How early is too early: When can you start using your married name?

Posted by
This post features affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may receive a commission. These paid links help keep our website free for everyone to enjoy.
Mrs. Awesome
Photo by Heather Compton

My surname now is ridiculously common. Googling me is a waste of time. There are zillions of us. After I get married, though, my last name is going to much more unusual.

My school will be taking away my email address, and I'm going to sign up for a Gmail account — can I put my new surname on it and start using it, or do I update everyone's info again in six months after my wedding? What if something I've submitted for publication gets accepted? Can I put my new name on that? How about my website?

I guess my question is this: How early is too early to start incorporating my new last name into my personal brand? When can you start using your married name? -Kallisti

When can you start using your married name socially?

Just married 4 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Many people who take their partner's last name start using it socially immediately after the wedding. Like, SUPER immediately. One Offbeat Bride told us: “I still have to do all the paperwork to make it legal, but as soon as I was announced Mrs. MacKinnon after the ceremony, that is what I used.”

Some folks even start using it before the wedding. A few examples we heard from Offbeat Bride readers:

  • I started using it as I was establishing a new business while we were engaged. Bought a domain name, set up and used a new email address, etc.
  • I started a new job 2 months before my wedding and started using the new last name in email and business cards. I didn't want to confuse people and it was kind of exciting!
  • I set up my new gaming system with my married name but I'm not getting married until next year.

The big risk with using your new last name socially before the wedding is that, well, weddings can get canceled, for a variety of reasons.

When can you start using your married name legally?

Legally, obviously you should wait until after the paperwork is filed.

This means that if you're talking about stuff like bank paperwork, plane tickets, or even registering for classes, do not start using your last name until all your name change paperwork has been filed.

If you're changing your last name after getting married, we suggest going the easy route using HitchSwitch.
They make the name change process simple, guiding you through the process step-by-step. Prices start at $39, and they make way easier than dealing with all the paperwork on your own.

Just married 10 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on How early is too early: When can you start using your married name?

  1. I started “using” mine about 3 weeks beforehand. I wished I’d started sooner though, because our son ended up going to school this year and all the documents were wrong. Then I had to prove who I was! It was a PITA.
    The reason I started early was for similar reasons to yours: I knew there were some people I was giving my cards to that I wouldn’t be in contact with til after the wedding. For some who knew it was coming up, I put Kelly (Smith) Jones and for others who did not, I just put Kelly Jones.
    So far, like I said above, the only problems I’ve had were with the school. Most places understand name changes and are very accommodating.

  2. If you’re super worried about etiquette, etiquette training taught me to only use it after it’s your legal or religiously-sanctioned name.

    But my honest opinion is … I’d say the minute you’re comfortable using it, go for it. If that’s what you’ll be using in your career, snag that email addy ASAP!! No reason not to, except in cases where your legal name is necessary.

    I already identify by my married name even though the date keeps getting re-adjusted due to finances. I’m already bound to my partner, we just haven’t had the celebration/ceremony yet in my opinion.

  3. Speaking from the perspective of someone who’s keeping her last name because of branding reasons (I’m a freelance writer and blogger, and don’t want to confuse my client base or readership by switching names on them), I’d start changing ASAP if you intend to change, because then in a few years you’ll have spent more time in the professional world with your new name than your old.

  4. It’s never too early! I started using my married name right away because my maiden name was terrible.

  5. I started using my new name before, during, and after the wedding. It just depended on what I was using it for. I’m normally very Emily Post-ish about things, but this was one area where I threw all the rules out the window.

  6. I started transitioning to my new name before the wedding! Anything that didn’t require waiting for my new social security card (so anything other than official IDs, work information, tax information etc) was changed as soon as I could. We helped reinforce the name change by using it in our thank you notes, which were signed “Hisname and Hername Lastname” for his family and “Hername and Hisname Lastname” for my family (with non-familial guests getting whatever we felt like signing at the time).

  7. I started using it soon after we got engaged; I set myself up a new email address a few months before the wedding, and started using it (mostly for business purposes). I had my work set me up a new email account with the correct new name (they were about to set up a new system so I was going to have to change my email anyhow). Anything official, of course, I had to wait until after the wedding and I had the legal docs in hand.

