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Etiquette

We're both changing our last name to something new, wording help!

I’m posting this in several different boards trying to get people’s opinions, so I’m sorry if you see this more than once!


Since we first started dating my fiancé has wanted to change his last name to take his mother’s maiden name.  I’ve always been on board with this idea but he’s always putting it off for various reason-he was finishing up college, applying for new jobs, or just started a new job.  They’re all pretty valid reasons to put it off for an extra few months, but now that we’re getting married in six months it has to happen soon!  But he wants to wait until after we’ve married so that we can do it together.  I have to admit I do like the idea of us both changing our names together at the same time, symbolizing starting a new family together.


But then I’m worried about invitations and people potentially getting us monogrammed gifts with the wrong monogram.  Should we use John Smith (old name) on invites or John Jones (new name) on invites even if his name will still legally be Smith-but to attempt to avoid confusion from extended family and old friends who don’t know that we’re both going to be changing our names.  Or should I just make him change it now, he doesn’t want to and I feel bad forcing him to.  Or am I making this more confusing and difficult than it needs to be?


Advice please! 
Thank you! :)

Re: We're both changing our last name to something new, wording help!

  • I would definitely find a way to let people know this. Do you have a wedding website? I would maybe put this information on there. I would definitely make sure everyone knows about it ahead of time. I have seen this before where the two families were not aware until the wedding day and it cause a lot of drama....
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  • I'd encourage him to do it before the wedding. I think that will save some hassle and headaches down the road. I don't know etiquette wise, but I don't really see anything wrong with putting new last name onto the invites. Although,if you do that, you'd have to be pretty damn sure he's changing his name after. And it seems like he's hem and hawing about it, so is he having second thoughts?
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  • I think you're making it more difficult and confusing than it needs to be :-) I'm not following what the advantage would be of changing now, but I totally get the symbolism of waiting till after the wedding and both of you changing at the same time.

    I'd start spreading the word now that after the wedding, you'll both be XYZ, and include an "at home" card with all the info in your thank you's after the wedding. I don't think I'd inciude it on a web site now because I'd be concerned about guests writing checks to the wrong name.
  • I had a friend change is right before his wedding and on the invite and wrote John NewLastName (FormerLastName) so that people could see that it was still the same guy they knew before. Although, I think most people already knew he had a rocky (non) relationship with his father.
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  • What about wording the invitations in a slightly non-traditional way?  Something like:  "Mary Jane Apple and John Michael Smith request the pleasure of your company as they join together in marriage as Mary and John Doe."

    I get that this may not work if your wedding is black-tie formal, but you could probably get away with it for a less-formal event.
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  • Do people really give that many monogrammed gifts? 
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  • From a logistical stand point it may be easier to wait until you guys get married to have both of you change your name. Many states (you'll have to check w/ yours) give both the bride and groom a pass to change their name(s) legally without any rigamarole when they get married. If your FI wants to make the name change beforehand, he will have to go through legal channels and pay whatever the state fee is to change his name. Again, check with the state you're getting married in. 

    As for letting people know this is what you're doing, I would go with word of mouth, or include something on your site as PP's have suggested. 
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  • Check you laws about name changes.  Here in NY, if you want to change your name without getting married/divorced, it costs about $500, most people hire a lawyer.  But if you are getting married, you both can put the new name right on your marriage license and there are no additional fees.

    I would just make it a point to tell everyone what the new last name will be.
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  • In Response to Re: We're both changing our last name to something new, wording help!:
    [QUOTE]Check you laws about name changes.  Here in NY, if you want to change your name without getting married/divorced, it costs about $500, most people hire a lawyer.  But if you are getting married, you both can put the new name right on your marriage license and there are no additional fees. I would just make it a point to tell everyone what the new last name will be.
    Posted by Cathyl7910[/QUOTE]

    One clarification about NY - yes you can both change your names, but the new last name has to be either of your previous surnames or a combination of the two - it can't just be some other name that's entirely unrelated to your existing names. So for example, if her name is Apple and his is Smith, they can both change to Smith, Apple, or any combination of Smith and Apple, but they can't change to Doe.  So in OP's case, her FI couldn't change his name to the name that he wants on the marriage certificate, and she can't take anything other than her name, his current name, or some combination of the two, so she'd also have to go through the formal legal name-change process if they wanted to wait until after the wedding to do it. 
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  • Wow, thanks for all the responses!  I didn't realise that changing your name and changing your name because of marriage was done differently-I obviously have not done my research!  I will have to look into this tonight.  I'm starting think it might just be easier to make him do it before hand.  And I'm not worried about drama, both of our families that need to know already know about it (his grandmother was so touched she cried!) and his father's side of the family is not invited so no worries there.  He hasn't spoken to that side of his family since he turned 18 which is why he wants to change his name because they don't get along and he doesn't want to carry on that name.

