THE FIRST YEAR: How To Change Your Name

We’ve got simple tips to take the pain out of this process.

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A rose by any other name may still be a rose, but after a wedding, it can take a long wait at the DMV, a lengthy Social Security form, and jumping through several legal hoops to make it official. While changing your last name can be a huge thorn in your side during the weeks (or months) after your wedding, there’s luckily a host of online sources designed to take the edge off this newlywed nightmare. Online name change kits compile all the paperwork you need, and provide you with mailing instructions and checklists to make sure you’ve covered all your bureaucratic bases.

Of course, there’s still the old-fashioned way—and in that case, local wedding-biz veteran Melissa Paul says to plan first on a Kinko’s trip. “All forms will require evidence that you really are legally known by a new name,” says Paul, “so copies of your marriage license—many—should be made. Then, it’s a matter of breaking down your life into all the basics that make your identity work.” Paul suggests tackling government documents like your Social Security card, IRS records, and passport first, and then taking on financial forms for your bank accounts and credit cards.

It’s also important not to jump the gun before the wedding, she warns. “An important item to note with name changes is that you shouldn’t buy your honeymoon airline tickets in your married name,” says Paul. “Your passport and driver’s license can’t change until you show a copy of your marriage license, which means when you leave the day after your wedding, your IDs will still be in your maiden name.”

But since navigating government agencies and documents is probably the last battle you want to fight after your honeymoon haze has lifted, we recommend checking out one of these three online name changing kits:

namechangekit.com: This website’s Official New Bride Name Change Kit provides you with official, printable copies of all the necessary forms, customized to your state’s jurisdiction. For a flat fee of $28.95 you get everything you need in a pretty pink box. They’ll also give you complete instructions for filling out the forms, checklists to keep you on track, and custom labels for your envelopes.

missnowmrs.com: Miss-Now-Mrs makes a tedious and cumbersome process a complete bridal breeze. For a $29.95 charge, this site prompts you with a series of questions, which it uses to automatically fill in all your forms for you, from the IRS 8822 form, to your voter’s registration. You print the forms out, along with a set of instructions that tells you when to send them in, where they go to, and how much it’ll cost.

bridekit.com: While this site doesn’t provide you with any of the official forms, it gives you a thorough, easy-to-understand plan of attack for getting your name changed. The best part? It’s free. Start with the “basics” page to get a sense of how the process will work, and move to the “instructions page,” where you’ll find one of the most complete and readable how-to guides available.

However you choose to tackle this less-fun wedding task, with a little organization and a good plan of attack, you’ll be doodling your new name in no time. Anyone else out there have a good tip to share with the class?