    I’d say if you are wanting to start using it, go ahead!

  8. For me, I’m going to wait until it’s all said and done 🙂 but I agree with everyone else: if you want to, go for it! Especially for e-mail addresses and stuff, go right ahead!

  9. I would say start using it as soon as you feel comfortable! I haven’t started using it on anything official yet, but I did just order a monogrammed item and I ordered it with my initials and my “near future” last name. There is no point in starting new email accounts, etc. with your maiden name when it is going to change in the next 6-9 months…

  10. For the sake of an e-mail account definitely snatch it up and start using it as soon as you want IMO!

  11. I started using my married name right after I got married. I live in the UK and I got married here, where a marriage certificate is sufficient proof for adopting your spouse’s surname. However, I come from Bulgaria and this, of course, was a drama back home. (I won’t bore you with the complicated procedure of getting the Bulgarian authorities to accept my name change. Suffice it to say, I felt my name change wasn’t really “official” until I managed to do this.) I also found out that I was still obliged to use my maiden name in some instances in the UK (e.g. applying for a National Insurance number – similar to the American social security number), because that was the name on my passport. So it was only after I got a new Bulgarian passport with my married name on it that I finally felt I was able to freely and officially use my married name on everything, both in the UK and back home. I don’t know what the laws are where you live, but if there is no legal reason to prevent you from using your married name, I say go for it! My maiden name, though unique, was complicated and difficult. I couldn’t wait to take on my husband’s surname.

  12. I just got “legalled” last week and came into work the next day and my colleagues had put a big “Mrs V” on my wall – so I guess I started using it straight away haha. Actually, I’ve been using it a little for last few months, as an above commenter said, anything that wasn’t “official”. So I needed to register at a new vet’s, so I registered it under Mr and Mrs V, since it was changing soon anyway. I have an email address with that name already, it’s forwarded to my old name address currently, but after our wedding in December I’ll swap the order of that.

    But really, whatever you’re comfortable with GO FOR IT!

    • “I have an email address with that name already, it’s forwarded to my old name address currently, but after our wedding in December I’ll swap the order of that.”

      I was going to suggest something like this, if it is purely the email you’re worried about (and do stuff like publication names as and when they come up).

      I mean, I totally agree with everyone who says do whatever you want, but if you WANT to save that name till after the wedding, the two email accounts with forwarding would totally work.

  13. I will start straight away. My current name is my ex-husbands surname which I never changed, mainly for the sake of having the same name as my kids. the kids are pretty much grown up now and can handle mum having a different name. Plus, my fiancee feels strongly about me taking his name especially when the name I use is my exes. For work, my name is my reputation, so I may leave it as is for work – still deciding.

  14. Internet wise I started using my new name pretty much straight away, it’s easier for down the track.
    Regarding using your new last name to be in forms or applications or in in ‘real’ life you should still use your current last name because if something goes wrong and you need to prove who you are you wont have any ID or paperwork to back yourself up.

  15. I say use it as unofficially as you feel comfortable now. I got married a week and a half ago (HOLY CRAP) and we hyphenated. However, with the honeymoon, we didn’t get back until this week.

    I’m in the States, so I have to wait for the government to open back up before I can get my name ACTUALLY changed. However, I was able to change everything at my company.

  16. My wedding isn’t for another seven months, but since I’m just getting started in a freelance career, I’m branding under my new name rather than rebranding after the wedding. I’ve got my website set up under the new name, and just while writing this remembered that I need to get new business cards with the new name and website.

    It’s a little confusing because personally, I’m not going by the new name until after we get hitched, so I’m not telling any friends about my new website so I don’t have to keep explaining about branding and how no, we’re not married yet. But if I’m telling an art director about myself and trying to get hired, I don’t want to have to go back in seven months and be like “okay so I hope you didn’t remember me too well because now I have a different name to remember.”

  17. I got married in June and waited until right after the wedding to start using my new last name. I have been slowly changing everything over, but use both my maiden and married last name on professional communications for now. That way everyone will still know who I am, but will also be aware of the change.

  18. I had no idea you could use it early for non legal things! Felt like a crazy person when I snagged my new gmail name (and joint gmail account name). Might start transitioning over soon… Only 5 months till the wedding 😛 Thanks!

