Name Changer

While I love teaching Shakespeare, there are few times I find myself actually agreeing with Juliet; but when it comes to her famous soliloquy about names, she’s nailed it. At the end of the day, names don’t really matter—whether I go by my current last name or take Mr. Orchard’s, I’m still me. Since I don’t rely on my name professionally, it’s an even easier switch. I always assumed I would happily take my husband’s name when I was younger, but as the days until the wedding grow fewer, I find myself surprisingly conflicted.

Here’s the thing girls (and guys?)—my last name reflects my Mexican heritage and, quite honestly, it’s really the only tangible thing that does. Physically, I don’t look particularly Mexican. I speak Spanish terribly (I took French to spite my father in high school—I’m pretty good at it actually, but unfortunately the joke was on me in the end!). The only obvious indicator to my cultural background is my last name, and if I just give it up, I feel like (true or not) I’ll be letting go of that part of myself and I don’t know that I am ready or fully willing to do that. I am so proud of my heritage, and I often feel remorse that I didn’t spend more time embracing  it when I was younger. I used to get so annoyed when people would say, “Oh, that’s your last name? Are you Hispanic?” but now I kind of love it, especially being so far from home and family. I know that once I change my name that will never happen again. I wish I could better articulate why it bothers me so much. I keep running in circles about this trying to explain myself, but I just can’t. I’m hoping I’m not the only bride-to-be who has felt this way!

The obvious choice is to hyphenate, and I’ve been leaning toward that for a while now but something is still giving me pause. You see, I also love Mr. Orchard’s last name. I am excited to take it and, whatever choice I make, ultimately his name will be the one I go by socially so maybe that makes all of this a moot point but still”¦

There are other options which have been discussed here on the ‘Bee before. I could take my current last name and make it my middle name, but when I mentioned this to my mom she freaked out about me giving up my given middle name. I can have two, right? Or is that weird? I know it’ll be a little harder  (and cost a bit more—fees may range from $100–$400 for a legal name change) to change my full name than to just take a new last name, but if it’s what I decide on it will be worth it. I could not take Mr. Orchard’s name at all, but I don’t want to do that. So I am currently at an impasse.

Has anyone else had a hard time letting go of their last name because you feel a cultural connection to it? What did you decide to do?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Orchard

Location:
Morgantown, WV
Wedding Date:
November 2013
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  1. Member
    rucksack 518 posts, Busy bee @ 12:38 pm

    I don’t feel a cultural connection to my last name, but I do love it. My friends say my name as a whole: “firstlast” so it’s really hard to give it up. Which is why even though I have decided to take Mr. Rucksack’s last name, we’re going on 3 months and I still haven’t done a thing about it. I guess I’m just hoping I can keep using the excuse “I haven’t gotten around to it?”

  2. Member
    kit_kath 1331 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:42 pm

    I can’t let go of my last name for similar reasons. My full name is very much an indicator of my heritage and I’ve always liked that. Fiance’s last name could be any number of cultures and while that’s fine it’s just not me. I’ve decided to have two last names with a space instead of a hyphen (the computer system I use at work gets screwed up with hypens so I’ve become biased against them).

  3. Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:42 pm

    I kept my maiden name as a second middle name, and I didn’t have to do any extra paperwork or pay any extra money. For me, it was the perfect solution.

  4. Member
    Little_Nut88 885 posts, Busy bee @ 12:49 pm

    My last name is also one of the only tangible signs of my heritage that I have, and it’s a big part of the reason that I’m not changing my name. The other is that the side of the family that shares my last name are the most awesome family I could ever imagine, and I always want to be one of the [my last name]‘s. Plus it’s a fantastic name!

  5. Member
    daniellekira 573 posts, Busy bee @ 1:16 pm

    I understand as I don’t have many male cousins who can keep my maiden name going, but I changed it to my husbands last name because I am very traditional (all my family did it), my husband wanted me to, and I wanted to embrace the marriage. But you should do what makes you happy. Hyphenate or put your maiden name as your last name.

