Motherhood Mondays: Would you Hyphenate Your Baby’s Last Name?

Want to hear Toby’s full name?

…Tobias Paul Goddard-Williams. Yup, a big name for a little dude. :)

When Alex and I got married, I kept my last name (Goddard), and Alex’s last name is Williams. So, when I was pregnant, we talked it over and decided we would give our baby both of our last names: Goddard-Williams.

We had three reasons: a) We wanted Toby to feel like an official part of both our extended families, b) We wanted him to be clearly connected to both of us, which would be helpful when I picked him up from school or we’re introduced to people as a family, and c) It sounded sound sort of cool! :)

Alex also laments that his full name–Alex Williams–is very common. Did you know that Williams is the third most common last name in America, behind Smith and Johnson? (Alex googled it!) He always wishes he had a more unforgettable name, since, as a writer, you want a splashy name that people will remember. (Think: Roald Dahl, Virginia Woolf, Jennifer 8. Lee!) So, he figured, Toby Goddard-Williams might be more memorable than Toby Williams.

As we were signing the birth certificate at the hospital, I suddenly got cold feet and wondered if the name was too long. But Alex convinced me to try it out for a year and see what I thought–and now that Toby is a year and a half, I love it and I’m glad we did.

Many of our friends and relatives still give us sideways looks: Really? Goddard-Williams? What a mouthful! Hyphenating a child’s last name is still a pretty rare thing to do. I just hope Toby likes it. :)

This past Thursday, the New York Times featured a fascinating article about hyphenated names. Here are a few fun facts:
1. Some couples combine their last names into a brand new name. In fact, my high school friend Geoff combined his last name (Werner-Allen) with his fiance’s last name (Chapman), so now they both have the new name Challen!
2. Experts predict that “the importance of a family name could begin to decline. Thanks to more divorce, re-marriage, same-sex unions and retention of maiden names, it’s far from unusual for members of the same nuclear family to bear different surnames.”
3. According to a recent study, “only 6 percent of native-born American married women have unconventional last names (meaning they kept their maiden names, hyphenated with their husbands’ names or pulled a Hillary Rodham Clinton).” That seemed surprisingly low to me!
4. If you’re American, hyphenated names can “say something extra about your parents’ egalitarian values. Unless you are British; then it means you’re posh.” (Well, la di da! :) I didn’t know until reading this article…and then seeing this English comedy skit.)

I’m dying to know what you think: Would you (or did you) change your last name when you get married? Would you keep your maiden name? What’s your full name? Would you ever consider hyphenating your baby’s last name–or no way? I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear!

P.S. More Motherhood Monday posts, including an addictive baby name website.

(Photos by J. Crew and René Maltête)

  1. Anonymous says...

    I like the idea of making up your own family name. My husband wouldn’t go for that even though he has a really boring last name. My last name is interesting and I have not met very many people outside my family who share it. I couldn’t give it up, so I tacked my husband’s name on the end (no hyphen). Not sure what we’ll do if we have kids though!

  2. Rafaela C. says...

    It’s really funny to see the difference in each country on this topic! I live in Brazil and here is very common that the baby brings both parents’ last name, no hyphen. Usually the last name of the grandpas. We can’t combine last names of invent a new one (except maybe in Court, but only if you have a real reason for that). Until like 10 years ago, only women could add the husband’s last name. Now, the couple can choose what they want, including men add their wife’s last names.

  3. My big question is WHAT will your son’s wife do with her name? Will he want two names when he’s in college?

  4. Anonymous says...

    Oh my, I didn’t know that it was possible to make surnames up… wow!
    I have a doubt (I’m of Latin descend).
    If you choose not to hyphenate the name, having: “Toby Goddard Williams”. Would Goddard be considered middle name?
    Thanks *

  5. Anonymous says...

    I always found odd that in America, people would substitute their last name when married. Being Portuguese we add names. Actually, one can have up to 6 surnames. Two from the mother, two from the father and if chosen two from the husband. Off course, the more surnames you have, the preppier it is!
    Ah,… and we don’t hyphenate our names. I don’t even know if you can.
    When confronted with the idea of “giving up” my maiden name, for another (of my husband), in my head it is sort of something you loose.
    And something I’ve noticed (bare in mind, the “knowledge” I have from American culture is from TV, not from direct experience) is that some people have, for example, two names, like, Jane Marie Smith, isn’t that considered too long? You might as well have your mothers surname.
    So, Joanna, I’m all for having Toby be a proud carrier of both family names.

  6. I got married in April and I hyphenated my last name! Shawn Williams-Johnson. Yes, the top 3 of most common names. And my sister married a Smith. So, we have the top 3 covered.

  7. I love this subject! Names are so interesting.
    Growing up my mother used her maiden name for her middle name and then passed that on to me. So my middle name was my mom’s maiden name.
    When I got married I was uncomfortable with the idea of letting go of either my middle or last names as I see them as pieces of my family’s history. I have a very small family and there are no boys to carry on either of the names. I also didn’t like the idea of hyphenating my last name as I did want to take on my husband’s name. I ended up hyphenating my middle name. So my middle name is my mother’s maiden name and my maiden name.
    Giving me 4 initials which I think is just the coolest thing ever.

  8. Anonymous says...

    I changed my name when I got married – in part because my maiden name was very common. I started using my “married” name on publications as soon as we were engaged (gotta stand out!), so I can definitely empathize with your husband :-)
    Of course, our baby girl has our shared last name.

    My sister also took her husband’s last name, but named her son Murray, our maiden name.

  9. Jonna says...

    What about the husband taking the wife’s family name? I’m from Finland and know a few couples that did that. One of them did it, because he is in book publishing and did not want to be confused with a famous Finnish actor with the same exact name. Now he is a famous book publisher with a unique name. How would Alex Goddard sound for your husband? I personally was not crazy about my own family name due to its length of 9 letters and hard pronounciation. I happily switched to my husband’s much shorter last name which also goes well with my first name. It’s such a personal choice. What works for one couple, does not work for another.

  10. I personally would have gone with “Fünke” for his surname after picking out Tobias… but your choice was good too.

  11. My parents adopted me when I was three months old. They kept my korean name and added it into my new name. So, that makes me Morgan Elisabeth Min Hee Yoo Taylor. Quite a mouthful! But, I’m so happy that they kept my korean name, especially my last name. When I get married I want to keep my maiden name or possibly hyphenate it with my husbands.

  12. I really wanted my last name and my husbands to be the same. Plus, we met when we were 15 and I’d practiced my name with his too many times to let it go! But, when the time came I just didn’t want to let go of my name either. So, I did a Hilary also and moved my maiden name to my middle name. My middle name was Lynn and was just chosen because it sounded nice with my name so I only felt a little sad to say good bye to it, but would have felt extremely sad to say goodbye to my maiden name!

  13. My husband also has very typical last name”Johnson” so i kept mine. As for kids,we want to give them unique first names and make their middle name my current last name. I like the idea of hyphenating, but not sure what my kid would do if they married some one with a hyphenated name!

  14. My mom has been married twice and when she changed her name during her second marriage, she kept her first husband’s name as her middle name with her new husband’s name as her last name. I wonder what percentage of women do that??

  15. When I was younger, there were 4 different last names in my immediate family alone! (Three girls, all from different dads, and a brother that was adopted but kept his family name.) Because there were so many different last names in my family, I never really held any attachment to my own last name which came from my biological father who I had little contact with. I felt more attachment to my mom/stepdad’s last name because they had raised me. When I got married I didn’t think twice about changing my name because my maiden name never felt very sentimental to me. My kids will definitely have the same last name as my husband and I.

