Names are funny. You have no control over the name you’re given. You’re born and your parents slap a name on your birth certificate and bam, you’re stuck with it for life. Mostly. I guess there ARE ways to change your first name, although unless your parents do something like this to you, you’ll probably just stick with what they gave you. P.S. the Twitter commentary on that story was priceless. And then there are last names. Your family name. To some, they hold so much meaning, and to others maybe not so much. In the months leading up to my wedding, I thought a lot about names. And now as Cody and I contemplate starting a family, I’ve been thinking about them even that much more.
I’d like to think my Mom was onto something when she named me Emilia because although I didn’t know a single Emilia (spelled with an “E”) when I was growing up, I now know of at least girls that share my name. So maybe that makes her a trendsetter? She’d probably like to think so.
As much as I actually love my first name I didn’t always love the fact that 95% of the time it was misspelled or mispronounced. Obviously, at 36 I’ve gotten used to it and honestly, depending on the situation, don’t even correct people most of the time. But why do people have so much trouble with a name that actually DOESN’T seem that unique or complicated?! My theory has always been that people overthink it, try too hard, and then inevitably flub it. “Amelia” is actually quite common. But throw an “E” at the beginning and you’d think I was asking someone to decode hieroglyphics.
Thankfully my last name is what most people would consider very common. Anderson. Easy to spell. Easy to say. No clarification needed. Well, minus the handful of times someone has asked if there’s an “en” or “on” at the end. As an aside, when I was little my Dad decided to prove to me just how common HIS name was (John A Anderson) by pulling out a phonebook (yes, the actual physical book) and showing me that there were somewhere around 45 other John A Anderson’s in our city alone. To an 8-9 year old that was pretty mind-blowing!
As I think most people are, I am proud of my name. I am proud to be a part of my family’s legacy, no matter how small or insignificant it is in the big scheme of things. That said, when it came to the decision to change my last name after I got married, it wasn’t a very tough decision. I had always leaned towards dropping my last name and taking my future husband’s last name. On the surface, it just seems to make things easier. Think: booking travel, making doctor’s appointments, dealing with banks. I actually have no idea if NOT having the same last name makes those things more difficult, but I don’t really want to find out. And if I go a layer deeper, now that I AM married and decided to take Cody’s last name, it does (in a weird way) make me feel more bonded to him. I know that sounds silly, and it probably IS silly. But it’s the truth. “Emilia Anderson” had a good run, and even though it’s a tad bit sad to retire the only name I’ve ever know, it feels good to start our marriage as “Emilia Walker”. Oh, and because I’m actually keeping my current middle name (Bates) as my married middle name (not using my maiden name as my middle name) I hope that we’ll be able to incorporate Anderson into one of our children’s names someday.
All that said, I totally understand that there are reasons why a woman would want to keep her maiden name. The most obvious would be professional reasons — I guess if I had become a famous blogger (or a famous anything) before I got married, maybe I would have felt more strongly about preserving that “identity”. Aside from that, I’m sure there are many other reasons why women keep their maiden name, or combine it with their husband’s name, or hyphenate their last name. And all are perfectly acceptable to me!
Now that we’ve covered the emotional side of name-changing, what about the logistical side of actually changing it if you decide to go that direction after you get married? Honestly, THAT was the part that I was really worried about because I had heard so many horror stories from friends that had gone through the name-change process. Most said that, from finding the right forms to waiting in line at the DMV or social security office, it took foreverrr to complete the change. But wait, it’s 2018, not 1998 — someone must have found a better way by now! Sure enough, someone has.
If you’ve gotten married in the past few years you know that all of the big wedding-related vendors seem to be part of one big twisted wedding network where once you subscribe to one of their email lists you’re magically subscribed to 25 others (lucky you!). The Knot is one of the worst offenders and six months later I’m STILL getting a trickle of emails from them and their “partners”. However, I won’t consider it a total waste because The Knot brought HitchSwitch into my inbox, and their service made the name change process almost totally painless.
For $89 you can get HitchSwitch’s “Platinum Package”. I know, after feeling like all you’ve done is bleed green during the wedding planning process, it might seem like money you just don’t want to spend. But stay with me. While I actually don’t think HitchSwitch is doing anything mindblowing, they basically make you feel like you have an administrative assistant (which I sadly don’t have in real life) that goes out and collects all the right forms and paperwork for you and then places it all on your desk in a nice little pile complete with a numbered to-do sheet on top. Could I have changed my name without their help? Sure. But did they make it a heck of a lot easier? Absolutely.
Full disclosure, I actually haven’t totally completed my name change yet, but I took care of the step I was most dreading — going to the social security office. To my surprise, the New Orleans social security office wasn’t all that terrible, and now I’m far more terrified of going to the DMV to get a new driver’s license. I have been there before, and it’s not pretty. The big reason I haven’t done this piece yet (aside from not wanting to sit in my own personal hell for 3-4 hours) is because we’ve had so much travel planned and booked (under my maiden name) since the wedding that it doesn’t make sense to change my license until we get through the Holidays. So the DMV will be on my January to-do list. Send prayers.
But back to HitchSwitch. The Platinum Package gets you:
- Ability to change your name in minutes — well, maybe not MINUTES, but it’s fast!
- Online access to all of your paperwork
- Receive your auto-filled paperwork in the mail — this was nice; they send you all the necessary forms so you don’t have to spend time Googling where to get them; also saves you from having to fill out a million boxes with the same information over and over again
- Pre-paid mailing envelopes
- Free printed passport photo — it just so happened that I needed to renew my passport, so this was an added bonus
- Name Change Concierge — this is the big difference from their other packages; you DO essentially get a personal assistant from HitchSwitch that you can email directly with all of your questions; I needed her assistance more than a couple of times!
- HitchSwitch also offers two other packages ($29 and $69) — the basic package ($29) didn’t seem very helpful and the Platinum package was only $20 more than the middle package ($69) so it seemed like a no-brainer
HitchSwitch also guides you through which changes to make first (i.e. hit up the social security office before anything else), and when it might make sense to actually wait to make some of the changes (i.e. if you already have travel booked under your maiden name). The package came very quickly and all of the materials they provided were very well organized and easy to understand.
Truth be told I AM dreading making phone calls to all of my credit card providers and banks, and making updates to my subscriptions and website profiles. Unfortunately, HitchSwitch can’t help with that part. Think of ALL the places your name is stored! It’s overwhelming. So that’s another list I’m going to have to tackle in 2019.
One last thing I wanted to mention — and get your opinion on — is what to do about my email address. For years I’ve been using a personal Gmail address that includes my maiden name, but once we got engaged I actually did go out and establish a Gmail address that incorporates my married name. Thanks to a common new last name and the lack of availability that exists with Gmail addresses these days, I don’t LOVE the email address I had to choose, but it was the best I could do (and trust me, I tried a ridiculous number of combinations). I think the easiest thing to do is either a) keep my old email address — it’s just an email address I use with friends and family anyways, or b) take the plunge and start forwarding everything to the new email address. I’m still on the fence about it, but would be curious to hear what others have done!
As usual, none of these posts are sponsored — just wanted to give you guys my thoughts on a great service that made my life a little easier!
You can find anything else you need to know on their website: https://www.hitchswitch.com/
UPDATE: After 4 hellish hours at the New Orleans DMV, I officially have my new license!