Blog

Changing your name is a personal decision that every man and woman has to make. Yes! Men can change their names too if they want to.

If you decide to change your name after you get married, then be prepared. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a chore. It is not as simple as waving a wand. I wish it could be done with just one form! Unfortunaetly, it’s a P-R-O-C-E-S-S that can take months, depending on how organised or how much spare time you have.

Think of it as your next project, after the wedding planning is over!  It is not nearly as much fun but it is a necessary-evil if you want to change your name.

Step 1- Decide what your new name will be.

I’ll use myself as an example: Julie Mary Cotter married Cameron Lee Muir in a beautiful wedding in Dingle, Ireland in July 2009. I’ll use any excuse to talk about my wedding!

Your options are:

  • Take on your partner’s last name e.g. Julie Mary Muir
  • Hyphenate your last names e.g. Julie Mary Cotter-Muir
  • Double-barrell your last names e.g. Julie Mary Cotter Muir
  • Make your maiden name your middle name and take your partner’s name as your last name e.g. Julie Cotter Muir
  • Make up a new last name that is a mix of the two. e.g. Cotuir or Muiter (Hmmmm, I’m not sure that will work for every combination. It certainly wasn’t a realistic option for me!)
  • Make up a completely new last name. We seriously considered this option until Cameron wanted us to be called the Farnsworths! Then I gave up on the idea.

Step 2- Make it legal by getting the right certificate.

Most people will just need an Official Marriage Certificate (so don’t over-complicate things unless you need to!)

If you want to take your partner’s last name, hyphenate or double-barrell, you can do this with just an Official Marriage Certificate issued from your state’s Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM).

If you want to do anything else, like the name mash-up or the name creation, you will need to get an official Name Change Certificate.

The Official Marriage Certificate is not the one you sign on the day of your wedding (that’s still a legal document, so don’t loose it but it’s not the FINAL certificate).

In NSW, to get the final Marriage Certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages, you have a few options:

  • Complete a form at the NSW Service Centre (Anyone else noticed how amazing the customer service is ?! It’s so good it makes you wonder if you are actually in a government department)
  • Apply online to BDM through your MyGov account here

In both these cases, they take your application and match it up with the celebrant’s paperwork and voilà!

  • Your celebrant can order it for you.

Smart couples go for option 3!! Honestly, there are only advantages to doing it this way. It will cost the same, but you’ll save yourself a bit of hassle by giving yourself one less thing to do. This isn’t normally included in the celebrant’s fee, so you’ll need to pay them for the actual cert.

Marriage Certificate Designs NSW, 16 designs, hearts, rings, colour, Sydney Opera House, Chinese

Next, decide if you want the standard certificate or one of the commemorative ones. There are currently 16 designs to choose from.

You can get more informative from the BDM website here

If you order the commemorative cert, you get both, the standard one and the pretty one. You will use the standard one to change your name everywhere. The only point of paying extra for the pretty one, is if you intend to frame it.

Note- they don’t come together in the post (because a contarctor takes care of the pretty ones) so don’t panic when the first one arrives, and you think there has been a mistake. The other will follow shortly.

Cost

Standard Certificate $56

Commemorative $81

Priority Processing $26

Normally it takes anywhere from a week to 8 weeks (depending how busy BDM are), so be patient. Use that time to prepare for Step 3.

Step 3- Change your name with organisations.

You need to have the final Marriage Certificate in your hands before you can approach most organisations but there are a few things you can get a jump start on while you are waiting for it to arrive.

Facebook

You can do this straight away. We can do it as part of the ceremony if you want! It’s a nice idea to put your maiden name in brackets so people can still find you. Although, on second thoughts who cares about their high school sweetheart tracking them down on Facebook after they are married?, unless you want an opportunity to gloat about how wonderful your life is now!)

Personal email address

You can do this anytime, even before the wedding.

Work email address

I’m pretty sure everyone in the office will know you are getting married. Just try keeping that a secret while you are engaged. No doubt you’ve had to quickly close your Pinterest boards a few times as your boss walks by and panic when you have forgotten to collect your seating chart from the photocopier.

It’s good that your colleagues know. They can sort out your business cards, your voicemail and your new email address and signature while you are on your honeymoon.

THE LIST- in order of importance

Driver’s licence

Bring the all-important cert to the NSW Service Centre and they will print you a new licence on the spot. If you do this within a year of getting married, they don’t charge you for the re-print. It’ll still have the same expiry date as your old one but with your new name.

