Local Web site helps women go from maiden name to married name

It took Danielle Tate three trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles and several months to change her last name after she got married.

“It was in­cred­ibly frustrating,” she said. “I just kept thinking, why isn’t there a Web site for this?”

So she decided to create one.

In late 2006, Tate quit her job in medical sales and picked up an “HTML for Dummies” book. She, her husband and a third business partner each put in $5,000 to start MissNowMrs.com.

Since then, more than 160,000 people have used the Potomac-based site. Annual revenue, which Tate said is more than $1 million, is projected to double in 2013.

“They may wait until their passport expires or their baby is due, but the vast majority of women are still changing their names,” said Tate, 31.

A companion Web site, called Get
YourNameBack.com, helps the newly divorced reclaim their maiden names.

For $29.95, users receive help changing their last names in more than a dozen places, ranging from passports to Social Security cards and state driver’s licenses. Customers fill out a brief questionnaire that is used to populate a series of forms that they can print out and mail off. Bulleted lists detail which items need to be included with each application.

The company also provides notification letters that users can send to their banks, mortgage providers and doctors’ offices.

“One of the most frustrating things about changing your name is that just when you think you’re done, you open your mailbox and there’s something else — a magazine or a phone bill — with your old name on it,” Tate said. “We try to cover all of the bases.”

The site wasn’t immediately an easy sell, though.

“It took some time to introduce the idea that you don’t have to do all of this paperwork from scratch anymore,” Tate said.

Since many MissNowMrs.com users find the site through online searches, Tate said she spent a lot of time experimenting with keywords and search engine optimization.

Today, the site has partnerships with wedding planning behemoths such as WeddingWire, TheKnot.com and David’s Bridal.

“Name change may not be top of mind for newly engaged couples,” said Sonny Ganguly, chief marketing officer of Bethesda-based WeddingWire. “But just like finding a caterer or a DJ, it is an important piece of the wedding-planning process.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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