My Biggest Wedding Question

My Biggest Wedding Question

I’d love to ask your advice…

This past May, my boyfriend and I traveled to San Francisco to celebrate my birthday. We decided to splurge on a fancy Nob Hill hotel (it was a big birthday), and the porter led us to a beautiful room on the 14th floor. My last name is Cahn, but since my boyfriend had made the reservation, every time I called the front desk I was greeted with, “What can I help you with, Mrs. Glovinsky?” I’ll admit, it filled me with a secret flash of excitement each time.

Maybe I had sensed what was about to come. That Sunday morning, as we cuddled up in our California king bed, gazing at the skyline out the window, with room service eggs on their way, my boyfriend asked me to marry him. He laughed about how he’d had the ring in his pocket the whole day before, but since we were running around the city meeting friends, the right moment had never come up. I was thankful for that — my mascara streaked face, uncontrollable grin, and blubbering ‘Yes’ was not meant for public consumption.

I’m excited about the fun wedding-y decisions ahead — flowers, food, dresses, music — but there is one question that feels more serious: Will I change my name?

My brain has now entered a googly-eyed, post-engagement state of love mush. Although I never thought I’d change my name, suddenly the idea of the two of us — and any future children — having the same team name makes my heart swell.

But on the other hand, I am proud of my name. I have been a writer for over ten years; my byline is my badge. I remember the first time I saw Megan Cahn in the masthead of a magazine. It gave me such a thrill — much more so than hearing “We’ll send your food right up, Mrs. Glovinsky.”

The majority of women in the U.S. change their name after marriage, but I understand the 20 percent or so who chose not to. I recently read an essay by a woman who had taken her husband’s last name, but changed it back two years later — even though they were still happily married. “I learned during this time that you may do something for love, but if it’s incongruent with your own values, it will resurface,” she wrote in her thought-provoking piece.

My fiancé (still feels weird to call him that!) is neutral on the subject. His mom never took his dad’s last name. No matter what I decide, it will be my choice. And it’s nice to know, I can always change my mind.


I’d love to know: Will (or did) you change your last name after getting married? Would you hyphenate your name? What about your kids’ names?

P.S. 15 wedding dos and don’ts, and the most amazing wedding readings.

(Photo by Leon.)

  1. Lisa says...

    With all my heart, I wish I’d kept my name. I grieved it when I got married but didn’t really understand all the reasons why. When I hear someone call me by my maiden name, I feel most known, most understood. Maybe I will change it back or hyphenate it when I go back to work (I’ve been a stay at home mom for 6 years.) Lately, I hear myself lamenting how flippantly I changed my name.

  2. Christina says...

    When we got married we both changed our last names to my husband’s mother’s maiden name, a name we both liked better than either of our own surnames. It still feels great 16 years later, we are a unit and we both changed our names when this unit formed.

  3. Courtney says...

    I’m getting married in August and will change my name. I don’t feel like I NEED to change my last name but I’ve never felt super connected to my dad’s side of the family (although I adore my dad). And if last names signify belonging, my fiancé is the person I chose to belong to while my father’s name was given to me, so it can be a sort of empowering choice to change your name, I think. Plus, my last name is MacLellan which is impossible for many people to spell or pronounce and it drives me crazy when the first L doesn’t get capitalized. His name is easy to spell! :)

    • Su says...

      I respect this idea of a name reflecting belonging; however, if your fiance in turn “belongs” to you, has this question of changing his name to your’s also come up? If not, I think there is something very telling about equality there.

  4. Omaya says...

    For many wonderful reasons, I kept my last name when I got married. That was an easy decision. My name is mine and his is his, and our union is based on so much more than a common name between us. However, we still can’t figure out what we want to do if we have a child. All we know is that it will never be acceptable for us to use his name just because he is the male in our relationship.

  5. Caitlin Lee says...

    Late addition here!
    The only thing about this conversation that still bugs me is that tradition dictates it’s a burden that women must bear. I mean, come on! One more thing to add to our decision making over riddled brain.

    So yeah, come one men! Start thinking about changing your name and how it impacts your family.

    It should be obvious from above, I totally kept my name and my son has my last name too. He has a double barreled last name with both our names, and no hyphen. That was super important to me that he have my name too.

