Bound by Love, Law, and a Lengthy Name Change Process

I once knew a girl who married someone with her same last name.

To this day, I remain unconvinced of their true love. I'm pretty sure she picked him just so she didn't have to go through the hassle of changing her name. That lucky so-and-so...

For most of history, the decision to change your name—or not—after marriage wasn't a decision at all. It was assumed that a woman would adopt her husband's name. (Or in some matriarchal cultures, the man would adopt his wife's name. Take that, chauvinism!)

Today, however, it's common place to ask a new bride what her plans are. Some people still don't give it a second thought. But in many circles, the answer comes only after a lot of soul searching.

Change your name to follow tradition—or even just because you like your partner's name better? Keep your maiden name to honor family heritage? Make it your new middle name? Hyphenate? Or scrap the whole thing and create a new family surname together?

When I first saw my new name on Facebook and then later on my driver's license, it felt like I was referring to a different person. Nearly three years later, I'm still getting used to it!

Publicly defining your own identity is hard enough without having to contemplate the long lines at the DMV, the inconvenient hours at the social security office, and the dreaded paperwork.

Enter online name-change services like, HitchSwitch.

Plug in some basic information in your private, secure account… and HitchSwitch autofills all the forms you'll need to make your name change official. They provide instructions for where to mail the forms and what documents or photos you'll need to include with each form. And importantly, they don't ask for any sensitive information.

When I used this service in 2015, I was probably their most annoying customer. For months, I waffled between different name options. And I asked that poor customer service rep to alter my forms at least three times. Each time, she was quick with her responses and, shockingly, never messed anything up.

There are plenty of other companies that offer similar services, like MissNowMrs and LegalZoom. The cost of about $30 for the basic package might not be worth it to you. (In that case, Google and WeddingWire are you friends!) But I can say HitchSwitch made life so much easier …

It was enough of a headache dealing with vendors and juggling opinionated family members. Someone shoving all the pre-filled forms and instructions in front of my face was worth it.

The only other option to keep my sanity was marrying someone with my same last name. And there weren't many "Gwynallen"s to choose from.

Do you plan to change your surname after marriage? What was the decision process like for you? Did you use a name-change service? Share your story with us!

Writer Fawn believes in the power of a well-crafted story, the promise of an adventurous future, and the perfection of a Nutella-covered strawberry.