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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marriage Do or Don’t: Changing your name

This past summer, I read a New York Times wedding announcement that made my eyes pop...

A couple named Annie Ma and Jacob Weaver were BOTH changing their last names to Ma-Weaver. What a cool idea!

Honestly, when Alex and I got married, it didn't even occur to me to change my name. Alex's last name is Williams, but I kept Goddard. My name is part of my identity, and because we got married when I was 30, my last name was already part of my career. When we have parties or send letters, we call ourselves the "Goddard-Williams household." My one concern was whether our future children would have a different name from mine, but when Toby came along, we just gave him a hyphenated last name.

My sister changed her name to Kalanithi when she got married. She and her husband sometimes sign cards "Team Kalanithi," which I think is really cute.

Have you seen The Last Name Project? Men and women write short posts explaining their decisions to change, keep or combine their names. (This one was especially fascinating!)

So, I'm curious: Will (or did) you change your last name after getting married? Or hyphenate or combine them? (If you are going to change your name, the site Hitch Switch helps you do it easily.) What's the last name you were born with? Do you like the way your partner's name sounds with yours? What about your future kids' last names? I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts...

(Photo by The Sartorialist)

698 comments:

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Angry Asian said...

there has been talk of him changing his name... i find it odd to be announced or addressed as Mr.&Mrs. his first name his last name

that's as far as we've gone. but no, it's not reached the point where i'm down with changing my name.

Erika Peterson said...

I think I'll change my name. My current last name actually doesn't go back that long because my great-grandpa changed his name at Ellis Island because there were too many "Omdahl's" in the area they were going to move to. For me, it's the kids thing - it would be nice to have the same last name.

ale norris said...

i did change my last name when i got married, but my maiden name became my middle name. i'm half brazilian half mexican and this is pretty typical for both sides, so i didn't really think anything of it! that way my maiden name is still always there.
-ale

Ashley Cassandra Ford said...

I've always said that if I publish my first book before I marry, then I'm keeping my last name. At this rate, I'll be Ashley Cassandra Ford forever. And I'm totally fine with that :)

Devon said...

I'm in the slow and arduous process of changing my last name after getting married in July. For me, it just seemed like the thing to do- not to mention Adams is WAY easier than my old last name ;) Plus, it's kinda fun to be a mrs. haha

friedapaula said...

I like my last name, it's very uncommon, so I think I might keep it.
There are some unusual name-patterns in my family, though, two of my uncles (on my mom's and my dad's side of the family) took their wives' names, which I think is really cool.

Lucy said...

My parents both changed their last names to be hyphenated...so all four of us are Momname-Dadname. It bothered my grandmother (dad's mom) but eventually was fine. I love that we all have the same last name! Not sure yet what I will do when I marry but I am considering all the permutations!

rmm said...

When my parents got divorced, I started using my mother's maiden name as my middle name. Kind of another way to represent both sides of the fam.

letters to you said...

Oh I've seen that a lot and i love it. It shows the change for both of them. It's different for every couple, and while I'm not even close to engaged I think I'll probably change mine (it holds more negativity for me than not). I've heard of couples coming up with hybrid last names, or just pull a Cheryl Strayed and change to your favorite word :)

Unfurled said...

I can't imagine changing my name. I had a baby at 36 and she got my husbands last name, Jones, and I kind of *like* that we have different last names. It makes me think of her as a person unto herself, and not just my daughter.

Kirsteen said...

Fascinating!

I took my husband's last name, but loved my maiden name so much (Love) that I made it my middle name. So I'm now Kirsteen Love Ormesher x

AltaAnn said...

I changed my last name because I wanted to be a unit and I felt making the change showed that we are a team and in this together. I did make my maiden name my second middle name because I could not bare to part with it entirely. I love getting to call ourselves "The Comptons," to me it signifies a joint effort to take on the world.

Sara said...

I changed mine, technically, but kept my former last name AND my middle name. So now I have four names! I have two middle names, which can be a little confusing at times (which initial to use on paperwork?), but in the past 3 years I've gotten into the habit. I'm really glad I didn't just drop either of my names. And now, my name tells every part of my history, including my marriage!

Joelle :: Something Charming said...

I'm not particularly close to my father's side of my family (and I have my dad's last name), so it really wasn't even a question when I got married. I didn't like my maiden name, because of what was associated with (my dad), and now I'm really happy to be a Duff. There aren't any Duffs left in my husband's family anyway, so it's like we're reinventing the name.

I think that this question is fascinating, but it always bothers me when women get upset at other women for their own decision. You never know what people's reasons are!

Megan said...

You know what's tricky? When one already HAS a hyphenated name and is entering a marriage...

My husband grew up with a hyphenated name, and when we married I really struggled with what to do. I ended up taking both of his names since my original plan didn't work-- NYC wouldn't let me take one half of his to combine with mine (they say the hyphen made his name 1 name, not 2). I didn't want our children to have a completely different name than me. He said he would have changed his name to mine, but we would have had to make a trip to Germany (where he's from) to do that and it was not possible at the time...

eleanor said...

I didn't change my name but it wasn't a big issue for either of us. I also don't mind if people refer to me as Mrs. [his last name], though sometimes it catches me off guard, like when I went to a wedding solo this spring and I couldn't find my name card because it was under his last name! Our child has his last name, and again it wasn't a big deal (also our last names hyphenated sound terrible). In NYC it seems pretty common. I wonder if the whole "your mother's maiden name" as a security measure for account info will go out the window since the practice of keeping maiden names is much more commonplace now.

~Pamela Denise~ said...

I'm sure I would change my name if I ever got married. For now, my current and I have a dog that we got together and we gave him a hyphenated last name with both of our names.

Jen Mac said...

My last name is McWilliams and his last name is Holmstrom...that would be quite the hyphenated name. He loves that there are no google hits at all on McWilstrom. We'll keep you posted on what we choose to do!

Unknown said...

My father passed away before I was born. My mother remarried rather quickly, so I grew up with a different last name than the rest of my family. I always felt like the left girl out. When I married I took my husband's last name because I couldn't wait to be unified with him and his family.

jodi said...

My husband was going to take my name, since his last name belongs to his ex-stepfather. Unfortunately, he waited too long to tell his mom this and she freaked out. In the end, I switched to his name. His brother is the only other person in the family that has it. But after 13 years, we're both used to it. Now, I wish we had thought to hyphenate and use both of our names!

Mallory Recor said...

My maiden name was Smith, and I grew up in a blended family - meaning there were 4 last names in my parents two homes. I was never really attached to Smith, so when I got married, it was a no brainer for me to switch to my husband's much less common name.

I was surprised at how much this actually meant to my husband though. It didn't come up until after we were married and I had already changed my name, but once I mentioned how if I had a more unique maiden name, or if I were professionally attached to it, I wouldn't have changed it. This shocked my husband - who always assumed that his wife would take his last name - and it would have upset him had I not.

My big question is, why does the wife change her name automatically? I think this might change in years to come. I hope.

Liza said...

We compromised. I kept mine as my middle name and continue to use is as part of my signature. I don't think we should give up that part of our identity.

BookishPenguin said...

This topic is really difficult for me. I didn't want to change my name when I got married, but almost no one I knew supported this - including my own family (which made me wonder why I wanted to keep that name to begin with). My husband was hurt by it so I said if it mattered so much that we have the same name, then he should change his. His response, "But I've had this name my whole life!" And then, a-ha, the light bulb finally went off and he understood.

In the end, I ended up taking both names, not hyphenated. So I am MyFirst MyMiddle MyLast HisLast. This way I keep my middle name (which I love) and I can use either last name or both as I want to. Now that I have a son, I'm glad we share a name but can see how it wouldn't have really mattered at all. Sometimes I wish I stuck to my guns and didn't add his last name but it would have been a lifetime of correcting people since no one in my extended family seems to remember I kept my name attached.

Alex said...

I'm very open on this issue-- different solutions work for different families. But there is one sub-issue I feel strongly on. I have distinct memories as a young child of being sharply corrected when I referred to a friend's mom as Mrs. [insert husband's last name]. At some point, it could become an educational opportunity to explain your reasons for keeping your own name. But please, please parents, don't make a 6-year-old feel like she did something wrong because her friend's name is Amy Smith and she called you Mrs. Smith, when you go by your maiden name, Ms. Johnson. How the heck would a 6-year-old know that? It's extremely confusing to a young person who is trying to do right by using the polite salutation. Just go with it.

the lovely life said...

I'm still debating this, as my fiance's sister has the same first name as me, and if I were to take on his last name, it may raise some confusion (she is still single and unmarried, so she is unlikely to be changing hers anytime soon). I'm opposed to hypenating my last name because ours combined together sound strange when said together. I guess I'll be keeping mine. I've been used to it all my life anyway :) Our future children will probably have his last name.

Stephanie said...

I've always thought I would stick with tradition and change my name However, I'm an only child and when my father passed away it became very clear to me that I would keep my last name. I am the only one left in my family to carry on the name. I have spoken with my partner about this and he isn't on board with it. I have some time before marriage and children to work it all out but I would prefer to keep my name.

rozinchina said...

my boyfriend and I will be getting married next summer and although where we live (Romania, Eastern Europe) it isn't common for the wife to keep here maiden name, I decided i will keep mine, just because it's part of my identity.

Jay said...

