Changing my first name when I get married

I've got a pretty normal name (by American standards). It was pretty popular, and pretty unisex. I think my parents chose it because it was unisex and well, they liked it. I happened to be American but living in the UK with this now uncommon name, and to boot, a really popular last name. Forever I'm correcting paperwork about which name is first and whatnot. Part of what bugs me too is I'm really girly and my name isnt.

My middle name is Gabrielle. Nice enough eh? Well, when I get married next year I'm marrying someone with a short and very common last name. I'm happy enough to go with his name, but with my first one - it's equally as unfeminine and well...not so nice in my book. 

Because everyone has known me by my first name my whole life, it may seem weird for me to want to change to my middle name ( but with an a - Gabriella) after I get married. Would it seem weird to you?

Alot of people have suggested just going by it and not changing it legally. But its the legal documents which seem to get screwed up!




March 4, 2014 12:12 PM

I didn't legally switch mine, but added my maiden as a middle and switched to using my full name instead of a nickname (due to alliteration). 

What do you mean by the legal documents which seem to get screwed up? Do they reverse your names or something? That can be a huge hassle sometimes. 

Would you just be dropping the first and having a first name and last name? Or would you be choosing a new middle? Or would you consider flip-flopping your first and middle (with the "a" added on the end)?

Keep in mind that when dealing with the legal paperwork, you birth certificate will always reflect the original name, so then you need to haul that and the name change paperwork around to get things corrected. 

I think you have two issues: 1) the frustration of the legal paperwork not knowing which is actually your first name and 2) feeling like your first name doesn't reflect who you are. 

To deal with 1) will a legal name change solve the problem? It is likely going to be even more of a hassle at first, but then there may be some relief down the road. However, you will have to haul around both documents on occasion because of it.

To deal with 2) will a legal name change solve the problem? Well, yes and no. There will always be those people in your life who met you as ______ and will think of you as ______. I can pinpoint when I met people based on what name they know me by (and one was just a nickname I went by most of the time). People I met in 6th grade (when I for some reason went by my full name) or who have met me after marriage all call me by my full name. most everyone else calls me by my nickname. However, it was as simple as just introducing myself as "full name" once I got married. It slowly worked itself over time that most people know me as "full name". But it was a process. FB has helped with my friends from school (although sometimes I have to let them know my nickname also to trigger the memory) calling me "full name" now because that's what's on my FB page. But not all of them do, and that's okay. However, all these things can be done without a legal name change. A simple, "I'm choosing to go by my middle name now as it suits me better and my first name just gets too confusing with our last name," will work for most conversations.

Good luck in deciding! 

March 4, 2014 5:51 PM

Re: Your birth certificate - actually in most states, if you legally change your name for a non-marriage-related reason you can have it amended (or at least get an attachment added) reflecting your new name. (In sharalyn's case she wouldn't have been able to since all she did was make her maiden name into a middle name - which is still considered only due to marriage.) If you're interested you can contact Vital Statistics in the state where you were born - or I have a link below that was designed for people changing their gender as well, but may be of use to anyone with a first or non-marriage last name change.

Also, beware that in many places you're not allowed to drop a first name even if you're changing to your husband's last name just by using your marriage license - changes involving your first name will likely have to be dealt with through court in the same way as if you weren't getting married at all.

March 4, 2014 10:52 PM

Most states do the attachment, not the amended, last I checked.


And in our state at the time (granted 1998), we could have totally changed our names (which was a possibility we talked about) during that marriage certificate change. It was the one "freebie" you got. I know other states don't do that.

OP--are you currently in the UK and going through them? 

March 5, 2014 8:23 AM

Lucky you! I assume that was dependent on where you lived, not specifically where you got married? Ill have to check that out! 

I will do the American one and the British one - in England its super easy - but since I pay tax, own stuff and drive in both countries, I will need to do both!

June 5, 2014 5:54 PM

Well, where we got married and where we lived were the same place, so I don't know which holds the reins on rules for that.


March 5, 2014 10:06 AM

Actually it is still technically referred to as an amendment, but in the "attachment" case they indicate the changes on a second page rather than cross out or erase the old/incorrect information on the original document - although anyone seeing the certificate will see the changes it has the same validity. (Another technicality with all these cases in contrast to a purely marriage-related name change is that in most cases it changes your maiden/birth name for purposes of how it would appear on your children's birth certificates. I posted more detail about this situation under a comment at the link below - the blogger's comment highlighting her situation and then my comment on the child's BC situation are highlighted in blue.)

March 5, 2014 5:33 PM

That what I meant--as in the method, not the title of what it is called.


March 5, 2014 8:21 AM

Yep, I'm aware it has to be two processes in Michigan I think - changing my last name will be the easy part, but you have to go through some paperwork and see a judge for the first name change

March 5, 2014 8:19 AM

Oh thank you so much for your detailed response!

Yeah, because my first name is a common last name in the UK, they tend to switch the names, thinking I made a mistake filling in the forms.

I probably could go by Gabriella Taylor  - just switching them. Picking a new middle name seems a hassle. Your point about #2 - not feeling it reflects me - is really true! 

The legal paperwork doesnt bother me so much. It seems to not be too difficult to change the first name in America, as long as you arent trying to commit fraud/ escape the law. In england, you literally file a piece of paper saying "I'm known as this"

I've asked people their opinion -friends and family and them seem quite insistet that I will always be "Taylor" in their mind - and theyll continue to call me that. Either they aren't taking me seriously, but also it is hard to think of someone as a different name. It was suggested to me to pick a more feminine name with the nickname "Tay" which is what a lot of people call me. 

