How Do I Change My Name After Getting Married in Tennessee?

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Tell us all about Living Ceremonies and how you got started!

Benita: I served as a Chaplain at the Memphis VA Medical Center for 20 years. After retiring in November 2021, I moved to Nashville to be closer to my grandbabies. After spending time relaxing and adjusting to retired life, I began to think about my next phase of life and what I might want to do. I had thought about a few things but nothing really stuck until I saw a post by a friend of mine where she was setting up her audio equipment for a wedding and it was like something deep within me said “yes.” I knew that was it. So, I began to research officiating weddings as a business. I had done premarital counseling for years and also a few weddings, so I knew that side of it. So, on November 1, 2022, I launched Living Ceremonies and I have had so much fun. Living Ceremonies is a wedding officiant service that caters to couples who want a ceremony that is intentionally created to reflect them and their values. I like to say Living Ceremonies we make your wedding memorable, meaningful and marvelous. But it’s not just a tag line, I want to make their ceremony a memorable one that the couple and their guest will enjoy and remember, to make it meaningful by the telling of their love story and words that are mindfully spoken over them and marvelous, there is a scripture that says, “the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Regardless of a couples faith or non-faith tradition, I am very clear about my purpose and walk with a couple on this journey. And yes it is marvelous in my eyes.

What are some things an officiant needs to know in the initial meeting?

Benita: I want to know as much as possible so I can see if we are going to be a good match. I am looking and listening for the couples vision for their ceremony if they have one. Some do not and that’s ok, I will then ask them questions about other weddings they have attended, what they liked about it or disliked. I ask them about their venue, why they selected it, if they have decided on any other vendors. Of course, all of the basic information, like date and time, but I want to know if the couple realizes how important the ceremony is or if it is just the process you have to go through to get to the party. If that’s their take on it I might not be the wedding officiant for them, but I do try to express to them that it all starts with the ceremony, it is the beginning of their married life together, and how it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Can a friend officiate your wedding?

Benita: If so, what do they have to do in order to become certified?Yes, a friend can officiant a wedding. There are two ways this can be done, the friend can officiant the wedding but an officiant, a notary or someone who can sign the marriage license needs to be present. Second a friend can go through the process of becoming ordained to do weddings. There are several organizations they can look up online and get ordained, some are free and once that happens they can officiate the wedding.

Tell us all about the process of obtaining a marriage license?

Benita: Both parties have to go to the County Clerk’s office, and bring with them a valid driver’s license, government issued photo ID or passport. They can complete the marriage license application online prior to visiting the office. They must also bring proof of their social security number by card, W02 or tax form with the number on it. The fee is $99.50 cash and $101.49 by card. They can receive a $60 discount if they have had premarital counseling but they have to submit a notarized premarital counseling certificate of completion. The marriage license is valid for 30 days from the date issued.

Does your officiant take care of sending in the signed documents or does the couple need to do that?

Benita: We offer that service to couples especially if they are leaving right away for their honeymoon. I usually take a video of me mailing or returning it to the County Clerk’s office and send it to the couple so they can see that it was done. Some couples take it back themselves, it’s whichever they desire.

Tell us all about the process of changing your name (in Tennessee).

Benita: This is a time-consuming process and I would suggest not trying to do it all at the same time. First you will need certified copies of your marriage license from the County Clerk office, then I would start with Social Security, they will need: certified copy of marriage license, proof of citizenship, this can be a passport, birth certificate, driver’s license and current social security card. Then I would get my driver’s license and they will need the same information. You need to wait at least 24 hours after you go to the SS office to make sure the records have been updated. But it may be better to wait until you have your SS card in hand because you can only do this in person. Other places you have to change your name; your HR department, your banking accounts, credit cards, passport, insurance, doctors office.

Is it best to change your name through a service online or do it through your local government agency?

Benita: I have seen those services on online and you still have to input your information and do some leg work. Regardless to weather you use a service or not, some things you can only do in-person. Even though it’s time-consuming I feel it is better done yourself. It is one less person knowing your personal information.

Reminder to book your honeymoon in your maiden name (since the name change hasn’t happened yet)!

Benita: Yes, you are not Mr. & Mrs. Anybody yet so book your honeymoon in both your names.

Are there any other tips you’d like to share about marriage licenses or changing your name?

Benita: Please make sure that you bring the marriage license with you to the wedding because it has to be signed there by the officiant. Have a designated person responsible for keeping up with the license if the officiant is not returning it to the clerk’s office. Take your time with the name change process, do the main ones first, SS, driver’s license and HR.

Show Notes

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