Bank account.

Bring your new drivers liscence and your new Marriage cert and they will change your account name, no bother.

Medicare

This is a good one to do next, as most medical practitioners will want to know your Medicare has changed before they start changing your records.

Passport

Be careful. Be very very careful! Do not get excited and book the flights for your honeymoon abroad in your married name unless you have your new passport. Airport security will not care less about your easy-to-make mistake. No amount of tears will get you on the plane. So figure out your timings. You could be waiting up to 8 weeks to get your marriage cert from BDM (unless you pay extra for priority) and then you need to leave enough time to apply for and get your new passport which could be an additional few weeks. Depending on when your honeymoon is, it’s probably not worth the stress. Consider changing your passport when you get back.  You may be eligible for a free passport if your current passport still has two years validity.

Obviously this advice is for Australians only. If you are from another country like me, you will need to check the rules with the passport office in your own country.

By now, you will have the main items changed, and you can breath a sigh of relief. However don’t rest for too long, as you still have another bazillion to go. Thankfully there are no legal time limits for changing your name, so it’s fine to have both names in circulation at the same time.

Others

  • Centrelink and family assistance
  • Australian Taxation office
  • Electricity, gas, water accounts
  • Blood Bank
  • Council – rates if you are a property owner
  • Superannuation
  • Road toll accounts
  • Library cards
  • Working with Children’s Check
  • Cervical screening register
  • Will
  • Store accounts- (I love my Myer’s card)
  • Gym Membership
  • Doctors, dentists, specialists
  • Mobile
  • Electoral enrolment
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Roadside Assist

You made it. I’m exhausted just writing about it….never mind actually doing it. Good luck and just know, we’ve all been there. It’s horrendous but you will get through it. Actually I still get the odd piece of mail with my old name and I’ve been married 8 years!

Six years ago, Adam and Shelley had a chance meeting on the dancefloor of a pub. Shelley admired Adam because, as the tallest man on the dance floor, he was the only one she could see clearly. Adam too was drawn to Shelley’s height and brunette hair. Shelley ended up going home early but not before swapping numbers. They organised a second meeting at the same pub a week later but Adam didn’t even recognise Shelley. He walked straight past her. Despite the slow start, they discovered they loved spending time in each other’s company. 

In the early days, when they began having sleepovers, they used to stay up late into the night, getting to know each other, wrestling and singing Kid Cudi songs. In 2011 they moved in together, spurred on by the lack of heating in the house Adam was renting at the time. Nowadays, they still spend a lot of time wrestling but they also enjoy spending their time playing with their dogs, going to zoos and socialising with friends.

They have a mutual love of travel which led to a 6 month expedition around the world to Europe, South America and Asia, on which Adam proposed in Mexico in May 2014. On return they bought some land to build a house and then promptly sold it the next year! It takes some real communication and honesty to navigate a tricky situation like that, but they feel stronger as a couple because of it. They are not sure where exactly their future will be, but they are on the same page for their hopes for the future: start a family, travel more, buy a house with a big shed for Adam and a pool for Shelley, and even start a business one day.

Shelley loves that Adam is kind, patient and understanding. She thinks he is the funniest man she’s ever met. She loves that he doesn’t try to stop her from sharing her opinions or standing up for what she thinks is right. She appreciates his adventurous nature and loves the way he holds her hand in the car.

Adam loves that Shelley is always willing to play along in his games and share movie quotes with him. He loves the way she cares for him when he is sick or upset. He loves to hear her sing and see her passionately involved in her interests and hobbies. Most of all, he loves that he can be as silly as he likes and know that she will never love him less.  

It’s these things and so much more, which has led this wonderful couple to this day.

Courtesy of Rope & Pulley Photography

During my training to become a celebrant I was strongly advised not to allow pets to take part in any ceremonies as they can be unpredictable and distracting.

Then I launched myself into the world of celebrancy and the first couple that booked me wanted not one but all three of their dogs to be involved.

What was I suppose to do? My guiding principle as a celebrant is to advise and facilitate; not to stand in the way of what couples want so the dogs were in!

They accompanied the bridesmaids down the aisle and sat beside them well-behaved for most of the ceremony, gently encouraged by a few doggie-treats that we had hidden in a nearby flower-pot. At one point, Birdie the Staffy left her position and went to her owners for attention. Far from distracting and taking away from the ceremony, it was endearing. It added to the ‘realness’ of the ceremony.

