On changing my name

Wedding hanger

My lovely friend Katie got me the above hanger to hang my wedding dress on. I love it, and it’s so beautiful, but I have to admit seeing my soon-to-be last name like that still kind of freaks me out a bit.

I actually went back and forth on whether I was going to change my name or not. For awhile I thought I wouldn’t, and then I thought maybe I’d change it personally but keep my current last name professionally, and finally I decided “go big or go home” if I’m going to change my name I might as well just change it! Hyphenation isn’t for me and neither is juggling two different last names depending on whether I’m in personal-mode or professional-mode.

Also, over the past 14 months of being engaged, something has shifted in the way I think about relationships and specifically my relationship. To me, marriage is so much more than just saying “I do” and some vows in front of family and friends. It really signifies a partnership and a team. Something like changing my name that didn’t seem that important 14 months ago has suddenly became very important to me because I want to go through the rest of my life with the same last name as my husband and the same last name as my (eventual, one day, far-in-the-future) children. I feel like it’s just another sign of our partnership and unified front. This is just my opinion of course, I’m not saying if you chose not to change your name you don’t view your husband/wife as a partner πŸ™‚

At the same time, my current name is not “just a name” to me. It’s something I’ve had my entire life. It’s mine. It was my name when I graduated high school, university, received my first byline and more. So while I am excited for this next step in my life with my new name I am also a little sad to be letting my old name go.

So that’s kind of where I am on the changing name thing. I’m doing it. I’m excited to share the same name as my soon-to-be husband but I’m also a little sad to let go of a piece of me and my past.

Questions of the day: For the ladies, did you change your name or will you when you get married? For the men, did your wife? Did you want her to or did you care?

58 Responses

  1. Well, I actually really am not a huge fan of my last name. I mean, I love my heritage and everything, but my last name is a PAIN. It’s long and it’s frequently misspelled or mispronounced… So if/when I get married, I will probably willingly change it. Plus, I have 2 brothers that have 3 nephews between them, so my name will likely be carried on.

    That said – after having worked for almost 10 years now, my last name is part of my work identity. I work in a smaller division now, so I don’t think it would be that big of a deal to change it as people would track me down, but in a previous position, I worked in a HUGE organization and I wondered if people would just lose the ability to track me down if I changed it. I think that our company has a way of retaining your maiden name in your profile, but I am not sure about that. But anyways, I am single and dateless, so this is obviously not an immediate concern. πŸ˜‰

    • J says:

      -You know being a guy, I do not think that we are that hung up on the name issue as we were at one time, by the meaning, through which tradition became a method of showing different families in one’s community in those days. Today, one better be in the realm of quite literally respecting the other person, whom you’ve come to love and always wish the best towards them as you do towards yourself…. Names _are_ ceremoniously limiting, whereas love is truly, profoundly, limitless… -I truly wish you the best in finding a good partner…AND: “I wish the new bride to be the very best in her future, through her union with her mate; bound by love.”

  2. Caroline says:

    I really love my last name, and I’m sad that I have to even think about giving it up. I agree though, I don’t want a different last name as my future husband/kids, so maybe they’ll take my name? : ) haha

  3. abbi says:

    I originally did not plan on changing my name and my husband was on board with it either way but I asked him what he truly preferred. He indicated he would like me to change it so I did and I have to say, I think it’s actually easier this way and I’m glad I did. It was a pain to do the original stuff to get it changed but easier in the end it does feel like more family than two individuals…which ironically enough was one of the reasons we decided to get married as well. It’s easier to be husband and wife than just boyfriend/girlfriend even when you’ve lived together for years!

  4. Carrie says:

    When I got married I kept y name. I have a really long name and hyphenation just isn’t going to work. Truthfully I didn’t really entertain the notion of changing my name. I’ve always been super independent, and it just felt right to keep my OWN name. I don’t mean any judgment toward anyone who changes their name, I’m not saying they’re not independent. I just mean that for ME, it felt right to keep my own name rather than go from father’s last name = husband’s last name. I do think about my (future) children having a different last name than me. I suppose I will cross that bridge if/when I get to it. πŸ™‚

    Oh, I just thought of something else. Sometimes my husband gets called by MY last name, and that really bothers him. When I reserve a hotel or something under my name with my credit card, when we check in they’ve called him Mr. My-Last-Name. It’s kind of awkward.