  6. Member
    Beltacular 51 posts, Worker bee @ 1:24 pm

    I am in exactly the same position- I am Puerto Rican, but don’t look it at all, and my last name is my one very tangible grasp on my heritage. I am keeping my last name- not changing it at all. I thought about adding both, but our names have a similar sound, and it sounded strange.

  7. Member
    seabeeny 68 posts, Worker bee @ 1:25 pm

    Interesting! I am now having a sort of opposite situation. I wasn’t too attached to my maiden name (it’s incredibly common), and so dropping that wasn’t an issue. But now I have a pretty unique last name, my husband’s, and it’s funny to me when people ask, “Oh, what is that?” or “Oh, where is that from?” Because his family’s name was changed upon coming to America, so the answer is so convoluted (as you can tell, ha), and I have to say, “It’s a French last name, but really Ukranian, and really, I’m Welsh, so….”

  8. Member
    mrshalpert13 170 posts, Blushing bee @ 1:27 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. My husband-to-be has a generic last name. I am Hispanic and my last name reflects that. Further, I have a somewhat unique last name and I really like it. I feel like I don’t look like a “future husband’s last name” and a weird part of me feels like I would be losing a part of my culture and identity by changing my name. Fortunately, my FI is extremely supportive. He is actually in favor of me keeping my name. I may end up changing it in the future, especially if we have kids, but for now I am keeping it!

  9. Member
    mrsmc77 635 posts, Busy bee @ 1:45 pm

    I was conflicted as well. I love my maiden name, it’s awesome and I didn’t want to give it up. But after marrying mister Mc and spending 3 years seeing him disappointed every time I gave my maiden name somehwere I decided to add his. I didn’t “change” my own name, I just added his to the end. I’m now First Middle Maiden Married. No hyphen, no nothing… that’s my entire legal name and I’m quite happy about it :)

  10. Member
    jayceedee 258 posts, Helper bee @ 1:53 pm

    Yes! I am Puerto Rican, but like you I don’t physically look Latina at all. Speaking Spanish has helped tremendously at work, and I think my last name has helped to some degree as well.

    I decided when I get married I am making my maiden name my middle name and completely dropping my given middle name. I will also most likely sign my full name on documents at work (and maybe everywhere else too). It was hard for me to make that decision but ultimately I think I’ve found a good way to honor my heritage and my future family.

  11. Member
    Ms. Bicycle Samurai 140 posts, Blushing bee @ 2:31 pm

    I hyphenated, for professional and personal reasons. But if I had it to do over, I probably would not. One of my reasons was that I wanted to share a last name with our child(ren), and we didn’t want him/them to have to hyphenate (because it’s a pain!!) In hindsight, I could have just kept my legal name the same, and hyphenated socially for child-related stuff if I felt that need. Two plus years after our wedding, I find myself dropping the hyphenated name more and more often, and just calling myself by my original name for the sake of simplicity.

  12. Member
    msfilly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 2:45 pm

    My last name is about as heritageless as you can get, but I’m still attached to it for sentimental reasons, and I have no clue what I’m going to do about it.

    I’ve definitely seen people around here take two middle names (or two last names, no hyphenating), so it’s been done before, and this way, you’re not losing any part of your name.

    Semi tangent, but it’s so funny how different states have different laws re: name changing! In MA, either spouse can change any part of their name to whatever they want, no extra costs involved. But in NJ, you have to go through the courts, etc., if you want to change your middle name. Go figure.

  13. Member
    robynnola 56 posts, Worker bee @ 3:06 pm

    Ah, in my state there’s no additional fee for any portion of the name change.
    I hyphenated in my first marriage, which was a pain.
    I will likely be a four-named gal in this go round, just so it’s all kept. ;)

  14. Member
    lisaelanna 530 posts, Busy bee @ 3:21 pm

    Since you are concerned about losing part of your Hispanic culture by changing your last name, why don’t you just approach it from a Hispanic culture angle? Many Hispanic people have two last names, and when women marry, if they change their name, they change their 2nd surname to their husband’s (first) surname. So you could essentially take his last name while also keeping yours. Here’s an article that explains it really well:
    http://perez.cs.vt.edu/twolastnames

    I think it would work best in American culture for you to essentially use your current last name as a 2nd middle name, so you would sign for everyday things using your first name and his last name, but then on official documents you’d have all of your names like this: your-first your-middle your-last his-last.

