Before you wed, one of the biggest decisions you'll need to take is how to proceed with your surnames. This article takes a closer look at the various options available, advises you how to go about changing your name, and looks at the implications of a marriage name change.
First of all, it is important to mention that no-one is legally obliged to adopt their partner's surname and if they decide to do so, they are free to revert back to their maiden name at any point in the marriage. If you have children, the parent with whom the children live must get consent from the other natural parent before changing a child's surname, or if consent is not given, via a court application.
Whilst it may not be the law, it is tradition for at least one partner to change their name after a wedding - typically this will be the Bride, although husband's have been known to undertake a marriage name change. In same-sex relationships, both partner's will often look to show their commitment and opt for a double-barrelled surname.
A number of women these days are choosing to retain their maiden name, particularly if they are well known (just look towards Hollywood for multiple examples of this) whilst some will take their maiden name as a middle name and adopt their partner's new surname.
Marriage Name Change Options
If intend to retain your maiden name, no documentation needs to be changed although it is sensible to inform friends, family and colleagues of your decision to avoid any unecessary confusion.
For all other marriage name change scenarios, the course of action you'll need to take will depend upon which route you intend to go down. Let's take a look at each scenario in turn:
Wife Changes Surname: You do not need to go via deed poll, but you will need to notify all relevant parties of your marriage name change. In certain cases, you will need to supply a copy of your marriage license to authorise the change of records.
Double-Barrelled Surname: This marriage name change needs to be actioned via deed poll. The simplest way is to have the husband-to-be to alter his surname in advance of the day (making sure that he alters all the necessary documents). The wife would then follow the guidelines set out in the ‘wife changes surname’ above. The double-barrelled option is the most common route for same-sex couples entering a civil partnership. In this circumstance, it is advised that both parties change their name prior to the day via deed poll.
Taking Your Maiden Name as a Middle Name: This is carried out via deed poll – and followed up by the alteration of all the various relevant documents. For simplicity, it is advised that this change is carried out after the wedding has taken place.
Husband Changes Surname: Again this marriage name change is carried out via deed-poll and once more the relevant documents need to be altered. We'd recommend that such a change is carried out on return from honeymoon.
Who to Inform After Marriage Name Change
When undertaking a marriage name change, via deed poll or through the traditional route of the wife adopting her husband’s surname, there are a number of parties you will need to inform – the following list outlines the most common ones:
Banks, building societies, credit card and loan companies
Catalogue & store card companies
Clubs, societies, libraries, institutes and organisations
Doctors & Dentists
DSS (for National Insurance purposes )
DVLA for Driving Licence and Vehicle Registration Details
Your employer and any trade unions
Friends and colleagues
The Passport office
Registrars for shares
Most of the above will be pretty straightforward, but some will require proof of the marriage name change, either via a copy of the marriage certificate or deed poll certificate. The passport is one change that's a little more complex and, as it happens, is the one that you will need to consider in advance of the big day. If you'd like to know more, check out our Passport, Visa & Health Advice article.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding ceremony articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with loads of civil wedding venues, decorations, florists and more.