Necessary Naming

Hello, hive. I’m Miss Campfire and I have no idea what I’m going to do about my name once I get married.

From Dreams Time

I’ve gone through several stages of consideration about this.

You see, as much as I love my family, they can be difficult at times and there has been more than one occasion where I’ve been left hurting and overwhelmed from/because of drama. In those moments, I think, “Man, wouldn’t it be wonderful to associate myself with a family (Sparky’s) that has never once made me feel unwelcome, hurt, angry, etc.?” And in those moments, I have absolutely no qualms about dropping my last name and picking up a new one.

But here’s another consideration: I’ve worked in research since 2006 and in that time I’ve collected professional presentations and publications under my name. At current count I have 13 on my CV with more that I could add if I wanted to. This year alone I’ll probably have at least two/three more papers credited to my name. In a world where your credibility is determined by how many peer-reviewed citations you have, this is a huge factor.

At the end of the day, I love my last name. I think it’s beautiful—difficult French pronunciation and all. It used to frustrate me when I was younger (I mean, what kindergartener can fit 25 letters on those name pages?), but it’s grown on me.

I suggested to Sparky that he take MY last name, to which he laughed. He likes the way his name would sound with my last name but has flat-out refused to consider this option.

I, and a couple of friends, even suggested that we combine last names to create a new one. This would be fun as our name combination is actually pretty awesome. This, too, was vetoed by Sparky.

It’s too bad because our combined last names sound something like this with more fun letters like “x.” / Image via Wikipedia

So that leaves me with some choices.

In the words of Miss Jet Setter:

  1. “The Feminist” (FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME MAIDENNAME) – Keep my name entirely.
  2. “The KEEP ALL THE NAMES!” (FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME MAIDENNAME MARRIEDNAME) – Add my current last name as a second middle name.
  3. “The Ol’ Switcheroo” (FIRSTNAME MAIDENNAME MARRIEDNAME) – Ditch my middle name (which I happen to really love) and move my current last name into that spot.
  4. “The Fancy Law Firm” (FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME MAIDENNAME-MARRIEDNAME) – Keep my middle name and hyphenate two last names.
  5. “The Fresh Start” (FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME MARRIEDNAME) – Drop my maiden name entirely.

I’m going to add a sixth option to this:

6. “The Fake Out” Legal: (FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME MAIDENNAME). Social: (FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME MARRIEDNAME) – Keep my name the same legally and professionally but go by Sparky’s last name socially.

This is what I’m most seriously considering. It has a couple of benefits for me:


1. It keeps my professional/personal worlds separate. Not a bad idea in a day and age where my clients can Google search me and find me on social media websites.

2. No added legal paperwork.

3. I still get to publish under the same name.

There are a couple of cons, though.


1. If (when) we have kids, I will legally have a different last name than my little ones. Not a BIG deal, but still a consideration.

2. Inevitably, Mrs. Campfire Sparky’sLastName will probably become an alias which I will need to list on documents, which doesn’t exactly save me much time in the long run.

As you can see, I’m going around in circles. I don’t have to make any decisions now, but I’ve been thinking and thinking.

What did you do about your name?


Mrs. Campfire

Seattle, WA
Wedding Date:
September 2013
Gallery of the Day: July 1, 2013
Dress You Up in My Love: Glasses

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  1. Member
    kit_kath 1327 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:43 am

    I plan to hyphen legally and go by his last name socially. I guess that’s a fake fancy law firm?

    I still have to do all the paperwork to legally change my name, but it allows me to be recognizable as the same person on paper (my name) and still match our family (with his name). And since I’ll use his socially we can still sign the Christmas cards “The Hisname Family”.

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Keri, Guest @ 8:47 am

    I have the same problem as you – research, publications, etc. I plan to do something similar to you, but a bit different –




    I hope it doesn’t cause any legal problems – the only thing I’ve come across is reimbursements at work could be confusing. But having the same legal name as my kids is something I’d like, and at the same time I don’t want to mess with my career by changing my name.

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Bsbee, Guest @ 8:47 am

    Im changing mine completely

  4. Member
    MsGinkgo 8693 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 8:48 am

    I plan to keep my last name professionally – I think. I’m not 100% sure how that works…i’m still in the same scenario as use, I’ve amassed a lot of credentials etc in my maiden name and I don’t want to ‘lose’ that.

  5. Member
    lotto 789 posts, Busy bee @ 8:50 am

    I am also considering something my friend did recently

    FirstName, HisLastName, Maidenname

    kind of interesting right?

  6. Member
    KinkyOrange 7055 posts, Busy Beekeeper @ 8:51 am

    Keeping mine, but I don’t mind if people call me by his last name socially. It sounds like a good compromise.