We got married 2 years ago and i haven't changed my name... yet. We had been living in Africa where there was no post so the logistics of doing everything to change my name was a nightmare. But, at the same time, I wasn't totally sold on changing it anyways. I really like my last name and like you, I feel it's a part of my identity. I loved that in the African country we were living in, they kept my full name as is but added a category of married name - often times I was referred to as Mme *husbands last name* but I never actually had to legally change my name and could vary between them as I wanted.
I haven't totally ruled out changing it in the future when we have kids - only time will tell.

Kate Uhry said...

Age does play a part: I notice the younger my brides are, the more apt they are to change their names. I think Hyphen works some of the time. I know someone who decided to make a new name. I don't like that. I think a name says a lot about who you are. I feel strongly about family heritage, and being that my last name is so rare (basically none of us left) it means something that I am the last generation with the name, because all my sisters took their husbands name. I am the only Uhry aside from my parents. If your name is common I would think it would easier??? thoughts?

GREAT POST!

Sarah Grace said...

I changed my name from a very common "Smith" which was actually my mom's maiden name and had been changed from my dad's name when I was in high school. I took my husbands more uncommon Italian last name. My favorite name-changing story is one of our friend's. They both changed their last names to a made up name where they took the first letter of the word "love" in several languages and made a name. They have L for love, A for amor/amour/amore, etc.

jenny said...

i just got married this month and am in the process of changing my name. my parents divorced when i was 10, and after that, my last name never meant much to me. i love my husbands family though, and their name, and and since my first name is the same as my grandmothers, i am happy to take his last name, because i feel like i will still have both sides in my name.

Emilia said...

I'm pretty sure I won't change my name. It's part of my identity and I'm also a writer. I don't have strong opinions on what my future kids would have-- I'd be fine with them just having his name. I like the idea of being unique from the rest of the family!

Emily said...

Well... I ended up with my dad's and step-dad's last names, because *both* families had meant so much to me. So, when i got married, the conundrum was 1. have 5 names (my middle name means so much to me, i could never let it go--my great gma's name, who is still alive!), 2. choose one to keep, and have "just" 4 names, 3. drop all the maiden last names. It really just made the most sense to go with #3--five names is just more than a simple midwestern girl can handle, and there was no way i could choose.

Jill Turner said...

I'm engaged now and am having such a hard time deciding whether or not to change my last name.

I love the idea of hyphenating our names and giving our future kids hyphenated last names (Turner-Puente). But then, I think, what would our future daughters do when they get married - would they also want to hyphenate their husband's name? Then it would be like Turner-Puente-Smith and that is just too much. :)

Also, I know someone who's mother kept her own name and she said she really hates it because people always assume her parents are divorced, her mom can't use her dad's credit card or pick up his prescriptions, etc. I worry about things like that! Have you experienced any of these issues?

Such an interesting discussion!

Xo Jill

jillianturner.blogspot.com

Rebecca Sonni said...

I made my maiden name part of my middle name and my husband's last name as my new last name. I consider myself a feminist but I didn't have a strong affinity towards my maiden name (it's hard to pronounce) so I wasn't totally sure what to do. I became {first name} {birth middle name maiden name} {husband's birth name}. So I have two middle names and can go by first name maiden name married name if I want - or - first name maiden name - or - first name married name. It's a great way to feel like I'm ALL of those things. Because I am.

ss said...

My friend and her husband both changed their last names to his middle name. They are super cool like that and were not 100% fond of either of their original last names.

I took my husband's name because Stephanie Sabbe sounds cooler than Stephanie Frye.

Katherine Summers said...

Definitely not. My name is my name--my identity isn't changing just because I'll get married at some point. My mom took the same stance. My sisters and I got her surname as our middle names, with my dad's as our last name, so we could have both without hyphenating (they worried about clunkiness and how it would be combined in future generations), though I tend to use my middle name often enough that people think I'm hyphenated anyway.

erin said...

Agreed. I never even considered changing my name and I have to admit that I have been honestly surprised by the response since James and I got married in August. I never imagined that so many people would assume that I'd become a Casey!

Jen said...

I've been shocked by the number of friends who have changed their name. I always presumed no one did that these days, and that it was kind of archaic. Surprised by their reasoning sometimes as well; they say they don't want their kids confused/to have a different name - as the child of a mother who kept her last name let me assure you the kids will be fine with it! Whenever my boyfriend expresses a desire for a future wife to take his last name I always let him know that if a family name is important to him, he is welcome to take mine!

Holly said...

i have friends that have combined last names into a completely new name (no hyphen.) i like that idea.

Callie Glorioso-Mays said...

I hyphenated my name with my husband's so now I'm Glorioso-Mays and he's Mays. When our baby was born eight weeks ago we hyphenated his last name. We sign cards, etc with "The Glorioso-Mays Family" (although I like your use of "household").

callie @ a chance to die

Corrie Anne said...

I changed my last name, and I'm happy with it -- although my maiden name was cooler. I lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years and I like their method of just tagging on last names. :)

Krysta said...

I got married this summer and still haven't changed my last name. I'm not opposed to it and I'm not opposed to keeping my name either... I'm motivated purely by laziness and it honestly seems like a lot of work to change my name legally! I also just started a new job with my maiden name for a huuuuge company and at this point it seems easiest to just keep my last name. However, I do want the same last name as any future kiddos (and personally, don't want to hypenate names or create a new combo name). So I will likely change it before babies. Or maybe legally I'll just keep my maiden name but informally go by my married one- do peole do that? CUrrently we refer to ourselves at the Mitts' without bother.

Shelley said...

I'll be changing my last name. I'm a bit sad about it but also excited. Most people mispronounce my fiance's last name so that will be a bit annoying but I'm okay with it.

I guess I just am very traditional at heart and I also wonder what all this name changing and hyphenating business will do when people in the future try to trace their lineage. With people creating last names or people with 4 last names (since no one wanted to change theirs) I think it'll be really difficult to figure out haha. I just think there's a pretty good reason why it's a tradition, but it does sound fun to create your own mix!

Sarah Tucker said...

I changed my name because I am early in my career and we both grew up with parents with the same last name. Sometimes, on work realted items, I sign my maiden name with my married name just to eliminate confusion with clients. I like the idea that one day (when kiddos come along) we will be the Tucker family. Although sometimes I wish to have a cool, hyphenated name :)

-Sarah {tuckerup.blogspot.com}

Katie Lee said...

My husband and I weren't comfortable having me change my name to his when we got married. We discussed so many options and really thought long and hard about it. Eventually we both took our middles names. We share the same middle name. Mine is even the masculine form. So we both took that shared middle name as our last names and our former last names became our new middle names. We love it! We've been called by our first and middles names our whole lives so there wasn't much of a transition.

Heather said...

I am getting married in 9 days & I am changing my last name. I have a very unique last name (Heathcock)but I love his last name (Gatewood). We like to joke that I am leaving the cock for the wood!

Leah Hendrick said...

I changed my last name when I got married even though I never thought I would. It just seemed romantic to me, and I like the idea of my family all having the same last name.

a.levadas said...

I'm in my early 30's engaged to be married and seriously doubt I will change my name. We've kind of discussed it, but not to the extent of the children issue. I feel attached to my name at this point and have no brothers so I feel that I should keep it. It's my name. It also provides a sense of independence and identity. However, in regards to children it does seem like a dilemma. My feeling is that they should have their father's name, but then I would be different from the rest, which seems odd. Something to think about.

Lauren Fraley said...

@Joanna - I think something that's missing from your post (perhaps for privacy/good reason) is how *Alex* felt about this.

The NYT article didn't flush this out either - for most of my late 20something friends, *we as women* seem to feel that we would like to keep our names, but our significant others feel either a) pressured to "liberated" or progressive men who are ok with it or b) just downright don't like the idea, but don't know how to articulate that in a way that doesn't cause shame for being traditional.

I think the more interesting approach to this is how couples navigate this together - specifically from the husband's perspective. Which is why I'm dying to hear a "from Alex's POV" similar to his birth story, etc. :).

Great discussion point, Joanna :)

kellsbells said...

I feel exactly the same as you and think this topic is so interesting! I'm 33 and not married but have a long time boyfriend and we have a dog who is pretty much our kid. We've combined our two last names, to make "Polkman" and that's what we jokingly call our dog's last name. I would totally consider doing this with future human kids.

rachel said...

I'm getting married in November, and I'm keeping my name. Like you, it is part of my identity, as well as being part of my family's cultural heritage. Neither my husband nor I understand why it is often expected for a woman to change her name and prefix, while a man stays the same regardless of marital status. I love him fully, but have no desire to be called Mrs. His Name, and thankfully he appreciates my strong personal identity!

AimeeRegina said...

I did not change my name when I got married, like you, my last name was already part of my career and I decided to keep it for professional purposes. However, now that my husband and I have a little hybird we opted not to hyphenate and just designate my last name "Bryck" as our son's middle name: officially Willem Bryck Gullacher. In that way, I still feel that there is an obvious link to me being his mother for travel/medical purposes, etc. However, if there is to be another child not sure what we'll do . . .two middle names? who knows!

Maggie Shirley said...

I am only twenty with no prospects in sight, so marriage is way in the future for me, but I've thought about it nonetheless. I want to keep my last name for no other reason than I just like it. I mean, why change it? When I told my mom this she asked, "Don't you think that's kind of conceited and selfish of you?" to which I replied, "And it's not conceited or selfish of the man to make me change my last name?" She had no reply.

Emily said...

