How To Change Your Name Now That You’re Married

 

In the State of California, the name change process begins when you get your California marriage license. Thanks to the Name Equality Act of 2007, one or both parties can change their surname by placing their new name on the marriage license. Either party may take the other’s name or the name can be hyphenated or combined to form a new name. If the new name is chosen at the time that California marriage license is issued, there is no charge.

After your wedding, your officiant will return your California marriage license to the office of the County Clerk in the county in which it was issued; this must be done within 10 days of the wedding date. If you paid for a certified copy of your marriage license at the time that it was issued, you will automatically receive that copy within 6 – 8 weeks from the date that the original was received by the County Clerk. If you did not pay for the certified copy up front, you can either return to the County Clerk’s office to request a copy or you may request a copy by mail, but your mailed request will have to be notarized.

Now that you have your certified copy of your California marriage license in hand, what do you do next?

  1. Visit the Social Security Administration Office: The first step is to take your marriage license to the SSA and fill out form SS-5 to change your name. You will be issued a new Social Security card, with the same number, on the spot. If you wish to obtain a new Social Security card via mail, you will have to submit your request along with a certified copy of your marriage license. Do not expect to get this back, so make sure you have another certified copy of your marriage license.
  2. Get a new driver’s license: Now that you have your new Social Security card, take this, your current driver’s license and a certified copy of your marriage license to the Department of Motor Vehicles. They will process your name change request and you will receive a new driver’s license within a few weeks.
  3. Change your name at work: Take your new Social Security card and driver’s license to the HR department at your job. The HR department will complete the process of changing your name on work related records.
  4. Don’t forget to order your new passport: You can visit the U.S. Passport Website and complete Form DS-5504 if your passport is less than one year old or Form DS-82 if your passport is more than one year old.Then submit your printed copy to your local Passport Office in person.
  5. Now take care of everybody else: Now is the time to change your name with your banking institution, your credit card issuers, any other creditors, your medical and insurance providers and any other company that you do business with. Some of these companies may request photocopies of your certified California marriage license while others may not. Contact each company to find out their name change procedures.
  6. Take care of your social media accounts: Most of my brides do this the day after the wedding, but here’s a gentle reminder just in case you forgot.

Bridesmaids, What Are They Good For?

Before writing this post I spent some time lurking in bridal forums. Whenever the question of what constitutes bridesmaids duties came up, the answer was invariably that they are there to support the bride. The problem I saw was that many brides-to-be seem to set a pretty low bar when defining support. For more than a few brides, support from bridesmaids consisted of nothing more than showing up to the wedding, standing there and looking pretty (as long as they don’t look prettier than the bride).

According to tradition and etiquette, there are customary duties with which  your bridesmaids and maid of honor should  be willing to assist you and I don’t mean just holding up your dress when you have to go to the ladies room. I’ve included a list of a few of those duties here. In today’s busy world it may be unrealistic to expect any one bridesmaid to be able or willing to help with everything; However, if you have a bridal party,  or individual member of the party, that consistently refuses to help with “any” of these duties then you can save yourself a lot of aggravation by letting that member go or by foregoing the idea of a bridal party altogether. Just be sure to do so before they start purchasing their dresses. At a minimum, your bridesmaids should be willing to do the following prior to the wedding day:

Attend bridal shows with you: Part of the excitement of planning your wedding is attending at least one bridal show, However having to attend them alone is no fun at all. When deciding which bridal show to attend, it’s best to choose an event that’s far enough in the future that it will give your ladies time to work it into their busy schedules.

Throw you a bridal shower or bachelorette party: The maid of honor should be in charge of throwing the bridal shower or bachelorette party. But your bridesmaids should be willing to help out by chipping in cash, helping to send out invitations, setting up and taking down the decorations and all the other details that go into throwing the party.

Actually attend your bridal shower or bachelorette party: After all, how can you trust someone to show up for your wedding if they can’t show up for your pre-wedding parties.

Show up for the rehearsal: With the exception of out of towers, your bridesmaids should show up for your wedding rehearsal. Failure to do so can result is a less than smoothly running bridal entrance and exit.