  5. erin says:

    my maiden name is somewhat hard for me to pronounce – too many m’s and n’s, and i always had to spell it out for people. i tried to convince my husband to go for his mom’s maiden name — which is very spanish sounding. no go. his last name is pretty common, but so much easier to say and sign. and i sort of think it showed respect for his family that i took his last name, just because there’s a lot of animosity between myself and his family. and we don’t even plan on having kids, but it was just easier, it makes us feel like a family!

    as for changing my last name at work – that was a pain because i’d already been here for 5 years at this point, but people caught on pretty quick!!

  6. I’m not yet married but when I do get married I think I will end up changing my last name. Even though I absolutely love my last name and it’s super unique I know I will want to have the same last name as my (future) husband and definitely my children. I’ve given some thought to getting my maiden name tattooed somewhere that way it’s always a part of me πŸ™‚ or perhaps making it my middle name.

  7. My name is so common, and that has bothered me throughout the years. I am looking forward to someday changing my name to something not as common!

    My poor mom though, her maiden name was Smith and now her married name is Johnson! lol!

  8. Lindsey says:

    I did change my name and never thought twice about it. Could be because I am not close with my Dad so there is not a strong tie there. But I also feel as if it does show more of a commitment to our marriage to change my last name. I also know my husband would not have at all supported me keeping my last name (again back to reason one). I can honestly say I have never missed my last name either!

  9. Holly says:

    I originally didn’t want to change my last name – there are no boys in my family, so there’s nobody to carry the name on! – but it was really important to my husband that I take his name, so that’s what I did. My new last name is a lot shorter (4 letters as opposed to 10) – and I never have to tell people how to pronounce it or spell it, so that’s a plus πŸ™‚

  10. Heather says:

    My last name is hard to pronounce and always gets chuckles out of people when the pronunciation has been made (really people?) so I am going to take Matt’s name when we get married. He has a very common last name, but that is fine with me.

    I will be sad to give up my name especially because there are only two boys in the family to keep the namesake going. Somehow my dad and uncle #2 had all girls.

  11. Regan says:

    When my husband and I got married, I had many of the same feelings as you. I was very attached to my entire name, as my Dad selected my first name and my middle names were for his sister. After discussing this with my husband, I did end up changing my name, but kept my full name (first/maiden/last) as my email address.

    Funny thing through…When I went to Social Security, the person screwed up with the name change. It ended up being a kinda cool “benefit” (but also a pain to me). She forgot to remove my middle names, but added my new last name. So, now my name is First name Middle 1-Middle 2 Maiden Last. Won’t all fit on my driver license!

  12. Katrina says:

    When I got married as you know I hyphenated. I wanted to keep my last name and it was my choice, just like my husband had the choice to change his to mine. I’m so not a tradionalist and I wouldn’t even have added his name but he wanted at least that much lol Our daugher’s last name is the same as mine and I love it that way, she gets part of me and him. Plus I’m not a fan of his last name @_@ I often still use just my last name and drop his, his is way too long and i always have to spell it out.

  13. Melissa says:

    Great post Amber! This isn’t an easy decision, honestly. You had me thinking about it but honestly I don’t think I could even begin to decide what I’ll do with my last name until the time comes. My last name is my family legacy, but then again with a husband that’ll be my NEW family legacy. I just don’t know what I”d do! I think you’re making a really good decision though & as long as it feels good to YOU, that’s what matters. You guys will be spending the rest of your lives together and this is a great way to show how committed you are πŸ™‚

  14. ris says:

    I plan on keeping my last name when I get married, mainly because both of our last names are super complicated, and at least I’m used to mine. I’m not all that attached to either of the names. My parents have different last names so I don’t think it’ll be a huge deal (at least not to me) for us to have diff last names. D doesn’t much seem to care either. He knows his last name is ridiculous, and even more complicated than mine!

