How to change your name

Money changes everything, and so does marriage. Like your name. Traditionally, the wife takes her husband’s name. More recently, some men are choosing to take their wife’s name, or both choose a new name together. A popular, modern solution is for the couple to hyphenate—which, legally, counts as a name change. The easiest solution is for the bride to keep her name: In that case, no paperwork needs to be filed and it’s business as usual—but the in-laws tend to look askance.

Whatever you choose, Web sites and offer these tips for making the switch:

1) Check the marriage license. There should be a space for the bride to indicate a name change. Occasionally, the groom has the same option, which simplifies the process if he plans on a new name. For men, if there’s no line to fill in on the marriage license, contact an attorney for assistance with your name change.

2) It’s worth noting that if, as a couple, you’re going for a whole new name, the courts will not allow dirty, violent, trademarked or numeric (411 is off the table) names, and you can’t change your name to dodge the law. You can use your marriage license as an opportunity to reclaim your heritage (many family names were lost during the last wave of European immigration), make a statement or choose a name that just plain suits you better.

3) After you return your completed marriage license to the courthouse, request additional copies of the marriage certificate—many government offices require name-change documentation.

4) Request a new Social Security card (800-772-1213) and driver’s license (298-4544 and 251-6065 in Asheville); call ahead for info on what forms of identification you’ll need. If you have a passport, update it by filling out Passport Re-Application Form DS-5504 (available at

5) Order replacement checks, business cards and credit cards with your new name. Let employers or schools know about your name change, and notify your insurance company, mortgage lender, the post office and utility companies. Don’t forget to contact the registrar of voters (250-4200 in Asheville).

6) Get used to it. It may take a while to adapt to your adopted alias—practice saying your name in private so you don’t stumble when you introduce yourself by your new name.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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