  15. Member
    waitingalongtime 417 posts, Helper bee @ 5:09 pm

    You can have 2 middle names! One of my friends gave her daughter 3, THREE middle names. So, she has a total of 5 names!!

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Kate H, Guest @ 7:42 pm

    This could be a big decision. A girlfriend of mines fiancé said if she did not change her name it would be a deal breaker. Eventually she gave in and changed it.

  17. Member
    ecjohnson 148 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:32 pm

    I understand where you are coming from-I always looked forward/knew I would change my name when I got married, but getting married at 28 I didn’t realize how much I would miss/be attached to my maiden name. Plus, it’s Italian and my connection to my heritage too while my husband’s last name is the 2nd most popular in the US! My mom also didn’t want me to give up my middle name, so I went for the double middle name. However, that didn’t cost me extra money in california! But, i

  18. Member
    birdsinthetrees 3 posts, Wannabee @ 11:46 pm

    I have a question – you mention keeping your name but using his socially. My question is, what would the point be? If part of the reason to keep your name is to be tied to your heritage and have others recognize that, when would anyone have the opportunity to know your “real” last name if you always go by his socially? Have you considered continuing to go by your last name socially instead of his? I hope the question doesn’t sound rude, but you’re not the first person I’ve heard suggest this, and I just am curious about the logic. (For the record, I am totally struggling what to do about my own name change (or not) too – so I am trying to understand all the options!)

  19. Member
    springbride23 1779 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:50 am

    My mom hyphenated her last name to keep a part of her mom (who passed away when she was 13) with her always. Unfortunately, the ONE piece of name advice she gives everyone is never hyphenate. It’s a world of problems.

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    Lone Star, Guest @ 9:17 am

    So instead of hypenating, my mom also took her maiden as her middle, but she writes all three of them out when she signs things. So, you’d still get to use it sometimes then.

  21. Member
    eeper 129 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:25 am

    I am strongly attached to my Mexican last name too! My husband was pretty adamant that I at least add on his (also ethnic) name, but I decided I did not want to go the hyphenated route. So I added my maiden as a second middle name. The Social Security office didn’t care at all that I had 2 middle names, though when I went to the DMV they said I could only use one. I find that is the case most places. So I use my maiden name as my “main” middle name, and I do tend to write it out that way a lot.

  22. Member
    lolot 7921 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 1:25 pm

    I keep hearing about how it’s hard to do the two middle name things, and it makes me worried. I changed my name to Firstname Middlename Maidenname Newlastname (two middles) and it was super straightforward. Nobody at SS said anything. Hmm….

  23. Member
    pearl86 4 posts, Wannabee @ 3:30 pm

    These are such tough decisions! Have you considered how your fiance feels about taking your last name? If he is less attached to his name than you are to his, it could be an option worth considering, and one in which you two still share a name. This is currently something my fiance and I are considering, because my name reflects my heritage and his is quite generic and he is not too attached to it. It’s certainly a less common option, but sometimes I’m struck by how easy it is in these kinds of discussions to forget this possibility.

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    bbbria, Guest @ 2:44 pm

    When my mom married my stepdad, she decided to make her last name her 2nd middle name and take his last name, since both my brother and I share her maiden last name. So now she has 2 middle names, one of which is my last name, and I don’t think it’s weird at all! She has never regretted her decision. And in a way, it has made me even prouder of my last name and the bond it represents between my mother, brother, and myself, and I will be hyphenating to keep it when my boyfriend and I marry.

    I had honestly never heard of anyone adding their maiden name as a 2nd middle name before my mom did it 11 years ago, and I think it is such a unique and special thing to do, no matter your reasoning!

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