    Also, my husband was given a hyphenated last name when he was born, but he (along with his parents) decided to drop his mom’s name when he was a teen so that he wouldn’t have to sign such a long name on every legal document when he joined the military.

  16. I love the Goddard-Williams surname, very classy sound to it.

    My first name is hyphenated. It was difficult growing up because folks wanted to remove the hyphen. In the digital age computers are allergic to hyphenated first names. I don’t know what computers do with last name hyphens.

  17. Anonymous says...

    I kept my name after we were married. When I was pregnant with my eldest daughter my husband and I had the ‘surname’ chat. Having been to an expensive Australian private school he refused to have a joint surname – he said it was for wankers! So my daughter just has his surname. We had to try really hard to get pregnant with my second child, another daughter, so when she was born name wasn’t an issue, I was just so glad to have her. When I unexpectedly became pregnant with my third daughter I put my foot down and said this baby will have my surname. Unfortunately I became quite ill after she was born and under a haze of antibiotics and pain killers I signed the forms my husband had filled out and so she too has only his name. But then…pregnant for a fourth time I stood my ground and insisted our baby boy had my surname jointly or by itself. My husband refused and so the matter was referred to the Dept of Justice who ruled that if a surname was in dispute the child would be given both parents surname in alphabetical order. Finally I got what I wanted – a child with my name – and I couldn’t be happier! Good on you who have partners you don’t have antiquated views

  18. I’m married and I kept my last name. We have an almost 3 year old daughter and another on the way. We’ve named our daughter with my last name as her middle, and she and my husband share the same last name. When the next child is born he/she will have his last name as the middle and she/he and I will share a last name. At first I was unsure about the plan because it felt like the we were on two teams divided by last names. But I am getting used to it, and it helped to read another one of your readers comments about their experience using that style of naming.

  19. Fascinating just to read through all of the comments! Well, for starters, what’s in a name? It’s such an agonizing thing for parents – my sister and her husband finally decided to hyphenate my niece’s name. But just read a handful of these comments – the child grows up to become an adult and changes their name however it best suits them! My last name isn’t really my own; my grandfather legally changed it to his stepfather’s just before he headed off to war. I love my last name but ponder a lot over its interchangeability with the original family name. And yet I wouldn’t ever change it again…I can’t wait to read the NYT article you mentioned! Off to do that right now!

  20. I’m a first-generation American and one of three daughters, so my last name is pretty important to me. When my husband and I had our babies, we knew they’d have to have both last names. For whatever reason, though, my husband was against hyphens so we came up with a different solution. Our son’s name is Agustin Tobias OrezzoliRobinson (yup, all squashed together).

  21. Meredith Elizabeth Star Micheaux-Harris says...

    I despise my hyphenated last name. It is cumbersome and extremely confusing because many computer systems cannot accommodate a hyphen (I know that this is the 21st century, but still). This means that when I call to find out something like my frequent flyer account number I have to give three or four different variations of my name, each last name, both together with a hyphen, both run together into one word, one with a space, etc. I cannot wait to marry and change my name to something normal and reasonable.

    I also have two middle names which is not such huge deal because most agencies don’t care- you just provide an initial.

    Don’t give kids weird spellings, don’t give kids ridiculous last names. They will live with their name for their whole life.

  22. maybe it is a southern thing, but most people I know change their middle name to their maiden name and their husband’s last name becomes theirs. The only time I have seen this differently is when someone goes by their middle name and drops their first name instead. I didn’t like my middle name so was happy to jump on this trend and love having my first name-maiden name- and new last name. Our children will have my husband’s last name as well-I like the idea of sounding like a family unit- and it seems less confusing!

  23. I’ve thought about doing this with my kids in the future.

    But what if Toby marries someone with a hyphenated name and they also want to hyphenate their kids names so their kids have 4 last names? :) This is the issue I always get stuck on… :)


  24. AmiN says...

    Love this topic! I wanted to keep my last name when my husband and I married (which was not something I’d ever planned on in childhood, btw—I always thought I’d take my husband’s last name, but when the moment came, I was totally taken by surprise by the overwhelming desire to hang onto that little bit of my identity.) I might have hyphenated/combined, but I have an unusual, Norwegian last name that sounds horrible paired with my husband’s! So I have my last name, my husband has his, and our son has my husband’s last name. I’m surprised by how little this bothers me, I have to say. So I guess the theme of this comment is “surprise.” Not how I thought this would go, but I’m fine with how things turned out. Goddard-Williams is a great last name, though. :)

  25. Toby’s name is lovely! Very distinguished. I will take my husband’s name, if/when I get married! Although, if it’s a long time from now, I might keep my own as my public name – I’m a singer and a writer, and I wouldn’t want to confuse the public by switching last names. Of course if I get married soon it won’t be an issue, as I’m still in school and don’t have an established career yet!

  26. I kept my last name and really like the idea of giving a child both his and mine, but always worried that it would be too long… my cousins have such long names they don’t fit on their ID or bank cards! I also worry that one day he/she will meet and fall in love with a person who also has a hyphenated name, what a pain for them to decide which names to keep or drop… so I dismissed that idea. But now that I see the stats on hyphenated names are so low, maybe it’s worth considering.
    Loved the posh people bit by Catherine Tate. Hilarious.

  27. I am getting married in July and at first I thought I would drop my surname completely and take his, but as the date gets closer I am leaning towards keeping my surname as my middle name. Guess we will see what I decide to do! It was really awesome getting to read what all you other ladies have done!

  28. I had a friend whose parents took turns doling out their last names. She had her dad’s, her brother had her mom’s, etc. I thought it was very odd – as though she and her brother weren’t related. But I understand – I had a hard time giving up my maiden name when I got married, and I will have a hard time NOT inflicting my future children with something reminiscent of my heritage. I think it’s different for everyone, though.

  29. Gosh, there are so many awesome comments on this! I just wanted to THANK YOU for posting about it!! I am also surprised at the low number of women with “atypical” names! 6%!

    I was given a hyphenated last name by my parents and growing up a lot of people thought it was weird, which made me only appreciate it more! I do remember being furstrated that it didn’t ever fit on the Name: line on homework, though :)
    I went to catholic school for one year and the mean office lady was downright disdainful. And I had this spectacular moment of clarity, where I was really proud that I had the kind of mom who didn’t unquestioningly follow some tradition that meant nothing to her.
    And when I got to college and studied journalism, the department head took me aside one day to tell me he LOVED my byline, because it was so different.
    I am all for people doing what they want with last names, I just wish that they thought about it more. I work in education now and I love all the great last names! I think I was a bit ahead of the curve. Lots of hyphens in SF now!
    However, it does present intriguing issues for when I have kids!

  30. I loved reading this post and these comments! i hyphenated my last name, with some resistance. My husband is from Sweden and has the third most common last name. Many Swedes are trying to get rid of these names, and the country allows its people to adopt other last names, be it older family names or made up names (as long as they sound Swedish). Its actually proven that people advance further in business with more unusual names. When we got married, his family urged him to take my last name (a very rare french name with some religious history). In the end, we both opted to hyphenate, though I almost never use my Swedish add on. I think our future children will take the hypen as well.

