I was in the middle of an article about Lauren Bush Lauren —  the niece and granddaughter of two of our presidents, as well as the daughter-in-law of Ralph Lauren — when I stopped reading and wondered if she ever had second thoughts about taking her husband’s surname. Lauren Lauren? There must have been a conversation or two, don’t you think?

It reminded me of that scene in The Wedding Singer, where Adam Sandler’s character giggles about what Drew Barrymore’s new name would be after her wedding: Julia Gulia! I got lucky in the surname department with Ben Blair (all of the letters in Blair are found in Gabrielle, and I think they sound nice together), but I confess, I identified so strongly as a “Stanley” that I really went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to change my name at all.

How about you? Did you change your name? If yes, did you hesitate at all, whether it was an odd one or because you simply loved your own? Or had you been doodling your new moniker from the minute you met your mate? I know you have amazing stories — and the funniest new married name you’ve ever heard — to share!

P.S. — Courthouse wedding via Wedding Lovers Anonymous.

228 thoughts on “Surnames”

  1. I had a lot of trouble when it came to changing my name. I started as Amy Michelle Sternthal, and I always signed using my middle initial. my drivers license had all 3 names. But I didn’t love the way my married name sounded with my middle name– Amy Michelle Mendelblatt. And I was prepared to drop my middle name. But then the DMV said that since I had 3 names originally, I had to keep 3 names. Ugh! such stress….right there at the DMV, I had to decide what I was going to do!
    So….I went with Amy Sternthal Mendelblatt. I liked that I kept my maiden name, AND took my husbands name, and got to keep the same initials, just in a different order. I was AMS, and now I’m ASM.
    It was a very stressful decision. but I felt lucky that my husband didn’t care one bit about what I did. It was entirely up to me!

    1. I’ve got a similar situation. I’m officially Gabrielle Stanley Blair, and when I sign anything I always include my middle initial. During the first five or so years of my marriage, I typically wrote out my full middle name instead of using the initial.

      But, I didn’t have to give up my middle name and replace it with my maiden name, because I never had a middle name. In my family, there are 4 sisters. Two of us had middle names, and two didn’t. Of the four brothers, all have middle names.

      With my own children, everybody has a middle name except Betty. Oscar actually has two middle names.

      1. In Canada, you can’t just slide your maiden name into the middle. You can keep your name, take his name, or hyphenate but adding a new middle name is a legal name change that costs a bundle and amends your birth certificate, which is not what I would want. I wasn’t born with my husband’s last name, and I don’t want that on my birth certificate! Being able to use the maiden name as a middle name makes a world of sense to me. I have enjoyed sticking my maiden name back into my Facebook identity though!

      2. I’m glad I’m not the only one who only gives some of her children middle names! Only two of my children have middle names. The other five don’t have middle names.

        We had to work really hard to agree on names, and our children have fairly uncommon names.

  2. I suppose for me there was a glimmer of a question. I’m an artist, and although I got married fairly young (24), I still had a decade’s worth of art that I had made with my maiden name. So then, I thought-should I hyphenate? But I tried to say/write it, and I knew that wouldn’t work: my maiden last name is difficult to pronounce/say, and my husband’s last name is also difficult to pronounce/say. My full name would be such a tongue twister. So I switched it. No Hyphens.
    What was funny, though, was when I went to the social security office to change it, the woman helping me looked at the paper and tried to pronounce my new last name, and stumbled, and she had me say it. She laughed, shook her head, and said, “Ooh, child-that MUST be love!” :)

  3. I’m getting married in just under two months (eeeee!) and I’ll be keeping my name. It just feels like a really huge part of my identity.

    I’m not militant about it and I think everyone should make their own decision. I might change my mind later (perhaps once we have kids), but for now we’re both happy with my decision!

    1. I admire that you feel flexible about it and not angsty. I definitely felt angsty about it for a long time, which was a waste of my energy. I should have made a decision and moved on.

