Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Bride and Groom Name Changing Questions

Hello all!

So my partner and I have decided to both take my last name as our second middle name and his last name as both of our last names. So I will have to add a second middle name and change my last name, while he will be adding a second middle name and not changing his last name. I have questions on this!

I am from Washington state, he is from California, and we are currently living in Virginia for school (but we each still have our state driver's license and residency in our respective states) and we will be getting married in Las Vegas. I am having a super difficult time figuring out how to go about the process of changing our names, and if there would be a better state for us to do this in than others? Also, I know the process will most likely be more difficult for him, but I was wondering if anyone had any tips they could share on what made this process work for them, if at all?

Thanks so much!

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Re: Bride and Groom Name Changing Questions

  • In California, all you have to do is write the name you want your name to be changed to on the marriage license.  Both of you are allowed to change it there.  You send it in, wait for it to process, show it to S.S. and the DMV, and you're done.  It's really easy.  I'm not sure what the rules are in Vegas though.
  • Nymeru said:

    In California, all you have to do is write the name you want your name to be changed to on the marriage license.  Both of you are allowed to change it there.  You send it in, wait for it to process, show it to S.S. and the DMV, and you're done.  It's really easy.  I'm not sure what the rules are in Vegas though.

    But they won't be getting a license from California. They'll be getting it from Nevada.

    OP, since different states have different rules about name changing after marriage, I would call the social security office in the state you will be getting your new DLs from and ask them. Some states don't allow middle same changes with marriage, some only allow the recognized 'bride' to change her name, etc.

    You can both legally change both your names to whatever you want, but it may take more paperwork and some fees. Whatever you decide to do, your situation is unusual enough that I wouldn't rely on random Internet advice for it.
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  • In California, all you have to do is write the name you want your name to be changed to on the marriage license.  Both of you are allowed to change it there.  You send it in, wait for it to process, show it to S.S. and the DMV, and you're done.  It's really easy.  I'm not sure what the rules are in Vegas though.
    But they won't be getting a license from California. They'll be getting it from Nevada. OP, since different states have different rules about name changing after marriage, I would call the social security office in the state you will be getting your new DLs from and ask them. Some states don't allow middle same changes with marriage, some only allow the recognized 'bride' to change her name, etc. You can both legally change both your names to whatever you want, but it may take more paperwork and some fees. Whatever you decide to do, your situation is unusual enough that I wouldn't rely on random Internet advice for it.

    Thanks! I definitely am not relying on random internet advice for it, but was hoping to get anyone with personal experience on the topics personal process. All of my research has found it will be a pain no matter which direction I go! :)
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  • edited October 2014
    You'll want to double check this with a lawyer, but I believe that the applicable law is the law of the state in which you are a resident (which seems to be Virginia). Again - ask a lawyer or Virginia state officials! Make sure to ask whether your wedding licence should have your current names or changed names.

    You should also double check with the states in which you were born. There could be some paperwork to be done to change official documents.

    Finally, you'll probably want to check the Nevada rules to determine what names you will have to write on your wedding licence.

    Unfortunately, with this type of issue, I think you will definitely have to be in touch with officials from all involved states to make sure the change and your marriage is recognized.
  • princessleia22princessleia22 Oceanfront Property in Arizona member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer

    Since you aren't actually resident of Virginia, you need to check the laws in the states where you have residency (California and Washington).  I believe that if that is where you have residency, that is where the name change will have to take place. 

    I got married in Louisiana but live in Arizona. My name change had to take place in Arizona, since that is where I am legal resident.  Legal name change just required that I apply for new social security card and new drivers license in AZ.  But, different states do have different regulations on that.  And many states make it more complicated for men to change name, even after a wedding, and sometimes require getting approval from court to do so.

    But, generally if getting married out of state, you still do the name change in the jurisdiction that you have live or residency.  It gets more complicated when residency isn't where you currently live.  If you both plan to stay in Virginia, you may want to consider changing residency there prior to the wedding to simplify things and allow you to change it all local to where you live. But, that may depend on how difficult Virginia name change laws are.  If they are more complex, it may be easier to plan a trip to west coast to change everything.

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  • Since you aren't actually resident of Virginia, you need to check the laws in the states where you have residency (California and Washington).  I believe that if that is where you have residency, that is where the name change will have to take place. 

    I got married in Louisiana but live in Arizona. My name change had to take place in Arizona, since that is where I am legal resident.  Legal name change just required that I apply for new social security card and new drivers license in AZ.  But, different states do have different regulations on that.  And many states make it more complicated for men to change name, even after a wedding, and sometimes require getting approval from court to do so.

    But, generally if getting married out of state, you still do the name change in the jurisdiction that you have live or residency.  It gets more complicated when residency isn't where you currently live.  If you both plan to stay in Virginia, you may want to consider changing residency there prior to the wedding to simplify things and allow you to change it all local to where you live. But, that may depend on how difficult Virginia name change laws are.  If they are more complex, it may be easier to plan a trip to west coast to change everything.

    Thanks! I'm working on finishing my doctorate right now, so we are not quite sure where we will be living state-wise after the next spring, so we had been holding out on the residency switch. I was trying to figure out the name change before I got my diploma, but now I'm thinking we may just wait and make the change when we move this summer. By the time I realized how difficult the change would be in California and Washington (which we will be visiting both in December), it was just logistically impossible to do formal name changes in the time we would be home I think!

    Thanks for everyone's advice! It's been really helpful and needed!
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  • I could be wrong, but California DMV is not going to give your husband a new license with his new name on it unless he does so in person. He may have to give up his California residency if he can't do that, which may be a bad thing if he ever wants to go to school in California again. Here is the CA DMV info: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/dl/dl_info#two504
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