6 Important Legal Actions to Take Before Your Wedding Day
As sorry as we are to say it, wedding planning isn't all dress shopping and cake tasting. There are a few important legal hoops to jump through too to make sure everything on your wedding day—and married life beyond it—goes smoothly. Charley Moore, attorney and CEO of Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service, provided a few tips for couples as they prepare for their wedding day. From ensuring you don't get slapped with a lawsuit when someone slips on the dance floor to a legal name change, there's a long list of legal "I dos" for newlyweds.
Make sure all your vendor contracts are signed.
It's super-important to get signed contracts from all of your wedding vendors. Whenever you make an agreement with a vendor, you need to put it in writing. Until you sign a contract and put down a deposit, you have zero guarantee that vendors will hold the date of your wedding and do what you agreed to. If your cake baker doesn't show up on the wedding day, and you paid for your cake and have it in writing, you and your spouse may not get to cut the cake—but you will have grounds to at least take the vendor to court.
Get liability insurance for your wedding.
It's not uncommon for wedding venues to require you to release them from liability at your wedding. If something happens, like a guest slipping on liquid and hurting themself on the dance floor, you need to have liability insurance to cover it or you could face a lawsuit from that guest. Getting wedding insurance is smart (yes, it's a thing!)—or you can often add liability insurance to your homeowner's policy. And while you're thinking of insurance, don't forget to get your engagement ring insured if you haven't already.
Decide if you're taking your spouse's last name.
Legally changing your name is super easy with HitchSwitch, a complete name-changing service that does all the work for you. The hard part is deciding what your new name will be. Figure out if you want to share the same last name, keep your current names or hyphenate—some couples even make a completely new name.
Get a marriage license.
It can be easy to overlook this step, but without obtaining your marriage license in a timely manner, you can't legally wed. (To clarify: A marriage license authorizes that you're both eligible to get married, and a marriage certificate states that you're legally married.) Each state has a government website with lots of information on what materials and documents are required, the office's contact information and the time frame to get the license in before your wedding day (some states have a several-day waiting period between the date you get the license and your wedding date).
Create or update your estate plan.
Once you're married, you'll need to include your new spouse in your , living will, living trust, Power of Attorney, or any other family legal documents you have. If you don't have a will, now's the perfect time to make one.
Talk about getting a prenuptial agreement if it's important to either of you.
Despite popular belief, a prenuptial agreement isn't just used to protect you in the case of a divorce. A prenup allows both spouses to disclose their financial situation before the marriage—so both parties know what they're getting into financially, and can create a plan for managing finances together in the marriage.