Amal Alamuddin, an accomplished and internationally-known lawyer, made headlines when she changed her name to Amal Clooney after marrying a certain George. Some criticised her decision, while many others are defending the now-Mrs. Clooney’s choice.
While we didn’t follow every marriage tradition, the tradition to change your name after marriage was one that felt really right to me.
If you’re thinking about changing your surname after your wedding, consider:
- Do you WANT to change your name? Not every woman does, and that’s totally OKAY! Like most wedding custom and tradition, one size doesn’t fit all, and we’re fortunate to live in a time where women no longer have to take their husband’s surname.
- How would the two names look and/or sound together? If you’re not 100% on taking your husband’s surname, you could consider a double-barrelled (hyphenated) name. Many women without brothers feel the desire to keep their family name going, while also wanting to take their surname.
- If you hate his surname… would he consider taking yours (or hyphenating), as some husbands are.
- How will it impact your career? Do you have a reputation in your name. As a lawyer, I considered whether I should keep my paternal surname for work reasons, but ultimately because I was fairly junior in the profession, decided to take Blair’s. Depending on your career and reputation, you might want to consider keeping your surname for work.
- If you plan to have children, what last name do you want them to have? Or, if you already have children, do you want to keep the same surname as them?
I took my new husband’s surname, Hutchison, after our wedding in February and was surprised by how easy it is to change your name after marriage in New Zealand.
It was so easy to change my name – for some reason, I thought having used my paternal surname for 26 years might have made me more attached to it!
A woman changing her surname to mirror her husband’s isn’t the most feminist or modern thing to do, but it was a personal decision.
How do you change your name after marriage?
Usually, to change your name (in NZ at least) you have to fill out a Statutory Declaration. When you’re getting married though, it’s just an option on the marriage registration form. For just $46 you can change your name from the date of the wedding (so don’t waste time and money filling out two separate forms).
Using your married name
Once you’ve changed to your husband’s surname that is your legal name and you can use it straight away. Of course, everything you’ve ever signed up for (Drivers’ Licence, Passport, Bank Accounts, etc) will be in your old name. This is very important to keep in mind if you’re planning your honeymoon immediately after the wedding, as you’ll have to book your flights in the name your passport shows. However, there’s another way to take your new name on your honeymoon – I’ll get to that. You can choose when to update them all, which will require showing a copy of your marriage certificate.