Everyone always wants to know whether or not a new bride is planning on changing her name. In some circles it assumed that she will and if she does not she is some sort of crazy feminist. In other circles it is viewed as the brides choice. I chose to change mine for the practical purpose that my husband's last name was more pronounceable than mine. This may not matter to you if you do not interact with a large number of non-Jewish people in your profession, however in medical school it is always easier when your patients feel like they know what to call you.
One argument against changing your name is that if you have published articles or built a reputation in a certain field under your maiden name it may not be worth starting over with the new name. I know some people who use the married name in real life and the maiden name for work. Is this legal? Well actually, yes. While you should always check things over your lawyer and accountant there is an old legal tradition that whatever you are called is in fact your name.
For those interested in having documentary proof of their name change here are some of the steps you need to take:
By far the easiest route to change your name is by doing so on your marriage certificate. (Men you can also change your name on your marriage certificate if you are so inclined). You will get the certificate back in a month or so at which point you should make many copies. You then use the copy as proof of your name change. It is that easy. You are going to get the license anyway. Might as well kill two birds with one stone. If you have neglected to take care of this on the marraige certificate then things get dicey. You need to fill out a form and appear before a judge to explain the name change. Note that you can do this for any name change. If you want to be called 'little bird' you can appear before a judge, forms in hand of course, married or not and have your name changed. Of course the judge can always turn you down, so don't go trying to become "Osamma Rules" or something like that. That could appear suspicious. This may differ from state to state but the basic idea is the same almost anywhere.
Once you've got the marriage license head down to the DMV and change your license. While you will have to wait on a long line there is good news: you get to take a new photo! Also, print and fill out the apropriate form from the DMV website in advance to save time.
To change your passport you must do so by mail. (Unless you do not all ready have a passport or your passport is all ready expired. Then you must go in person to a post office). Print the appropriate forms from the passport office and mail in your old passport, the forms, a copy of the marraige license and new passport photos. The new passport will arrive in the mail in about one to two months. If you are planning on taking a honey moon soon after the wedding you may want to book flights with your old name and delay sending away for a new passport until you get back. This way you will not have to worry about the passports arival.