Help you choose your wedding dress: You can’t realistically expect your bridesmaids to accompany you to 15 different bridal boutiques, but you should be able to count on your maid of honor to assist you in deciding between the final three or four choices. You may also want to include your mother and at least one sister in this decision because nobody will be more brutally honest about what does or doesn’t  look good on you than a mother or sister.

Help you address wedding invitations: This is a classic bridesmaids task. However it should only be trusted to those with good penmanship and attention to detail because you only get so many envelopes with your order of invitations.

Pay for their bridesmaid dress and shoes: Some brides can afford to and will pay for the dresses that their ladies will wear. If that’s  not you then it’s perfectly acceptable to expect each bridesmaid to pay for her own dress and shoes. On the other hand,  you as the bride should not choose bridesmaids dresses that will put a financial strain on anyone. As a gesture of appreciation, you could gift them each with a necklace, pair of earrings or a bracelet to wear on the big day. It’s also nice to choose bridesmaids dresses that can be worn for other occasions.

Lastly, your bridesmaids should provide plenty of emotional support:The weeks and days leading up to your wedding are going to be fraught with anxiety. You are going to need someone to bitch to regarding your groom, your future in-laws, those last five pounds, etc. So make sure you choose bridesmaids who will be there when you need a sympathetic ear.

5 Ways To Relax Before Your Wedding Day

5 Ways To Relax Before Your Wedding Day

It’s quite natural to feel stressed out and overwhelmed in the last  weeks leading up to your wedding day. You’ve got a to-do list as long as your arm and you’ve got a dozen nagging fears. What if nobody shows up? What if your bouquet arrives in a less than fresh state? What if the guys who deliver the cake trip while getting it out of the van? What if it rains? These are the worries I had during the countdown to my wedding day and you probably have a few of your own. You may not be able to “not worry” but there are things you can do to help you ease your stress and greet your wedding day in a calmer state of mind. Here’s a list of five strategies  that are almost guaranteed to help calm even the most nervous of brides.

1. Get some exercise: Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins help relieve stress. Take a walk or jog to clear your head. If the gym is your thing take a hot yoga class or a cycling class. During this busy time, exercise may feel like just another chore that you have to squeeze into your already brimming schedule, but once those endorphins kick in you’ll be glad that you did.

2. Make a spa date: If you plan on getting a facial or having your brows waxed, obtain these services at least a week or so in advance to avoid any facial redness on the wedding day. While you’re at it get a full body massage to work out the kinks and knots.

3. Don’t worry about the weather. You’ve
likely been  tracking weather systems and checking  forecasts for some time now, but you still have to accept that the weather is out of your control and surprise rain showers may s shows up  Therefore it’s always  a good idea to have a back up plan if your wedding or reception is outdoors. If it does rain just chill and know that some cultures consider rain on a couples wedding day to be a portent of good luck.

4. Have a girls movie night in. Invite your bridesmaids, sisters and gal pals over for a wedding movie marathon. I suggest “The Best Man” and  “Jumping The Broom”. I also suggest you avoid “The Best Man 2” harder than you avoid letting the groom see your wedding gown before the ceremony.

5. Take care of your spiritual body. Have a reiki session to help relax the mind and soul. Take time out to meditate. Instead of focusing on seating charts and timelines turn your focus inward for a little time alone with your thoughts. You’ll feel the pre-wedding jitters melting away into a limpid pool of calm.

Getting Married? There’s an app for that.

Long gone are the days of mega planning binders and endless hours of trolling through the yellow pages. Today’s tech savvy brides and grooms are using wedding related smart phone apps that are making even the traditional web search unnecessary. Here is a list of 10 wedding related apps for your IPhone or Blackberry:

 IPhone

    1. Amazon Mobile: Use this to build your wedding related wish list in addition to or in lieu of your department store registry.

 

    1. Bride Guide: Includes a countdown timer, to-do lists, budget calculators and much more.

 

    1. Itunes: Use this app to create a wedding related playlist. Great for creating mixed CD’s to give as favors.

 

    1. Sunrise-Sunset:A great tool for planning outdoor weddings. Displays the times for sunrise, sunset, solar noon and more.