  6. Mari says...

    I’m reading the entire blog, so I’m commenting on vert old stuff. Anyways… I didn’t take my husbands name but in Brazil is a little bit easier. Everyone have the mother AND father family names. So my name is Mariana Verdun (mother) de Aquino (father). If I went with the traditional way, I would either lose my mother’s name, leaving my father’s name in the middle and adding my father-in-law family name at the end or, I would only add it at the end, so: Mariana Verdun de Aquino Harten (father in law family name) or Mariana Aquino Harten. Since we never have only ONE last name, even when you take your husband’s last name, you still keep one of your original last names. So people with small names have only 2, but it’s super common for people to have 3, 4 last names… It’s not ignored and normally people choose which name to me called, without necessarily being the last name… I’ve always used my mother’s name the most and my father is super ok with it. For someone used to be called by the father’s name, adding the husband’s name still allows you to be called as you ever were. And after marriage, it’s not really a drama about not having the same name as your kids, because here every kid take both parent’s names and I think this makes much more sense!

  7. Courtney says...

    I’m quite struck by the number of people who think that ‘feminism’ means ‘taking the female side of a situation’ . It really just means ‘being accepted as equal’. If you and your husband have an equal choice to keep or change your surnames, then great. If you think that being a ‘team’ or a ‘unit’ means that one of you has to take the other person’s surname, that’s fine – but there should be a fair discussion about whose name gets chosen. As a young person, I would really like the future to be about equal choice and equal opportunity.

  8. Amber J says...

    I adore having my husband’s last name. Honestly, sometimes it comes down to this: We can be both at work and somehow start battling it out over text message, making it so that I don’t even want to meet him for lunch anymore. Then, I see my nametag in a mirror, or catch my email signature, and I remember: I vowed to this man whose name I’ve claimed that I would honor and love him, that I would represent him with dignity, that I would “do” for better or for worse. I have many, many reasons for taking his name, but this one seems to show up the most. It’s a sacred reminder of the vows I gave him on our wedding day, and I’m accountable to them.

  9. MBT says...

    Congratulations! I’ve been married for 10.5 years, and decided at the outset to keep my name. My husband didn’t care one way or the other, and I had a few reasons to stick with my name: (1) I liked the idea of keeping my family name alive for a little longer (there aren’t any boys in my generation); (2) I’ve always gone by my middle name, so turning my maiden name into a new middle name wasn’t really an option; and (3) my husband’s last name is long and not exactly a feast for the ears. When it came time to have kids, I discovered another plus: since we gave our two boys his last name, I feel I had a little extra say in their first and middle names (over and above the influence one has as a result of carrying them for TEN MONTHS). Now that they’re getting older, I sometimes get teased for not being a member of the boys’ club in our house, but I suspect that would happen regardless of last names (!), and I also like that they’re aware of my different last name and ask questions about my ancestors who shared it.

  10. Audrey says...

    My fiancé and I got engaged on the 15th of May this year and your post was so exciting to read as we have a very similar engagement story. Breakfast engagements are the best.

    I’ve always known I wanted to keep my name, as an only child and the daughter of an only son, I’m the last one in my family to carry the name. It’s also the name of my parents’ bakery that they have had for thirty years and a huge part of my identity in my community. My fiancé and I had discussed this before we got engaged and we’ve agreed our children will carry my name instead of his. He loves the name too and it means baby boy in French so what’s not to love? There are no rules anymore! You have to do what feels right to you and there’s never any shame in changing your mind!

  11. Su says...

    Having recently gotten engaged myself, this is an issue I’ve encountered to an undesirable degree because it is assumed that I will change my name. I have felt very strongly about this for a long time, especially there are no male relatives to carry on our family surname, and aside from that, no explain should be needed as why one’s name is important to them and identity generally (also, I love my name). I know it is a very personal decision but men are not expected to change their name and in most conversations around marriage, the burden is on the women to decide. To me, this is a highly unequal situation no matter how equal your marriage and other decisions. If this question is not being posed to my to-be husband, than it is not a question for me either. I don’t consider this “feminist” – if it is normal for half the population to never consider changing their name, than that should be the standard for the other half as well. Also consider that there are many women who have kept their names – doesn’t really seem to impact married life as much as people think it does. Lastly, not to sound like a downer, but I don’t understand women who feel excited by changing their name. Perhaps you were never attached to it anyway, but it never made sense to me to be attached to someone else’s name either.

    I dream of passing my name onto my children, but alas, that one will take more time (I don’t believe in maiden names as middle names, hyphenation, and what not for your children – it largely gets ignored and the emphasis is still on changing rather than retaining).

    I could write a book on this.

    • Kara says...

      hear, hear!!!

