change of name so it can be updated on their records. This is for purposes such as council tax.
If you decide to wait until after your wedding to change your name on your passport, you’ll need to send the original marriage certificate off to them so you can get a shiny new passport with your new name.
Make sure your household bills go to you in the right name by letting your utility providers know about your change of name. This includes your phone and internet companies, as well as gas, water and electricity.
The DVLA will need an original of your marriage certificate so they can update your name on their records and issue you with a new driving license in your married name.
Breakdown Cover and Car Insurance
Make sure your details are up to date with your car insurance provider and your breakdown cover in case you need to call upon them.
Doctor and Dentist
You might need to produce a copy of your marriage certificate so take one with you just in case to update your name with your health services.
If you’re a member of a gym, let them know about your change in name so your membership card will match the name on your ID.
Send the Inland Revenue an original version of your marriage certificate so they can update their records.
Your Child’s School
If you have children at school make sure you let the school know of your change of name so they can update any emergency contact details, records and your child’s records too, if their name is being changed as well.
Send a cover letter off with your marriage certificate when you are changing your name – here’s some example wording to help you:
I am writing to notify you that following my marriage/civil partnership on [wedding date], I hereby relinquish and renounce the name of [former surname] and from now on in all records and on all occasions will use the name of [your new name], and therefore ask you to amend your records accordingly.
Please find enclosed/attached a certified copy of the marriage certificate. Please return this document to me as soon as possible.