  7. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 posts, Buzzing bee @ 8:53 am

    I would REALLLY recommend not hyphenating – it is SUCH a pain. I took Mr. W’s last name, which is already hyphenated as it is (it’s a Persian thing), and it drives me crazy! SOme of our credit cards don’t have the hyphen, which makes online shopping complicated. Also, when we travel most airlines don’t include the hyphen, so since our tickets don’t match up with our IDs… Urghh!

  8. mswaterfall Member
    Mrs. Waterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:59 am

    Yeah, I’ve heard many women with hyphenated last names complain about how hard it is!

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    a, Guest @ 9:07 am

    I second what Keri is doing! I too am doing FIRSTNAME MIDDLENAME MYLAST HISLAST. I like this option because I keep my middle and last names, it allows me to keep the recognition I too have gained from publications and presentations, and I have the Mr’s last name as well.

  10. camel Member
    camel 703 posts, Busy bee @ 9:10 am

    Didn’t change mine. No regrets!

  11. Member
    dancingriss 305 posts, Helper bee @ 9:13 am

    @Mrs. Wallaby: oh wow that sounds crazy!

  12. Member
    thejucheidea 1355 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:17 am

    First – Maiden – His name

    I don’t like my middle name, so it works out pretty well for me.

  13. Member
    veggie_rachel 575 posts, Busy bee @ 9:30 am

    My FI laughed at me too :{. I feel your pain!

  14. mstreasure Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:37 am

    I think for you, the Keep All the Names solution would be best. You could still use just your maiden name for your professional life since it will still legally be part of your name, but it eliminates the cons of having one legal name and one social name.

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    caitieh, Guest @ 10:08 am

    another consideration of keeping your maiden name legally/professionally is that sparky may sometimes be refer to as mr. your-last-name as is the case with my parents and it’s something that drives my dad crazy.

  16. Member
    beachbride1216 9137 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 10:38 am

    I am legally changing my last name to his but I am only using his last name socially. I plan to use my maiden name hyphenated with his last name professionally. That way I still reference my maiden name on articles I have published and degrees I have received without the added stress of legally hyphenating which is apparently a serious pain in the butt. Plus, he absolutely will not budge on having me change my name; it’s extremely important to him since he changed his last name when his step dad legally adopted him. Me taking on his last name is supporting that previous decision to take his dad’s name.

  17. Member
    oleada 3 posts, Wannabee @ 10:39 am

    You could just use the “Keep All the Names” version as your name on your resume and CV, and legally change it some other way if you wanted for ID purposes. Not that it would be a problem to list old publications anyway (you could always explain), but that way it would be more clear!

  18. prairiedog Member
    prairiedog 455 posts, Helper bee @ 10:46 am

    like camel- didn’t change- love it! but i don’t care if people assume his last name is mine socially, so…maybe i kind of did what you plan to do :)

  19. Member
    pocketfox 677 posts, Busy bee @ 10:47 am

    My SO’s sister did the Fake Out (she also has countless publications with her maiden name) and she’s very happy with it. I’m probably going with the fancy law firm, myself.

  20. Member
    jmarvellous 550 posts, Busy bee @ 11:06 am

    I’m in Club Didn’t Change It, Don’t Care If People Assume Otherwise (CDCIDCIPAO!).
    It made the most sense for me as a feminist in my late 20s not to legally change my name, but I’m not going to get on people for calling me by his name. No regrets so far!

  21. Member
    brooklyn55 743 posts, Busy bee @ 11:51 am

    I did the switch… I am not First Name Maiden Name His Last Name.. worked for me because I didn’t care for my middle name anyways. Even though I changed my name though like 2 months ago (social security card, wise). I still have completed (or really started) switching all my other stuff (credit cards, insurance, etc) over to his last name…

  22. Member
    stephee 1103 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:41 pm

    I’m confused by the different legal name and social name. Say I did that- Does that mean I would call myself my social name when meeting people and on social networks, and at work, but my drivers license would say my legal name? I guess I don’t understand the logistics of that one completely.

  23. campfire Member
    campfire 1045 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:44 pm

    @stephee: At work I would be “Mrs. Campfire Maiden Name” (to my clients, and coworkers) but in my personal life I would be “Mrs. Campfire Sparky’s Lastname.” On paper (so legally) I would still be Campfire Middle name Maiden name.

  24. Member
    pinkrain1010 98 posts, Worker bee @ 3:24 pm

    I’m in the same boat, although already married still haven’t done anything with the name.