  12. Hannah says...

    I got married a month and a half ago and I really didnt want to change my name,in my culture (Afrikaans) it is a bit frowned apon by the older generation if you dont take your husbands name but my husband was not phased at all and said he supports me either way. We got married at the court house a few days before our reception and in the moment I said yes when the lady asked me if I would be taking his name. I felt weird about it. Very weird. I also had a minor panic attack later that day. BUT…a few weeks later I actually feel good about it, I want us to be a “unit” and even though I havent legally changed a thing yet, I have changed my name on social media and I think that feels like the biggest step of them all, lame, but true. Good luck, but my advice: Do you!

  13. I changed my name when I got married and I was proud to do it. My husband and I have started a life together and I want everyone of us, kids and all, to have the same last name. I love him and I love identifying my name with his. I don’t feel like this is “anti-feminist” because it is what my husband and I chose together for our family and what happens in our marriage isn’t anyone else’s business. It’s hard to get used to, but I do love it.

  14. Michelle says...

    I constantly struggle with this as I’m getting closer and closer to marriage! Its something my boyfriend and I discuss alot. He was totally willing to take my last name, but he has the same name as my brother – which is confusing enough already without them having the same first AND last name! And if I take his last name I’m scared to be labeled anti-feminist. We’re considering combining our names into a new a name but our names don’t really mesh well… its a stressful decision! I think the fact that there’s so many opinions and judgements no matter what you choose is anti-feminist. We should be able to choose whatever we want – including the traditional way – and not be judged for it.

  15. Alyssa says...

    I had always planned on changing my name, if only because I had never thought about it before. I was 22 when I got engaged, and doesn’t that say so much about the culture we grow up in? It wasn’t until I arrived at the office to pick up our marriage certificate that I panicked and said, “No way can I change my name right now! Maybe later!” Well it’s been 4.5 years, and my name has stuck.
    The number one question I get from others is what we will do about naming our kids. I would say that I have an answer, but I panicked at the last minute 4.5 years ago; whose to say what we’ll do when we have babies someday? But as far as what our children do when they grow up, that’s completely up to them, just like my decision was up to me.

  16. Stephanie says...

    Congrats on your engagement! Sounds like it was the perfect kind of romance for you :)

    This topic is so loaded, and I’ve been paralyzed by the decision. In the two years my husband and I have been married, I still haven’t changed my name because I can’t decide (which, I suppose, IS making a decision). I love the idea of being Team OneName representing our unity. And sharing a name with our future children. BUT.

    My husband and I lived together as the MyName-HisName family for six years before getting married (plus the three years of dating before living together AND plus the two years we’ve been married, so 11 total), so it seems weird to all of a sudden be the just HisName family.

    “…you know you’re not keeping YOUR name, but your father’s name, right? The patriarchy still wins! ” YES!! I feel damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

    I’m not particularly connected to the heritage/family of my maiden name, and yes, it is my father’s name so Go Patriarchy while I keep it. However, I identify even LESS with the heritage/family of his name, even after all the years we’ve been together, and my maiden name is still part of my identity. But then I wonder if am I taking my identity too seriously?

    Let’s say hypothetically our family adopts a new naming convention where I keep my name and he keeps his and the kids’ names are hyphenated. What will our kids do when they get married? Especially if the person they marry has a hyphenated last name? Do their kids have a four-name hyphenated last name? That just seems silly.

    My husband supports whatever decision makes me happiest. He tells me that he wouldn’t change his name because it is too much work and I shouldn’t bother. When I check out the name change services like HitchSwitch to make it easier and see all the testimonial pictures of women with their kits, I feel deep frustration bubble up about the expectation that I SHOULD change my last name. Why aren’t men equally expected to change their last names? I just can’t go through with it.

    So for now I keep my last name. And still I’m open to changing my mind in the future. And I judge no one else for their own decisions for what they do.

  17. Jess says...

    Fascinating. All of these comments. I love hearing the different stories. I’m getting married in two weeks and at this point – no plans to change my last name. I like my last name and it feels right with me. I like that our last names are where we come from, and moving forward, our first names with an “&” between them is where we are going.

    That being said – I don’t mind at all that people will assume we have the same last name and refer to us as the P——‘s. Totally fine with that. It’s sweet.

    I’ll see how I feel after being married and if I change my mind – I’ll change my mind because I AM A GROWN ASS LADY AND I DO WHAT I WANT.

  18. Colleen says...

    I changed my name – my maiden name comes with loads of baggage – but didn’t change my title. Instead I use Ms instead of Mrs. For some reason it really bothered me to be defined by a title… Now we that we have kids though I’m not quite as bothered!