    2. In Honduras, where I live, you can’t really change your maiden name, so for all legal purposes you use it, but you can use your married name for social reasons.

  4. My maiden name is also the name of a common fish — great when I was on swim team, but not so great outside of that, particularly in grade school when I got teased pretty regularly about it.

    I loved how elegant my husband’s surname sounded with my first name so I had no qualms about taking it — an upgrade, in my opinion. Of course, it was also helpful that it was also in the aqueous realm since swimming was a big part of my life.

  5. I kept my maiden name and have a different last name as my husband. My name is part of my identity and I didn’t want to change it.

    Last summer my sister got married and changed her name. A few weeks after she asked me if I was mad or dissapointed that she hadn’t kept our surname and I told her “Of course not!”. I think it’s fine to keep or change your name as you would like, but I do think women should think about it and do what they truly want, and not just change their name automatically and without question just because that is the way that it had always been done and is expected of them.

    1. “I do think women should think about it and do what they truly want, and not just change their name automatically and without question just because that is the way that it had always been done and is expected of them.”

      I agree. I think it’s healthy to examine traditions and make sure they’re still working.

  6. With my maiden name I was always asked “is that ua or ew?” for the spelling so I thought I’d escape that when I got my married now I get “is that on or ern?” – c’est la vie.

    I really identify myself with my married name more than my maiden name – I got married really young so I’ve had this name more now than my maiden name. My mum has the same first name as me so its always weird to hear her say her full name and think “that used to be me” The only downside to my married name is its not Scottish!!

  7. I love my husband and his family and I don’t like their last name. Not a bit. That is to say, I don’t like my own last name now! I didn’t even consider keeping my last name, it’s like I didn’t realize it was an option. Since I did loose it, we gave my maiden name to my first baby. He loves his name. I don’t have any daughters, but if I do I won’t be giving them a middle name. I’d love for them to easily throw our last name into the middle, if they get married, and take their husband’s name, if they want.

    1. I commented above that that is what happened to me. I had no middle name, so it was “easy” to push my maiden name to the middle. But really, there was nothing easy about it, for me, the name change was a big deal.

    2. There is probably no need to save the spot unless your country only allows it that way. I moved my maiden name to replace my middle name (married in Hawaii, lived in California). Easy peasy!

      It was VERY important for my husband to have my name match his so he filled out all of the paperwork and made the appointment at the social security office. I used my new full name professionally and always sign with my middle initial. We’ve been married almost ten years and now my husband says that he doesn’t know why it was so important to him then; he wouldn’t care now if my last name were still my maiden one. But it’s nice to have the same last name as my son; I think it makes traveling solo with him so much easier.

      My son has my maiden name as one of his middle names.

  8. I happily took my husbands name upon marriage. I sometimes miss my old name though. I made my maiden name my middle and dropped my birth given middle name. Perhaps I’ll give it to a daughter one day – although its trending top 10 right now and that is less appealing. We’ll see.

    1. I’m in the middle of changing my name now (though I’ve been married about 7 months). I am taking my husbands last name, though sometimes I think I’m going to miss my maiden name. And since I am in Canada, I can’t just slide my maiden name to the middle. I thought about hyphenating it, but it just sounded weird. Oh well, the biggest thing will be having the same last name as my future children. *sigh*

  9. I kept my original surname rather than taking my husband’s. I’m very proud of my family and identify very strongly with my own surname, so I never planned to change it. I also like the way it sounds with my first name–they share the same end syllables.

    My husband never questioned my decision, although we frequently talk about him someday taking my surname. His own is a traditional Polish surname that almost no one can spell or pronounce, where as mine is much simpler, but he already has a strained relationship with his family and doesn’t want one more thing to fight about. However, whenever he makes reservations or introduces himself to other people he uses my surname.