  31. Jen says...

    I can’t believe there are so many comments!! If anyone reads this and has an idea of how to combine Robinson and Couchman, I’d LOVE to hear it. The best idea we’ve come up with thus far is to give the kids his step-father’s surname (his step-father raised him, and never had kids of his own)… and possibly alter ours to match to avoid trouble visiting family overseas. ???

    I had friends who combined their surnames (Bluestein + something German) into Stonemeier…love it!

  32. i am an indian and as you know we live in a very patriarchal society where family names(the guys of course)is so very imporatant even today..i don’t want to change my surname if i marry someone with another surname.i also would want my kids to carry my name as well..i would love a world where such patriarchal norms cease to exist altogether.

  33. Oooh and what about middle names? Specifically for girls? I have relatives who do not give middle names to girls because they assume the girl will take their husband’s name one day. I love having a middle name in addition to my maiden name. But my relatives who don’t have a middle name seem to have no issue with it. Fascinating!

  34. I’m definitely on the side of do what’s best for your family. I have girlfriends who kept their maiden name, hyphenated with their husband’s or created an entire different surname to start fresh as a family.

    But I’m curious, as far as hyphenation goes, I think hyphenated works for the first generation like Toby but what about Toby’s kids? If they did the same thing, then his kids would have three names, the next would have four… So is there a protocol for that?

  35. Anonymous says...

    Mexicans take both their parents last names without hyphens in this order:
    First Name,Fathers Surname,Mothers Surname

    but people often just use their Fathers surname unless on offical documents. Non-Mexican officials often confuse the “first last name” as a middle name.

  36. Anonymous says...

    Doesn’t it say something that the last name “dilemma” is only something that women usually contend with? Men have their last names their whole life and that’s that!

  37. Ms. Madison-Kennedy says...

    My husband and I both wanted to to hyphenate our names, which we did. We love how it sounds – but mainly we both believe in equality so to us it just did not make sense to maintain a remnant of out-moded coveture. If we have children, they will have a hyphenated name and can do whatever they like name-wise if they ever marry.

  38. Anonymous says...

    Kept my maiden name (which happens to be Williams, no relation!) but our kids names aren’t hyphenated. I grew up in a family with a step dad so my mom and he had different last names, so I was used to the idea of different last names in one family.

    It’s funny because I’ve always liked the anonymity my last name brings in this digital age… You can’t google me! Or rather, I suppose if you were a really determined person you could wade through the 23 million hits on google….

  39. i kept my last name when i married, and our up and coming baby will have a hyphenate–with 21 letters and lots of vowels. but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

  40. I love combining last names. My cousin and her beloved were just married and combined Gabrio and Bjelland into Golden, which I love, because they are both gorgeous, gold-hearted blondes. I was just married 6 weeks ago, and my husband and I chose a completely new last name – nothing to do with our original ones! And we love it. It’s always funny to tell the story of how we picked it (from my husband’s childhood hockey trading cards). So silly, but so us.

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  42. Anonymous says...

    I will give a word of advice from a life-long hyphenator who now is faced with an official change-of-name to get rid of one of them: please make sure you stick with both names at all times! My parents seemed to have forgotten they gave me two last names at various points and now I have a birth certificate with a hyphenated last name and a social security card with just my dad’s last name. This has caused me endless problems so far: the DMV doesn’t believe I am who I say I am, and I’ve had a few embarrassing mix-ups at places I’ve worked (wrong email addresses and internal naming conventions that take forever to work out.) Also, my mom thought it would be “easier” for me in kindergarten to register me as just my dad’s last name, so now my college diploma and law degree have the wrong name on them, too. I have to go through official court proceedings to officially change my name to one or the other to maintain consistency!

  43. elisa says...

    I thought the Hilary Rhodam Clinton was traditional. My mom did that (dropped her middle name and now has her maiden name as middle names). I did the same, but still use my maiden name professionally (it’s the name of my biz).

    I can’t believe. Only 6% keep their name. I feel like I hardly know anyone who took their husband’s name.

  44. In Italy, where my husband is from, women keep their maiden names so I always knew his mom’s maiden name. At least that’s what I was told. She is also very feminist. I think it’s an Anglo-American thing to lose the last name?

    I kept my last name. I think he asked me once why I didn’t take his last name but otherwise he has no issues with it. I just like my name !

    However, our kids have my husband’s last name. We never debated this and spent time coming up with first names that would go well with his last name.

    Truthfully I think if the wife has a better last name (easier to spell, pronounce etc..) you should give the kids that!

  45. Marie says...

    How will Toby name his children if he marries a girl having a hyphenated double last name too?! ;)

  46. I actually have a double name (Anna Claire – my first and middle names) and have always been called that. It’s more important to me than my last name, and I didn’t want to give it up when I got married. Four names seemed too long, so I dropped my maiden name. I was never a huge fan of it anyway, and I actually really like my husband’s last name. It’s different without being super hard to spell or pronounce. So of course our son has our last name.
    But I really like Goddard-Williams…Toby’s name sounds like a smart, cool college professor :)

  47. I regret not keeping my maiden name, and plan to change it back when I live in a state that doesn’t charge $300 to change it. My daughter has my maiden name as her second middle name–Alexandra Eleanor Kitchens Culp is an even bigger mouthful than Toby’s name! I would’ve liked to hyphenate her name… but then what if she wanted to hyphenate with a future husband? Or if she kept hers but wanted hyphenate her child’s? I think the best way would be for girls to carry their mother’s name and boys to carry their father’s name, (but then homosexual couples would have to choose, oh, it is never simple).

  48. what an interesting topic! i’m currently living in the Czech Republic, where women not only take the man’s last name, but they have to add “ová” to the end of it – which in czech grammar is the equivalent to the english ” ‘s”, which seems so degrading to me. but all the czech women i have asked about it say that they don’t mind it and would feel really silly having a name without the “ova”.

    i personally have never been a huge fan of my last name, so i don’t think it would be so hard to drop it completely, but i definitely think i would prefer to keep it and add my husband’s name, if only for the sake of having the same name as my kids.

    and Toby’s full name is so adorable, by the way :)

  49. Anonymous says...

    I wanted to keep my maiden name, but it was really important to my old fashioned husband for me to take his family name. At the same time, he didn’t want to wear a wedding ring (he works with his hands a lot and never wears any jewelry), and it was really important to me that he wear one. So we compromised. I took his name and he wears a ring.

  50. I’ve often thought about hyphenating my name when I get married, or my child’s name. Unfortunately since my last name is Pockett it would mean that everyone would just become a miniature version :)

  51. My parents hyphenated all their kids’ (four girls)names, but left out the middle names so they wouldn’t be too long. They each have unique last names that I have never heard anyone else have before (Balsamo and Gillis), plus gave each of us moderately unused names. I like having a hyphenated name and no middle name, though when people need to spell it, it gets a little frustrating.

    The other thing is that now that I am older and just starting to think about my future as far as marriage and motherhood go, I don’t know what to do about my kids! I don’t want to give up my last name, but I don’t want my kids to have a triple hyphen! i.e. Balsamo-Gillis-Charming. But, if I don’t change my last name, there isn’t really a part of me in their name. Hmm… Decisions, decisions!