  19. I don’t see anything wrong with going ahead and using it for anything that does not require official ID. Especially from a branding/publishing standpoint. People use names other than their strict “legal” name to publish all the time. I’ve published articles under completely fake names. 🙂 It’ll be easier to go ahead and get the email address and start using the name socially and for your writing now, than to make connections and have to update information after the wedding, IMO.

  20. I would start using it for anything that will occur from the wedding night onwards – so the honeymoon booking etc. but nothing before. That’s just me though.

    • For the honeymoon, are you flying? I was upset I had to use my maiden name for our honeymoon flight, but there was no way I could have gotten a new ID by then.

    • Be careful if using your new name when booking the honeymoon. If you’re flying, the name you book your flight under should match what’s on your credit card and ID/passport otherwise there’s the possibility of huge headache. For that reason, we booked most of our honeymoon stuff under my husband’s name, since he wasn’t changing anything.

  21. From a *purely* emotional/psychological perspective, I waited until after getting “legaled” to start using my new name. I do not work in a field that requires any sort of branding and I have never published anything, so the name change had very little to do with my professional sense of self. However, I was surprised by how much I missed (and still miss…I only got married in June) my maiden name. I was happy to keep it until the very last moment, so to speak.

    I don’t regret changing my name, not at all. But there’s still this twinge of loss I feel when I think of my maiden name, or when I accidentally refer to myself as Okaybear MaidenName (usually over the phone at work). I get jealous of my sister-in-law, who got to take MY maiden name as her own when she married my brother. It’s a weird headspace, truely.

    But, assuming you don’t have the same emotional baggage as I do regarding your maiden name, screw it. Start using your new name as soon as you damn well please. 🙂

  22. I started using my new name 11 months before the wedding! We both legally changed our names since our marriage isn’t recognised under Australian law (though you can call yourself anything you like in most contexts). We did it so early because we wanted our passports etc to have the new name and had to organise them long before our wedding for le honeymoon. It would have been so much hassle to get them reissued. Once it was official we just chamged our names on facebook and that was it! haha. This was over 2 years ago and I’m still finding places that I’m still registered under my maiden name. Earlier the better. I recently started my graduate (social work) career and have reverted to my maiden name at work to protect my home life and family. It’s weird to go back after adjusting to new name- I have two identities!! Side story: I struggle with the idea of a woman automatically being the one to drop her name… Even though I married my lady love I refused to do it. I took on my mum’s maiden name and (eew) hyphenated it with my wife’s family name. The decision was because mum has always kept her own name and yet has two children with different surnames to her, which seems unfair. Now I get to acknowledge my dad at work and my mum in my personal life as well as my new family!

  23. Please don’t get me wrong, it’s great to share a name and was important to me too. I wasn’t having a go at women who change their names to that of their husband/ partner. It’s more the fact that society assumes that’s the way it will be, rather than discussing the options equally of him changing his or both parties making up a new name like Spunklebuttom or retaining your old names. It just feels… wrong to me. Do it if you want to. But please do it conciously because you want to, because you have the choice to do it, can own it, and love it!

    • I’m in total agreement about the name being automatically assumed to be the man’s. I debated keeping mine but I don’t want to have a different name to my man or kids (if we have them), and neither does he. My family is very fragmented now (divorced parents and don’t get on with my brother) whereas my man’s family are a close knit Jewish structure (culturally not religiously) and they’ve welcome me in so lovingly it makes more sense to go with his family name. It’s a shame because my surname actually sounds nicer, haha. We’ve both got interesting family history too so if we have kids they’ll have to learn a lot! My side will not be forgotten! But I grew up learning my grandparent’s stories so it’s no biggy 🙂

  24. I’m thinking of waiting until the next school year to change it at my work/school (I’m a high school teacher). Our wedding is in early March, and I feel like it would be weird to change it mid-year, but who knows how I’ll feel at the time.

    Other than that, I’m excited to change it ASAP. I was thisclose to changing it to something random before I met my fiancee, so I’m excited to have her (admittedly awesome) last name.

    Anything new and permanent will have my new last name, even if we haven’t been married yet because it just makes more sense to me. Anything that can wait until the wedding will wait.