  19. Verena says...

    First of all, congratulations on your engagement! I loved reading your perspective on the name thing. I did change my name, mainly for aesthetic reasons – I never liked my own last name and was thankful for the chance to get a new one. My husband and I wanted to have the same last name, and we discussed openly about which one of our last names to pick. We are from Berlin, Germany, and I feel like while it’s still pretty common here to decide on one name for both partners, it’s not always the women wo change their names anymore. For feminist reasons, I felt terrible about changing my name, but I also think that the true gift and freedom and what I am really grateful for is the opportunity to choose which name to take.

  20. Kelly says...

    My wife and I took each other’s last name to create a new hyphenated name. Now we have the same hyphenated name and I love it. Rather than giving up my own history and identity, I feel like we were able to add each other to our own- and we still have the same team name. It feels like the best of both worlds!

  21. Susan Baird says...

    I love having team name with my family and I consider it such a luxury as I grew up with all different last names from parents and it was messy and annoying.
    I was not at all attached to my maiden name so even if I hadn’t got married I would have changed it anyway.
    You can also have “Professional Name” and “Social name”
    . Miss manners has a good bit on making this work logistically. and I think it nicely separates work and home life- like George Elliot.
    Good luck- either way you’ll be fine.

  22. Nykole says...

    I never considered changing my last name and wouldn’t. My last name is central to who I am, and it’s very hard for me to us understand the impulse to change it.

    Our three children have hyphenated last names: His-Mine. I love their names, and we live in a progressive small college city, so plenty of friends are also hyphenated. The hyphenated name is sort of our “team name,” but we both get to be the coaches! (I’m terrible
    With sports analogies!)

  23. Kodi says...

    I gladly and excitedly took my husband’s last name. My parents divorced when I was two and my mom remarried my amazing stepdad when I was four, so all my memories are of having a different last name than my family. I have a relationship with my dad, but it’s not a close one, so I’ve never felt attached to my maiden name. As a teenager, when I was particularly frustrated with my father, I actually asked my mom about changing it to the same as her and my stepdad. She gently told me that it would hurt my dad to do so, and I agreed, thankful now for that advice. My husband and I have no current plans for children, but I’m glad to have a team name, even if it’s just with him!

  24. Jennifer Sage says...

    I was delighted to change my name. Reilly has at least half a dozen spellings and people made assumptions about me based on the surname which were inaccurate. My now surname is Sage and we have a number plate on our car 2SAGES. It was also the French for midwife (sage femme) which identified my profession!!!1 sometimes a new surname has nothing to do with feelings for your intended!!!!!

  25. Jennifer says...

    I am a bit old-fashioned, so I did take my husband’s name. I kept my maiden name as well though, partly because I am one of three girls and didn’t want it to go away in the next generation. For me, it feels like a way of honoring my husband, and also is a symbol of the new life and new family that we began the day we took our vows. I am a writer as well, and used both last names on my byline for several years, but have since dropped my maiden name (for the insignificant reason that I just don’t prefer they way the sound together – they are very similar).

  26. I got married this May, and after some consideration, I decided to keep my last name. Why? A few reasons:
    1. Whenever I’ve see friends on Facebook change their names after getting married, I have a knee-jerk feminist reaction of disappointment – “you are your own person!” I think. As much as I like the idea of one family name for me, my husband, and our future kids, I couldn’t stand to be on the other side of that FB name change.
    2. My husband’s mom kept her maiden name, AND passed it on to her two sons. In part because of this, and because he too is a big feminist, my husband told me that while of course it was ultimately my decision, he would prefer for me to keep my name.
    3. The final straw for me was searching my existing name and my potential new name on Facebook – I am currently the only one with my name on Facebook, but there are a whole bunch of people with my first name and my husband’s last name. That just sealed it for me.

    Congratulations, and good luck!

  27. Claire says...

    I took my ex-husband’s name, as I had no real ties to my maiden name. I had never known my father, and his dad and family were really great. After the divorce I’ve kept the name, and probably won’t ever be changing it. I no longer care for the ex, but I’ll always love his family even though I’ll most likely never see them again. And Miller is solid.

  28. Juliana says...

    I just got married this June and both my husband and I hyphenated.

    He loves having a new last name that reflects our marriage and I love that my professional and personal identity is maintained while still having a “team name,” as you say. It was the perfect mix of feminism and creating a new family for us.