  52. as someone with a ridiculous hyphenated name i cannot wait to get married and be rid of it forever. Bethany Cynthia Knowles-Thompson. it takes forever to write, and i usually go by Bethy but writing Bethy Knowles-Thompson looks imbalanced so for my art stuffs i usually go by Bethany Cynthia…this is a constant struggle, i wanted to drop one of my last names in high school but knew it would hurt one or the other parent…now i just hope i marry someone with a short last name…

  53. This is fascinating. As a college student (18) I’m beginning to see this among my classmates so it’s not just a super recent phenomenon. Personally I think the hyphen is a little too much and much rather go for the Hilary Rodham Clinton route!

  54. RS says...

    I have a unique name- you google me, and you get me. I didn’t want to give that up, or any of my identity as me, so I didn’t change my name. Two years later, my husband finally gets it.

    A couple of weeks ago, he came up to me, unprompted, and told me that he had an epiphany and totally gets why I kept my name and he’s actually glad that I did. It made me very happy for it to have clicked so well with him finally.

    It was never a slight against him, I told him– I wanted us to be two people who didn’t lose our identities in marriage, but instead, added to them! I’m surprised the numbers are so low- 6%!!

    I’m not sure what we’ll do if we have kids, because my name and his don’t really sound great together. We’ll come up with a solution, I’m sure, and Toby’s name is wonderful!

  55. My last name is very French…my husband’s is very Polish. It is not a pretty combination. I’m sticking with mine, and he’ll stick with his. Not sure if we’re having kids, but think I’m ok with using his last name. Rousseau-Mroczek is just too much for a poor kid to manage! Spelling that would be a disaster for a 5 year old..

  56. Stavroula says...

    when children are born you just have to state which surname they will get. I like hyphenated surnames, they seem more..important!

  57. I’m getting married next weekend and I am taking my future husbands last name. I think if I was older (I’m 26) and I was more established in my career and we weren’t going to have kids I would keep my maiden name. I’m happy taking his name though! Great topic!

  58. When I married my husband, our vows, and everything about our union was about us becoming one. There was nothing I wanted more than to take his last name. :) I never even thought about hyphenating our names or combining them.I wanted to be his wife, in ever way I could. Last name and all :)

  59. Stavroula says...

    In Greece changing your name was considered anti-feminist, so they changed the law and now all women keep their maiden name after marriage. If you want to change it and take your husband’s name, or if you want to keep both, hyphenated, you can, of course, you just file an application and follow a bureaucratic procedure. But I kind of like the fact that the default status is keeping your maiden name

  60. Annie says...

    This used to be common in Britain (but really more in England) if you were upper class but it has now fallen down the social scale. A lot of children have double-barrelled surnames (as we call it) because their parents are not married and want to show that they are linked to the child. This is not always a sign of permanence, sadly.

  61. I was a Thayer he is a Johnson…I wanted to be a Thayer-Johnson…but it was to hard to keep writing it and saying it…i am a teacher…so now I am just a Johnson

  62. I changed my whole name! I’m an immigrant so my English name was unofficial before I got married… and I’d always hated the fact that nobody could pronounce my Korean first name correctly. I went from “Inhye Kim” to “Ariel Inhye Son”. I loved the fact that I could keep the name my parents gave me as a middle, have the same last name as my future children, and make my English name official. People have an easier time with that one. :-)

  63. Jerine says...

    Toby’s child might have two hyphens combining his and his wife’s name! Hahaha that aside, I think hyphenated last names are cool! I wish I had one!

  64. I hyphenated my name when I married, Banova-Brink. My family means so much to me, and since I am the only child I wanted to hyphenate to keep the family name alive! I think it’s great to honor your family and heritage!

  65. in montréal (all of québec, actually), women can’t legally change their name to their husband’s, but hyphenating is super common. i just ended up keeping my name and giving our daughter my husband’s because she already has two names (and honestly it just sounded better!)

  66. That’s so funny! When I married my husband he was VERY sure that he wanted me to keep my last name and that felt right. I’m not giving up who I am, I’m adding to it. So when we had our son it was a no brainer! Jude Arthur Walker-Smith… and we are the OPPOSITE of posh (seriously).

  67. I always intended to hyphenate my future babies last names, but then my boyfriend already has a hyphenated name, drat, I’ll be asking him to knock one of them off there. It’s only fair! The posh thing is true in Ireland too, it’s more common in the middle classes. We don’t really have upper classes here though.

  68. Anonymous says...

    i use my maiden name
    my son’s last name is hyphenated.
    actually it’s not uncommon at all at his school…
    we decided this works best for us and our family.

    as to the issue of what will happen if he marries a person that
    also has a hyphenated name…?

    like us…they will decide what works best for them and their family!

  69. Lewis says...

    I kept my name, and while we don’t yet have children, my husband and I talk a lot about this. I think we are leaning toward giving them my name as a middle name and his as a last name. A friend of mine (who wrote her dissertation about this very topic!) did this, and says that she sometimes feels like her husband and kids are united by their name and she is in her own little camp. It is a tough issue!

  70. I have been struggling with this. We just recently got married. I had planned on changing my name, but it’s been a month, and I haven’t done anything to get the ball rolling except change my facebook. I seriously have the best last name, and I can’t bring myself to make it a middle name because it already sounds like a middle name. Perhaps pulling a Hillary Rodham Clinton is my answer.

  71. I knew that I’d take my husband’s last name because I wanted us and our future children to all have the same last name. It was a little sad for me though, because my initials spelled RAT and I’d grown to love that! A lot of family members even call me RAT as a nickname. Hyphenating wasn’t an option for me because my last name and husband’s both end in -er and they sort of rhyme. I ended up dropping my middle name (Allison) because my initials would’ve spelled RAW with my new last name and that just sounded dirty to me! So my new initials are officially RTW. (I think I am more concerned with initials than most, because of the whole RAT thing.) When we have kids, we will probably use my old last name as the middle name. If I had it to do over…knowing what I know now…I don’t think I would have changed my name, honestly.

  72. I went the Hillary route, dropped my middle name and went with first, maiden, new last. Though I plan to use my middle name for a daughter’s first name, since it’s a family name and I was very sad to drop it.

  73. Anonymous says...

    I kept my name. We debated hyphenating for our daughter but it would have been quite long. My husband’s last name (Hancock) is common and he has lots of relatives that are carrying on the name, whereas mine (Mansfield) is less so and my sisters & cousins all changed theirs when they married. So we decided that our daughter would have my last name but my husband’s as one of her middle names. It’s worked fine for us. (We also debated blending but …erm… one way the blend definitely does not work!)

  74. Our daughter also has a hyphenated name. My husband and I are different culturally and we both felt it was important for her to embrace both cultures. I also kept my last name because it just felt right to me. I feel a real kinship with my siblings and parents so it would have been strange for me to adopt someone else’s name.

    One thing that people do find unusual though is that we reversed the order “His last name- My last name” but purely because the sound/flow felt better.

  75. H says...

    I hyphenated when I got married. I can’t grapple with the thought of my children only sharing my in-laws’ surname, and not my family name, and my husband is adamant that our children should have his surname, so I suppose they’re going to have to have hyphenated surnames like me :) The one flaw is that one day our daughters and daughters-in-law might find it a tougher decision if they want to hyphenate when they marry! I just can’t bring myself to give our children only one family’s surname though… just one of my neuroses!

  76. Ellie says...

    ^^I should add that the reason why we chose this option is that we both liked the idea of us all sharing the same last name. Of being Mr and Mrs ___ and having the same name as our future children. Truth be told I prefer my maiden name, aesthetically speaking. But I LOVE being a Mrs!

