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Will You Change Your Name After Your Wedding?

By admin on November 16th, 2006 6 comments

Register My fiance has a very unusual, hard-to-spell-and-pronounce surname. Ever since we got engaged, people have been joking with me about what it’ll be like to take on his name, but luckily it’s not going to be a problem for me – I’m just not going to do it.

The decision has nothing at all to do with the name itself. (I find it comes in handy when telemarketers call and can’t pronounce it. "Sorry!" we say cheerfully, "No one by that name here!") It’s purely a personal thing, and there are three main reasons why I don’t want want to change:

1. I’ve had my own name for a long time now, and I’m used to it. It would seem very strange, and quite sad, to loose it now, and I think I’d feel like a little bit of my identity had gone. Silly, really, because I’m still the same person no matter what people want to call me, but that’s how I feel.

2. I’m lazy. Changing my name would involve sending my marriage certificate to dozens of companies and government departments, and honestly? I can’t be bothered.

3. I’m a writer, who has always published by work under my own name. That’s the name I’m "known" by, and while I could always keep my own name for work, and change my name for everything else, I suspect I’m too scatter-brained for that to work well. If there’s anyone who could ever forget their own name, that person is me…

So, the decision has been made – or at least, I think so. If I’m honest, there’s a part of me that really likes the idea of becoming "Mrs Hisname", and I’m still vaguely toying with that option of my name for work/his name for other things. Oh, the indecision!

What’s everyone else doing about this? Keeping your own name or taking his? I know there are quite a few people now who take a different route altogether, and either both change their names to something else, or go double-barrelled, incorporating both surnames. Seems a good idea to me (although probably not one we’d consider ourselves): I’ve always thought it seemed unfair that the woman is expected to change her name, while the man doesn’t. What do you think?

  • Calyx

    Aaaaah! The torment! Seven weeks to go, I have to make a decision! If I change my name, I will:

    1. Develop a new identity. Makes me feel a little like a secret agent, which is good.
    2. Lose my old identity, which will be both good and bad.
    3. Possibly be able to use my old name for professional purposes, which is good.

    If I don’t change my name, I will;

    1. Stay myself, which seems only natural.
    2. Suffer millions of questions from my future children about why we don’t have the same name.
    3. Possibly be accused of kidnapping my own children, which is what happened to a Norwegian woman going on holiday to France, as her children had a different name.
    4.Suffer the embarrassment of my husband and in-laws for the rest of my life. Different culture, they will never understand that a woman might keep her maiden name. Not to mention passport control. Ouch.

    All in all, it seems not changing my name will lead to a lot of hassle. My point is, it depends what you do for a living, and what kind of man you are marrying. Not messing up your career seems like a powerful motive to keep things as they are, and is also something most people will understand.
    Personally, I have been scoffing at women who use both names for years (there are some truly silly combinations out there), and now it seems I will join them. However, I don’t think mine will be too silly.

  • No way I’m changing my surname. I’m a right on feminist! Having said that, I’ve mellowed since my student days and and I’m not going to care if I get lumped in as Mr & Mrs [hisname] at parent-teacher meetings etc. I’m always feel a little bit disappointed when a friend changes her name. I feel a bit sad – like they no longer exist. And I find it irksome that some women are so proud of their name change – like they’re still living in Jane Austen’s day when being married meant you moved up a few places at the dinner table.

    Calyx, I don’t think your future kids will find it odd – by the time they’re old enough to think about it, it will have become much more accepted (plus, loads of parents aren’t even married these days). And you could always give your children your surname (as my friend has done recently – mainly because her husband’s surname is Hore!)

    The only downside to my decision is that my boyfriend’s surname is really rare – his family are the only ones with it in the UK – whereas mine is very common. The thought of being the only one with my name in the country certainly does appeal to me!

  • Laura

    I kept my name when I married, and it continues to confound telemarketers to this day. No, there’s no Mrs. Hislastname! Nope, no Mr. Mylastname, so sorry. Toodles!

    Oddly enough, I hate my last name, but I still couldn’t change it. It felt too much like…changing me. And I like me, and me is who my husband fell in love with, and so me I am going to stay.

    Am I worried about questions from my future children? No. They’ll ask, and I can just say that Mommy has the same last name as Grandma and Grandpa.

  • Emmao414

    Just on the kids point of view, I’m not married yet, but have a 4 year old son. From no age we told him his mummy and daddys names, so if he’s lost or something he can tell people. He normally just calls me Mummy Emma, but recently he’s been talking about marriage so I told him if I married daddy I would be Emma J instead of Emma O. And he didnt want that to happen! Then he ask if i married him (my son) would I be Emma J. I said Yes. And that just confused him.

    Kids are either too young to understand names and their meanings, and if they are old enough, then tell them the truth, and they’ll understand. Only problems will occur if other kids start making a big deal about it.

    I’ll take my partners name. Cos people can sometimes pre-judge me on my name alone.


  • Katie, Terry has a very rare second name too – his family are the only ones in the UK to have it, and it’s quite a famous name in Greece, which is quite cool. He would never consider changing his name (and actually, neither would most of the men I’ve spoken to), which is actually a good bargaining tool because he can’t possibly expect me to do something he wouldn’t be prepared to do himself.

    As it happens, Terry doesn’t really care what I call myself. I know how you feel, though Calyx, because his family are also from a much more traditional culture and I don’t think they’ll be able to get their heads around the idea of me not taking his name.

    On the children thing, I think there are so many kids now whose parents aren’t married that it’s no longer really an issue about parents having different names.

  • Caroline

    I am changing because unlike my sis I hate my surname – can’t explain why but it is something I have just hated more and more as I got older. Hilariously I will become Caroline Battersby – so I will get numerous obvious jokes forever no doubt…..

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