Mrs. and Mrs.* Sea-Horse-McGirlfriendLady

Recently, Meg at A Practical Wedding brought up (hesitantly, I was amused to see) name changing.

This has been something of a struggle for us. Changing our name – sharing a name – has felt important to me during this entire getting-married/becoming-a-family process. We aren’t planning on having children, and without children to unite us to the public as a family, the shared last name feels like a big deal. Otherwise, we could just be friends or roommates or coworkers you see hanging out a lot. Who hold hands. And kiss on the mouth. Okay, so maybe not just friends, but still – without children or a name, it feels like a mistake that could be easily made. We will be family and I want that to be obvious.

Okay, so let’s share a last name, no big deal, right? Except, have you met us? Why would we do something that would be simple? When my parents got married, they both took each other’s names, so my parents, siblings, and I all have the same, hyphenated last name; it’s DadsName-MomsName. Let’s say it’s Sea-Horse, for simplicity’s sake. So my siblings, parents, and I are the only Sea-Horses in the whole world. If you look up Sea-Horse online, you’ll get hits that are only people in my immediate family. I am the only Seahorse Sea-Horse, and I think that is really cool.

Fancee’s last name is McGirlfriendLady.** This is not the last name she was born with, nor is it the last name she grew up with. It is her third last name, and it is one that she picked out, and it is very meaningful to her.

Plus, it’s a nice name on its own. She has made it very clear that she is not going to give up McGirlfriendLady, and that she is reluctant to change it. This makes sense to me, and I support it. That said, if I were to take it, I would be Seahorse McGirlfriendLady, which makes no sense in funny blogspeak, so I’m sorry about that, but it’s a relatively common name. Yes, Dr. McGirlfriendLady is a nice name, but I have always loved how unique my name is, and I don’t want to give that up either.

Dilemma.

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such a repetitive, boring debate that Jake cant keep from yawning

We have two couples that we’re friends with who recently changed their last names, and I’ll say their actual last names here because I can’t come up with other cutesy fake names. Sorry, guys. The first couple is a man and a woman who started out with the last names Fulmer and Anderson. I think they had many conversations about the name changing before settling on creating a new last name”¦ they combined both last names and took a section out: fulmeranderson became Merand (pronounced Mair-and). The other couple is made up of two kick-ass women whose last names were Smith and Leonard – and they combined them to become the Leonardsmiths.

I love the idea of being the Somethings, the FamilyNames.

At some point recently, we came up with an option that might work. I will shift my name over, and we’ll take the same last name! I’ll drop my middle name and change my full name to Seahorse Sea Horse-McGirlfriendLady – the future veterinarian Dr. Horse-McGirlfriendLady. Yes? And Fancee will be Fancee Horse-McGirlfriendLady.

This all feels complicated, and difficult, and there are so many ties to our names and to our families. I worry that my dad will feel like I dropped him because I won’t be using his name as an obvious part of my name anymore. I worry that my mom’s feelings will be hurt because we won’t share the same initials, as we always have. I worry that no one will be able to pronounce the Horse part of my last name (because they never have been), and that Fancee will have to share in the misery of always having to correct the way someone says half of your name. AND, I want to create a clear connection to the woman I am marrying, but I also don’t want to lose the obvious connection to the family I came from.

What are you doing? Have you thought about this? Does it seem to make a difference if you’re in a relationship with a man or a woman?

*Oh! And it turns out that you’re only a “Mrs.” if you are a woman who marries a man. And takes his name? I don’t remember that last part. But if you are a woman who marries a woman, you are just a Ms.! These things are so complicated, guys.

**Blog-friendly alternative last names include “McBestFianceeEver” and “McSexyPants”

BLOGGER

Ms Seahorse

Location:
Boston
Wedding Date:
September 2010
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    julieelizabeth, Guest @ 10:01 am

    i am dropping my middle name, taking my last name as my middle name, and taking my fiance’s last name as my last name. i always thought i would take my husband’s last name, and i never expected to struggle with parting with my last name. turns out, i really don’t want to lose it entirely. my last name is unique like yours, and the only people i know with my last name are my family members. so, now it will be my middle name. sort of like what you’re doing. and i am marrying a man, so i think the name change dilemma is gender neutral. it’s weird to give up part of a name you’ve been known by your whole life, whether youre taking a man’s name or a woman’s name.

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    klw, Guest @ 10:11 am

    We both kept our last names and if we have kids they’ll have hyphenated last names. Lots of people think this is a terrible idea, but I’m glad to hear that you grew up with a hyphenated last name and actually like it! It just seems strange to me that so many women (who are married to men) feel so strongly about keeping their last name, but don’t have any issue with their children having their parnter’s last name.