  77. Ellie says...

    I’m not a fan of hyphenated names. For some reason I don’t like the look of them, aesthetically. And they’re usually a mouthful. In fact. my husband grew up with one and though he was used to it, he found it annoying. People were often confused by it. So when we got married he dropped one of the two names (he actually kept his mom’s last name!) and we both just use that now, and that is the last name we will give our children. He did NOT want his kids to have to deal with his annoying hyphenated name. As for me, I took his name but kept my maiden name as my middle name (dropping my given middle name.) I usually use all three in business/school instances (I’m studying for a PhD and wanted to stay recognizable.) I imagine that when we have kids at least one of them (if not all) will get my maiden name as a middle name, to keep it in the family. :) This is a tradition on both sides of our family as my father has his mother’s maiden name as his middle name and my husband’s mother has her grandmothers maiden name in the middle. :)

  78. hello, I totally understand, Im expecting (15 weeks today) and the baby last name its becoming “the thing” between my husband and I, I’m from Mexico so its part of my culture to have both last names and when I get married I kept mine (Martinez Morales) I only used my hubby last name for social things :) because sometimes he get upset that I didnt want to change it to his, but what I found surprising up here its that when people decided to combine names they put the mothers last name first, that will never happened in Mexico! man are to proud, they go first. All my life I’ve been called Martinez not Morales.
    But finally we have an agreement and our baby we will be named _________ Martinez Skinner.

  79. Carlen says...

    While I’m absolutely a proponent of hyphenating last names, I went to high school with a girl named Gwyneth Halstead-Nussloch. I always thought that her parents should have been ashamed of themselves.

  80. I briefly thought about keeping my maiden name when i was married 35 years ago–but then tossed the idea out! and i think hyphenated names are a mouthful! I’m glad it works for you.

  81. H says...

    Hyphenating your babies name is such a cool idea, it’s so modern!! If the names really went together it would be awesome, but I don’t think I would want to combine them and make a whole new name because that sounds a bit too complicated. But Toby’s name sounds really trendy and I love it! :)

  82. I’m proud to say that my name is hyphenated as well! Brink (mom’s side)- Li (dad’s side). I get odd looks every now and then, and always have to spell my last name but it is awesome. The only sad this is that if I get married and have children I cannot continue that on. Brink-Li-?? would look too strange!!

  83. Anonymous says...

    I made my maiden name my middle name and took my husband’s last name. We don’t have children. If we did, they would have my husband’s last name.

  84. Anonymous says...

    When we were married I took my husband’s last name. My maiden name, also chances as a boy’s name. So yep, you guessed it, my son is now called Austin!

  85. I love love love Toby’s full name! The only thing I wonder is: what happens when Toby gets married to Anna Smith-McDaniel? I like the idea of one last name as the middle name (i.e. Anna Smith McDaniel). No love lost but no mouthful-names, either.

  86. Anonymous says...

    I am British so I don’t find hyphanated names strange at all. I like them a lot. When I got married 6 months ago my husband wanted us and any future children we might have to all have the same surname, so we took each other’s surnames! I was Sarah Jones (not my real name) He was John Smith (not his real name) We are now known as Dr & Mrs Jones Smith (no hyphen, purely a stylistic decision). My husband does not see anything strange in taking my name as he loves me as much as I love him so why not take my name too?

  87. Anonymous says...

    I would definitley hyphenate. (Or at least give my child my maiden name as his middle name if I took my husbands name.) I like the idea of the woman keeping her own name.

  88. This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and also those fun facts! I took my husband’s last name, and changed my middle name to my maiden name. I added my middle name to my first name, so my legal first name is now Sherri Lynn. People are always confused because I have four names in my full name – it’s such a hassle always explaining that Sherri Lynn is my first name and M. is my middle initial! I’m glad I did it though, because I didn’t want to lose my maiden name.

  89. I had always wanted to keep my last name, AND hyphenate my children’s last names but was told by my in-laws that I was not allowed to do so. :( I usually have the strength to override their overbearing nature but during the process of planning our wedding (and dealing with a lot of other conflicting opinions) it became a “pick you battle” situation. When my daughter arrived in February, it was obviously assumed and natural that she would take my husbands last name. I really regret it now but am weary of bringing it up with my husband. :/

  90. DYo says...

    P.S. Goddard-Williams is a really great last name. Goddard period is a cool name, and Williams is so common it sounds good being paired with another less common name.

    P.P.S I love some of the really creative solutions some of the women on this thread have come up with.
    Robinson-Smyke- another great name.

  91. DYo says...

    It drives me absolutely INSANE when people say “she kept her maiden name.” Yeah, if she never changed her name, it’s not her *maiden* name. It’s her name.

    I would never in a million years consider changing my name. My current partner asked if we got married if I would consider changing my name to his. I asked him if he would consider changing his to mine and he said “No.” That was the end of that conversation.

    If we have kids, if I am the one who is pushing them out of my vagina, they will have my name. Hyphenating is a possibility, or them having one of our surnames as their middle name. But we are equal partners, and the idea that I should change some part of myself to his because I have some different body parts than he does is absolutely infuriating to me. If it were solely for the sake of unity, wouldn’t men then change or hyphenate their names just as often as women do? But they don’t. Because it’s not.

  92. Another Williams here!!! I took on my husbands surname. After we were married i went into my bank to change over my details and they informed me there were 7 other rachel louise williams’ in our city who bank with them. there are 2 rachel louise williams’ at my doctor. it gets very confusing. you guys did a good thing!!

    rachel xo

  93. I loved the idea of combining last names and a few of our friends have done that but alas my hubby was not up for it. Plus Gillette and Fox don’t make for memorable combos…. I hyphenated thinking of it this way: that my maiden name was my past, his name my future and together they are my present. He hyphenated for a while but going from a three letter last name to an eleven letter last name was tough on him :) It was never a question when we had two girls if they would or wouldn’t be hyphenated. THey are…. the bigger question I have is if we ever have a boy, what he’d want….

  94. It’s a nice idea but…. you have to sign it and write it on every form / application …. keep it simple I say!

  95. Ellen says...

    Ok so I have struggled with this one for awhile. I just got married last year to a Puerto Rican man. In Puerto Rico the kids have two last names, but not hyphenated. The spouses do not change their name. I did not like that because I wanted to share my name with my husband and have the same last name as our kids, plus his last name is beautiful…Denizard….so i changed my last name to his, and our kids will have Denizard too. I am the only sister in law in his family who changed my name so I feel kinda special too! But im not opposed to giving my kids my maiden name as a a middle name. Good Post thanks!

  96. Helen says...

    Whilst it’s true that traditionally in Engalnd having a double-barrleed surname (what we call it!) always indicated you were posh there is an interesting trend arising…it is now very common too if you’re child is born out of wedlock and you are lower class/working class!! Almost every woman takes her husband’s name when she marries over here so their children have the father’s surname, and pretty much all unmarried middle class people will give the child the father’s surname as well. So now, if you have a double-barrelled surname, it probably means you are either very posh or very common!!

  97. Anonymous says...

    My last name is Zmood. People don’t think it’s possible. Z and M cannot work together. I was often told that’s not a name. But nevertheless I was the only girl known in high school by the their last name. My name and the letter Z somehow became a large part of my adolscent life. Even living in Australian I had to say it differently…Zed, Em, Double O, Dee. I feel the name for me has lived it’s life. I’m ready to move on.