This is a point of contention for us, but no, I'm not changing my last name. This is who I am. We aren't a traditional engaged couple in any other sense of the word, and I don't see any reason to change it, especially because we won't be having children.

Sarah said...

I chose to change my last name to my husband's when we got married as I always said I wanted my future childrens' last name before they had it. Hyphenating wasn't a possibility as our last name is 9 letters long without my maiden's 6. But my maiden name was also a big part of who I was growing up. I did what my grandma did and dropped my middle name of Anne and made my Maiden name London my new middle name and then took my husband's last name. When our first child was born, a little girl, we gave her my maiden name as her first name, London. That was more weird for my parents at first than any of the other changes.

acharmedcity said...

I considered taking my fiance's (will be husband next weekend!) last name but sort of always knew i would keep my own. It's German and complicated to pronounce but its been mine for 27 years and it's hard to imagine giving it up. I might hyphenate legally if we have children so i can claim them as mine if we travel, etc, but for now i'm sticking with what i'm used to.

Audrie said...

I took my husband's name. I didn't give it much thought, which now looking back is quite strange because I never thought I would want to. I married at 30 so by then my name and identity were pretty much locked in. But we married and I felt this need to take his name. I like that I did now and don't regret it whatsoever.

Kaitlyn H said...

This post comes at exactly the right time! I just received my marriage certificate with my official "new" last name on it. I've been referring to myself as Mrs. Schwendeman (his last name) in social settings since our wedding, but since I'm a law student and often have to sign with my legal name, I'm still referred to as Ms. Hanna (my maiden name).

It was definitely hard to make this decision, I was torn. I love my last name, and my parents have two girls and no cousins on my fathers side so I knew that changing my name would (essentially) be the death of our family name. I waffled forever- it delayed us applying for our marriage license because I wasn't sure. I was just overwhelmed thinking about all the things I have to do just to change my name, but it means a lot to him. My husband is the most caring man I've ever met, and he goes out of his way to do anything to make me happy. This was the one thing he felt strongly about, and I knew that I couldn't deny him this one thing. I'm still me, just with a different, longer name.

Since making the decision I've been looking for the bright side- so far I've got:
1) my email handle will always be available,
2) in class, my professors will be less likely to call on me because my name isn't short and easy anymore
3) no one will ever again confuse my last name with my first name.

So even though it feels like a betrayal to my family, and even though it's an outdated tradition, I changed my name. Because my husband cares for me, and it's the least I can do to thank him.

Mari said...

I'm down with both options, but personally I'd rather have my husband's name than my dad's last name. Either way, a man is giving you your name, unless you make up a new one :)

Joy Uyeno said...

My sister and her husband both hyphenated when they got married, and it's just so fitting. It's something I've given a lot of thought to, and as I'm now engaged, I've thought about it even more. I've decided to take his last name for several reasons, not the least of which is that we considered both hyphenating and realized that our two difficult-to-pronounce names combined would create more hassle than happiness. Since I've published under my current surname, I'll continue to do so.

That said, my host mom and dad in England have different last names. "You know what a Pratt is, don't you?" My host dad asked. At the time, I was 19 and that wasn't part of my vocabulary. "Stupid. Idiot," he said. "I didn't want my girls to have that name."

I love hearing about how people choose their names! So much emotion and thought goes into the decision.

Jessica said...

I like the tradition of taking his name. I think traditions like this are fading and that it's beginning to have a negative impact on society.

Allison said...

My husband is hispanic, and so has two last names (his mother's and his father's) which is how it is traditionally done. When we were talking about whether or not I should change my name when we got married, his only preference was that our kids' names also follow the hispanic tradition because he likes that it honors both the father and mother. I want to have the same name as my children and was just starting out in my career, so I decided to add his last name, in addition to my "maiden" name. Now that we're married, having two last names is confusing to our Midwest peers (people always want to hyphenate or make one of them my middle name). But I like how it represents the blending of our two cultures (my maiden name is German + his spanish name). In casual instances, we just use the last name we have in common (technically his father's last name).

Allie said...

I changed mine, and don't regret it, but I DO wish I'd changed my middle name to my maiden name. Patricia has never meant anything to me, but my maiden name (Hesse) certainly does. It was such a pain in the ass to change everything that I sadly don't think I'll ever go back and fix it. So now I just advise friends who are contemplating changing to use their last as their middle if they want to hang on to it.

Nataliya said...

I don't know if you've heard, but in Canadian province of Quebec, you are not allowed by law to drop your maiden last name. So ALL married women's last names are hypenated. Over the generations it has become so so confusing.

I did change my last name to hubby's. After all, his proposal to get married was, you should change your last name to mine. Which I thought was very sweet. I like the fact that we all (+ kids) have the same last name and that it is a relatively simple one. For us, two non-English hyphenated last names would have been a headache.

Lulu said...

I ended up taking my husbands last name as my own personal choice about a year after we were married. I tacked it on to the end of my full name (first, middle, last, and now another last) but chose no hyphenation. My husband supported my decision 100%---whatever it was. It meant a lot to him that I took his name, and I am as proud of his family and history as I am of my own so it made sense. Also my maiden name was hugely Germanic and very hard to pronounce. In hindsite, however, I don't think I would have taken his name. I am happy with my decision but there was a very strange time for a year or so when I dealt with who I was as a newly married person. Perhaps everyone has this feeling, perhaps it was the name change, maybe it was just something I had to work through as an individual. Whatever the reason, I felt like by taking his last name my own person and individuality had to be re-defined (by myself? By society? By our families? I'm still figuring all these feelings out)and it was not as easy as I had assumed. I'm a happy person and I am wholly confident in my decision to take my partners last name, but I fully respect those who pave their own way in whatever manner they choose.

Lauren Fraley said...

@Joanna - I think something that's missing from your post (perhaps for privacy/good reason) is how *Alex* felt about this.

The NYT article didn't flush this out either - for most of my late 20something friends, *we as women* seem to feel that we would like to keep our names, but our significant others feel either a) pressured to "liberated" or progressive men who are ok with it or b) just downright don't like the idea, but don't know how to articulate that in a way that doesn't cause shame for being traditional.

I think the more interesting approach to this is how couples navigate this together - specifically from the husband's perspective. Which is why I'm dying to hear a "from Alex's POV" similar to his birth story, etc. :).

Great discussion point, Joanna :)

redpeeptoepumps said...

We did the same thing, though less officially. We both go by Firstname Mylastname Hislastname, but legally the state only recognizes the last of those last names. I debated the issue extensively, but it hadn't really occurred to me to ask him to change his name until he suggested it. Even though it's mostly an informal, personal thing, I like it, and the feedback we've got from friends and family has been really interesting.

ValerieD said...

My husband and I have cousins who live in Switzerland, and when they got married they did something really cool-- They MADE UP a new last name for themselves. They created it using the first initial of her maiden name, first initial of his last name, first letter of his birthplace, first letter of her birthplace, and "E" for eternity. They shuffled the letters around until they found a combo they liked. I thought that was really cool!

Jessica said...

I feel like you did; my name is part of who I am. My boyfriend wants me to change it, but I don't want to. I would hyphenate, though. Also, I'm a teacher, and he is Danish with a last name that is difficult to pronounce. I can't bear hearing the kids butcher it all day!

Alexandria said...

I do not want to change my last name. I also believe it is part of my identity and I'm very proud to be a "Franco". My husband does not agree with me about keeping my name and refused to use a hyphen. I don't think he really understands and it doesn't help that I'm not close with his family. To avoid further heated discussions, I compromised. I settled on agreeing to change my middle name to my maiden name and taking his name as my last. We got married in June of this year and I still have yet to change my last name. The thought of it makes me upset and I'm procrastinating. I go as far as to avoid monograms on anything at all costs! I regret making my promise. But a promise is a promise. As for our future children, they will have my husband's last name and I'm alright with that. Picking our children's first names is a totally different monster!

Allie Todd said...

I feel like this generation is slowly letting go of all things traditional. We're coming up with new ways to do things, and new ways on how we approach life.

When I get married, I'm taking my fiance's last name, because I feel like it's the only traditional thing we have left! I've never wanted to do it any other way.

Jessica said...

I feel like you did; my name is part of who I am. My boyfriend wants me to change it, but I don't want to. I would hyphenate, though. Also, I'm a teacher, and he is Danish with a last name that is difficult to pronounce. I can't bear hearing the kids butcher it all day!

cestark said...

We're getting married in January, so this is timely! I'm planning on making my current last name be my middle name. That way I'll always have it!

Kat said...

I'd probably take his last name as mine is long and never pronounced correctly.

My mom took my dad's last name but after they divorced she hyphenated it (which I absolutely hated) so I have a stigma against hyphenating last names. They're just so long and complicated. I'm for either the women taking man's/man taking woman's or each of them keeping their own names. Hyphenating is just too much work for everyone!

What Would a Nerd Wear said...

I love this comment. It's just how I feel. I'm perplexed when I see women my age getting married and changing their names--I assumed that era was behind us! My mother kept her name and my sister and I are hyphenated. I am getting married next year and I plan to keep my name, unwieldy hyphen and all!
I think there are a number of great arguments for two people getting married to share a last name: it represents the joining of two people into a new family; it can make travel easier, especially train travel; it has bureaucratic benefits; and the symbolism is meaningful to a lot of people. However, in my experience, people use these arguments primarily to justify taking a man's last name (in a heterosexual relationship)! And there seem to be many other ways: take a new name, a joint name, the woman's last name, take the groom's mother or grandmother's maiden name, or the bride's mother's maiden name. Some of these suggest newness and some keep the name in the family.
I know this is a personal choice, and there are so many reasons behind why people change their names. However, a woman taking a man's name is rooted in an oppressive patriarchal structure that treats women like property when it comes to marriage. I think that if men want a joint last name with their future wives, they have to spend the next 500 years taking women's last names! Then when things are evened out, we can go back and forth again :)

Catherine said...