  29. I kept my name, with no argument from now-husband. Our son has his dad’s last name and my last name as a second middle name. It makes him sound *Super* regal. Husband is on board to do it the opposite way with the next kid, but if it’s a girl it would be odd, since his last name can also be a man’s first name.
    Naming our kiddo was a very informed decision, as I worked at a school when I was pregnant and worked directly with the registrar database & saw how multi-last-named kids and other people around them used their names. People still get really confused by hyphens, or lack thereof, when there are two names involved.

  30. Meghan says...

    Until that question is asked equally of men and women, I couldn’t imagine ever changing my name. (Thanks, Lucy Stone, for being brave enough in 1855 to make that choice, when more than a woman’s name was given up upon marriage!)

    • Su says...

      Wholeheartedly agree.

    • justine says...


  31. Abby says...

    We both changed our names to a new third name. Our two daughters share our new surname. We also both took our old names (our “maiden” names, so yes, my husband has a maiden name!) as our new middle names, but my husband really liked his middle name before, so now he has two middle names.

    I think I noted this on the post from 2012 that you linked to here too, ha.

  32. Melanie Price says...

    My maiden name is Fails. No joke. So yes, I took my husbands name.

    I was 29 when I took the marriage plunge so being older I was very proud of my name (even though it has a negative connotation to it). So I guess that is the reason why I waited six months to change it. But seriously…Fails?

    No professor was ever as clever as he (or she) thought they were when the jokes came a-rollin’ on the first days of class in college. I heard EVERY joke in the book.

  33. Gigi says...

    I loved my maiden name and my middle name and I didn’t want to replace one with the other. It took me 2.5 years after we married to make a decision about my name change and I wasn’t really feeling the whole hyphen thing.

    I learned that in my husband’s country, women keep their maiden name on paper but socially go by the format “maiden name + de + husband’s last name” example: “Kramer de Godiva” For some reason, I really liked that idea! So I changed my official last name to this format.

    I still get compliments about how “beautiful” my last name is and that is always flattering but after 8 years of marriage, I dread when people ask to look me up by my last name. No one ever gets it right. They misspell it or ignore certain components, I often get alphabetized in the “D” or “G” but if they were correct it should be in the “K” section.

    Sometimes I wish that I never changed my name because it is such a pain but I have never met anyone else with it! If I could do it all again, I would just keep my maiden name and have our children go with the hyphened Godiva-Kramer. Let them make the choice when they are adults.

  34. Natalie says...

    I moved my maiden name to my middle name (I didn’t have a middle name to begin with) and took his last name. I wanted to have the same last name as our future children. Also my maiden name is long and difficult but I love it, and his last name is easy so there were some perks to that as well.

    • I also did this – changed my maiden name to a middle name and took his last name (no hyphen, I just use his last name). I always thought I would use my own last name when I married, but changed my mind because I decided I loved sharing a family name. Almost 20 yrs later, I am still happy with that choice.

  35. Raquel says...

    Something I wish I had known when I changed my name… if you change your name to be hyphenated, you can legally go by either name (or both).

    • Laura says...

      I have a hyphenated last name but choose to go by just one half of my last name professionally (keeps things easier)

      While legally this may be true, in practice a hyphenated name can be a pain in the butt mostly because people don’t know what to do with it. I was on a business trip to a small town in the middle of nowhere, and the TSA agent wouldn’t let me through security because the name on my drivers license didn’t 100% match the name on my ticket (unintended mistake by my admin). The rest of my coworkers o was traveling with went through security like a breeze, while I almost missed my flight while the TSA agent and her manager had a powwow about whether I should be allowed through or not.

  36. April says...

    I didn’t change my last name. Neither did my husband. People still call me Mrs. Bourgon and I secretly hate it when it’s someone I know. I love my last name. It’s my identity. I just couldn’t ever be anyone but April Overall. But I hear you on the team name front. We came up with a little inside joke team name – The Bourgalls. We even had our front door wreath hanger inscribed with our name on it. It’s our team name. It’s not legal and it doesn’t have to be but honestly I’d be thrilled to send out Christmas cards with it. I’m glad that you don’t feel pressure to change your last name. If you decide to keep your last name, people will ask you “Omg what about your children!???!!!!” in this panicked ridiculous way. One woman in my office asked me every single time I saw her. The same question. On repeat for like a year. My answer was, “Well I’m going to have smart children so it probably won’t be a problem.” And truthfully there are so many divorced couples with children I don’t know how it EVER COULD be an issue in this day and age. I think you should do whatever brings your heart joy and whatever allows you to stay true to your own beliefs and values. :) Congratulations!!