  98. i am delighted you have posted about this and to browse others comments and read stats on the topic, as my boyfriend and i are thinking of getting married and i just dont like his last night. we need to come up with a solution. i dont mind taking my boyfriends name, but i just dont like it and its very israeli and hard to pronounce so it will make things harger for our children when we move and live in the states. we need to figure something out and i never thought to combine both last names to create a whole new one! i just called him with this idea and he laughed and said we will figure something out….

    thanks so much for posting about this!


  99. As I am Lithuanian, my surname is quite long for foreign people- Petravičiūtė. And I do not have maiden name, as my first name is holy, but I know that my mum was thinking about maiden name Ada. It would sound: Lina Ada Petravičiūtė – long, is in it? And I know that my mum was thinking about one particular name for me – Gabrielė, as first name. But I was given Lina for honor of my aunt.
    I think when I get married I will take my hubby name, cause we had some kind of conversation about it. And he was surprised that I even considering not to take his and keep my. Of course if my decision would be opposite, he will not say anything to change my mind, as it is mine decision. And of course, I’m not that attached to it, so no problem o change.
    But as all ways there are two stories and two ways. I know that my grandma changed her surname into second husband and all children got it, but real grandpa name was Deltuva. I would love to have this real last name. It sound perfect, and I think I would love to keep it after marring or to combine with my hubby.
    But as I still not engaged and the baby‘s I guess are still far away, these thoughts are just thoughts :)
    p.s. I enjoy your articles

  100. It’s funny, because as a general rule, I’m pro-keeping-maiden-names, however, my family name is actually my father’s long gone step father’s last name (who was quite abusive), and my father was always too lazy to change it to his mother’s maiden name (he is very connected to that side of the family), so when I got engaged I didn’t hesitate at all to change my name- I have no emotional connection to my maiden name and am happy to be rid of the not-so-nice family memory. However, if I hadn’t met my fiance sooner, I probably would have already changed my last name to one (or both) of my grandmother’s maiden names! (but that would be Heffernan-Seares, which just doesn’t sound right!). I think if I had changed my name to one of the strong women in my family, I would be very anti changing it to my future husbands name.

  101. In France, people often hyphenate their names, as they don’t necessarily get married to have a baby, or simply because they want their child to bear both names. So I wasn’t surprised by Toby’s name.
    I recently got married and I still haven’t changed my name, I don’t really know why. I guess I’m too attached to it and just want to take my time to think about what I really want. Even if everybody’s asking why I haven’t changed it or if I intend to… xx

  102. Anonymous says...

    I really love your Motherhood Mondays posts but this one was especially relevant as my parents gave me a hyphenated last name! They did this to pass on their respective Dutch and Italian heritage and I really love it.
    When I was younger it was a bit difficult as most people often pronounced it wrong and it is quite long, but as i grew up it became a really important part of me and a distinguishing factor, especially as my first name Jessica is super common. So I definitely say yes to hyphenation!!
    Keep up the great work.

  103. Mea says...

    In Germany, it is very common to hyphenate names. A very well known example is the politician Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger. I guess it evolved with the quite strong feminist movement in Germany that many women took on the names of their husbands but still kept their own. I would problably keep my own as its very nice and unusual except my future husband would have a really really nice name like Montgomery or Rochester ;) But my kid would be named after his father I guess, cause my name is very long, and combined even longer.

  104. Caz says...

    I would love to give my children both mine and my future-yet-to-be-found husband’s name hyphenated, but it would depend how they sounded together.
    I could never drop my middle name to replace it with my maiden name, as my middle name is also my mother’s middle name, and she died when I was very young so it’s important for me to keep it and pass it on to my future daughter as her middle name!
    I like the idea of just using your maiden name as a second middle name for your child (i.e First name, Middle name, Mother’s Maiden Name, Father’s Surname)that way they can just give their simple first and surname for work etc, but still know about their family connections.
    Oh and re: what a child with a hyphenated last name will do when they get married, well I don’t think the parents should worry, as they’ll figure out what feels right for them and their future spouse when the time comes.

  105. In Spain and Latinamerican countries we have always first our father´s surname and then our mother´s. Although now, at least in Spain, you can decide the order. I love to have both, but unfortunately, because of my work (I work on Geosciences), I just use my first one when I have to sign a paper. But for the rest of things, always both :D

  106. Anonymous says...

    I kept my last name but my children have my husband’s surname so they have my surname as a middle name.

    So they kind of have large names first name, middle name, second middle name surname.


  107. In Spain and South America people have name and two last name,(change name and last name is a little complicated in Spain)
    my birth name is, Eva
    my father’s last name is, Sorribas
    my mother ‘s last name is, Valiente
    so my name is:
    Eva Sorribas Valiente.
    Then i married an italian man. In Italy there is only a name and one last name (father’s last name).
    Nobody when get married takes the husband last name, but i love people call me Signora Costantini.

    My son’s name in Italy is:
    Jacopo Costantini
    and in Spain(Barcelona) is:
    Jacopo Costantini Sorribas.

    When the father of a child does not want to acknowledge the child automatically gets its name from the mother, I find it a terrible thing. I think all men should recognize their own children, even though it will not take care after them.
    Simply as a matter of dignity for the baby!


  108. My last name is Bath, my fiance’s last name is Curry. We both have nouns for names and we have flirted with the idea of combing them to Currybath and naming our first child Chicken…just kidding. But we don’t really know what do do. I’m keeping my name for now and we’ll revisit the decision when we’re ready to have kids.

  109. My mother and father split up shortly after I was born (they were never married, but are still on good terms) and I’m not sure about how that affected my name – I’m Camille Pearl Campbell Wrightson, Campbell being my father’s surname and Wrightson my mother’s. It’s not hyphenated, Campbell is a middle name. So yeah, it’s kind of interesting! Plus, to confuse it a little more, I am the last Wrightson of our branch, and, being female, I have the opportunity to stop our line of Wrightsons entirely if I give my child(ren) their father’s name. That scares me a little bit, and it makes me sad that it could just drop out because of me. So, if I do have children, I think I will try to double-barrel it, assuming the father has a surname that isn’t too long. I just have to meet him to find out!

  110. I love that idea! My boyfriend and I talked about it A LOT, and both agree that combinig our last names would be the way to go: definetly because is very romantic but we think it’s important and very meaningful for us to begin our own family, not because we don’t love both sides but – wich we do – but we feel this is ours, in matter of responsability, love, care, union…and for us it seems the best way to do it as a symbol of the love that we’ve cultivated with so much care, trust and believing in everything we are together, not thinking as individuals but an union that we decided and we couldn’t be more happy about =)

  111. My Mum kept her name when she married, I have both her and my Dad’s last names – so my name is pretty long! I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I get married. I quite like my mouthful as it is. :)

    I love what you named your little man! It does sound posh, in a wonderful way!

  112. i used to think i would want to hyphenate, but since i grew up with a fairly long name, i don’t think i would want to put my child through that! ;)
    i like the idea of combining the two names though, that’s cool!

  113. I’d consider using my maiden name for professional reasons (i.e., byline purposes) and my married name for everything else, if that isn’t impractical. As far as last names, I’d do a slight modification of the way I believe it’s done in Mexico, where both parents’ surnames are used (unhyphenated) but the mother’s name is last (and so is sometimes confused as the “real” last name here). I’d give my child my last name as a middle name.