A professor of mine once told me that, when she got married, she felt that she had the choice to keep the name of the man her mother chose or take the name of the man she chose; she chose the latter. I did the same thing but kept my maiden name as my middle name. Professionally (and on all important documents), I use all three names: First Maiden Married. So my name is still a part of me.

Carolina.Lx said...

Hi! In Portugal you can have up to 4 family names PLUS your husband's. I love it! :) So it's not really an issue.
I love the blog's new look. It's so much nicer this way. Congrats! :)

Chelsea said...

Interesting post! I would have kept my last name except that my maiden name is super super long so I was glad to take my husband's. Kinda bad I know but hey a great way to get out of a not so great last name right?

jenny said...

My last name is Gietzen. It's rare, no one can ever pronounce it correctly and I always get a "What was that?" when I introduce myself. So, needless to say, I can't WAIT to change my last name.

And by the way, it's pronounced "Geet-zen".

Cory said...

I have 2 couples friends who have changed both their names to new family names - one gay couple, and one straight couple. I kept my last name (even though my husband is also Goddard :). Our kids have my husband's last name - I would have preferred to hypenate - but I have found even in our conservative town that schools/activities/teams/TSA can handle it.

R.L. said...

I have a Chinese last name that no one seems to be able to pronounce no matter how hard people try. It's just one syllable, but I don't think the "phonetics" of it are congruent with English. Plus, my last name has always landed me at the end of the alphabet. So when the time comes, I will most definitely be changing my last name!

maybejessmaybe said...

hm interesting topic. a male friend recently got married and i saw that he hyphenated his last name on Facebook. i thought it was sweet and very modern.

i think i'd like to keep my name. i like it and it's just part of my identity (my nickname/twitter name is a play on my last name). also, my parents have 3 girls and no sons, so i'd like to keep the name to preserve it :)

another thing is that my last name and my bf's last name both end in -O which sounds kinda weird together if i were to hyphenate. alternatively, i might consider hyphenating it legally and continue using my name professionally.

Samantha Huba said...

It's crazy that you just posted this.

My fiance and I literally just walked in the door from getting our marriage license where I had a breakdown at the question of changing my last name. Not that I hadn't thought about it before, but for some reason in that moment, I felt like I was giving up a huge part of me. I ended up doing it, but I think it will be a long time before I start feeling like that's my actual name.

bonnie w. said...

hahahaha I changed my name but it causes a lot of confusion! I went from Williams to Willi when I got married. Needless to say, I did not keep my maiden name as a middle name so I didn't make a tongue twister :)

katilda said...

I've been thinking lately about this, because (like you) my whole writing career is branded with my current last name. When I get married someday, do I want to mess with clients' ability to find my writing on Google? hmmm. I've considered just changing my last name legally for social-type stuff but keeping my maiden name for my writing. Kind of like an alias, eh?

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

I kept my last name for a number of reasons. Our kids have his last name (which is a little heartbreaking for me -- I have a stronger connection to my family/heritage than he does, and I wish they had my last name, especially since I'm an only child and there isn't anyone in my family to carry on the last name). I always said if it was a big deal to my kids, I would consider changing my name. My last name is Fox, but I figure my kids' friends would call me "Mrs. G" to fit with "Dr. G" and "Edith and Eric G," but so far I'm just referred to as "Edie's Mom" or "Eric's Mom."

My husband and I have been separated for a year, which makes me even happier that I didn't change my last name.

I knew someone in college who's parents took parts of each of their last names to form a completely new name (not a hyphenated name... a completely NEW NAME).

Sadie said...

My last name was Bechtold (pronounced Beck-told), I got married last year and took my husbands last name-Smith. So now my name is Sadie Smith, no more mis-prouncounced last name, no more "how do you spell that?", no more cringing at what people's poor attempts at sounding it out. I think if I had a more common first name I wouldn't have been so quick to jump on the Smith bandwagon though.

Bonus: my little cousins say my new name sounds like a detective's name, I walk in the door and I'm greeted with "Sadie Smith, Pet Detective" :)

M.M. said...

I think I'm going to change it, but keep my maiden name professionally.

Kelly Alberts said...

I changed my last name to my husband's so we could be "The Alberts Family", now and when we have kids. I moved my maiden name to become my middle name, so my old middle name is gone, but my family name is now still a part of my full name. All the women on both sides of my family have done that, so it seemed natural to me, but apparently it's not that common... NONE of my friends have done it!

Deanna (Silly Goose Farm) said...

Also... I gave my house a name (Silly Goose Farm) so that when we have/had parties, I can just tell people to show-up at Silly Goose Farm and I don't have to worry about names on cards, invites, etc.

Unknown said...

I'm Icelandic and here everybody keeps their name when getting married and the kids are just named after the fathers firstname. So if the dad's name is Alex the son would be Alexson and a daughter would be Alexdottir - plain and simply the daughter of Alex. This has made people tracing their roots so simple, you just "rewind" who was the father of whom. Works like a charm.

Unknown said...

I'm Icelandic and here everybody keeps their name when getting married and the kids are just named after the fathers firstname. So if the dad's name is Alex the son would be Alexson and a daughter would be Alexdottir - plain and simply the daughter of Alex. This has made people tracing their roots so simple, you just "rewind" who was the father of whom. Works like a charm.

Katie said...

This is such a timely topic! I am engaged to be married in April and about to go into business (real estate) with my fiancé. I'm a bit concerned that I'll be starting out with one name, and then 6 months later changing it to his. I also really love my last name so it's going to be hard to part with it. I'll be making it my middle name, though. Just as you never thought to change your name, Joanna, I feel the same way about not changing mine. Not quite sure why--it's just always felt like the thing I want to do.

Elizabeth said...

For what it's worth, this isn't something you have to decide right when you get married. I kept my maiden name for the first (almost) two years of our marriage and only just changed it last week because we're expecting a baby in November and I want for us to all have the same last name. (And because while my last name is only 4 letters, my husband's is a whopping 12 and it's a bit excessive for hyphenation purposes. Plus, if we hyphenated then the baby would have a different last name from either one of us, so that wasn't in keeping with my wish for us to all share a name). I've already done stuff professionally under my maiden name, so I'll keep that as a professional "alias".

jasmine said...

I changed mine. I was honestly thrilled to get rid of the long, hyphenated last name that I grew up with (which often pushed my first name off of class rosters causing teachers to call me by my second last name...)

Ashleigh said...

When I married in 2005 I was determined to keep my last name Chamberlain I did not like the ring of my husbands last name Burgess with my name. Also I had a sports career from college I wanted to keep going and I needed my last name for recruiting. However we found out we were expecting our first child 2006 and when he was born he looked like a Chamberlain. That was the end of sports and Chamberlain as my last name for me. I figured naming my son Chamberlain was enough toucher to spell that I would make his life a little easier and less confusing if we all had the sweet and short last name Burgess.

ninatoilette said...

My last name is de Paula Hanika - it's totally crazy and we're pretty sure that we're the only family with this name since we're pretty sure a crazy great aunt added the "de Paula". When my aunt got married, her husband changed HIS name to ours since he felt our name was cooler! I definitely wouldn't want to change my name unless I married someone with an extra extra extra cool name - but even then I think i'd find it difficult. I do wonder about when I have kids though - my last name is too long to hyphen with anything!

mommamcelwain said...

You must have read my mind! I was just looking at your blog today and thinking/wondering if you changed your last name and that it would make a great Relationships post and here it is!!!
I did not change my last name. I don't believe in the idea of "ownership" that it originally represents. I know some people are happy to be re-identified by the last name of their partner, but to me that is crazy. When we had kids, I didn't really have an opinion. The last name thing was my choice for me personally. My husband wanted to pass on his family name, so I was fine with them taking his name (though will definitely encourage them to change their last name to mine, if they so desire when they are of age!)

Devon said...

My mother kept her maiden name when she and my dad married, and I have her last name, while my brother has my dad's last name. It creates a bit of confusion for strangers, sure, but people who know our family know that we are a family, even with the two last names. Even though my last name is hard to say and to spell, I can't imagine changing it! It is who I am! I am currently living in Mali, West Africa, and married women here go by both names, for example, Joanna would be called "Mrs. Williams Joanna Goddard". Though long, I love this system as you can show that you are part of both families.

melissad said...