  15. Britt says:

    We’ve had this discussion but I was perfectly happy to take my husband’s name. Now, after almost 2 years of marriage, it’s the one that first pops into my head. I really feel like it’s mine now! It will happen for you too πŸ™‚

  16. I pretty much always knew I was going to keep my name professionally, and take on Erik’s name personally (license, credit card, social security, etc). I have 10 years of Google results under “Allison Blass” and I didn’t want to risk people not realizing when I was published that this was the same person. And I had no interest in hyphenating because our names rhyme! Both names are totally mispronounced all the time, so honestly there wasn’t a lot of motivation to commit to one or the other. Both of the make my life hard!

    It IS a little weird sometimes, especially for blogger friends who know both my names. What do I write for the return address?! But most of the time it doesn’t impact anything and there’s very little crossover. People learned quickly that I kept my maiden name for social media. I did change my name on Facebook, but mostly because Erik is on there too and I wanted to have the same last name as him, plus I’m able to display (on the profile) and be searched for under both names. So it’s a little easier to mix there.

    For me, in the areas where my past is important (my career), it’s nice to hang on to the tried and true maiden name. And in the areas where my future is important (my children), it’s nice to have the married name. There might be a few slip-ups and questions, but for the most part, it does not seem to be a big deal so I’m happy with my decision.

  17. Leigh says:

    I changed my name when I got married, but there was never any pressure at all from my husband to do so. I think he could have cared less, haha. It was my choice and to me, a name is a name. Sure, I had my maiden name for 20+ years, but it wasn’t the end of the world to me to lose it. I think it would be different if your career was built on your last name

  18. Malisa says:

    I took my husband’s last name, but I kept my maiden name as a second middle name. There are no grandsons on my dad’s side to carry on my maiden name and I felt an attachment to it so I didn’t want to drop it completely. It works for me because I don’t have to sign two last names, but my maiden name is still part of my name and I will probably carry it on to my children as their middle names as well.

  19. Good call! Stick with one name, no hyphens, and you’ll get used to it soon enough. Kelley has been a Flynn for 13 years already, and she thinks it weird when someone calls her by her maiden name.

  20. Amy says:

    I always thought I would keep my last name, but recently, as Andrew and I have talked about having kids, it’s likely that I will change my last name to his. It kind of makes me sad, but I also really like the idea of our kids and both of us having the same last name.

    • MissAmber says:

      Those two sentences basically sum up how I feel. It makes me sad BUT I want the same last name as my husband and kids and that thought makes me happy!

  21. Kristen says:

    Did you know that if you lived in Quebec there would be no choice in the matter? You can’t change your name. In order to change your last name in Quebec, there have to be really “odd” circumstances (like suddenly there is a serial killer with your exact name). So even though I was married in Alberta and was living in Ontario at the time, the fact that I didn’t change my name has actually made things quite a bit less complicated now that I live here. But yeah – culturally, women don’t even think about it here because it just isn’t the way things work.

    I have no issues with being called by my husband’s last name – it doesn’t bother me at all. But I didn’t change it because a) it seemed like a giant pain in the ass, b) my last name was already on some publications and i didn’t want any confusion, and c) i guess it is the same as a – i couldn’t be bothered to go through the rigamarole of changing my name when I just didn’t care enough one way or the other.

  22. Bronwyn says:

    I won’t be changing my name. It’s a huge part of my identity. I know it’s easy to say as I haven’t met the person I’m going to marry, but the truth is I’m way too attached to my name. I also grew up with a strong feminist mother influence, and she never changed her name, I couldn’t imagine changing mine. And the feminist in me wonders why it’s always women who are asked to change their name! πŸ˜‰ Anyone met any couples who did the opposite? I suppose for hyphenating, do men take part in that as well?

    • MissAmber says:

      Ha, good question! I’ve never heard of a man changing his name but I’m sure it’s been done before!

      • Kristen says:

        I know a guy who did it. I’m pretty sure most people thought he was running from the law or something…

      • Sara says:

        I just watched a “Say Yes to the Dress” episode and the couple was renewing their vows. Both the husband and wife had their names hyphenated.