  114. It’s so interesting to hear everyone’s experiences with name-changing techniques. It really all comes down to what names you both have, if they combine well together, and how important this particular name is to both of you. I always assumed I’d take my husband’s name (not married yet) and now that I’m dating a German, I think it would be cool to have his last name.

    Living over here in Germany, it’s fine – they know how to deal with the ä in Stäbler. But in the US, they wouldn’t know how to pronounce it or spell it, so then you’d end up with either Stabler or Staebler (which is the proper way to spell ä when you don’t have access to an umlaut).

    Only problem is, if I change my name to his, I’ll end up as Sarah Michelle Stäbler (I think my maiden name plus his would be too strange for me – Gilmour Stäbler is kind of a mouthful). Not a problem in itself, but then my initials are SMS, which is the commonly-used phrase for “text message” here in Europe. They’ve even made a verb of it, “simsen”! And if I shorten it to SS, that’s…well, also unfortunate, living in Germany… ;)

  115. I, like Alex, had a super common last name before I got married: Brown. I loved the sound of Morgan Donovan, and also thought it was romantic to share his name and be our own little family. I can totally see both ways though. If I had had a more interesting maiden name, I probably would have hyphenated it or just kept my own by itself!

  116. My first name is a combination of my parents first name Raymond (dad) + Deanna (mom) = Rae-anna (me). Gives me a connection to both of them without quite such a long name.
    People struggle with spelling and pronouncing my first name and my maiden name so I took my husbands’ name and kept it at one hyphen :)

  117. Anonymous says...

    I can’t WAIT to get rid of my last name – I am not the biggest fan of my father and can’t wait to get rid of his name and replace it with the name of someone I love.

  118. We took a new name completely. It flabbergasts most people, but we had surnames that neither sounded good together nor combined into a new name well.

    So when we wedded, we marched ourselves down to the courthouse and legally changed our last names to the same one (Phoenix), by reason of marriage. It’s really my last name, it’s really my husband’s last name, and now that we have a baby girl, it’s really her last name too!

    Obviously this wouldn’t work for everyone, but it satisfied our needs for egalitarianism, for symbolism of us starting a new family, and for our little family unit all having the same surname.

    And, because everyone asks, neither of our families had a problem with it, but oddly, some of our friends took a LONG time to warm up to the idea!

  119. Anonymous says...

    I guess I’m in the minority here– I am not a fan of the idea. My boyfriend has a hyphenated last name and absolutely hates it. If/when we marry, he plans on adopting his mom’s maiden name as a second middle name and will take his father’s last name. I totally understand the idea behind it and wanting to tie both families to the child, but for those of us who didn’t grow up with hyphenated last names, we don’t realize how annoying it can be. His name is always butchered…and is frustrating for him. Knowing how he feels about this, we’ll give our kids his last name and probably middles names that come from my side of the family. Simple, clean, prefer one last name OR no hyphen and just have a longer, triple name name.

  120. I was proud to take my husbands last name because I felt my first and middle name were given by my family and so taking my husbands represented my new family. In my mind, it’s a part of my old and new family perfectly.

    However, my husband’s name is hyphenated but it’s not a combination of two names at all! Par-Due is an ‘Americanized’ version of Pardeaux. They were French immigrants and changed it when they entered America. As far as we know (through extensive googling) only the members of his current extended family (couple uncles and a few cousins) actually have that name hyphenated rather than Pardue. Pretty interesting stuff.

    I would have felt a little overwhelmed as a child to have a hyphenated name or to try and understand why my parents had different last names from eachother AND me so personally I wouldn’t hyphenate my child’s name.

  121. Anonymous says...

    Why did you decide to hyphenate as opposed to giving him your last name as a middle name? I’m not traditional by any means, but it seems like it may cause he and his future wife a bit of a headache down the road. Or maybe they will just combine all their names into one family name :)

  122. Anonymous says...

    So funny! My cousin’s name is Alex Williams. I like your hyphenated choice, it sounds very handsome!

  123. Anonymous says...

    My parents didn’t give me out my sisters a middle name so when I got married I moved my maiden name to my middle name and took my husbands name as my last name. I might have been a bit bitter about the quite no last name thing but now I love it. My husband teases me that I don’t have a middle name but a ” last name in the middle position”’. It makes me crazy because hello! I have a middle name!

  124. Anonymous says...

    I think where it will get awkward is for whoever marries Toby. I have a friend who just married a guy with a hyphenated last name (both his parents last names), so now she either has to take on a double hyphenated name, if she wants to have her husband’s last name, or keep her maiden name. She can’t pick just one of the names without offending her in-laws, and also doesn’t have the option of hyphenating her maiden name, with out having three last names and two hyphens.

  125. I love the idea of giving your son two last names. I had friends who did that and the only complication comes when they want to get married. What does his wife do.. take on both names too or have a 3-name name? I guess she could keep her own name.. but if they wanted that old fashioned “family solidarity” I’m sure you guys have a good answer for that.. I’d love to hear it!

  126. I love the idea of taking my maiden name as my middle name (and my husband’s last name) when I get married. I will probably also give one of my sons my maiden name as a middle name as a way to honor my family.

  127. oh dear, there are SO MANY comments, you probably won’t see mine. I kept my last name. It is Norwegian, the name of the farm where my ancestor was a tenant farmer. =) When I moved to Seattle, I learned that it is actually a very common ZULU last name, too, which is totally neat! Every time I meet someone who is Zulu, they ask about my name and we have a cool chat. But I actually wanted to change my last name when I got married. I am sick of everyone ALWAYS mispronouncing it, hesitating, misspelling it, of always having to explain explain explain. Mostly it’s the mispronunciation. Anyways, my husband didn’t want me to take his name, because he says mine is unique – and as an academic and a writer, he thought the unique name would stand me in good stead, just like your husband. Well, I wasn’t convinced until one day some very famous Czechs (a novelist and a famous dissident) got ahold of me on the internet about some research I had been doing into part of their history under the Soviets. These people would probably NEVER have been able to find me if my name was Smith or Johnson. I finally saw the light – my husband was right. Being unique in a world of so many human beings is an incredible boon if you are someone who needs to be able to be found.

  128. I hyphenated my last name when I got married… mostly because I have a green card and didn’t want to get it replaced before I become a citizen early next year. I don’t know if we’ll hyphenate our children’s names… Joubert-Vaklyes is a mouthful for a little one.

  129. In Filipino culture, the middle name is commonly the Mom’s maiden name. So, my brother, sister, and I all have the same middle name. I like it because it honors my Mom’s side of the family.

    It’s also pretty common to have 2 first names to make up for the middle name. For example, my complete first name is Joelle Kristina, but I just go by Joelle.

    I recently got engaged and I *think* I’m going to hyphenate my last name, but I haven’t completely decided just yet :) I’m definitely going to keep the former tradition going and give my children my maiden name as their middle name, though.

  130. Hispanics use both their parent’s lastnames. I’m puertorican, to us there is no such thing as only using our dad’s lastname. Any woman here would kill their husband if they didn’t allow for their kid to use their lastname. Needless to say, I have a very long name.

  131. My wife and I got married last month and decided to create a new family name and move our maiden ones to the middle. Neither of us wanted to hyphenate and there wasn’t a great-sounding result of combining our maiden names into a new one. Instead, we used my father’s first name (he passed away five years ago, before my wife and I met) as our new last name. For both of us it was a nice way to honor family, especially since it also has Scottish origins, like both of our maidens.