  3. Member
    Brighteyes 81 posts, Worker bee @ 10:13 am

    I think you should both go with McSexyPants :)
    I went to my friends’ wedding recently and she and her lady took hyphenated versions of eachothers names, but kept theirs last.

    So one was say Smith-McDonald and the other was McDonald-Smith. It worked for them…I hope you come up with something that makes you both even happier than you already are!

  4. Member
    trailmix 6663 posts, Bee Keeper @ 10:22 am

    I’m a hyphen baby too! Only I have no qualms about dropping it for my FH’s blessedly easy, simple last name, so I guess I’m not much help here!

  5. Member
    Gilneas 1393 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:26 am

    I changed my last name a few years ago to my mom’s maiden name, and, like Fancee, since it is a name by choice, it is something I’m really attached to. My fiance isn’t too attached to his last name, but doesn’t like the way that my last name sounds with his first name, so I couldn’t convince him to take it. But it is important to me that we (and future kids) share a last name, so we’re both hypenated – MyLast-HisLast.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Kat, Guest @ 10:29 am

    Not so into my father or his family (with whom I share a last name) so dropping the name that ties me to them is one of the things I am most looking forward to about being married. I HAVE been thinking a lot lately about creating a new last name versus taking my FH’s though. His brother’s wife kept her maiden name and just appended Mrs. to it. I’ve been a little afraid to bring it up, but maybe now I will. Good luck, Miss Seahorse!

  7. Member
    mowi322 465 posts, Helper bee @ 10:34 am

    Yep, technically you’re only a Mrs. if you take the man’s last name. My good friend is married, but kept her name so she’s only Ms. So-and-So. I don’t understand it either.

    I’m really tied to my first name, but had all the doubts and hemming and hawing about changing my last name. I didn’t want to loose a concrete connection to my family (especially because my maiden name is pretty unique), but it was really important to the hubs. So name-changing I did go, although I tapped my maiden name into being part of my middle name.

  8. Member
    frenchfries 2168 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:34 am

    The name change debate is always a big one in the hive! :) I always knew I was going to change my name, so there really wasn’t much debate for us — I hope you both can come up with something that you both love!

  9. Member
    shaydenise 1151 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:37 am

    This has been a huge debate in my mind. I’m definitely taking FI’s last name, but I don’t want to lose my last name either. My last name is very common but still I like it. I don’t want to hyphenate so I’m thinking of dropping my middle name and making my last name my new middle name. Or possibly just adding FIs last name and making my last name part of my middle name (therefore having two middle names), but then my name will be super long…. So I’m yet to decide! I’ll probably end up just dropping my last name and just taking his in the end lol.

  10. Member
    365 238 posts, Helper bee @ 10:42 am

    I always thought I’d change my last name because it’s the thing to do around here. But much like you, my last name is extremely unique and I’m sot sure I’d want to settle for something “less me”. My name is also hyphenated, MomsLast-DadsLast, and I’m only a big fan of the MomsLast, and have no problem dropping Dads.

    Name change is always hard!

  11. Member
    fancygirl 230 posts, Helper bee @ 10:43 am

    As of now, I’m keeping my name. It’s long and hard to pronounce, but it’s also distinctive and I have a huge attachment to it. When the time comes to have kids, they will have FI’s last name and I may at that point add his as a second last name.

  12. Member
    pudding 1183 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:26 am

    It’s such a tough choice! Mr. P and I decided a long time ago that I would take his name, but now that the day is almost here I am having a bit of an identity crisis. It is not an easy thing.

  13. Member
    msjellyfish 1453 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:29 am

    I ended up deciding to make my maiden name my middle and take Mr. Jelly’s last name. However professionally I am keeping my maiden name, because after all, I’m the one who went to law school! I hope you figure out something you like! Though McSexyPants ain’t a bad idea :)

  14. Member
    Curlysue 1703 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:38 am

    While I’m taking my FI’s last name, my maiden name is just not awesome and I got teased horribly when I was little, I think it’s cool you guys came up with something! I got a kick out of all the name options :)

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    J, Guest @ 11:40 am

    Before I met FH I used to think I’d keep my last name. I was just starting to get my work published and I thought that by the time I got married my name would be basically part of my career. It would make a chuckle a little because I have a daughter from a previous relationship (who has her fathers last name… which I regret, butanyways…) so me and my daughter and my someday husband would each have a different last name. But now that I’ve met “the one” he has a pretty awesome last name and I want it! Myfirstname Hislastname seriously sounds like a rock star! :-) Not only that but my career has changed, and the name recognition isn’t really a big deal anymore. After my ex and I split up I got a tattoo incorporating my maiden name, so now I always have something with me symbolizing my family and where I come from. I think the way you’re doing your names is great. It’s all about each of you merging who you are and where you’ve come from with the woman you love and the new journey you’re beginning.