 

    1. Weather Bug: Good for checking the weather forecast for your wedding day or in your honeymoon destination

 

  1. Wedding Dress Look Book: Helps you to choose the perfect wedding dress.

Blackberry

    1. Frugality: Use to comparison shop and help make informed buying decisions

 

    1. Kayak: Find airfares and hotel rates quickly, then use the app to book online or call your chosen hotel/airline to speak to a representative

 

    1. Wedding Vows: Offers a selection of several vows that you can use to help create your own personal vows.

 

  1. Wedding Organizer: A group of checklists, to-do lists and suggested time lines to help keep your planning on track

The Officiant Meeting: What To Expect.

These days there seem to be a lot of Internet lists and guides offering advice to couples on how to handle the officiant interview and what to expect from the interview. After reading these lists I’ve come to the conclusion that many of them are not written by actual officiants so I thought it might be a good idea to offer advice from the source.

The goal of the initial meeting should be a meet and greet between both parties of the wedding couple and the officiant. The three of you may have corresponded via email and spoken over the phone but nothing beats face-to-face communication.

Speaking for myself, the initial meeting is always complimentary and should take about 30 minutes to an hour. I usually have the couple to meet with me at a Starbucks or Panera Bakery that is within 10-15 miles of my home but easy to get to and with plenty of parking.  If weather permits we can even meet at a public park.

Prior to our meeting I will provide you with a ceremony design questionnaire and a couple’s history questionnaire to complete and bring with you. During the meeting we will discuss the answers to your questions and your vision for your wedding so that together we can co-create a ceremony that reflects who you are as a couple. I will show you samples of weddings that I have done to give you a glimpse of my writing style and you can tell me what, if any, poems, songs or readings you’d like incorporated into the ceremony.

You will be able to discuss with me the level of spirituality and religion that you want involved in your ceremony. I am personally more spiritual than religious and most of the couples that seek me out share my spiritual approach although this is not a necessity, I have created ceremonies for couples who want no mention of God, those that want Biblical reference but no particular form of religion and those who want to acknowledge their Higher Power without It being the focus of the ceremony

We will also discuss the particulars of your ceremony such as venue, theme and participation by family and friends. Do you need help with the processional and recessional? I can do that. Do you need me at the rehearsal? We will work on that. If we determine that we are a good fit for each other, you may place a reservation fee to secure my services for your date and I will get to work on your ceremony.

Remember that your ceremony will not be completed within the time limits of the initial meeting, it will be a collaborative effort conducted through consultations via email and telephone and we will work on it until we get it right,

Writing Your Own Vows?

Many modern couples relish the chance to write their own vows, some panic at the thought and others throw in the towel after experiencing the frustration of writer’s block and decide to ask me to do it after all.

Writing personalized vows need not be a difficult task and it is one of the most intimate gifts that a couple can give each other on their wedding day. It is also a very heartfelt way to express the feelings that you share to your friends and family who have come to witness your wedding ceremony.

It may help to remember that you are not writing the entire ceremony, you are only writing a small and personal part based on the circumstances and attributes that made you fall in love and choose to share your life with this wonderful person.

I wholeheartedly encourage my couples to write their own vows, however if the prospect seems to daunting, either initially or after a few tries, I am more than happy to offer my assistance with editing and making suggestions.

Friends don’t let friends officiate

Ok so maybe my title is a bit of an overstatement, after all my friend officiated my wedding but she was also a trained celebrant and respected leader in our faith community. Specifically, I’m talking about the DIY trend of having your friend or relative ordained or deputized for the sole purpose of performing your wedding. It could work. It worked when Joey officiated Phoebe’s wedding on the TV show Friends. On the other hand it might be a mistake. Do you want to take that chance with your wedding?

The wedding ceremony is an intense one filled with high expectations and equally high emotions. All eyes will be on the couple AND the officiant. Your friend or relative might be the most confident person you know but will they be able to withstand the attention? Even strong public speakers have been known to choke up when they realize that they are doing more than just reading a script; they are in fact solemnizing a spiritual, legal and life-changing union.

I may be biased but I highly suggest that, if your wedding ceremony is important to you, you seek the services of an officiant who is not only ordained but also trained and experienced in the arts of ritual and ceremony.