        My friend’s mom didn’t change her last name. She was a professor. My friend shared her mom’s last name and had her dad’s last name as a middle name; her brother had her dad’s last name and had his mother’s name as his middle name. Or:

        Her-first-name Dad’s-last-name Mom’s-last-name
        His-first-name Mom’s-last-name Dad’s-last-name

        Hope that makes sense!

      • I know a woman who hyphenated her name; her husband took on the hyphenated name, too. It doesn’t happen often, but does happen!

  23. Honestly, I don’t want to change mine…but I’m going to. I can’t see a good reason to keep my maiden name except for lazy reasons.

  24. Lisa says:

    I hate my last name and have hated it since I was a kid and kids and teachers would butcher it…so I am happy to give up my last name. My boyfriend’s last name is good, too, so I am happy to take it! πŸ™‚

  25. Sara says:

    I changed my name. Originally I planned to hyphenate my name but decided to “go big, or go home” like you. I didn’t tack it on to my middle name, simply because I was named after my maternal and paternal grandmothers. I didn’t find the process of changing my name to be all that troublesome either. It meant a lot to my husband that I take his last name, but he left it up to me in the end. I never felt pressured to change my name because of him. I changed it because I ultimately wanted to do so.

    I was/am very attached to my maiden name. I am the last girl between my cousins to get married and therefore was the only one of us with our last name from that part of our family tree at the time of my wedding. It took me a solid year to stop writing/saying my maiden name when making calls/signing documents/etc, so be prepared for that adjustment! It takes a while to adopt a new name. People from high school still refer to me by my last name, too. There were several Sara(h)s in our group, and that’s how they identified us.

    As to the above comment about feminism and name changes, I fancy myself a “feminist,” so I don’t really think it makes you less of one to change your name. Different strokes for different folks. The point of feminism isn’t to do the opposite of mainstream society just because it’s outside the norm. I didn’t feel pressure from anyone to change my name. I think it’s pretty common for women to opt not to take their partner’s names these days. At least that has been my experience.

  26. Cheryl says:

    I always knew i would change my name. I don’t care to be associated with some of my dad’s siblings. I love my dad and with a couple exceptions seems to be the only honest good one. so in a way I couldn’t wait to throw out the name. I love my name. Even after almost 5 years my aunts and uncles on my moms side use my maiden name when referring to me. oh well.

  27. Kara says:

    I will definitely be taking my fiancé’s last name when we get married next year. I’m quite looking forward to it actually. My maiden name is very common and his isn’t that unique but definitely not common. His family has lived in this town for a long time so are pretty known so I’m strangely looking forward to becoming part of his family. I also want to have the same last name as our children when we have them. I find it just lends to less confusion. I agree with a couple of the comments about it not being a feminist issue. I think of myself as a fairly independent woman (cue Destiny’s Child music!) but I don’t think taking his last name makes me any less independent. πŸ™‚

  28. I’m definiltey changing my name. I just have never really cared about my last name or loved it. I’m ready to be a Moe. And the manfriend is excited for me to be one as well. πŸ™‚ Love those hangers. Sabrina (my bro’s fiance) got one at her bridal shower.

  29. I always wonder how I’m going to deal with this when I get married. I love my last name. I’m proud of my family, and I’m proud of who I am, so the idea of letting go of my name isn’t one that I like. But at the same time, I want to have my husbands name too. I’d consider hyphenating, but my last name is so long that adding to it just seems crazy. I guess it’s a good thing I have plenty of time to decide, I mean, I do need to find a man first. πŸ™‚

  30. Stephany says:

    I have absolutely no ties to my name. For one, it is SO difficult to pronounce and spell and it’s attached to a family who wants nothing to do with my brother or me. I’ve actually thought of changing my name to my mom’s maiden name, since I feel more closely tied to that side.

    But even if I did feel strongly about my last name and the connection, I still would change my name to my husband’s. It has never been something I’ve thought of NOT doing and for me, it’s a sign of unity to my new partnership and relationship to my husband. And I just like the idea of connecting in that way. πŸ™‚

  31. Kara says:

    I changed my name when I got married – both personally and professionally. There’s less confusion, and personally, I think if I hyphenated it would’ve sounded funny.