    Since we’re in a same-sex relationship, I feel like we were able to more easily ‘buck tradition,’ since there aren’t any prescribed ways we’re supposed to do things.

  132. I kept my name (Luedtke…yeah, I don’t know why I kept it either) and we decided that we’d give our boys whichever last name sounded better with the first name we chose. As a result, we have one with my last name and one with Josh’s. Not confusing at all.

  133. I’ve heard of couples both changing their last names to a completely new name. Case in point: one couple changed their last name to “Forever”… and then they got divorced a few years later! :(

  134. Laura says...

    Great topic, Joanna!

    I’ve wanted to change my last name FOREVER. I’m Haertel, which is German and we pronounce is like “Hurdle” – even though it’s supposed to be pronounced with that German “haack” sound in the front…Hair-till.

    Anyway, my fiance is Italian and from Italy – Laura Di PIerro – yes! I’m excited to change it! If I had an awesome last name – and if I have a better relationship with that side of the family, I may have kept it.

    My parents divorced when I was young and my mom took back her maiden name Jackson – and there were many times where I wished that I could have been Laura Jackson Haertel…or even Laura Jackson.

    I won’t be hyphenating our children’s names because I really don’t like my last name…but I love the sound of Toby’s name, and I love Goddard! Good for you for keeping it!

  135. My husband and I both hyphenated our last names. My last name is Attwood and his is Charles, so it’s now Attwood-Charles for both! We both felt a strong connection to our families last names, but wanted to have the same family last name as well. People don’t usually say much about me hyphenating my last name, but they are always very surprised to find our my husband hyphenated his last name too! I love it! I’m so glad that we got to keep our own last names and take on our spouses last name too.

  136. My maiden name is Pregliasco and married name is Quigley, so for fun we call ourselves the Quigliascos :-)

  137. Personally I don’t really like hyphenated names, not for me (or my daughter hah) My daughters name is pretty long too- Olivia Faye Eila Wiebe. My family name means a lot to me and I would have loved for her to take it – and now it’s going to die since I’m the last one to have a baby and we decided on hubby last name. His (Wiebe) is also a very common name and rhymes with dweiebe lol so I’m worried for Olivia.
    I thought of combining our last names to be Weam – or Keibe or I don’t know lol but I really didn’t think it was a possibility? and DH wouldn’t go for it.
    We decided that if it was a girl she would take his last name and if it was a boy he’d take my last name

  138. I am very attached to my last name. I feel that when I get married I will remain a Porter. It is who I am. I don’t see myself as a “Smith” or “Jones” or whatever last name my future husband will have. I am a Porter through and through. I also have noticed that hyphenated last names are becoming more apparent. I like to think about what last names will be created when two hyphenated people get married.. I guess it will be like your high school friend… a new last name will be created.

  139. When my cousin and his wife married, they both hyphenated their last names together. It’s lovely, actually, the whole family is known as the P-Ds.

    When I married, I took my husband’s name. If I could do it over again – 14 years later! – I would keep my maiden name as a middle name. Shortly after we married we moved across the country, and I felt a bit like I left the person I had been up till then on the west coast.

    Neither of my kids carry my maiden name, but my daughter is named for my sister, and my son’s middle name is actually – wait for it – the maiden name of my husband’s paternal grandmother. (Which also happens to be my father-in-law’s name.)

  140. Although not married yet my last name is hyphenated. My dad didn’t like the idea of being another Brown (he has three other married brothers) so mom and him hyphenated ending in a name with 12 characters!! In addition they thought it would be cool to give all us kids surnames as middle names. So try to beat 3 surnames for one kid! Woho! The odd thing about me is that I look like the side of the family my middle name comes from!!!

  141. The name game is a confusing one for sure.. My husband insisted that I take his name and really never waivered from the idea. He wanted to make sure that his son carried on the legacy of the “Wilson” name.. I guess I understand but in all honesty, his parents never married and therefor his mother never gave him his fathers name. In actuality we should all be Smiths, and he hates when I call him out on that little tidbit. Him not having his fathers last name almost takes a bit away from my boys history. But I don’t care it’s just a name. I feel like as a woman giving up my name was like giving up a part of me that existed for 25 years. I’m proud to be his better half but also to be my fathers daughter and wished I hyphenated it.Either way I might have had a very presidential name Kennedy Wilson Smith…lol

  142. I had issues with taking my husbands last name (we only have girls in my family, so it would be the end of our branch of the family tree) and it seemed too odd for him to take mine. Also, I didn’t want a different surname to my children so we both changed our names to a hyphenated version. I love it, though it’s long, as we stayed true to our families as well as forming our own!

  143. Anonymous says...

    I took my husband’s last name, although for a long time while we were engaged my husband really entertained the idea (his idea) of taking my maiden name as his own. I kind of like change though and was excited to create a new signature. How ridiculous is that for a reason? :) Really though, as antiquated as it may be, it was a romantic moment when I gave up my name and in six years of marriage I haven’t regreted it at all. It’s funny to think in 30 years or so I will have had my husband’s name longer than I had my maiden name!

  144. Not only do I not intend to change my last name, I intend to give any daughters I may have my unchanged last name. I am a third generation woman with my family’s last name (my mother never changed hers, and had me as a single parent opting to give me her name rather than my birth father’s). I am proud of our accidental maternal naming tradition and fully intend to make my daughter’s a fourth generation of women who share in it. My sons will be given my partner’s last name.

  145. When we got married we joined both of our last names, so both my husband and myself have the same hyphenated name. When we had our daughter she acquired the same last name. Although it is a pain when making reservations, we love having our own family name which is grounded in the hetrtiage of both our families of origin.

  146. I like hyphenated names. I kept my maiden name but we gave both our girls my husband’s name. I kind of wish we’d gone the hyphenating route but then they would have had TWO hard-to-spell/hard-to-pronounce last names, instead of only one :) I’m still surprised at how many of my contemporaries change their names to their husbands’.

  147. I, like so many of your readers, kept my maiden name. My in-laws aren’t pleased that I didn’t change my name and I get surprised looks from my friends when they find out I’m still a Wilson, but I’m happy I stayed true to myself. I tell my husband that if we ever have a child that I’ll change my name, but I think I’m liking the idea of hyphenating or giving the child my maiden name as a middle name instead!

  148. I did the “Hilary Rodham Clinton” thing and kept my maiden name + adopted my husband’s last name. I wanted to keep both names proudly (and figured it would be easier logistically at school if I have the same last name as the rest of the family. this has been true thus far…everyone at my daughter’s school calls me “Mrs. Casey Jose”, even though “Mrs. Jose” would be fine). My grandfather was the last in our family line with the name “Mayne” (he was an only child and only had daughters), so I’ve given both my kids that name as well. So both my girls have four names (no hyphens, though: Emma Magnolia Mayne Jose and Eliza Belle Mayne Jose). Emma recently told me with great pride that she’s the only one in her class lucky enough to have FOUR names ;-)

  149. Anonymous says...

    I love all of these creative solutions to the naming thing. I just got married and was very set on keeping my name, it just felt wrong to change it. My husband and I still haven’t come to any kind of decision about a future kid’s name, though it’s something I think about all the time. Both of our names our long, so hyphenating would be a life-long punishment (and it’s unsustainable…what will the kid do?), but I feel strongly that the kid should get both names somehow without privileging one over the other. There’s no good solution!