  10. My husband is British, and so I moved to the UK one month after we were married. Yet due to the timing of all the passport/visa processing stuff + marriage/moving overseas, I was stuck with a passport/visa in my maiden name. I also turned 29 shortly after we married, and seeing how well I was accustomed to my name, I really didn’t want to change it anyway. Almost a year later, I finally got the passport/visa changed to my new name, and it began the process of many, many hassles. When I went to pick the passport up from the Royal Mail office, they wouldn’t hand it over as it was addressed to my new name, yet I didn’t have any identification with my married name, except for the passport which was in the package. I almost cried as I begged the postal worker to please open the package and see that it really was me. I carried two passports for the next year until I got everything (in both countries) changed to my new name. I still have one bank account in my maiden name, because they won’t let me change it until I present multiple items of proof of name change. I’m just tired of the hassle . . . and I wish I would have either kept both last names or just taken on my husband’s name immediately. He has a very nice name actually; I was just too independent to give up what had been my “identity” for so long.

      1. I had a similar situation. Got married in Australia and took my husband’s (tricky italian)last name. Got married in Argentina (my country) a year later and there, you keep your maiden name or add your husband’s last name joined by “de” meaning “of”( I know it sounds possessive but I think of it as romantic- I am his!). I added his to my tricky Spanish last name.
        All was going well and I became Australian. They told me all passports had to match and as my Argentinian was with both names, I had to change everything the way it was in the Argentinian passport.
        Moral of the story? My name is Luz Maria Algañaraz de Imbriano and I live in Australia. I spend half of my life spelling out my various names and last names. But they all tell my story!

  11. I knew I would change my name when I got married, but I did love my name so it was still difficult. I am a December baby so my name was Holly Noel Bradham. When I got married I changed it to Holly Bradham Andler. However, I do love Christmas so people tease me with Holly Noel Antler instead of Andler! I’ll take it!

  12. I’ve been married almost four years and I still haven’t decided. I changed it on my email and facebook and have joked that that’s probably sufficient.

    I don’t think my husband minds either way. But I do tell him that if we have a child, I will probably make the change because I want to be on the same “team” as my family.

  13. Of course Ralph Lauren changed his name to Ralph Lauren from Ralph Lifshitz, so I suspect that she is grateful to be Lauren Bush Lauren and not Lauren Bush Lifshitz! The Feed project is an inspiration to all.

  14. I have two legal last names. My husband’s and my own. They are not hyphenated. I can switch between them or use them together. Which is nice because I feel that is how I can define my relationships with people. Those that knew me when I was single, those that knew me now that I am married and those that have known me as both single and married. My maiden name is very common which gives me a sort of anonymity which I find useful sometimes too.

  15. I did not change my name. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to keep my original name. My husband’s family accepted my decision very well, but I have one aunt who always addresses any mail using what would have been my married name.

    When I was pregnant, my husband and I debated what to call our kids… our names sound a bit silly hyphenated. We really thought about changing all of our last names to something new – a hybrid of the two. Ultimately we just used my husband’s last name for my girls. Several people have asked me if I mind having a different last name to my children – I really don’t!

    1. I should also add, maybe 6 or 7 years into our marriage, I was still sometimes troubled that I’d changed my name. And I wrote an essay about how I felt that the only truly fair and equal way to handle the name change was to “name” a new family when two people married, in the same way you’d name a baby.

      I liked the idea of coming up with a totally new name, unrelated to what either person had used before. No personal baggage attached to it. And maybe you could even give yourself an advantage — you could decide to name yourselves Rockefeller!

      1. This is what my partner and I are (planning on) doing. We’re both women, so there is no tradition to guide us, which feels pretty nice!
        We wanted our future kids to have the same last name as both of us, but my name, Hessmiller, sounds silly hyphenated with anything. So we’ve settled on a hybrid of the two – Hessek! Though the other possible hybrid is Popemiller, which is ridiculous yet amazing.

        It is nice thinking that as we start our own family, we are creating a new unit that is different from by connected to our own families. The hybrid name feels that same – distinctly ours but rooted in our families.