  16. Member
    Entangled 2616 posts, Sugar bee @ 11:53 am

    I think it’s really interesting seeing your thoughts on the name change without having the same gender-related expectations to it. With opposite-sex marriages, it’s still pretty rare for the guy to change anything, so there ends up being this double standard, and the expectations that come with it. I totally ignore all the asymmetrical expectations, but the boy certainly doesn’t.

    Neither of us are willing to change our names even though we each think it would be kindasortanice if the other one did. Though whereas you and Fancee really want to seem as a united family to the world, I actually like the idea that we are me + him = unit as opposed to one name, one family.

  17. Member
    Miss Bumble 135 posts, Blushing bee @ 11:54 am

    I have been contemplating changing my name entirely. I think I may take my middle name as part of my first name (like: Bethany Lynn), my maiden name as my middle name and my FI’s name.

    The only problem is that my name is already really long and I don’t think I would spell out the whole name every time I write a check or anything like that. I don’t even know if that is a huge issue or not…

  18. Guest Icon Guest
    jenmar10, Guest @ 12:00 pm

    I’m bumping current last to middle, so I’ll be Jen Maidenname Marriedname. Fine with me.

    However, I wanted to tell you that friends of mine came up with a new name together. It wasn’t a combination of their current last names — it was a new word that they felt appropriately represented their love and lives together. So they went from Amanda Maiden and Jacob Lastname to Amanda and Jacob Entirelynewname.

    Through marriage, two people leave their families to form a new and whole union. By focusing on the NEW part of that statement, they justified the switch to both of their families.

    Good luck finding the names that are just right for you and Fancee!

  19. Member
    Inkypoo 232 posts, Helper bee @ 12:20 pm

    I took his last name. Professionally my name is *Lulabelle Lynn Norde-Inkpad. Legally it’s just *Lulabelle Lynn Inkpad.
    It’s a pain in the butt but hey I LOVE my maiden name, but I wanted my kids to have their father’s name. It was something important to me and I’m kinda traditional.

    *not really my name :)

  20. Member
    SuperBrook 408 posts, Helper bee @ 12:38 pm

    I’m taking a rather “easy” route and keeping my name professionally, but adopting his legally/socially. In the area that I work his name is rather well known (while somewhat common in other areas). I’d rather not have my clients say, “Hey are you related to those people?”
    I think there’s an added element to the whole name change thing with a same sex couple. There’s no real “tradition” to follow. On the flip side, no one will question whatever you do with your name. :)

  21. Member
    Miss OceanBeach SF 181 posts, Blushing bee @ 3:16 pm

    To add another layer of complexity to the same-sex, different-sex married name perspective, my fiance and I began our relationship as a lesbian couple. Then my fiance came out as transgender, so now we appear to the world as a heterosexual couple. As lesbians, we felt like we had all the options in the world available to us as to how we should negotiate married names. Furthermore, no one expected us or pressured us to choose any one option – they assumed we’d do something “non-traditional” because we were a non-traditional couple. But now we have the societal pressure of having to explain our name choice to people (family, acquaintances, co-workers, etc.) who see us as a traditional couple making a non-traditional name choice. [Does that make sense to people? It feels as complicated as it sounds, I think.]

    If I had to do *another* dissertation in my life, I would totally do it on how women make choices about this last name issue. So fascinating, the wide variety of decisions out there!

    For the record, we’re each keeping our last names (both of us go by Dr. FillintheBlank at our jobs, so it felt like too much a part of our identities to make a change). But we’ve created a “family name” for our children made up of the letters of all of our parents’ family names (so both dad’s names and both mom’s maiden names). The last name we created is so cool that we’ve both considered adopting it – so we’ll see what happens with that in the next 18 months or so before the wedding.

