Choosing whether or not to take a new last name when you get hitched is deeply personal. While some view their decision to take their partner’s last name as tradition, others see it as antiquated. Whatever camp you’re in, your name is your identity and has either been a source of pride or sometimes even a source of pain or embarrassment. When thinking about whether or not you should take your partner’s last name or keep your own, here are some items to consider when making this life-changing decision.
1. Changing Your Last Name Can be Difficult
Changing your last name after the wedding is pretty time consuming. There are a lot of waiting rooms, forms to be filled out, and sometimes it even costs money to switch certain things over. If thinking about dealing with this process is making your head spin, then maybe it’s best for you to keep your name. However, if you do decide to change your name, you can simplify the process by paying for a service like Hitch Switch, who can do a lot of the work for you.
2. Think About Tradition—And Whether Or Not You Care About It
Whether you may agree with it or not, family lineage and history are traced through last names (specifically male last names). While the tradition is that the wife take the husband’s last name, a lot of traditions for married life have changed. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in the United States and in many other countries around the world. Additionally, women are often equal contributors or the breadwinners in many households, which makes the idea that the “man is the head of the household” more and more obsolete. However, many brides choose to take their partner’s last name in order to signify the transition from a single person to a family unit. When you’re thinking about whether or not to change your last name, think about tradition and what it means to you—if anything.
3. Do You Have Good Feelings About Your Last Name?
When you think about your maiden name, is it meaningful to you? Maybe your parents got divorced and now your mom has a new last name, or maybe you never even knew the father who gave you his last name. For some brides, their last name may not evoke the same kind of emotion as others—and that’s perfectly okay. Maybe getting married is the opportunity you were looking for to move on from your last name because you had a challenging home life or maybe you got made fun of for your last name. If taking on a new name signifies the happiness in your new life, then don’t feel like you’re not a good feminist or that you’re being too traditional by changing it.
On the flip side, maybe your maiden name means a lot to you. Maybe you built a business using your name, or you’ve had a childhood nickname that was associated with your last name. If parting with your name doesn’t feel right, then perhaps you should think about keeping it.
4. There Are More Options Than What You Think
Though the most obvious choices for your married last name are either to keep your maiden name or to change to your partner’s last name, there are actually more choices than what you think. You could hyphenate your last name, or you could change your middle name to your maiden name and switch your last name to your partner’s. You could also use your maiden name in professional/legal settings but still have people call your Mrs. So-and-so in your personal life. Additionally, you and your future spouse could also completely ditch tradition and come up with a new last name that indicates you starting your own family unit. You could even suggest to your spouse that he or she take your last name. The most important thing to remember is that it’s your life and your name. Even your spouse shouldn’t have much influence on what you decide to do. This is your identity and no one else’s.
5. Do Whatever You Want And Don’t Feel Bad About It
The single most important thing to know when you’re thinking about whether or not to change your name when you get married is that it’s your decision and no one else’s. Many people may scoff at your hyphenated last name; some may ask you, “Well what are you going to name your children?” However, none of this has to matter if you don’t want it to.
Bucking tradition can be difficult depending on where you live and what your family’s opinions are. Just know that when it comes to your name, you are the one who has to live with it every day and that you should be the one getting satisfaction from it—and no one else.