      2. That is exactly what my husband and I have done! We chose to take the last name of Rivers as a symbol of our joined journeys. I have always felt very strongly that I did not want to lose my last name to take my husbands. So instead, we both gained a new last name.

        Unfortunately, it is a rather legally complicated thing to do in our state. We are still only using our new last names informally one and a half years into our marriage. I can only hope we figure it out before adding a baby to the mix!

      3. I have a second cousin that took. New last name with his wife when they wed. He had his fathers last name, and since they were estranged, wanted to be distanced from it. They chose to adopt the maiden name of their great aunt (and my grandma)- Luc, which I adore because its a lovely name AND a new found use and respect for an old name in the family :)

        1. I’m embarrassed to say, that until I read all the comments on this post, I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like for a son with a no-good dad to wear his father’s name for a lifetime. I’d really only considered the name-change discussion from the point of view of a female feeling social pressures to change or not change.

          I’m suddenly so glad everyone has the option to change their name if they want or need to — whether it’s because of a marriage or for another reason entirely.

          1. Yes! We know two brothers who changed their name from their estranged stepfather’s name as adults. It was a little confusing professionally because they never made an announcement about it, we just noticed their email addresses had changed.

            My FIL was adopted as a child by his stepfather (no one asked him) and his name was changed. His stepfather was a terrible, horrible man and the name has brought my FIL so much agony over the years. He’s legally changed his name to start with his original surname.

  16. I changed my last name and didn’t have any second thoughts about it. Probably because I always identified most strongly with my first name . It’s so unique for someone my age that I was never known as Stella __(my maiden name)____. I was always just “Stella” and everyone knew who they were talking about. Plus, my husband’s last name means “good” in Russian, and I think that’s sweet.

  17. I had a hard time changing my name. I liked my last name–it was my identity, plus “Emily Foley” sounds dumb with the double “eeee” sound at the end. But I did it, and since I didn’t have a middle name I took my maiden name as my middle. And now I like Foley. But I had a friend when I lived in Utah whose name was Holly Hollie! I couldn’t believe she changed her name when she got married.

    1. We have a dear friend named Daniel Daniel. Not through marriage — his parents named him Daniel and their last name was already Daniel. And he’s awesome. So maybe we should all go with double names. : )

  18. Oh dear – My maiden name is Dennison, which I love and is so easy to pronounce and a married a DeBardelaben, which is so intimidating, both to read and to say. So when I started my blog I decided to keep Dennison, just to make it easier on readers, but legally my name is Katy DeBardelaben.

  19. Born Allison but always called Allie.
    Married Mr. Hoopes.
    Became allie-oops.

    It’s a little silly but I am happy with it. When meeting someone new I can point it out and they are not likely to forget my name.

  20. Yep, my first name rhymes with my married last name. I just pause in between saying the two together. my name is first name pause last name. many people have commented that they love the combination…I then have to do an internal eye roll.

    1. Mine rhymes too! But my married name is shorter than my maiden name so I was glad to change it. I did keep it as a middle name, but generally only use the initial.

    2. In high school I had a Spanish teacher with a first name and last name that looked like they should rhyme but don’t. Marcia (pronounced Marsha) Garcia. You can tell who knows her from her single days because they call her “Marsha Garsha,” but later friends call her “Marceeyah Garceeyah.”

      She would jokingly warn her students to think carefully about possible future names before even going on a first date with someone!

  21. growing up i’d never assumed i’d ever take my husband’s name. i’m one of 2 girls, and my dad only has a sister, so my sister and i are the last who carry this name in our immediate family–it had become a part of every nickname i ever had, and a part of my identity. early in my relationship with my now-husband i mentioned that i wouldn’t take his name if we got married, and he seemed offended (he was of a more traditional ilk). as our relationship progressed, so did we as people. by the time we were engaged neither of us was so sure of our stance. then when it came time to make the decision, i’d toyed with hyphenating, keeping both last names without a hyphen, and taking his. he had come full circle and said he’d be happy with whatever i wanted to do, but simply requested no hyphen. i ended up losing my original middle name, moving my maiden name to my new middle name, and taking his last name. so, my maiden name is still there, and my nicknames are still relevant :) also, my husband still playfully calls me by my (maiden) last name often at home. i do miss my original name, but have enjoyed having the same last name as my children, and haven’t regretted the change.

