In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is legal for couples to unite themselves in marriage, in front of witnesses, without an officiant needing to sign the marriage license. Blasphemous? Exactly the opposite. Self-uniting marriages have been an accepted means of getting married for Quakers in Pennsylvania since 1682. Quakers believe that marriage should be between the couple and God, without needing an intermediary. So, what is the difference between a self-uniting marriage license and a regular marriage license?
When you go to the marriage bureau to get a license, tell them that you want a Self-Uniting license. These licenses sometimes cost a little more than the type that requires an officiant.
A Self-Uniting License requires both members of the couple plus two witnesses to sign the license on the day of your wedding.
Some couples self-unite by creating and conducting their own ceremonies. Other couples ask a friend or relative to create and conduct the ceremony as the couple self-unites. (A caution: Not all friends or family members are good at conducting ceremonies.)
If you do want to self-unite, consider asking Celebrant Robin to create your ceremony or guide you through the writing. Then, you can use that ceremony as you unite each other wherever and whenever you choose.
Now that you are married, you might want to change your last name to your spouse’s, or both of you might want to change your last names.
You are not required to change your name after marriage; it’s a personal preference. Whatever last name you choose to use, recognize that changing your name is a process; everyone will need some time to get used to your new last name. Including you!
If you do want to change your name, be consistent. You don’t want to cause confusion or difficulties when you file your taxes, apply for a mortgage, open a bank account, or manage your credit.
You can manage the name change process yourself, or use a name change service/kit.
Regardless of your approach, you will need to:
Obtain several copies of your marriage certificate from the marriage bureau where your license was filed.
What is a marriage certificate?
The official document from the County that demonstrates that the marriage is on record.
Is the marriage certificate different from my marriage license?
Yes. Step 1: You obtained a marriage license to get married. Step 2: Your Officiant signed and filed the license with the county, making the marriage legal. Step 3: Now you need proof that you were married legally, and that’s the marriage certificate (sometimes called the “certified copy of your marriage record”). An official marriage certificate has a raised seal on it.
Change your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Go to the SSA first, before you change your name anywhere else.
When you change your name at the Social Security office, they enter the name change in their database. Many other places where you will change your name will check the SSA database.
Do it yourself: The following guides walk you through the name change process:
Use a Name Change Service/Kit: (Note: I don’t endorse any of these in particular, and the names of these kits make me cringe. They each cost money and you still have to complete a bunch of forms. But, if they make it easier on you, go for it.)