    Thanks, again!!
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Perhaps in the invitation wording you can put:

    Mr & Mrs Brides Parents request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their daughter:

    Mary Jane
    to
    John James,

    son of Ms. Grooms Mom

    Maybe that would signify to guests that his mom's last name is his last name.  This is also assuming that the groom's dad is completely out of the picture and won't be mentioned on the invite.  This also assumes that your parents are hosting.  I would also spread around that news to groom's side of the family before hand.
  • I agree that you should check your state - a lot of states get hinky about name changes unless marriage has occurred.  Most states are now gender neutral for equality reasons, but a lot still don't like your last name changing unless there's a reason for it.

    The other thing that I think a PP mentioned is checks - you're likely to get checks written to Mr. and Mrs. Smith because of traditional name roles and people not thinking it through.  You might have trouble cashing that that if neither of you is on the account as a Smith at the time you receive it.

    I would personally avoid registering for anything monogrammed.  My circle gives a lot of monogrammed gifts, but the ones who do it would know about this situation if it were me.  And honestly getting a random thing or two with the wrong monogram is just something you're going to have to risk.
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  • edited January 2012
    One other thing - if your FI changes his name before the wedding, you could always include a little card with your invitation that says "Mr. John Michael Smith is pleased to announce the change of his name to Mr. John Michael Doe," then word the invitation using his new last name.
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  • I like Steph's invitation wording.

    As for checks, ask your bank what they do when a name changes.  We used to put a notation on the account when we changed a name so that the old name was still in our records.  Checks to his former last name wouldn't have been a big deal to us, as long as you and he had had a relationship with us before the change.  Your bank policies may differ.  

    A bigger problem would be if the check was payable to both of you, and one of you went in alone wanting cash; you might need to establish a joint account, or come in together to cash the check.  Or if you had no account with us before your name change, and a check written out to your old one; we would need to document the name change with something legal before we could help you.

    And definitely check state law on the name change.
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  • In Response to Re: We're both changing our last name to something new, wording help!:
    [QUOTE]Do people really give that many monogrammed gifts? 
    Posted by adktd2boots[/QUOTE]

    That was my thoughts...don't put monogramed gifts on your registry. I could see it being a bigger deal on cheques, but if you change it close to the wedding and cash them all right away I'm pretty sure you get paperwork for the meantime to give to your bank and stuff (plus your bank won't change your name untill you go in and tell them to). I actually think it would be easier to both change them at or after the wedding, that doing it before doesn't really solve complications in my mind.

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  • You would do your wedding invitations with the names you have now, and include a NAME or AT HOME card with the invitation.

    Wording for the wedding invitation:

    Mr. and Mrs. John Goldsmith
    request the honour of your presence
    at the wedding of their daughter
    Katherine Lynn
    to
    Mr. Theodore Hughes
    son of Ms. Katherine Smith Hughes
    etc...................

    Wording for the NAME CARD - put your previous names in there so everyone can connect what name you HAD and what name you will HAVE:

    Kate Goldsmith and Tad Hughes
    will be adopting the surname
    Smith
    after their marriage on
    June 20, 2012

    OR YOU COULD ADD THIS PART AT THE BOTTOM TO MAKE A COMBINED NAME AND AT HOME CARD IF YOU ARE CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS ALSO:

    They will be at home at
    2234 Broadway, Apartment 2-E
    Tulsa, Oklahoma 44563

  • In Response to Re: We're both changing our last name to something new, wording help!:
    [QUOTE]What about wording the invitations in a slightly non-traditional way?  Something like:  "Mary Jane Apple and John Michael Smith request the pleasure of your company as they join together in marriage as Mary and John Doe."
    Posted by StephBeanWed61502[/QUOTE]

    I was thinking this exact same thing... and I like your wording Steph.
  • Here's the link to more information on NAME CHANGE card inserts and AT HOME address change inserts:

    http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-invitations/qa/what-are-at-home-cards.aspx
  • I had been thinking maybe we could do something invite itself, I like the wording, Steph!!  Thanks!

    I am also loving the thought of a name change/at home card.  Thanks for that link!  Super helpful, thanks Kristin!  

    More options to think about.... :)

  • In Response to Re: We're both changing our last name to something new, wording help!:
    [QUOTE]It's very easy to get a name change. Go to your local library and look up the legal format for your state. An attorney is not necessary. Type up the order for the judge to sign, go to the courthouse and get on the docket, and pay court costs. Take the signed court order to Social Security, and then the DMV. You can change your name to anything you like. 
    Posted by RetreadBride[/QUOTE]

    Retread, it's not this simple in every state.  Here in NY, a name-change (other than by marriage) requires multiple postings of "name change notification" in newspapers, plus notifications to creditors and other parties.  It's not easy at all, it takes a fairly long time, and while you could do it without an attorney, you would probably be safer having one, since one minor error in the whole lengthy process could really screw things up. 
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