    1. First off, I love this whole conversation, Gabby.

      I’ve always felt like I would keep my surname, because of the same reasons (Dad only had daughters….and let’s be honest, it sounds good together and it’s been my identity for 30 years).

      That being said, MOST men I’ve met (including several friends’ husbands), have said they’d be offended/call the whole thing off if the woman didn’t take his last name. Listen. I get that it’s the norm. And, I’m sure when men finally find the time to settle down, it’s flattering for the chosen bride to take his name. But…. like…. really?! It’s blowing my mind that so many men feel so strongly about it. It’s my name!

      1. “It’s blowing my mind that so many men feel so strongly about it.”

        As I read the comments, I’ve thought the same thing. Interesting to see how strongly the name change tradition is entrenched in the U.S. — and also interesting to see that each country and culture handles it in a different way.

  22. I got married when I was 23 and took my husband’s surname for several reasons, first because my maiden name was difficult to spell, second because I knew we wanted a family and it would be easier to have the same last name, third it was important to my husband. A lot of my friends were surprised that I would agree to change my name because of the third reason, but in the end it was either my husband’s name or my father’s and I wasn’t going to let any name define me. Fast forward 14 years and two children later, I was facing a heartbreaking divorce. I did not take back my maiden name for several reasons again, first because I had made a name for myself professionally, second I thought it would be easier to keep the same name as my children, and third I never thought I would get married again. Well fate had other plans. I met and fell in love with the most wonderful man who wanted to get married. Now what to do? Change my name again? I had just gone through that. But keep the name of my ex-husband while sharing my life my new husband? Awkward. But, I struggled with not having the same name as my kids and losing some professional identity recognition. However, in the end my husband pointed out that he intended for me to have his last name longer than I had my maiden name or my ex-husband’s name. Since I’m a lawyer, he knew how to appeal to my love of logical rationalization, so I changed my name. Because in the end, a rose by any other name, smells the same.

  23. I love reading these stories! And I adore that picture. I love names so much, and it’s my favorite part of writing!

    I used to say that I would love to marry someone whose last name is Carter…Carter Carter would be SO much fun! I do love that my first name is a surname in my family, so that feels special. The only time I hated my name was in second grade, cause it turns out that Carter has a very funny rhyming word to go along with it.

  24. I kept my name when I married. I identified closely with having very common names (first and middle), but both were spelled differently and were always misspelled by others unless I corrected them (which I do when it’s important, but don’t bother to correct when it doesn’t matter).

    My husband had no problem with me keeping my name, but my in-laws did, although our relationship is a good one so after a few years it became a non-issue. One of my grandmothers had a problem with it as well. Oh well, she got over it. She strongly identified with being Mrs. Husband’s Full Name, so she couldn’t relate at all.

    We have three daughters and they all have my husband’s last name. I didn’t want to get into any hyphenating and I didn’t want to freak out any more family members any more. I think my daughters believe it’s a little weird that I didn’t change my name, and I would bet that they all change their names when they get married, and I’ll be happy with whatever they choose as it’s their choice!

    Just an aside, my husband and daughters all have first names that start with the same letter, so they all have the same first and last initials. Of course, both of my initials are different.

  25. I was in my last year of college and in the middle of recruiting “season” with big firms when I got married. I didn’t change my name right away because I didn’t want any of the firms I was looking at to get confused about who I was.

    My husband was so set on us having the same last name that he told me he would change his to mine if I didn’t want to take his name. This was such a meaningful getsture for me, even though I was always planning to take his name.

    My maiden name is Hylton; my married name is Martyn. I always say that I got to keep my “y”.