I changed my last name from Reeder to Dunsmoor after I got married. I could sense that it was somewhat important to my husband, and I was fine with that. However, I miss Reeder sometimes. I will always remember my Grandfather asking us to do good things with his name, which makes me want to honor my roots. I might legally add Reeder back as a second middle name.

megan said...

i changed mine! my last name before was constantly mis-spelled or mis-pronounced (or both), and i had been dying to get rid of it since i was a kid. i am white (ethnically of european jewish descent) and my husband is korean... so i also like the idea that i was taking on a last name that might lead people who hadn't yet met me to expect something ethnically different than what they were actually getting. (and in fact, i have gone on client visits with an asian colleague who has a non-asian last name, and the client often *does* assume the asian colleague is me and vice versa!)
i am not really conscious on a daily basis of being part of an "inter-racial" relationship (though i have embraced many of my husband's family's cultural traditions and we do some fabulous "blending" in our own home!), but i do think it's interesting to challenge people's expectations in this way...
another factor for me was preserving the heritage link for my kids. because my kids (if we do have them) will be raised on the east coast, closer to my family, they will be more distant physically *and* culturally from their korean roots... i know that i could have just given them the same last name as my husband, or combined the two last names for their last name as you did, but i thought it would be nice to have our household all have the same last name... a bit like the "team" thing your sister has going on. also one tiny way to distinguish my family unit from the larger (maiden name side) family unit we are kind of de facto absorbed into on the east coast, so that my kids remember that they have two sides to be proud of.
i love this topic -- thanks so much for encouraging your readers to share their thoughts! it's such a personal decision and i am looking forward to reading other people's unique reasoning processes!

Slayla said...

My mother was estranged from my father after their divorce when I was a baby. I felt stuck with his name my entire life. My own last name always felt foreign, unwanted, forced upon me. I was the only person with his last name that I knew...until I was 21 and met my half sister, then 16, also estranged from our abusive father. He committed suicide.

When I married, I was going to get rid of my father's name completely. But at the last minute, at the Social Security office, I chose to keep my father's last name as my middle name. I did not want to abandon my baby sister with the name. We grew very close after connecting as a teenager and a young adult. So I kept my father's last name as my middle name and also took my husband's name. Solidarity, always. We may be through with the past, but it's not through with us, right?

Katie said...

That's so profound yet simple! I love that perspective.

Prescott Perez-Fox said...

As someone with a hyphenated last name I am thoroughly against the practice. It's hassle from birth and even 30-odd years after rising to popularity, people are still bloody confused by it. Don't get me started on the post office and how they can't wrap their heads (or databases) around it.

My mother kept her last name, as did my father. But I would have liked my sisters and I to have our father's family name and nothing more. Call me old-fashioned.

Regarding the household name being hyphenated, that seems more suitable because it's a descriptor, and implies some of the lineage, almost like a family reunion or a wedding.

feathermar said...

I took my husband's last name. We are a team, so we have a team name.
Everyone I knew was shocked, because I am a "hippie liberal"(as my conservative friends call me), but I like it! I want Team shirts!
We already wear the same kind of black frame glasses!

Lauren Ashley said...

I haven't officially changed my name yet, though I have started using this format on email signatures, business cards, etc: 'first name' 'my last name' 'his last name.' I keep saying I'll change it ... but I'm still not sure if I want to. Time will tell I guess.

chic81.com said...

My last name is Stephens and it gets mispronounced all the time. I am 31 and marrying (next year) a Riefenberg. Now, I don't think that is a difficult name, but it gets called Riesenberg, Riffenberg, Riefenberger, the list goes on... I am either going to keep my name and we can just be the Stephens-Riefenberg household or I am going to hyphenate and drop my middle name entirely. I kind of can't wait to hear how the hyphenated name gets butchered on a regular basis, if anything it will be entertaining!

Hannah said...

My fiancé and I are double barrelling our names next year when we get married. For us it makes sense but I was quite surprised at some of the negative reaction we got!

Caitlyn Hendrickson said...

I'm getting married in about 6 weeks, and I just recently decided to take his last name and keep my a shortened version of my maiden name of my last name. It feels so traditional to take his last name, but I kind of love it- being Mrs. Mitchell. And well, Caitlyn Mitchell just sounds so Irish delicious :) I love that my dad's family name will be lovingly nestled in between Caitlyn and Mitchell.

shanna said...

Joanna, thank you for posting! I am getting married next Sept and have been having a hard time with this decision. I always assumed I would not change my name, and hyphenating is out of the question since our last names are both very long and have the same ending. I am very independent and will be taking my boards prior to the wedding with my current last name - decisions!!

My parents are divorced and it has always bothered me very much that I don't have the same last name as my mom, it's always assumed that we are not related. So I am starting to lean towards changing my name so that I can finally have a family of my own with the same name; creating that sense of a family union that I have always wanted for myself.

Katie said...

This is SUCH a great idea! I think we might just borrow this-- my fiancé actually hates his middle name, so what a great way to honor both names!

Heather.Joy said...

I kept saying I was going to legally change my name after I got married and then keep my maiden name for my byline at work. But a couple of months went by after the wedding, and I kept dragging my feet. And then finally decided I wasn't going to force it.

I've been my name my whole life. It would be too weird to relearn my own name. And it doesn't make me any less married or on a different page with my husband. I also wasn't going to force a name change for my hypothetical future children that don't exist. HA! I'll let future me figure that one out.

sbt said...

I hyphenated my name after my first marriage. I think I knew it wasn't the real thing, and I wanted to keep a connection to my last name. I guess I always felt like I would know I found the right guy when I wanted to take his name. I just got remarried a couple of weeks ago, and while I'm very happy to have the same name as my new husband, it's still a difficult change to make.

mr.darcy1 said...

I didn't change my last name. I have a common last name but my first name is hard for other people to pronounce, and my husband's last name is also difficult, so I just left it to make my life easier. No regrets.

Allison Nimlos said...

Originally, I had legally changed my name to my husband's (Nimlos) because I wanted our whole family unit to have the same name. I kept my maiden name (Blass) professionally because I'm a writer. However, I'm now transitioning into a medical career, so my professional name HAS to be my legal name. It's way too much work (and money!) to change back to my maiden name, plus my original reason for changing still stands, so I'll be moving forward with my married name.

Of course, I'm doing this is over a year into marriage and confusing a lot of people in the process. People are sending me congratulations all over again, even though I've been married for awhile!

Jessica Thiessen said...

Changing my last name was the most exciting part of being married. It confirms our commitment together. We are no longer two single people but one married entity. Marriage is a sacred and beautiful thing - whether you change the name or not. It was an honour to take my husbands name. To me, it shows that our marriage is a part of our identities now.

Colleen said...

I dislike my maiden name. So when I finally do get married, I am totally changing it. Despite my family's claims, I will not miss it.

Erica C. said...

I changed mine when I got married in June, but I was a little sad about it for a bit. I'm 27 and a teacher, so it hasn't been a hassle for my career (except that quite a few of my students still call me Miss Olson), but having the same last name for so many years has made me attached to it. I thought about dropping my middle name and moving my maiden name to the middle, but in the end I just dropped it and took my husband's. I really like it now that I'm getting used to it and my husband was happy I took his name. :)

Jane B said...

I am curious, what do you think Toby will do when he gets married? Will his wife and kids take on the hyphenated name Goddard-Williams? Or will they add another name Wife's Maiden-name-Goddard-Williams? Where does it end! It's almost seems the complication gets multiplied and passed on down the line.

Pen Pal said...

I'm so glad I live in Ontario (Canada). I just "assumed" my husband's last name. On my work correspondence and socially I have the same last name as my husband and daughter but on all legal documents I use my maiden name.
None of the hassle or potential for social akwardness!

My name is Anna said...

This is interesting to read because I live in Central Florida and I don't know any married woman who hasn't taken their husband's last name (no hyphenation or anything).

But aside from the tradition, I really wanted to change my last name because my husband doesn't have many living relatives and he never knew his dad. So we're kind of the first in our lineage. It feels good that I can be his family by name now.

I thought about changing my middle name to my maiden name but that process (as I recall) is actually much more difficult then just changing your last name when you get married.

Laura Pierce said...

I'm getting married next year and this is a real struggle for me. I would love to take his last name to identify us as a unit but being that my name is 'Laura' and his last name is 'Little' I'm afraid of ending up as some caricature of a muppet since I am in fact short of stature. My fiance and I are not planning on having children so there is no contention there. I'm leaning towards changing my middle name to my maiden name and using my full name often :-)

Jamie said...

i never thought anything of it - of course i would change my last name! but then, when i actually did, i was surprised at the feeling of loss i had towards my maiden name. i moved my maiden name to my middle name, so it's still there, but i kind of wished i had kept it! plus the hoops they (gov't, work, banks, etc) make you jump through to change your name are a giant pain in the a$$. but now that it's been over 2 years, i'm used to my new last name and i'm glad we share the same name :) alternatively, my cousin is getting married next year and her fiance is taking HER last name, not the other way around! his last name is his step father's, i think, so he's not super attached to it. i guess they're not close or something.

Jam-packed Life said...

I didn't change my name when I got married. Like you, I already had a long professional life under my own last name. Also, my husband's last name is long and difficult to spell and pronounce, while mine is very easy (for most people). We even gave our son a very easy three-letter first name to balance the long last name.

Lauren Cormier Taylor said...

I decided when I was in about 4th grade that I would never give up my last name when I got married because I am the last one with it - I'm the youngest of only 2 girls in my generation with our name. But when my husband and I were planning our wedding and talking about this stuff, he was kind of upset that I wouldn't be taking his name - he loved the idea of me becoming a Taylor and really becoming part of his family. In the end, we compromised, and I now use both. It's Cormier Taylor, two words, one name, no hyphen. I am Mrs. Barrie Taylor but also Lauren Elyse Cormier Taylor. I'm still "me" and I just needed to keep that piece of my family alive. I'm not sure yet what we'll do when we have kids, but I am satisfied with both.