  22. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 3:34 pm

    A male/female couple I know both hyphenated their names, and–forgive me for not knowing what Emily Post would say is correct, but whatever order it’s supposed to go in, they did the opposite. So if the “right” way was Maple-Walnut, they did Walnut-Maple. Which isn’t their names, but whatever, you get the idea. And apparently this conversation happened with each individual member of both families:

    Couple: …blah blah blah Walnut-Maple.
    Family Member: But that’s backwards!
    C: We know, but–
    FM: It’s supposed to be the other way around!
    C: We know, but–
    FM: It’s…it’s backwards!
    C: We know, but that sounds dumb.
    FM: Huh? But that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
    C: Say it. Out loud. Right now. Say it. Do it.
    FM: Maple-Walnut. *pause* *cringe*
    C: See?
    FM: …so…congratulations!

  23. Member
    HolyVowels 338 posts, Helper bee @ 3:37 pm

    My weddingbee user name is HolyVowels due to the fact that I love my last name, and if I hyphenate it with my FI’s name, it will be ridiculously long and full of vowels!

  24. Member
    lobster 668 posts, Busy bee @ 9:29 pm

    I am still thinking about this. I do think about keeping my family name because we’re all girls and *someone* has to carry on our last name. Might as well be me! If I kept my last name, I’d be following the footsteps of my mom who kept her name back when it wasn’t as popular a thing to do! I’m glad you and Fancee are combining your names to start a new family, it’ll be even more special for both of you.

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    cartascartas, Guest @ 10:56 pm

    @miss jellyfish how can you keep your maiden name professionally in the legal profession? don’t you have to sign and be admitted to the bar under whatever your legal name is? i’m wondering bc i’m taking the bar this summer, getting married the next and, as a lot of others here, struggling with this decision!

  26. Guest Icon Guest
    Hannah, Guest @ 12:40 am

    I plan to take the Mr’s name, eventually, but for me it has issues simply because my entire business is built around my maiden name. Rookie business mistake #1 of 1256, I think.

    For the Mr., the name change is a dealbreaker. He wants us to have his family name and given that I am a pretty traditional girl, I am fine with it. I have no sentimentality about my name – largely because I come from a huge family and there are tons of us. The Mr. on the other hand is the end of the line name-wise as he is the only male grandchild and his grandfather’s family all died in the Holocaust.

    So, I can understand your desires to have a family name and can appreciate that you want elements of your own name in there. I just have no such attachments other than that it is my ‘stage’ name haha.

  27. Member
    MsInterpret 1810 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:36 pm

    I am a woman, marrying a woman.. but in our case that has nothing to do with it.

    I was married before, to a man, and I chose not to take his name because doing so would have given me a silly sounding rhyming name… interestingly enough the SAME name people used to make up to tease me with on the playground when I was in 1st and 2nd grade. So I wanted no part of that.

    He didn’t care, and was fine with it. I already had a child when we met so it was good IMO that me and my son still shared a last name. His mother, however, had a cow and was highly offended that I didn’t take his name and throughout the 10 years we were together she insisted on addressing EVERYTHING to me as if I’d changed my name. Annoying, and worse when it was on a check made out to me, that I couldn’t cash because it was not MY NAME!

    Everyone over 40 also assumed that I had changed my name, even my father, who put me in his will with the wrong name! Big mess!

    Okay so now, me and my fiance are going to change our names to a whole new name but it’s based on her family history. She will be taking her grandmother’s maiden name, a lovely name that means a lot to her since this is the side of the family that has been good and loving. She currently has a last name that is her mother’s first husband’s, someone she never even met, so it makes no sense.

    I have no attachment to my own last name.. my dad was a jerk and my eldest son (with whom I share a surname) is 18 and not bothered by me having a different last name from him. My other son is 12 but not bothered either (he has his father’s last name).. so I will be getting a whole new name after my fiance changes hers and after the wedding. I’m excited! It’s way prettier than what I’ve lived with all my life!

  28. Member
    silversixpence 78 posts, Worker bee @ 5:33 pm

    Some of my friends just went out and chose a whole new name for themselves, and changed their surnames to their middle names.

    I’m taking his name because i haaaaaaaaaaaaaate my name. I’m English, my name is not pronounced the way it’s spelled. Written down, it has 4 syllables and 17 letters, but is pronounced with 2 syllables and 7 letters. I hate having to spell it out for people or pronounce it for people or field the disbelieving looks when they realise that the written and the spoken do not match at all – you should see the fun i have at customs, particularly on the US side.

    I’m not madly in love with his name either, but it’s better than mine and the first part rhymes with a swearword so that can be fun :)

  29. Guest Icon Guest
    After “I Do”: Name-Change Decisions | Weddingbee, Guest @ 9:45 am

    [...] wrote about wanting to change our names here, and we did ultimately end up doing it. We were both really attached to our names, but mine was [...]

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