  26. I kept my name because I like it, because it is my name, and because I am an established professional and a feminist. I made this decision when I was a teenager. Also, my husband’s last name is Chinese and… well, I am not. I did feel a little bit bad when I thought about what my father-in-law might think about it, but not bad enough to reconsider my decision. When my husband told his father that I was keeping my name, he exclaimed with delight, “Oh, that is very Chinese!”

    1. I love your father-in-law’s response!

      P.S. — I’m a feminist too. I think you can change your name and still be a feminist. I remember realizing that whether I changed my name or kept my maiden name, I was stuck with a man’s name, (and even if I took my mother’s maiden name instead, it was really her father’s name, and on, and on…).

      1. exactly! that’s one argument I think when people say they kept their name.. but it was their dads name etc. I don’t think there is any perfect answer which is why its up to you to choose I suppose. or having maiden name as middle is a good compromise.
        As parents of all girls we wonder what will happen or if husbands name is gone …

  27. I was given an unusual first name, so even as a young child I was very used to comments and questions about where it came from and why my parents picked it. Even having people ask me “have you ever heard the song…” and bursting into ‘You Are My Sunshine’, but it had never crossed my mind that I could make my name even more interesting…. until I met Peter Burns.

    I remember realizing the name situation just several hours before our first date – OH GOODNESS! SUNSHINE BURNS! …. life is funny, and I have a funny name!

  28. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    My Grandfather escaped from Poland during WWII. He went to Scotland, fought with the British Army and married my Grandma. They had three kids. They came to the States in 1959 and were the ONLY Balabuszkos in all of the US. I decided that I would like to keep the name going. My husband agreed and decided to hyphenate along with me. He went from a four letter name to a fourteen letter name with a hyphen. What a gent! All four of us have the name now. We use the short part for dinner reservations and the like. My husband goes by B-Reay professionally. No one forgets his name. My kids can do whatever they want with the name when they grow up. It is pronounced Bal-ah-bush-ko-ray. I still like it.

  29. I was Katie Olson. I am now Katie Buttram. I teach high school. Butt-Ram. I have them call me Ms. B.

    I never even questioned changing my name until we were at the court house ready to sign the marriage license. I hesitated for a second. My husband’s face just sunk. I smiled and signed. Then, gave him a big kiss.

    I always figured if I didn’t want to be conventional, I wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.

    1. “I always figured if I didn’t want to be conventional, I wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.”

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard that line of thinking before. It really struck me.

  30. I was fine with changing my last name name when I married. Personally, I wanted everyone in the family — parents and children — to have the same last name. Also, I grew up with a last name that was ALWAYS mispronounced and then took on a new last name that is ALWAYS mispronounced. It was a lose-lose situation in that regard!

  31. I kept my birth name mostly because I just love it and could not part with it! For much of my life people have complimented me on it and I would miss that for sure. (Truth be told, my husband does not have an attractive last name. I love him dearly but …) Also, by the time we got married I was an established journalist. In journalism, that byline is everything! We have 3 kiddos now and have been married 10 years, and my decision has worked out just fine for us. Our kids all have my last name as a middle name. I love that their initials are almost exactly the same, and I love telling all three of them that they have mom’s name and dad’s name. We live in a university town and both work at a large university, where it’s somewhat common to have different last names, hypenated last names, etc. Our church community is quite conservative and there, I’m one of only a handful of women who have kept their last names. I have to say I love being the rabble-rouser there. ;-)

  32. I was not excited to change my name when I got married. I did it because it was important to my husband. Then a year into being married, my Dad divorced my Mom and it made me so angry, I was even more grateful I changed my name! LOL I did not want to have my Father’s last name anymore. Aside from that, I love my name, especially my married name, it fits me so much better than my old last name. It is funny how we adapt to things and can surprise ourselves with what we love when initially we were not sure about it! I think one of the reasons giving my old name up was difficult, had more to do with my degrees being in my old name. When I learned I could get my degrees with my married name on them from my Universities, it made me feel happier.