I didn’t have my recue dog Sasha when I got married but if I could do it all again, I’d definitely include her. Pets play such an important role in people’s lives: I can understand why couples want their fur-babies to be there and involved on their special day.

My advice to couples now is that as long as you understand that everything may not go exactly to plan on the day and you are relaxed about it, then you should go for it.

Unless of course, you think your dog won’t enjoy it. If your dog is anxious or easily excitable, they may find the whole experience overwhelming and you should put their needs above your own wants.

  

Courtesy of Rope & Pulley Photography

Tips for Success

Role

Consider how your dog will be involved. Your dog could take the place of a flower girl or page boy by walking down the aisle unassisted. This may take some training and won’t be suitable for all dogs. You could put them on a lead and get them to accompany one of your bridal party down the aisle. You could let them be the ring bearer with the rings attached to their collar. You may need to have one of your bridal party loaded up with treats to reward good behaviour. It’s probably best to tell you bridal party about your plans, just in case one of them suffers from allergies so that they are forewarned and can take some precautions. Why not go all out and let the dog be the ‘best man’?! Remember, it’s your wedding and you can do what you want!

Rehearsal

This is important for the smooth running of the ceremony. Having a rehearsal won’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly on the day but it will help highlight any possible problems. E.g. a dog that won’t sit in position because they want to go to their owner or one that keeps barking.

Venue

Check that the venue doesn’t mind pets. It would be awful to turn up on the day only to find out that pets aren’t allowed. Think about where your dog will sleep that night. You may need to book some pet-friendly accommodation.

Handler/ Pet sitter

You are going to have enough to worry about on the day without adding to the stress by worrying about your dog. Hire someone to look after your dog: to dress it, bring it to the ceremony on time, make sure it is watered and fed and looked after for the rest of the day if the dog isn’t going to the reception. They should probably take the dog on a nice long walk before the ceremony to burn off excess energy so they are more likely to behave.

Outfit

There is nothing cuter than a dog wearing an outfit, especially a tuxedo or a bowtie. Make sure they won’t be too hot. Consider a flower wreath or just a collar with a flower on it. Tell your florist what you are doing as some flowers and berries could be poisonous. And get them groomed close to the wedding sot that they are looking and smelling their best.

Photographer

Tell your photographer so they are prepared and don’t miss any crucial shots. They may even have some ideas on how to incorporate your dog into your photos.

Courtesy of Dara Munnis Photography

Thea and Conor met in scouts as part of the Donnybrook Venturer Group. Funnily enough, they did make their confirmation together many years prior. Conor doesn’t remember it but Thea remembers Conor being the tall one with the bowl hair cut at the front of Donnybrook Church!

Thea said she knew from the first time they met that something would happen with Conor. Make no mistake though: theirs was a slow burn. They were friends for a long time (approx. 3 years) before they kissed. The next time they kissed was after their graduation and it was another few months after that, whilst volunteering with the Venturers in Peru, before they agreed to go out with each other. Their courtship was long and meaningful, sensitive and full of love and growth together.

Conor says that he knew early on that he had found something special in Thea. She approaches everything in life from a different angle. In Conor’s words, Thea has always been her own woman: incredibly strong, rare, unique, different and brilliant.

Thea’s first impression of Conor was that he was full of energy and enthusiasm, with a passion for exploring and spontaneity. She admired his ability to make people feel welcome and included. He transcended the cliques that naturally formed, and everyone was a potential friend, be they a foreign scout, or an old person looking for a chat. In her words, he is the most kind, friendly, empathetic and caring person she knows, and very importantly, he is Conchubar [Cruh-uur] lover of hounds.

I asked them when they knew they were in love. Conor admitted that he had known for a long time but was afraid to say it, lest it wasn’t said back. He needn’t have worried because the night of Thea’s debs she told him she loved him.

Conor describes Thea as being remarkably strong willed, with an intrinsic sense of what’s right and she sticks to her guns on it. She isn’t afraid to make unpopular or hard choices. Thea is also very sensitive. She cares a lot and knows how to make Conor feel happy and loved.

Thea loves that Conor is a mix of being an old soul whilst also being full of energy and the hope of youth. He has an amazing sense of social justice and really wants to make a difference. He inspires her.

To say they share a love of adventure is an understatement. Exploring runs deep in them both. They have the same appreciation for light, nature and the planet. Together they will continue to discover new places and to have many more adventures, starting with their honeymoon cycling around Italy next week.