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Will you change your name after Marriage?

Amal Alamuddin, an accomplished and internationally-known lawyer, made headlines when she changed her name to Amal Clooney after marrying a certain George. Some criticised her decision, while many others are defending the now-Mrs. Clooney’s choice.
While we didn’t follow every marriage tradition, the tradition to change your name after marriage was one that felt really right to me.
If you’re thinking about changing your surname after your wedding, consider:

  • Do you WANT to change your name? Not every woman does, and that’s totally OKAY! Like most wedding custom and tradition, one size doesn’t fit all, and we’re fortunate to live in a time where women no longer have to take their husband’s surname.
  • How would the two names look and/or sound together? If you’re not 100% on taking your husband’s surname, you could consider a double-barrelled (hyphenated) name. Many women without brothers feel the desire to keep their family name going, while also wanting to take their surname.
  • If you hate his surname… would he consider taking yours (or hyphenating), as some husbands are.
  • How will it impact your career? Do you have a reputation in your name. As a lawyer, I considered whether I should keep my paternal surname for work reasons, but ultimately because I was fairly junior in the profession, decided to take Blair’s. Depending on your career and reputation, you might want to consider keeping your surname for work.
  • If you plan to have children, what last name do you want them to have? Or, if you already have children, do you want to keep the same surname as them?

I took my new husband’s surname, Hutchison, after our wedding in February and was surprised by how easy it is to change your name after marriage in New Zealand.
It was so easy to change my name – for some reason, I thought having used my paternal surname for 26 years might have made me more attached to it!
A woman changing her surname to mirror her husband’s isn’t the most feminist or modern thing to do, but it was a personal decision.
How do you change your name after marriage?
Usually, to change your name (in NZ at least) you have to fill out a Statutory Declaration. When you’re getting married though, it’s just an option on the marriage registration form. For just $46 you can change your name from the date of the wedding (so don’t waste time and money filling out two separate forms).
Using your married name
Once you’ve changed to your husband’s surname that is your legal name and you can use it straight away.  Of course, everything you’ve ever signed up for (Drivers’ Licence, Passport, Bank Accounts, etc) will be in your old name.  This is very important to keep in mind if you’re planning your honeymoon immediately after the wedding, as you’ll have to book your flights in the name your passport shows.  However, there’s another way to take your new name on your honeymoon – I’ll get to that.  You can choose when to update them all, which will require showing a copy of your marriage certificate.
Head to the wedding planning page for an index of our content and if you haven’t already, check out the little white book wedding organiser and diary.

Photo Album Extinction? Don’t let your Wedding Photos live in iPhoto!

Have you ever spent a holiday taking beautiful photos of everything you see, only to leave them sitting in an iPhoto album?  Even if you upload your favourite photos to instagram or Facebook, you’ve got to wonder whether it was worth hauling around an SLR and pausing before each cocktail or entree to capture the moment, for them to never make it to a photo album or be seen again.
How times have changed, when once the family photo albums were the answer most people gave as to what they’d save (from a burning house, say), who knows what we’d save now.
I’m guilty.
I’m not alone: instagram is where photos go to die.  But I wasn’t about to let that happen with my wedding photos.  First, they cost me a fortune, but also I’m completely in love with them and will take any excuse to show my friends, for which a beautiful coffee table book does a much better job than a Facebook album.
I curated our almost 2000 wedding photos into a manageable album of favourites.  It taught me a lot, and I’d probably do it differently next time too, so here’s what I’ve learned, and what you can benefit from.

  1. Know your photos well before you start. Go through them with your husband, friends and family a few times before starting to think about the album.  You need to have a really good idea of what you’re working with, to be able to make the calls required to turn 2000 photos into 100 (or however many you choose).  But don’t wait too long either, because it’s a long job and you don’t want to lose momentum.  Do it while you’re really in love with the photos and love looking at them.
  2. A second opinion will also help. For example, I really disliked a photo to start with, but with everyone else loving it, I chose to include it because however self-conscious I am about it, it captured the moment.  Know which photos your spouse particularly likes too, as that might surprise you (I was also surprised by photos Blair loved of me that I hadn’t paid much attention to.
  3. It takes a lot of time:  Depending on how many photos you start with, and how many pages you choose, it’s a long and slow process, but if you’re patient and take care you’ll have a beautiful album to last a lifetime.  Break it down into stages instead of attacking it all at once (which might take six hours or more). My task-breakdowns below might help.
  4. Divide into categories: to avoid having the album 50% dinner photos, for example, divide into the following:
    1. 10% getting-ready (each, so total 20%);
    2. 20% ceremony;
    3. 30% portraits and bridal party photos;
    4. 10% post-ceremony mingling;
    5. 20% dinner and speeches; and
    6. 10% dancing and cake cutting.
  5. Choose the number of favourites accordingly, once divided.  So if you’re having a 100 page album, choose your favourite 20 ceremony photos to include.  Of course, this number can move around – you might look to make the album larger, once you realise how many you love.  I settled on 108 pages.
  6. Variety is the spice of life, said someone once, so try to include a variation of different styles of shots: close-ups; candid; posed; guests; different spaces at the venues, some black and white etc.
  7. Once chosen, check with your spouse that you’ve included everything (and everyone) that’s important to him too.  Tick off important relatives and anyone else who was an important part of the wedding day.
  8. Decide on an album type as there are so many options, finishes, styles, colours, materials etc.  I always envisaged a white wedding album, despite not having an all-white wedding, and chose an ivory fabric cover complete with matching box for safe-keeping.
  9. Experiment with layouts. Before turning to Milkbook I used a program called Blogstomp to arrange the photos into layouts of 2-3 per page.  This was a mistake.  You only need Milkbook – it comes with plenty of template layouts, and I would have saved a lot of time (and the cost of buying Blogstomp).
  10. Share: Before printing, share with a parent or best-friend, just to ensure you’re not missing anything.  Ask them to check for typos and anything that looks awkward.  Once ordered, you can even share again, as it comes with an online photo book and downloadable PDF – a really nice way to share the best wedding photos with guests who have returned overseas, for example.

I can’t wait for ours to arrive so that I can physically hold our wedding photos!  Here’s a thought though, you don’t have to wait for your wedding to make a photo book either – I’m going to turn our honeymoon into an album too, and why stop there?  Photo albums are too special to go extinct.
Head to the wedding planning page for an index of our content and if you haven’t already, check out the little white book wedding organiser and diary.