Danielle said...

I just got married in August and I am in the process of having my name changed now. My maiden name was "Singleton"...it just made me feel so unmarried!

ains_rae said...

I was married year ago and I am still using my family name. I will be hyphenating, but I'm just waiting for my passport to expire to make the necessary changes (I'm cheap, what can I say?). I'm choosing to hyphenate to maintain my family identity with me. I never left them when I got married lol.

Now, when the baby makes his/her appearance in February, the babe will take my husband's last name.

Gabriella said...

A name has much resonance for over so many years that I can't imagine changing it. And, in any case, I don't think of one's identity as changing when you get married (and certainly not just one person's identity changing), so I never could completely embrace the symbolism of taking someone else's name. I think one's feelings about this have a lot to do with the people you have around you as you grow up -- many of the women I grew up near had kept their maiden names, so I never associated being a family with having the same last name. My boyfriend has a hyphenated last name and has always found it to be a bit cumbersome -- he says if we get married and have a kid we should give the kid my short last name!

Molly W.R. said...

We haven't officially changed our names yet but since having children we gave our two girls the last name W.R. (I'm Ware and he's Regalado, which seemed too long to hyphenate.) We kind of love it and refer to our family as W.R.

chic81.com said...

Haha, I knew how to pronounce it because my fiance's last name is Riefenberg "Reef-en-berg" - which also stumps everyone. I also had a chemistry teacher in high school, Mr. Phanstiel, who taught us that in most German names, if there are two vowels like that, most commonly "ie", then the second vowel is pronounced. This little rule has helped me get names right ever since the 10th grade.

Kate M. said...

I changed my name when I got married in May and I'm still tying up loose ends with the name change process. My maiden name is Lynch which I never really liked and had no qualms with changing it to Mellet (it's French and pronounced muh-lay).

My parents divorced so my mom reverted to her maiden name, and then a few years later my dad passed away, and his family became estranged from ours. By the time I married, I really had no ties left to the name or the family of Lynch's, so was glad to accept my new husband's name even though it means having to correct people who pronounce it more like "mullet." Plus I just love how "Katherine Mellet" sounds (that, and I love now having more syllables in my name!)

sbt said...

My husband of two weeks joked that he should change his name on facebook to mine just for a day. I was totally behind it, because then he would know how difficult it is to do, even if you truly want to.

Molly W.R. said...

Oh and if the girls are not digging the inital surnames when they get older we are totally fine with them changing it- it really is up to the individual.

Bethany T said...

I thought a lot about changing my name. My maiden name was my father's last name and I do not currently have a relationship with him (my parents are divorced). My husband was supportive and told me that it was my decision and he really didn't feel like he had the right to tell me one way or the other. I ended up taking his last name not only because I wanted to separate my name from my father's name, but I also found that when you google my name there is only one me as opposed to the hundreds of others. Vain? Perhaps, but useful when I was trying to put my name out there in my field.

The Slow Pace said...

I've never thought of changing my name... It's part of me, part of my family and I love it. It also reminds me of my Italian roots. Anyway, we got married in Spain, one of the few places were same sex couples have the right to do it, and there you just don't have the chance to change your name.
If we have kids (I hope that happens soon :-) then they will have my beautiful Italian name followed by the name o my beautiful wife ;-)

joanna.ruth. said...

I love this—well said! I was so excited to change my name to his to show that we are together from now on. It is a symbol of the marriage covenant we made to each other!

Lindy Allen said...

We married pretty young--I was 21 at the time--so I hadn't really established myself individually yet. I knew I wanted to change my name, but when the time came, I found myself unexpectedly hesitant. I just couldn't bear to let "my" name go.

So, at the last minute, I added my maiden name as a second middle name. I don't sign with it, and I go by "Lindy Allen" pretty much everywhere, but I like knowing my maiden name is still hanging around in there.

melissa said...

I changed my last name when I got married; never considered keeping my maiden name. I do like the idea of both people changing their name to something so that, in a symbolic way, you are creating your own little family. But I guess at the end of the day, we're more tranditional than I expected :)

Ruth Homberg said...

I kept my name too. Like you, it's always been a big part of who I am. But now I'm newly pregnant and my husband already has a hyphenated name. I'd love our baby-to-be to have my name too, but a triple hyphen seems like a burden! I have my moms maiden name as my middle name, but as I'm dealing with morning sickness and fatigue, I'm feeling like that doesn't cut it! I wonder what Toby will do one day a looking time from now if he meets a partner who wants to keep their name?

Judy said...

This is so clever!

Melanie said...

I dropped my middle name and put my maiden name there instead. No hyphen. I love my maiden name, it means "the greatest", who wouldn't want to keep that? My mom and sister did the same.
I also gave my daughter my maidan name as her middle name. Her name means, "the greatest hope"!

ChristaLouWho said...

I have friends who combined two great last names (Sweetlamb!) and some who took the husbands stepdad's last name, because they were very close to him.

I will change mine when the time comes; my dad doesn't get along with his family and has not-so-jokingly said he's glad to have girls, so the name won't live on. I have my daddy's eyes, I don't need the name too :)

Jillian L. Schweitzer said...

I never gave the topic much serious thought and when my husband and I were finally planning (5 year engagement), I realized I really liked my last name, I didn't want all the hassle of the paper work and his last name with my first name sounds like a kids' book. So I kept my name and our children will have my last name as a middle name, as keeping with his family tradition.

But oh, the backlash. My grandma, to this day, keeps asking when I'm changing my name (and we've been married three years come April). My father in law still addresses me as Mrs. His Last Name. Ugh.

I love that everyone has their own choice on this and this topic is so fascinating so thank you for posting on this!

Aya said...

I've always loved my last name and can't imagine changing it. It's me. Plus, my first name is Japanese and my last is Sicilian, so I feel like my last name ties me to that side of my heritage. I like that. Plus, "Aya Kaplan" just isn't as cool. (No offense, Honey)!

Geneva said...

I'm engaged and spending so much time contemplating this decision. I've grown up with a hypenated last name, the combination of my mother and father's last names. I never thought I would change it, but now as the wedding gets closer, I think I would like to take my fiance's name. There is something so appealing, and special, to me about being addressed together as one name. I also think I would like to have the same name as my future children. My fiance is Indian and I am white, so the fact that my children may not look very much like me makes me want to be more tied to them through a name. I feel like I can't move my last name to my middle name because of the hypen...And I quite like my existing middle name. It's a hard decision!

Margaret said...

I changed my name. My maiden name was long and cumbersome, and I was only 24 when we got married. I had some regret when we'd been married about a year about changing my name, but it was short lived, and now I am glad that I changed it. Now that we have a daughter, I love that we are a family unit that way

Kate Harvey said...

I always knew I would change my name when I got married, and I did! I love having that in common with my husband. But I decided to keep my maiden name as my middle name...so I'm Kate Zinsmeister Harvey (or Kate Z. Harvey). My given middle name (Maddox) we plan to give to one of our daughters someday! I think Maddox Harvey sounds so cute and I've always loved my middle name....

Kate
Something Ivory

Melita said...

I just got married this month and I am in the process of changing my last name to my husband's. My old last name was so long and my first name isn't that short either- so I am glad to cut down on the length. I also don't have the best relationship with my father and don't really want to be affiliated with him. My mother is remarried and has a different last name than me already, so no problems there. Plus, I kind of just like the tradition :)

Marcy said...

I changed mine and dropped my maiden name completely. It just didn't flow well to keep it as my middle name. I love having a last name that people don't butcher in both pronunciation or spelling. My sister didn't change hers and while she liked it, I think it was confusing to some people (but then she's 21 years older than me). I went to middle school with a girl who due to remarriage and hyphenating, every person in the family had a different last name which I thought was nuts. I have a friend from college who made up a new combined last name with her husband and they aren't even planning to have kids.

stephanie said...

I plan on keeping my name. I like it and it doesn't work well as a hyphenated name. I would always reconsider if it bothered my husband, but as of right now I want to be Stephanie Creasy forever :)

Lindsey said...

I changed my last name. I don't think my husband really cared one way or the other, but I wanted our family to all have the same last name. Although I'm sure my husband would have been willing to take my name if I'd asked, I knew his family wouldn't be okay with it, and it wasn't something that was important enough to me to push for. I don't really understand when people say it's "archaic" or "anti-feminist" to change your name - in most cases your maiden name is still a man's name, what's the difference if that man is your father or your husband? I totally understand the identity thing though. It's been over two years, and it still sounds funny to me when people call me by my new last name and I wonder how long it will be before I stop thinking of myself with my maiden name. Ultimately, it's such a personal choice and I think it's great that these days people can pick whatever works best for them and their families.

sbt said...

I also need to add that even though I had decided to change my name, I was annoyed at the assumption that I would. All of our wedding gifts were made out to Mr. & Mrs., including checks, which would have been a problem to cash if I hadn't wanted to change my name.

kendra said...

i'll change my last name. mine is fine, but i think entering into that new season of life, i will be excited to have a new element to my identity.
i know a couple that decided to make up a whole new last name. they wanted to have the same one, but due to some family issues, didn't want to be associated with his father in that way anymore. So they chose a whole new one. I thought that was really cool

Kate Harvey said...

Agreed, love it!

Tanya said...