  37. Rachel says...

    I got married two years ago and changed my name to his. I wanted the unity of being on the same team (especially now that baby is on the way!). I still use my maiden name at work as I’m in the same company, but will change to my married name at my next job. I didn’t want to hyphenate and create a new name – “breaking” the family tree line on both sides. It took some time to get used to (I’m not sure I’m used to it yet!), and I felt a bit lost for a few months – almost grieving for my old name.

    But I’ve now come to realise that you don’t cease to exist as the previous name – I feel like I have two names now! I love that my husband and I have the same name, I love that it makes me feel closer to his family, but at the same time, my maiden name is so familiar – like an comfy old jumper – so I smile when I get post addressed to that name, and I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything – my relationship with my family isn’t weakened by having a different name to them. Although it does make me laugh when I’m called Mrs. Maiden Name – that just sounds wrong! :D

  38. Michelle says...

    I always thought I’d hyphenate, but then I fell in love with someone with a crazy last name, and it was my impossible Dutch name plus his impossible German name, so I felt I needed to chose. I feel all the same feelings most women do about the injustice of women being the ones who change their names, however I surprised myself by deciding to take his name. I wanted us to be one, and three kids later, I love that we ALL share the same name. That said, his name is German and both sides of my family were imprisoned by the Germans during World War II and suffered greatly at their hands. I have nothing against Germans now, but it does feel strange sometimes that MY name is German. So, it’s not perfect.

    I have one set of friends who created a new last name by combining parts of their former last names. Now they and their child all share a name that is truly theirs, truly a combination of both. You lose that line to your ancestors but you also create something special and new, and both sides give something up. Beautiful, no?!

    Good luck deciding!

  39. Yazi says...

    I am not married nd I wouldn’t change my name if I did. But then again, in my country women don’t do that. The practice of taking one’s husband’s last name in the West seems a little too much like ownership to me. A sort of “Mine, don’t touch” verbal sign.

  40. Three things:

    1. I took my husband’s last name and am cool with it.
    2. A German couple we know who live in Munich: The husband took his wife’s last name. He couldn’t wait to get rid of his name Zitzmann, which means teat man. Hers is Herzog, which means duke. Can you blame him?
    3. We know a man and wife who decided to both change their last names to a new name they chose: Wolf.

  41. Erin S says...

    I changed my last name to my husbands name. I’m glad I did because I like us having the same name, and I didn’t have that much of a connection to my maiden name, which is very common and didn’t really reflect my heritage. I will say I found the whole process to be a huge pain. I was constantly discovering places where I needed to update my name, and sometimes the most simple things were the most complicated – like your frequent flyer numbers! I had to send letters to the airlines with copies of our marriage license just so I wouldn’t lose my airline miles!

  42. Sarah says...

    I changed my name when I got married in 2010: two last names (mine then his), no hyphen. This gave me the option to go by either name or by both. It’s been a pain. I wanted the solidarity–to be on the same “team” too, but my husband (who I adore) wasn’t and isn’t interested in taking my name, and after six years of marriage I feel like there’s not much need for me to have his name if he’s not taking mine too. I just started a new job and am happy to be going by my maiden name only. It’s my name, my identity, no long story or explanation needed. Man, does it get tiring having to explain the simplest thing about you–your name.

  43. Joanna says...

    It has always bothered me that only the woman is generally “expected” to change her name, which stems from when she had been viewed as a transfer of property from her father to her husband. I would have changed my name if my husband also wanted to change to also have mine (hyphenated or together) but he didn’t want to. That’s definitely fine, but I decided not to just change mine. It is a huge part of who I am and my identity. As for the future children, they will have both of our names. We now already sign things “The My Name His Name Family.” It is a true blend of our families to become a new one and I love it.

    • Sarah says...

      I couldn’t agree more. If he doesn’t want to change his name, why you should you?

  44. Michela says...

    This is so timely. I got married six weeks ago and, as of today, have officially changed my last name.

    I’m just commenting to say that I was surprisingly emotional about the whole process. I cried on my way home from the social security office last week- out of nowhere! It felt, in a very visceral way, like I was moving away from my family and towards my husband’s. I wanted to mention it here because I thought I was crazy to feel so emotional, yet I asked around with my married friends who changed their names and they all felt the same way; but until asking, I had never heard anyone discuss how hard it can be to make the transition.

