Changing Your Surname {Book Extract from The Irreverent A-Z Wedding Guide: South Africa}


Changing your surname is, of course, a decision specific to the individual in question. You may love him with all your heart but becoming Mrs Bottom just isn’t going to happen. Or perhaps you are so excited about becoming Mrs Bottom – because you’re currently Ms Poo – that you’ve already started working on your new signature. The good news is there’s no time limit when changing your name, so if you’re not comfortable doing it just yet you don’t have to.

1. No change. You decide to remain Sandy Poo. No admin.
2. You take your husband’s name. You become Sandy Bottom. You need to change your name with all organisations. They will require photo ID and your marriage certificate to do this.
3. Hyphenate. Now you’re Sandy Poo-Bottom. Again, you need to tell all organisations you belong to, providing your ID and marriage certificate.
4. Adding husband’s name with no hyphen. Sandy Poo Bottom. As above.
5. Create a new name. Your husband agrees that Bottom just isn’t cutting it, for the sake of your unborn children. You create a new name together: Boo, say. In order to do this, you both need to go to a lawyer and have your name changed. Once that is done you need to change your name at all the organisations that you both belong to. Cue IDs, Home Affairs paperwork and marriage certificate. Hey, you’ve just organised a wedding; you can handle admin.

Many career women decide to keep their name so as not to have to lose their professional reputation. Letting all of your clients know that you’ve changed from Poo to Bottom can be more trouble than it’s worth. The solution is to keep your maiden name professionally but change it privately – so all your private documents call you Bottom but your business cards read Poo.


  • You’ll have the same name as your children.
  • Reservations will be easier.
  • You can finally get rid of that bully-magnet name that was the bane of your high-school years.
  • There are idiots everywhere. Like in the post office. You go to pick up a parcel that has been addressed to your married name but your ID only has your maiden name on it… Sheesh. You may as well try explaining Fermat’s Last Theorem.


  • It’s difficult to always remember your new name. Especially, for some reason, when signing cheques. (But give it a few months.)
  • You’re proud of your own name and don’t want to give it up.
  • You want to hold on to your professional identity.
  • It’s quite a performance.
  • His surname is Bottom. Or De Kock. And your first name is Suki.

Start with your ID book. To get this changed you’ll need your certified marriage certificate, your birth certificate and your current ID book or driver’s licence. From there you will need to change your driver’s licence, passport, credit cards, gym memberships and any other organisation that you may be a member of. If you’re considering keeping your own name because the idea of dealing with all this admin is making you break out in a rash, then you’re in need of the genius company, I’m a Mrs. Visit – they will source every form you require to change your name and help you do it all for the incredibly reasonable price of R399.

Advice to the bride: No, you are not losing your identity. You’re just changing it. Like Prince. Or Puff Whatsisname.
Advice to the groom: Don’t get cocky just because you don’t have to change your name. Everything else is going to change for you. Starting with that breathing thing you do… Any chance you can do it differently?


The Irreverent A-Z Wedding Guide: South Africa by Francesca Bourke & Martin Heller is published by Mercury, an imprint of Burnet Media (ISBN: 9780987005847) – visit for stockists.

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