I always thought when I got married that I would hyphenate my name. I am so attached to my last name as it has been part of my identity for the past 26 years and I've accomplished so much already. My now husband was always ok with that idea but when we got married almost 2 months ago, I decided to take his last name. I was so torn between getting rid of my middle name but I loved it, and I contemplated having two middle names, but in the end I dropped my last name completely and took his. I really wanted us to feel like a family, and it was so cute to see how happy he was when I decided to be a "Belom." Although I'll miss my mexican last name (Perez) it will always be a part of who I am. Also I want our future kids to have his last name, so it will be nice for me to share their name as well =)

Unknown said...

I always assumed that I would take my future husband's name since I'm a bit of a traditionalist at heart and I'm much closer to my Mom's family than my Dad's (my Dad didn't even grow up with the last name we have - he unofficially used his stepfather's last name until he was in his 20s and then switched back to his father's last name). But, as my boyfriend and I get closer to being engaged, the thought of actually changing my name is a little scary. I probably will since he really loves the idea and I do want to share some part of our names (and hyphenated just doesn't work).

-Amanda

Erin said...

I could not WAIT to change my name. I have my father's last name and he has never been apart of my life. I know not one person from that side of the family or really him for that matter. My husband's last name has tradition and meaning so I was pumped when I got to change my name to match his. I never once thought I'd keep my name. Maybe if I had more of a connection to it.

coral said...

I considered for months but ultimately changed my name. For me it was my way of saying "I'm all in" to our new marriage.
I also wanted to note that I come from a conservative and smaller city, where most women change their names. In bigger cities it's much more common to keep your name. While it's certainly not the only reason, the culture of where we live (and our friends and families) can really affect our choices.

this new(man) life said...

I changed my name to my husbands and took my maiden name as my middle name. It was especially hard for me logistically, too, because I'm a dentist and I was professionally going by maiden name. I had to change all my professional paperwork - it took a while!!! But I felt it was worth it. It was never really a question for me, I just felt like when I got married, we became a family of our own, so I wanted us to have the same name. I don't regret it at all!

Meredith
www.thisnewmanlife.com

abby said...

i always thought i would keep mine, but once i got engaged, i felt differently (my now-husband wants me to change it, too, not to mention his is much simpler than mine!). 9 months after marriage, a move to a different state, flight credits, passport usage and one new job later, i still haven't done it. it's just too complicated with all the plates we're juggling right now . . . which makes me think i'd like to keep my name, or at least hyphenate it. my husband doesn't agree- it bothers him that it's not legally the same, even though we both agree that this is the most practical way to be, for now. i think it makes my friends and in-laws raise their eyebrows, too!

Melanie said...

I took my husband's last name when I married. I wasn't very attached to my maiden name ( I HATE that expression), so for me it wasn't an issue. Going from Mathers to Burnett was no big deal for me. Now that we have kids I love it! I'm glad we all have the same name!

Christine S. said...

Born Christine Birmingham, I've already (legally) changed my name twice. My parents got divorced when I was approximately 3 years old, and while I had a decent relationship with my dad, and my mom still went by her married name, around the age of 8 I had a strong desire to have my mother's maiden name as my last name. Because both parents have to agree on the change, and my dad wouldn't do it, they agreed to make it my middle name since I didn't have one. That made me Christine Schaefer Birmingham. I then patiently waited 10 more years, until my 18th birthday, when I was able to change my name without parental permission, and became Christine Schaefer. This has been my legal name ever since, longer than any other. Still, I would take my husband's last name as my own if the opportunity ever arouse (unless it was something really awful!), and use Schaefer as my middle name again.

Kat said...

I was happy to change my last name when I got married as I associated it with my past life that I'm not particularly proud of and I don't have a good relationship with my dad anyway. I liked the idea of having a united front with the same last name, especially for when we have children. Although I hate when we are called "The Petersens". Weird.
The problem is, my husband's last name was hyphenated. He told me before we got married that I would only have to take the one last name (Petersen), but then social security wouldn't let me. Needless to say, we are now legally changing it and it is both a pain and expensive. Wah wah.
My husband wishes his mom had never hyphenated his name to be both of his biological father's and his stepfather's. It would've been fine except that he was very young when it happened and his family has always gone by just Petersen so he doesn't really identify with Brown-Petersen. He wishes his mom would have just kept both names for him, but had dropped the hyphen so that he essentially had two middle names.
To each their own :) My advice would be to always call your little one by the hyphenated name and never favor one over the other.

Jamie said...

I really struggled with this decision last year when I got married because a part of me wanted to keep my last name - but only to spite tradition. I decided to do what I really wanted and have always wanted and take my husband's name to have a unified family name. I've always loved that. I moved my last name to my middle and now both my husband and I have two middle names (yep - he was born with two).
I kept my last name with my MBA program and will graduate this december with my original name. I figure I started the program with that name and I'll finish with that name.

La. said...

I'm from Barcelona and here you don't change your name when you get married and babies have two surnames by law. There are no need to give the baby a hyphenated last name...becasuse he has two! :)

Vegan Diva said...

I haven't read each and every response, so my apologies if I am repeating others! But, for me...after months of deliberation, I happily took my husband's name because I loved the idea of all of us--my husband and our eventual children--all being a clear family with the same simple last name. No confusion about children having different names from their parents, etc.(And for what it's worth, I happen to be an ardent feminist, so there ya go, lol.) Because I figured, well, what's a maiden name? For me, that's my FATHER'S last name. So even if I kept my maiden name, that's still being labeled with the name of a man in my life (albeit a beloved one), so it's kind of an inescapable conflict of the naming tradition of our culture. So I preferred to think of marriage as a chance to start a new life and for me, I chose to symbolize that by taking my husband's name. (Plus, I adore his family and he just has a good last name that I liked better than my maiden one, lol.)

I think it's sweet that Toby's last name is Goddard-Williams because that just sounds nice to my ears, but I have to wonder where it all stops then, when you start getting into hyphenating? Because following your logic, that means if Toby has a daughter and that daughter gets married, then what will her name be? Jane Smith-Goddard-Williams? It just has the potential to get really messy/confusing down the line, in my opinion. Or even just Toby's future wife could have the same messiness. (I don't mean this as a personal attack at all! Just using sweet Toby as the example we all know of in this case.) So, long story short, I guess I just like the ease that comes along with taking my husband's name. Keeps life simple. But I definitely respect that each person has to figure all this out for themselves; it certainly doesn't bother me in the least when people keep their maiden name or hyphenate or whatever. Whatever sounds best to each person!

Ling Wang said...

You might not believe it, but I am not allowed to legally change my name, so that kind of decided things. The SS office told me because of my visa status (my husband & I are Canadians in the US), they could not change any information in my file and, by association, I would not be able to have my driver's license changed either, and by further association, any other legal documents. At first I was annoyed and in disbelief, but afterward I decided the situation was a blessing in disguise because I realized deep down that I didn't want to change my name. The main reason I ever went to the SS office to change my name after we got married was mostly because I was afraid if I didn't share his last name, I'd always have to constantly prove to various places that I am indeed his wife. But, it turns out that is not the case at all. No one has ever asked me for proof that we're married except for border services. My husband didn't have any particularly strong opinion about my name either way. My family name has a long history that means a lot to me and also it just looks more normal with my Chinese first name than does his Scottish last name. When I told my husband what the SS office told me, he was surprised but he also agreed with me in that my name sounds more normal as is. We decided that our future children would take his last name in English and take my family name in Chinese, which is the perfect compromise for us. =)

littlebitsofnice said...

Chris and I got married earlier this year and we had decided a long time ago that we would both take each others name, which we now have! A marriage is after all the union (being the key word here for us) of 2 people and 2 families. So for us there was never any other way that felt right. We are now Mr and Mrs Hall-Franzkowiak and we love it. The only annoyig thing is the huge list we are still going through of places to write/call/mail that we need to change our names with!

Abbey Watson said...

I was on the fence: young and not overly committed to my maiden name, but not entirely convinced that I wanted to change - I mean, it was my identity. In a pre-wedding conversation with my hubs, he was surprised to hear that I would actually consider changing my name - thinking that I would almost certainly keep my maiden name post-vows. He was so surprised, flattered and generally excited about the possibility that it sealed the deal. That there was some larger significance and meaning for him was all that it took for me to become a Watson.

FashionableLena said...

For me, it wasn't a big deal. It's a name, and doesn't define who I am. I've had my husband's last name for the entirety of our 16 year marriage. Besides, I STILL receive mail in my maiden name. The only name I care about is my first because I'm named after my great-grandmother whom my mother adored.

Unknown said...

I've got say this is something that bothers me a lot. I'm Brazilian and in my country most people have their mums and dads surname. I honestly think that having just you dads surname is way too sexist. Why should we change our names and they dont even consider it? Why so many men are offended by the idea of their wives keeping their names? And why most man dont even consider changing their names as well? Im half leb and in Lebanon lot of women dont change their surname but the kids have their fathers surnames only. Again, sexist to me. Sooooo, if i get married, definetly doing the Brazilian way: kids having both parents surnames :) and i will not change my surname, unless my husband wants to add (one of) my surnames then we will both do it. Isnt marriage about team work after all?

Divers and Sundry said...

i did change my name. when i considered it, i realized that i could keep my daddy's name or take my husband's. there's got to be a better way, but i don't know what it is

Michelle said...

I recently got married, am 30 years old, and very career-oriented - have been practicing law for almost 5 years now. Though my last name is certainly a part of my identity, I was happy to change it and adopt my maiden name as a middle name. For others, I have no problem with hyphenating, I just start to wonder what will happen 2 generations from now when 2 hyphenated-name people marry? A child with 4 last names, all hyphenated!? :)

LauraWK said...

