It is traditional for the bride to take the groom's last name once the couple is married. While you are under no legal obligation to do so, you can easily have your name changed on your Social Security card by presenting your marriage license, no court order required. But many brides these days are deciding to keep their maiden name or use a hyphenated version with both husband's and wife's last name. In some cases, the husband also takes the hyphenated name or even takes his new wife's last name.
You and your future husband should discuss this issue well before the wedding. Listen closely to his feelings about the subject and give them full consideration. You do not want to start your marriage out on the wrong foot with a misunderstanding on a subject as sensitive as this. Both parties should have equal say in the matter and come up with something mutually agreeable.
While it is solely the couple's decision to make, do not let the families of the bride and groom feel completely left out. Listen to their input, and be prepared to back up your decision. While you should not have to be defensive about it, explaining your choice to the families implied shows that you value their opinion.
If you decide to keep your maiden name or hyphenate, finding a way to work your name into the wedding invitations can get it out in the open and avoid confusion. If your invitations are casual, creativity and humor can be used to announce your married name on the invitation itself. If they are more formal, you could add a contact card with your husband-to-be's name, the name you will be using, and your contact information included.
If your name will be changing in any way, you need to notify everyone concerned. Your employer, post office, bank, doctor's office, and insurance company are a few important places to notify. These will probably require a copy of your marriage license in order to process your name change. Any bills that are in your name will usually have a name and address change section that you can fill in when sending payment. You could also send notification to any service providers you use regularly, such as hairdressers and mechanics to help prevent mix ups. And do not forget about your driver's license!
The majority of couples still choose for the bride to take the groom's last name, and that is what is generally expected. But an increasing number of brides are electing not to do so. If you choose to go a different route, be prepared to face criticism and confusion about your decision. Simply keeping your friends and loved ones informed will let them know that they are important to you and ensure that they are more likely to accept your choice.