    The added complication is that my husband is Dutch, so our last name is very Dutch. My first name and maiden name is Italian. I’m very proud of my heritage and it’s a huge part of my identity. Now I feel weirdly tied to this Dutch identity I know very little about. When I give people my new last name, we inevitably end up talking about my husband and his heritage and how he came here, so I feel a bit lost in his narrative. It has certainly been an adjustment.

    All of that being said, I’m happy I changed my name. My husband is the only person in his family who lives in this country. We live more than 2,000 miles away from Amsterdam, so having a second person with his name living here means so much to him (though he would never admit it). Language is so important to both of us, so the shift towards being a family with the same last name has been noticeable. Even still, it’s been a difficult transition and I hope in reading this that others in my position will feel less alone.xo

    Tl;dr- even if you’re confident about changing your last name, the process can be surprisingly emotional and sad. You aren’t alone!xo

    • Hi Michela!
      Your comment made me smile. My husband’s last name is Dutch as well- Wielenga, and I took it when we got married. I liked the idea of it seeming like a “team name,” like we’re partners. But I experienced something similar to you, in that when people hear the name, the assume I’m Dutch and then we get caught up in his family’s narrative… which is fine, definitely not the worst thing, but sometimes it feels funny because it’s not my narrative. I still sometimes don’t pronounce it correctly. (shrug.) I’m working on it! :) Still glad I took it, but it was definitely an adjustment.

  45. I took my husband’s last name, it’s a lovely name. It felt strange at first, but I’m glad I took his, so when we have children, we’ll all have the same. I kept my maiden last name as my middle name, and it is still my business name, so I still feel connected to it.

  46. Vivian says...

    I love how you called having a common family name, a Team Name.
    I will take my fiance’s last name when we marry, but I will keep mine as a middle name.
    My cousin’s husband took her last name when they married, something that I really love!
    Another option is to, which I will probably do with any future children, use both last names as the Team Name(s). In Norway, where I am from, this is quite common.

  47. Emily says...

    It’s such a personal choice, though understandably people continue to have strong opinions and judgments. I tacked my husband’s last name onto mine (separated by a space, no hyphen) for a couple of reasons.

    First, when I was 12 and my parents divorced my mother contemplated changing her last name back and asked me what I thought. It broke my heart to think about having a different last name from her. Perhaps it never would have bothered me if it were that way from birth, but this feeling always stuck with me. So, when I married, I decided I wanted to have a single family name shared by my husband, our kids, and me.

    It helps that he has a really cool last name and honestly, I think there’s nothing wrong with the decision coming down to who has the better last name.

    Also, having the same last name makes certain logistics so. much. easier! For example, it’s just much easier to take care of each other’s business (like dealing with utilities companies and other accounts that are in the other person’s name, changing airline itineraries, picking up packages, etc.) because it’s clear we are married.

    Second, opting to add his last name to mine, rather than replacing mine entirely or hyphenating the names allows me to drop either last name at my convenience. I feel proud of the work I’ve done to get to the point I am in my career, so I wanted to retain my name. So professionally, I just use my maiden name. In fact, although my HR department obviously knows my full legal name, no one in my office does. Conversely, I often sign up for things just using his name because my apostrophe in my name can create headaches.

  48. Keegan says...

    Of course this is a personal decision for everyone and I don’t judge anyone for doing what you want, but I am seeing a lot of slightly negative posts (feeling sorry for us? what?) for those of us who chose to change our last names so here’s why I did it. First of all, you don’t “lose yourself” in any way by changing your name. I’m still the same person I always was and I still strongly identify with my maiden name, just because I don’t use it on paper doesn’t mean it’s not still a part of me. After all, changing my last name didn’t magically make me English rather than Swedish. In terms of history, we combine last names when we marry because it cuts out a TON of confusion over family lines (I’m not saying it fixes all issues, but look at some of your ancestors from another country several generations back and try to figure out who’s related) and in addition to that there are cultures that take the woman’s last name, there are cultures that take the name of their town as their last name, etc. To me personally I felt like it was my way of creating my own family out from under the umbrella of the family I grew up in. I adore my family, but I like being different. My husband didn’t care one way or the other if I took his last name, in fact neither of his brothers wives took their husbands last name, but I love my new last name just as much as my birth one and now that we have children I love that we all have that common bond. To each her own, but don’t feel sorry for me for taking my husbands last name, I chose it on purpose and I’m damn proud of it.

  49. Maria says...

    Having already gone through the process of a legal name change for a reason unrelated to marriage, I wouldn’t do it again. The primary reason is that I like my last name, but changing it on every legal document AGAIN would be a total nightmare. I’d consider it if faced with the prospect of a really awesome new last name though. The children can have the father’s name; no strong preference there.

