This week the wife-elect and I picked up our wedding license! Upon signing our license in just a couple of weeks, we will officially be Mr. and Mrs. Ramdolfi! This experience has been, well, everything! It has been fun, confusing, stressful, and ultimately satisfying — that is, once we had the license in hand. That said, there were some interesting items we learned along the way, namely, the following.
• Legal Name Change: Perhaps the most shocking fact we learned, is that in the United States there is not one single governmental institution that legally changes your name. After asking over and over to no avail, we finally came to an understanding that a wedding license is effectively a “ticket” to change your name, which is “activated” upon signing it during the ceremony. We must then mail this license to the registrar via snail mail, in order to receive a marriage certificate. Then, we have to take this certificate to both, the Social Security Administration offices, and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), to change our names with each office. Only then, are our names considered legally changed.
• Name Change Cost: Last year when I was still working mostly with lawyers, I was advised about the process and cost of changing your name. It sounded like a daunting and expensive process reaching the hundreds of dollars price mark. Fortunately, we learned that getting married is the exception! You may change your middle and last names at no extra cost when purchasing your wedding license — at $91 for a public marriage license, I am thankful for the almost $1,000 savings!
• The Courthouse: Part of obtaining the license is picking it up, which can only be done in person with photo ID in hand. This was interesting because it resembled going to a DMV, but in a marble building, a fancy DMV — part of it I think was because we went to the Beverly Hills branch office, which is just awesome! We had to go through TSA-type security (not awesome), take the elevator to the 3rd floor, and enter the room designated for both wedding licenses and traffic court, which we were definitely not expecting. We thought it was funny that there was a long line in the traffic court section and absolutely no one in the wedding license section.
Shortly after we arrived, an elderly couple (with white hair, limited mobility, and likely no younger than 80) joined us in the wedding license section. We overheard them say “neither of us have ever been married and were wondering if we could get married.” It was heart-warming and inspiring. It was a nice reminder that it is never too late for love, and that I am incredibly fortunate to have met my future wife so young. I can’t wait to grow old by her side.
Tell me, what was your experience with the legalities behind marriage? Is getting a wedding license as complicated in your country as it is in the United States? Would you legally change your name for love?
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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)