    While I also have papers under the maiden name I only have a couple, so I’m thinking of going the First name – maiden name – his last name route. Then professionally for papers etc will make sure to always spell out the last 2 names, so if anyone searches by either name they’ll always find everything. BC as others and you’ve already mentioned it runs into trouble with children down the road, I’ve had people that I know not even be able to take their kid for treatment at the ER in emergencies because legally they don’t have the same last name as their kids. I certainly don’t want to run into that problem!

  25. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 5:43 pm

    I didn’t change, and I have no regrets. I can always change it later if we have kids and I want to, but until then I’m happy :)

  26. Member
    gotsol 46 posts, Newbee @ 1:01 am

    I am legally changing my last name to his but I am only using his last name socially. I plan to use my maiden name hyphenated with his last name professionally.

  27. Guest Icon Guest
    Sally 57, Guest @ 4:12 am

    I can only second posters who said that hyphenated names are hassle.
    The longer your legal lastname/s the more complicated. I cant book flight tickets online with certain airlines – my last names are too long, they get cut off.
    I chose my husbands two last names, spanish no hyphen because he could not legally change his last name. (Spanish citizens never change their names, it is legally impossible.) So our children have different last names from ours, following spanish law they have my maiden last name and his first last name as their last names. We have never had any problems with this, yes we need to specify their last names.
    Last names alone are no indicator of a (legal) relationship, I guess people are getting used to it.

    Do what you want to do, you can always change it once the situation changes.

  28. otter Member
    otter 1321 posts, Bumble bee @ 4:54 am

    I think you have to do whatever is best for you, and that definitely means considering both personal and professional. I work in a field where my name isn’t too big of a deal (most people in my field associate me with my online presence – digital marketer, here), and like you, I have some family things I would rather separate myself from. All in all, I never considered NOT changing my name. I changed it within a few days and haven’t looked back!

  29. Member
    love108 3978 posts, Honey bee @ 10:00 am

    I think I’m doing #6, too. I think the pros out weigh the cons.

  30. Guest Icon Guest
    Bk tatti, Guest @ 12:38 pm

    just updated my CV today, after getting married a couple of weeks ago and already having applied for the legal name change. my credentials now read first name- maiden name-new last name. (no hyphens) I was also concerned about losing my articles and presentations. But I made sure my maiden name was bolded on all the articles, so it can’t be missed that its still me. We also have a little girl together already, and I want our household to all have the same last name. You don’t realize how bothersome it is to have different last names from your children until it happens. It was also the one non-negotiable with the hubby who is a bit more traditional than i am.

  31. Member
    notablysidedjp 366 posts, Helper bee @ 1:25 pm

    I’m not sure what to do either. I honestly don’t like SO’s last name. Mine isn’t a gem either, but I’m used to it. He really wants me to take his, he’s traditional like that. Problem is, my last name is 4 syllables and his is 4 syllables; adding up to a whopping 8 syllables and 19 characters, (20 if you include the hyphen). I have no idea what I’ll do either…

  32. Member
    CountryRose 402 posts, Helper bee @ 11:37 pm

    Or choice 7: tell your FI to get over himself

    Sorry, just… Seriously?

  33. parasol Member
    parasol 2955 posts, Sugar bee @ 12:04 am

    Just curious, but why do you feel like your future children necessarily have to have your husband’s last name? I didn’t change my last name, and when we have kids, we’re planning on giving them both of our last names. I’m just curious why many woman who don’t change their last names don’t consider giving their kids anything other than their husbands’ last names.

  34. Member
    MrsLDC 5087 posts, Bee Keeper @ 12:38 am

    I’m totally up for changing my name. It’s a new fresh start and we creating our own new family. I really want to take my husband’s name.

  35. Guest Icon Guest
    Jessica, Guest @ 11:19 am

    I’m in the sixth option and love it! :-) Will probably move to the Switcheroo eventually. Great post and great luck to you, Miss C!

  36. Guest Icon Guest
    Anna, Guest @ 9:19 am

    I had this same dilemma. I don’t really need my maiden name for professional reasons, but I happen to like it, and it’s kind of making me sad to think of losing it, like losing a part of my tie to my family, whom I’m really close to. I considered all these options, but decided they were all too complicated, too likely to create problems in the long run etc. so I’m dropping my maiden name entirely and taking his last name (fresh start). I figured I will always be a [insert maiden name here] no matter what my legal name is, and this way he and I will always look like a full, solid family, without any doubts about the nature of our relationship (especially when we have kids). We’ll see how I feel when I get my new DL, SSC, etc with my new name! (BTW, his last name is really cool too! Objectivally, it’s probably cooler than mine, but I’m a little bit biased towards mine)

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