Wedding Advice

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!  

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