    I think some people hyphenate or don’t change their name because they feel some kind of loyalty or legacy behind their names, or at least that’s what I’ve found when it came to picking baby names. I could go on and on, but I’ll cut myself off now and perhaps save it for my own blog post later πŸ™‚

  32. I am pretty indifferent to the whole naming thing. I get why people change their name. I get why people keep their maiden names. I sort of, but don’t totally get why people hyphenate names. For me, it was just easier to change my name. And, because I was also attached to my maiden name, I made it my middle name (and got rid of my middle name, which had no meaning to me).

  33. Stevie says:

    I’ve actually read a couple posts this past week about name-changing and I love hearing peoples’ thoughts on it.

    When I was younger, the idea of changing my name was not even a question. I was definitely going to do it. But I’ve actually decided that I’m going to keep my name. Not for any huge reason…I just like my name! We might combine our last names when we have kids, but that’s several years down the road so we’ll see what happens.

    Also? I’m lazy and don’t want to go through the process of changing my name everywhere πŸ˜‰

  34. Sherry Sim says:

    Well 23 years ago most girls took their husband’s name…..My maiden name was so easy Robinson……my husband’s name is Sim and noone gets it right! I loved my maiden name and recently at a family function I introduced myself as Sherry Robinson…..it felt good!

  35. Kelly says:

    Interestingly I am still dealing with this issue haha. As you know this was a HUGE drama for me when I got married 2 years ago, and it’s not FULLY over, believe it or not. I actually enjoy having the same last name as Eric in life. Like you said, I enjoy being a partner with him and being part of his family as well as my own. I also want to have the same last name as my kids. However, I really did not want to change my last name at work. I’ve worked hard to make a reputation at my school with my old last name, it’s easier for the kids to say, and I don’t consider my life with Eric to be really all that related to my job at work, so therefore I’d rather switch between the two names. I also don’t find it confusing at all to switch between them, and I kind of like that it makes me harder to find on things like google haha. For the past two years I’ve mainly used both names (maiden as my middle) and since all my names are short I think it sounds good together and I’m used to it. Sadly, my technology department finally caught up with my double name thing I’ve been quietly doing, and changed my e-mail address earlier this year. This means my e-mail doesn’t match the names the kids call me, and although everyone has been super patient about it this year- I’m aware that I can’t really keep this up forever… sadly. Therefore this is probably my last couple of weeks of being Ms. ____ and next year I’ll be Mrs. I’m still sad about it but maybe not as crazy upset about it as I was 2 years ago. It’s funny, I can realize how irrational I am about the whole thing but it’s hard to stop being it. As much as I want to be a partner and share the same last name as my kids, to me it’s just still SO unfair that it means the girl has to change her name. Can’t get over it! haha. I swear I am an easygoing person! And I love Eric and being married is the best!!!

  36. Shoshanah says:

    I think I’ve commented with something similar before, but one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to changing my name is to get a clean slate online. With my current name I am the only one out there. And my first name with my married name is also unique, there is at least one other. I guess I don’t like the fact that I have no anonymity with my current name, and it sometimes scares me how much information you kind find out about people online.

  37. Vanessa says:

    I’ve never felt a strong connection to my last name. Not for any particular reason, but I’ve just always thought of myself as “Vanessa” and not so much “Vanessa _____”, you know? I always thought that if I was going to have children I’d like for our family to all have the same last name. I guess at the end of the day all that matters is how you feel about it!

    That hanger is a lovely gift. What great friends you have!

  38. Kyria says:

    To be honest, I haven’t really given the idea much thought. I am not super attached to my last name. It is pretty common and my first name is unique enough, so what the heck, I could go either way! I do get that it would be easier (ie less confusing) if everyone’s name in the family was the same!

  39. I didn’t legally change my name but I did adopt a name which is very formal and pays homage to my Spanish background. That name I save for formal occasions like court. For me it was the best of all worlds! πŸ™‚

  40. Becky says:

    I changed my name and I was really excited to do so – but it’s still a little bittersweet sometimes! However, after almost five years of marriage I still grin when someone calls me “Mrs….” because it’s just so exciting to hear!