  25. I nabbed my “married name” email account months before the wedding, but for the most part waited to begin using my married name until after the wedding. But, like, only three seconds after the wedding. There was a slightly awkward couple of weeks where I went by Mrs. Lastname but all my credit cards and forms of ID still said Ms. Maidenname, but that ironed out pretty quickly.

    My Master’s degree was actually conferred on our wedding day (I didn’t attend the graduation ceremony ’cause I had someplace better to be!) and try as I might, the university would *not* agree to print my married name on the diploma because all the paperwork for it needed to be filed ahead of time and I was not legally Mrs. Lastname yet. I tried to explain that the ceremony was at 10 am so by the time they handed degrees out it’d be official, but that didn’t fly. Still, it’s kind of neat that the last thing issued to me as Ms. Maidenname was an M.S., and it has my anniversary printed on it!

  26. Consider this… what if something goes wrong. The first time I was engaged I found out the night before the wedding that my fiancé had a girlfriend on the side. I had NO idea. I’m proud to say I had the guts to call off the wedding, but it was a nightmare. Can you imagine how much worse it would have been if I had already taken his name?

    • I hear ya on this one…..

      This is my third… (and final) marriage. Having done it before (along with age and wisdom) I am sorely aware of “things” that can happen… lord knows that is not what I expect, but kinda feel like I might “jinx” things if I jump the gun before I jump the broom!

  27. I started changing my name on email and websites the days following my wedding day. I did not start using it on legal documents until after I changed it with the social security office.

  28. My guy was changing his first and middle names anyway, and so he decided to go ahead and change his last name to mine at the same time, so he wouldn’t have to go through two paperwork/money headaches less than a year apart. He’s been Mr. me for almost a year. 🙂

  29. Well I changed my name on fb the next day only cause I could not wait and then started using his last name about a few weeks later once I went to social security

  30. I set up my ps4 with my married name but I’m not getting married until next year. Like most others here if I set up something (that doesn’t require official paperwork) I’ll use my married name. I’m just forgetful; when I move house there’s always things that don’t get updated to my new address, so I figured I’d get started early with the changing of my name business.
    I really appreciate this post and the tone of the comments on it. On a traditional wedding blog the commentators would be like: NO THAT’S TACKY! And I know there’s offbeat readers who aren’t/don’t agree with the changing name tradition. But no comments question or berate the poster or the commentators for their decisions. It’s lovely to just read what others are doing about this modern challenge 🙂

  31. I started using mine immediately ^-^ I still have to do all the paperwork to make it legal, but as soon as I was announced Mrs. MacKinnon after the ceremony, that is what I used.

  32. I started using it as I was establishing a new business while we were engaged. Bought a domain name, set up and used a new email address, etc. Conversely, I continued using my maiden name in academia even though I graduated 4 years after we got married (and 4 years after I legally changed my name). I didn’t have any particularly strong reason for the latter choice. I think I just felt like my school identity was my maiden name. Also I hated the school registrar’s office with a fiery passion. 😛

  33. I started a new job 2 months before my wedding and started using the new last name in email and business cards. I didn’t want to confuse people and it was kind of exciting!

  34. Personally, as a designer I’d come across this problem too. My solution was to, on non-changeable documents (such as website urls) drop my last name entirely. Otherwise I would use my married name (his last affixed to my last with a hyphen).

  35. I registered a new gmail account right away when I decided to change my name, even though I’m not using it yet! Just wanted to know I’d have it ready to go.

    My question is: my partner recently put me on his fancy health insurance plan through work, and the card they sent for dental and vision says my future name, even though we didn’t tell them that was my name. We think they think we’re already married… Is it like, insurance fraud if I don’t correct them and just let my new dentist bill the insurance company with my future name?

  36. I am actually thinking of doing something a little different.

    I am going to adopt his name as sort of a second middle name so I will be Cassie Cumberbatch Hiddleston (not my real names obviously!) So I can keep Hiddleston on my passport, academic and professional branding and everything like that, but if somebody calls me Mrs Cumberbatch picking the future hypothetical sprog up from school, well that won’t be a problem either. I haven’t looked into the legalities of it in Australia, but I can’t imagine it being a big problem.

    • I’d love to be Laura Cumberbatch Hiddleston. *Swoon*

Comments are closed.