  50. I did not change my last name because it’s distinctive and it’s mine. Growing up, I knew I would never change my name if I got married; I didn’t see the point (although I do like the idea of a family name; I just don’t see why it should be the man’s name–why not the woman’s?).

    It was never an issue until we had our son. He has my partner’s mom’s maiden name (Elliott) as his first name, my partner’s last name as his middle name, and my last name.

    • Joanna says...

      Love it! We will also use both our names for our future children (we both kept our last names).

  51. Nope. Didn’t change my name, don’t frankly understand why anyone would. I love my husband, but I am my own person. I never say anything to my friends for their decisions, but it always secretly makes me sad to see my friends (who are by that time usually in their 30s) give up their names.

    Not sure what we will do when we have kids, but I’m leaning toward one last name as a middle name, and the other last name as the last name.

  52. Jori says...

    Congrats! We ended up with a great solution – I changed my last name but my husband also changed his middle name to my maiden name. So now we both have the same middle and last names which is something we will probably carry down to our kids. I am particularly attached to my maiden name since I work in a family business, so I still go by that at work. (Also, typing “maiden name” so many times makes me realized how lame that phrase is!)

    • This is a great solution! I have also been thinking about the term “maiden name”. So weird!

    • Christina B says...

      We did the same! It felt like the best fit for both of us, and we both got to experience the excitement (and, frankly, the royal pain-in-the-ass) of changing our legal names. We expect to pass it down to our children too.

    • Joanna says...

      I love this idea. Very creative. ?

  53. Laura says...

    My vote goes to: Don’t change your name. It’s a tradition that should have been forgotten long time ago, imho.

    • Tis says...

      I’m a feminist, and I’ve got any woman’s back who wants to do anything. That said, my heart really does drop when I see a woman change her name to her husband’s. Ugh. Makes me sad and angry. BUT I’ll forever smile and say, “You sound excited! I’m happy for you.”

    • OMG yes. I can’t wait for this to go the way of history.

      And pretty please, can the fax machine also just die in a fire already?

  54. Kate says...

    I changed my name when I got married last year, although it ended up being a more difficult decision than I thought it would be (and I’ll admit that there may be a few credit cards and mailings with my maiden name still on them). My husband and I were both excited to share a last name as we began our own little family, but it felt so strange to alter my whole identity after thirty years.

    In the end, I’m glad I did it, although I can see why so many women today keep their name. I think it’s wonderful that today, women can really do whatever the heck they want.

    Professionally, I used both names (unhyphenated) for a while to build up recognition of my new name, and now just use my married name. This helped me in terms of name recognition at work, but also ended up being a nice way for me personally to get used to my new name.

  55. Molly Sarah says...

    I did not take my husband´s last name when we got married even though at the time I did not feel strongly about it one way or the other. Every once in a while he jokes about me taking his name and I know that some part of him would actually like it if I did. My last name is easier to say and I feel proud of my family and where I have come from. Our kids have my last name as a middle name and share a last name with my husband. I feel more certain now than I did 12 years ago that I made the right choice for me.

  56. Firstly, congratulations!
    My husband and I recently married, so I’ve been in your position. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do but what it really comes down to is what you want.
    I chose to take my husband’s last name (Sweet). When filing the paperwork for social security, I noticed I had the option of changing my middle name. I decided to switch my middle name to my maiden name. To me my father’s surname means more to me than a name my parents chose to give me after a relative I’ve never met.
    This way I could have both without the complication of having a hyphenated last name (as a teacher and licensed professional, hyphenation always makes things more challenging).
    Whichever way, it’s your choice.
    Best Wishes

    • Anna says...

      I did this as well. I don’t think I changed my name legally until 6 months after I got married (6 years ago now). The fact that my passport was expiring and we were going out of the country forced the issue. Sometimes I have regretted changing it (my maiden name was unique and distinct and no one will carry on the name because my generation is all girls. My married name is common. One perk is never having to spell it out though – for reservations over the phone, etc.). I now have a son and he’s only a baby so I’m not sure if it would’ve caused issues (with school, etc) if we were to have different names, but I guess I am glad to have the same name as him. He has my grandfather’s first name as a middle name, so I feel like my lineage is represented somewhat.

  57. Tessa says...

    My advice to you is to take the question seriously. It’s amazing how much strength, accountability and comfort a name can provide. The trick is picking the name that will most provide those things to you?