    • Brittney says:

      LOL I have to second that. It’s been almost six years and I still get a feeling of “I AM A WIFE! AND AN ADULT!” when I hear Mrs.

  41. Brittney says:

    I was torn at first. I’m traditional because I always assumed I would take my husband’s last name, but my maiden name had a lot of neat aspects. The first being no one, absolutely no one, shared it outside of my family/extended family. It was a very rare Italian name that my grandpa tried to make “more American” when he immigrated and changed a few letters, so it became even more unique. I also knew that, having had no sons, our last name died off once my sister and I wed. I was also a little bummed because, although my husband and I are the only people we know with his last name (also Italian, so less common), we’re hardly the only ones with it. That being said, for the same reasons you stated, I dove head first and fully took just his last name!

  42. J says:

    I actually tried to keep my name professionally and my married name personally. It worked for about 6 months when I had to travel for work. All my flights and hotel rooms were booked in my maiden name, but my passport was in my married name. SO i changed it all over at work and now I go pretty much by my married name. Only a few people still refer to me by my maiden name.

    I really loved my maiden name and was sad to see it go. I like my husbands name but I was very attached to my original name, it felt like I was not myself. I think slowly I am getting used to my married name. I hope one day I can feel how I felt about my maiden name, about my married name.

  43. Wendy says:

    I ended up not changing my last name when I got married because a) we work for the same corporation (and his last name is very unique) and b) I have gone professionally by this name for years, and I’m kind of attached to it! I also have ID that originates from another country, so it makes it more difficult and time consuming to deal with a name change. In traditional Chinese culture, most women will not take her husband’s last name, rather the saying changes from Miss. Maiden-Name to Mrs. His-Last-Name.

    Perhaps one day I might when we have children, and that I can go by my maiden name professionally, but I haven’t quite made a decision on that yet. While I haven’t changed the name, I don’t mind being called Mrs. His-Last-Name, I think it’s fun, and it’s technically true that I am! Also, I google myself out of curiosity every once in a while. Althought my last name isn’t very common ,his is even less so (that’s what I get for marrying a Polish-Canadian!). If I google my first and his last name together, there is no-one that shows up by that name, maybe there is a good reason to change my name!

  44. Yep, I changed my name. I would never have kept my own last name … I didn’t feel attached to it in any way.

  45. I didn’t change my name for two reasons:
    1. The process is a hassle!
    2. When I got married, I was already a student pharmacist. The name you submit to the board at that time will be your professional (licensed) name for life. So if I changed my name I’d be one of those “professionally I’m Dr. so-and-so but personally I’m Mrs. this-and-that” and this did not appeal to me.

    For me it was just easier to leave things as they were.

  46. Jenny says:

    I changed my name when I got married. I would have been fine with my husband taking my last name, but that was a big no-go.

    I really wanted my kids to have the same last name as me – and us to have that traditional family unit.

    My brother though married a Mexican – and she already had a hyphenated name – so she dropped part of her name – took his – so still hypohenated and then my brother took the same hyphenated name.

  47. Hayley says:

    Im getting married in two weeks (and one day)!! I also have mixed feelings as I always hated my last name growing up as it’s unique and easily made fun of/ difficult to pronounce. I did grow to love it and there is only one male cousin in our family so it’s yet to be seen if our name will carry on. My fiancé’s last name starts with a Z, is 10 letters long and difficult to pronounce. Oy!
    I have decided to change it, but was always hoping I would marry someone with an easy to pronounce, common last name. πŸ™‚

  48. Jessica says:

    I love that hangar! What a sweet gift. If I get married, I would take his last name. I may give the kids my maiden one as a middle name so it’s still present but I’m traditional and would take it rather than hyphenate.

  49. Kaci Johanna says:

    I did change my name… after a looooot of internal conflict. It was especially difficult for me because I lost my dad when I was 16, and I was his only child. So, a big part of me wanted to keep my last name as a tribute to him. In the end, though, I ended up changing my last name… and although I sometimes still think it would have been nice to do that for my dad, I’m glad I did. He would have wanted that for me, my husband and our family.