Thats a good thing to tell people - especially after I get married I assume most people will just accept that



By mk
March 5, 2014 12:48 AM

I can't speak to the legal requirements but I know quite a few people who just go by their middle name, so it would not seem weird. It may take people who have knonw you a long time a while to call you that. I still call childhood friends by their childhood nicknames, even though I address them by their adult name when writing. 

I do know one person in college who changed both her first and last name (not because of marriage).

Are you ok with keeping your name and just going by something else? Or do you want it gone for good?

March 5, 2014 8:22 AM

It sounds kind of disrespectful to my parents who chose it, but I really dont like it. Especially living in Europe where its super uncommon. I would like it gone ....

March 12, 2014 12:58 PM

Oh! I just posted a similar post a few seconds ago, I thought I checked properly to see if this had already been discussed but I missed yours!

I don't think it's weird at all to want to change to your middle name, that's what I want to do. It's actually a relief to hear that you have the same issues as me because I thought maybe I was just being overly complicated, but you're right about all the paperwork being what's confusing!

Gabriella is a very pretty name. I'd say if you want to do it, go for it!

June 5, 2014 3:39 PM

Unless you enter the witness protection program, you can never full escape your birth name.

My husband has gone by his middle name since birth. His first name is his father's first name, and his dad was not around when he was growing up. He hated the name and had no attachment to it. So before we got married and I became Mrs. firstnamehehates, he decided to legally change it. For the last 4 years he has been legally the name he has always gone by. His first name is now is correct name and he took his grandfather's first name as his middle. 

Still, if he does something official like get a passport or do taxes, he has to show a copy of the official order of name change form. He also still has to use his birth certificate with the old name because you can not simply get a new one as though you weren't born with the other name. In short, it was worth it to him because he actually uses that name but it is still not very easy when paperwork comes around. But his license and most documents have the right name.

In your case, are you wanting for everyone you know to start calling you Gabriella? You are a little unclear about it. I don't particularly love my name, but would feel very awkward asking everyone who knows me - my family, my husband, my friends, work, old acquaintences, to start calling me something totally different. Names become part of who we are, and others will always think of you as the name they first met you as. 

How would your fiance feel about calling you Gabriella suddenly? Or telling his family "oh yeah... my fiance... that's no longer her name!" it is just sort of weird ya know.

Hopefully this helps a bit. A name is just a name, and if it truly bothers you that much then you are making it into something it's not. But maybe I have misunderstood and you have been called by Gabriella your whole life. If that is the case, then by all means go on and change it. But you will need to change it BEFORE you get married, so that your marriage certificate has your correct first name. Otherwise you are talking about WAY more paperwork. Then after marriage you just file to change your last name which is very common for women and easy to do. Much easier than first or middle names, and you won't have an official change of name form to show all the time.

After getting married, my name is now legally first name/maiden name/husband's last name. I like that because I am still easily identified as the old me by colleges and acquaintences. 

June 5, 2014 3:55 PM

I just read the comments and saw that your family is not supportive. I understand why, of course, because totally changing the name they call you is hard for them to imagine doing. 

I like the idea of continuing the go by Tay and changing to a longer T name. Tamara, Tessa, Tess, etc. I'm sure you can find something that suites you. Then it is still appropriate to be called Tay or T, but have a more "first name" name.

In actuality, your name is unusual in the UK so I am willing to guess that most people rather like it on you. It is refreshingly American, like Taylor Swift. Not an unheard of first name... I could understand more if your first name was something like Smith or Sutton, but Taylor is not that uncommon. Taylor is #96 in 2013 in scotland for girls, and ranks it in 2013 as the 93rd most popular name. I just can't imagine the confusion being on a daily basis, perhaps you are self concious of your name so the few times it causes an issue seem bigger than they really are.

I just traveled to Russia last month. My first name is Jennifer and I swear half the people I met thought it was the most unusual name. No one can spell it. I also has an airport mixup where they thought Jennifer was my last name and I filled out a form in Russian incorrectly. No error, it's really my name! So this really does happen, but it's not a big deal. 

Once you are married and have a common UK surname as your last name, I bet the confusion will be less so. But still, it seems your main issue is not the legal problems but that you don't "feel" like a Taylor. Hopefully you will find some solution that works well for you!

June 5, 2014 6:04 PM

Does your DH have any kind of amended birth certificate including one that shows both names, or has nothing been changed on it (the way you described it I'm not sure)? If not, what state was he born in (if you and he are okay with sharing)? Like I mentioned upthread (and on one of your other comments, which I edited by mistake today) the majority of states do allow some degree of amending to be done (some will issue an all-new one without mentioning the change, while others the old info is still visible but the new is added). And why would he need to show his name change papers every time he does taxes, since once you send proof of the name change to the IRS (e.g. the first time filing taxes after the change) they shouldn't need it again (no more than you would after you got married)? Trust me, I've had contact with several transgender people and thus are aware of the ins and outs of making sure as much is changed over as possible (if your DH was born in MA they're one of the few states that don't normally amend BCs because of a name change but have a special rule in place for transgender people).

Another point I want to bring up from the same experience and the lady here (scroll down to see my reply), is that when it goes to time to fill out the birth certificate form for your DC (given that I saw another post where you're expecting), if they ask for his "birth name" be sure and ask someone from the VS office what name they want. That probably won't be an issue since he's male and most states just ask for the father's name as-is, since what they typically actually want is the name as it would be without any marriages (and not necessarily the name given at birth if different), and men don't normally change their last name when marrying. They generally do want you to take into account names changed for other reasons, like adoption or personal preference (as in his and the blogger's case). (The forms may not spell out that detail for the sake of space and being a less-common scenario, but it's something I've asked about.)