From flowers to guest lists, engaged couples spend months planning the perfect wedding. After the vows are said and the reception is complete, most newlyweds are ready to relax. But there are several steps newlyweds should take before their happily ever after can begin.

“Settling into life as a married couple takes some work,” says Lindsey Leesmann, a recent newlywed and contributor to “If you’re taking your husband’s last name, you must complete the name change in several places. You also have to discuss managing money as a couple and learn how to live together.”

Leesmann offers the following to-do list for newlyweds changing their last names:

Obtain a copy of your marriage license

If you stated you’d be changing your last name when purchasing your marriage license, you’ll receive a copy of the license in the mail. This license should be taken to each location on your path toward a new last name.

Go online

Next, acquire a new Social Security card and update your passport. Complete Form SS-5 and take it to the local Social Security office to obtain a new card. The form can be found on the Social Security Administration’s Web site ( Your passport can be changed by completing Form DS-5504, found at

Drive to the DMV

The next stop for newlyweds is the local Department of Motor Vehicles. Each state is different, so make sure to bring all the items required to get your name changed and renew your driver’s license.

Check in at your bank

Most banks simply need a copy of the marriage licenase and the account holder’s signature to approve a name change. Some may also require your spouse to be present.

Drop by the post office

To change your name at the post office, just pick up a change of address envelope, fill it out and mail it back.

Once the name change is complete, newlyweds can focus on managing money as a couple.

“Money is often a tricky topic for new couples,” says Sam Goller, award-winning author of “Yes, You Can Achieve Financial Harmony.” “But it’s important to start communicating about money at the beginning of your marriage.”

Goller offers the following suggestions for newlyweds working to manage their finances as a couple:

Determine priorities

Prior to creating a financial plan, talk about your histories with money and what’s most important to each of you when it comes to money.

Find missing dollars

You have to understand your spending habits before you can spend money in a way that helps meet your goals. Consider keeping a spending journal to find out where your money really goes.

Choose a system that works for you

You may prefer to sit down each month as a couple to pay bills and develop a monthly budget. Or maybe one of you is better at handling expenses and prefers to do it alone. Find a system that works with your needs.

“The key to managing money as a couple is to never stop talking,” says Goller. “With shared determination, a plan and open communication, newlyweds have the power to improve their financial position both now and well into retirement.”

For more information on managing money as a couple, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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