I hyphenated and we plan on giving our baby the hyphenate as well. Some people get all concerned (see above comment) about how this will affect the child when and if it chooses to get married, but I think they will deal with it in the same way that anyone else does...by either changing their name, or not.
At times I wish I had not hyphenated because I am constantly correcting people. But still, for me it was the best choice and truly represents what I feel my marriage is: an equal partnership.

in cahoots said...

I kept my last name and my children will only carry my last name.

My husband's okay with it. Honestly, it's our families that have the toughest time with it, but they get very little say in the matter.





smalldog said...

My mum hyphenated her last name when she married my dad. The tradition in my family is that our middle names are family names, girls get names from the mum's side and boys get names from dad. So my middle name growing up was my mother's maiden name.

When I got married I hyphenated my middle and maiden name, which turned it into my mother's last name post-marriage as a tribute to her, and took my husband's name. So I went from being "Jane Smith Jones" to "Jane Smith-Jones Brown." I really liked the idea of keeping all of my names because looking at it is like looking at my whole family tree: me, mother's family, father's family, married family.

RoOHOohoO said...

My mom changed her last name a few years ago after 20 something years of marriage. It was mainly a business decision since my parents owned a business together. No pressure from my dad. It's customary in Iran for women to keep their own last name.
I was so shocked that my mom would change her last name just like that! I communicated that to her and guess what! She had second thoughts herself!! She actually went back and changed her last name to her maiden name again! HAHA
I'm not close to getting married but my ex always insisted that his wife would have to take his last name to show that she's really part of his family. Well I love my family and I didn't want to feel that I was leaving my family! I don't want to change my last name because it's the name I grew up with. It identifies me. Also I'm a professional and am being known by my name so by the time I get married I will have a patient base and I wouldn't want to change my name.
Another side story...my dad had to change our last name when I was in 4th grade to deter harassment to me and my brother at school. Our old last name was a typical Jewish last name but my dad had had to convert to Islam to be able to marry my mom in Iran. Teachers automatically assumed that we were Jewish and would not treat us nicely. I felt so weird when I had to take a different last name. But I knew my dad really liked our new last name (Mehregan) since it was a famous Author's last name and also it's the name of a traditional festival in Iran so I was okay with it. This is another reason I wouldn't change my name. Too many name changes in this life time!!

bungteaux said...

I'm Thai and never had a middle name. So I wanted to use my maiden name as a middle name, but the clerk (NY) didn't let me. (Weird, she said I needed a judge's permission to add a middle name if I've never had it before.) Traditionally where I'm from, the wife usually takes husband's last name, so that's what I did. I still don't have a middle name lol!

Amy P said...

I changed my name. I didn't mind his name so I was happy to take it (I'm the conventional sort), but I missed being so obviously Dutch. I was a van ____. I proposed us both going to van _hislastname_ which would've actually gone quite well together, but he wasn't interested in the least. A year later, friends of ours did exactly that! Jealous. Oh well, my name is shorter and easier to spell now. I don't really care. Although I don't like being called Mrs. hisfirstname ourlastname. That's a little too identity-erasing for me.

Sara in America said...

Never! My family name is really important to me. I'm Iranian and in my culture, women don't change their names when they get married. Not sure if I would hyphenate my children's names but I'm not opposed to it either.

Abby said...

My maiden name was French, sweet, and rolled beautifully with my full name. My husband's last name is a butchered form of an Italian last name, which his ancestors shortened to sound more "American."
It does not roll off the tongue. It is often mistaken when speaking over the phone. And yet, I took his last name in a heartbeat because it's *his* name, the guy I admired from afar for ages (I always called him by his full name). I'm proud that now it's my name as well. Long after we were married he told me he was really surprised and pleased I chose to take his name, which made me even happier that I did. To me, taking on his name signified my accepting every single part of him.

Ana de Almeida said...

I think I always thought I would never get my husband's name, and this is for the single reason that my parents decided to give me a full name made out of 6 names. It's huge and I've suffered a bit with it all my life so adding a new name to the party was never really an option I considered. I have two personal names and then both family names from my mom's side and both from my dad's.

Marianne said...

In Iceland, the phone book is sorted by first name because in most cases a child's last name will be
"father's first name"dottir for girls or "father's first name"sson for boys.

I live in Norway, and my aunt and uncle took a bit of a variation of this (but man - so complicated). They each kept their original surnames and named their daughter firstname aunt'sfirstnamedottir uncle'slastname, and their son first name uncle'sfirstnamesson aunt'slastname.

RoOHOohoO said...

Great post!

Bethie said...

My maiden name was "Peterka" and my married last name is "Hungerford." Peterka means son of Peter, so we agreed to name one of our children "Peter" in honor of my heritage. Hopefully we'll have a boy at some point! Haha!
Also, it should be noted that my husband thanked me for it at the time we were married (I was only 23) for taking his name and continues to thank me for it (8.5 years later). That fact that he realises it is a big deal to change one's name and is appreciative that I changed mine made the whole process much easier for me.

Catherine Masi said...

I agree with you, Joanna. Kept my name (Masi) when I married because it was already so much a part of my personal + professional identity (plus I like it!). Funnily enough, many of the older folks in my life still like to address cards + letters as Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian Orth (I vowed not to get on them for it since I'm looking at it as a generational thing for them and their comfort means more to me than making a big fuss of it). BUT it drives me nuts when our accountant addresses our forms that way- even though my name is my own as a joint filer. Ah well, progress sometimes moves slowly. Thanks for this great post!

Amanda Carr said...

My only question is what will the child do when he/she gets married and already has a hyphenated last name?

Mrs. D said...

I'm what my husband calls an "Independent Womanist," meaning, I'm a feminist who also likes old-fashioned traditions and values. So when we got married, the idea of NOT taking his name wasn't an option. But then, getting rid of MY last name wasn't really an option either. So I simply had his name added to mine. It can be confusing at times because it's not actually hyphenated, and further complicated because my maiden name already sounds like a first name, but I, for one, LOVE that I'm Adrienne Lee Lindsey Davis. I get to keep every part of my name/identity, while adding his as well. :)

www.bonlook.com/amb/adrienneldavis

Sarah said...

Yeah, that's what I did, too.

Kelly said...

My boyfriend's ex-wife has the same first name as me and I already have enough of a complex being Kelly 2.0 that I wouldn't want to take the last name on too if we were ever to be married.

Sarah said...

I think you're a Mrs. regardless of whether or not you change your name. You're still married, after all.

Lomagirl said...

There is such a strong expectation that a woman change her name. I find it very offensive since it harks back to women belonging to another. Of course, keeping our maiden names relates us back to our father owners.
I did not change my name. I don't mind if someone calls me Ms. S___ after my husband's last name- it doesn't hurt me any. But my husband gets tired of people calling the house and asking for Mr. M___.

lily said...

I keep my last name for professional purposes, and haven't changed anything online. But legally I have a new name. I wanted to honor my dad in my professional life and my husband in my personal life. So far, I've been happy with it! Plus, I like that nothing online has my real name. It keeps a bit of privacy in this digital world that I crave.

Ethaney said...

After recently getting engaged (yay), I have thought about the idea of keeping my last name just because I think my first name sounds really well with my last name.And because my name is so unusual (Ethaney), I feel like it would be hard to get used to a completely different last name with my first name. But marriage is starting a whole new chapter in my life, and I like thinking that taking his last name is a symbol of a that and I sort of like it. But then again, I am pretty traditional toward certain things and that is definitely one of them!

Circa Style said...

I'm getting married in June and this has been on my mind since we first got engaged last fall. I didn't want to completely abandon my given last name- there are no males to carry it on, but it was very important to my fiance` that I take his.

We also discussed both changing our names to a hybrid of both (the beginning of my last name paired with the end of his)! That idea quickly died out. Our families thought we both lost it.

What I've decided to do is legally hyphenate, but use my married name for everyday. If I would to use a hyphenated last name, my entire name would be over 30 letters long. It's just not practical.

I'll be 26 when we marry, so keeping my last name for professional reasons is not an issue. I think if we have children, they'll just have his last name (the length of the hyphenation would be too long)

Alexa said...

i've never questioned taking my future husband's last name—in fact, i look forward to it! call me old-fashioned, but taking his name feels right for me.

also, i have gone by my middle name since birth, so i plan to take my maiden name as my middle name and finally stop correcting people about my "real" first name :)

Leigh said...

I didn't want to keep my maiden name at all. My parents are divorced, dad seldom around, and my mom has been remarried with a different last name for a long time. So when I got married, I took my husbands name happily. Plus, his last name was Low. Simple and fun and i love it paired with my first name. Leigh Low. Lilo!

Sarah said...

Because back in the day, it was a sign of ownership.

Gretchen said...

My last name is Taipale. I've struggled with it my whole life because no one EVER knows how to pronounce it (type-a-lee). I couldn't wait to change it to Emanuel when my husband and I got married, because its a much easier name. But then we got married and it just felt weird. Like, its my name. Its who I am. My husband calls me "Taips" as my nickname. At the time I said I would change it when we had kids, but it still felt weird. My son's last name is Emanuel and so far it hasn't been an issue or bothered me that we have different last names. My mother kept her maiden name, so it actually is quite normal to me!

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