  33. I live in Quebec, Canada and it’s actually not legal to change your name when you get married here. Many women will go by their married name in everyday life (mostly older women), but we are not permitted to change it on our official documents from the province (health cards, driver’s license, passport etc). I guess that the government just found it easier to keep track of everything this way. And I am so used to it that the thought of taking my husband’s name seems odd. A lot of people hyphenate their kids names, but since that would give our son 18 letters of surname, we decided not to!

    1. I love this! I can’t tell you the effort it takes to change a name: mortgage, license, social security, registration, insurance policies, on and on and on. Why bother?

  34. Here in Quebec, after years of having wives obligated to take their husband’s last name, we can’t do that anymore. Girls keep their name when they get married (so do the guys!) The parents can give either of their names or both names (with a hyphen or not) to their children. I really wanted my kids to keep my name going so they have both names with a hyphen. If I could have taken my husband’s name, I don’t think I would have.

  35. My husband’s surname is the first syllable of my two-syllable maiden name. However, his has the virtue of beginning with the intuitive C rather than the confusing K my maiden name began with. After six years of dating I was already sick of hearing how similar our names were and how funny that was. Plus, I really liked the idea of everyone in our newly-created family having the same name.

    Even with all that, though, I still agonized over the decision, and it took me quite a while to adjust to my new name. (Part of the problem may have been that it sounded like everyone, including myself, was only saying half my last name until I got used to the new one.)

    Now I adore my married name. I love it’s spare simplicity with my first name, the fact that it guarantees me almost complete anonymity online, and how awesome it sounds with our daughter’s name.

  36. This subject provokes strong opinions, doesn’t it? I kept my maiden name, for no other reason than it felt right for me. My mom falls squarely into the “Mrs. husband’s first name-last name” category, even signs her checks that way, and I found this incredibly weird and off-putting, even as a child. I recall saying, incredulously, “You call yourself Mrs. Jon X? Your first name is HIS first name?” Before I even knew what feminism was, I was appalled at the idea of her being subsumed into him and his identity. As a grown, dating woman, I wasn’t strident about it, but my husband knew I felt uncomfortable about dropping my name and assuming his. In fact, he said since the idea of changing his own name was not something he would ever want to do, why would he ask me to do the same?

    I do realize that even today, I’m in the minority here in the U.S.. It is assumed that the woman will change her name. We’ve been married almost 20 years and we still have some family and friends address us as Mr. and Mrs. husband’s last name. So be it. Also, I’ve received innumerable comments about it over the years, ranging from admirable to rude, from kids to senior citizens (seems everyone has an opinion). The worst is when someone hears my husband’s long, German last name and says something along the lines of, “Oh boy, no wonder you kept your name.” What kind of small-minded, rude person would I have to be to decline to take his name solely because it was unusual? I usually give people a blank look and leave them to laugh uncomfortably alone.

    There’s nothing wrong with tradition; this is just one I chose not to follow. It feels like strong continuity to have had the same name my whole life, something all men are afforded, by the way, and it neither weakens nor strengthens my marital or family bonds. My daughter and son both know it is a woman’s choice to make and are quick to tell people my last name (and have to spell it – it isn’t straightforward either). We call ourselves The (husband’s last name) family and that doesn’t bother me at all. Of course I’m part of that family, and an integral part at that! I just happen to have a different last name.

  37. I had a friend named Skye who dated a young man whose lost name was Walker – unfortunately they did not get married – Skye Walker would have been choice.

    I took my husband’s last name and the first time it was used I had a little moment, but I feel like we have made the name and our family our own and I am glad we share.

      1. My daughter’s name is Skye. My son and husband have always hoped that she will marry a man with the last name Walker one day. Silly boys.

    1. Haha. I knew a Joe Ryder who was dating a Joy. Joy Ryder was riotous to us back in high school. Come to think of it, I don’t know what happened to them.

  38. my finace and I just broke up. me not wanting to change my name was ALWAYS an issue with him. no wonder I would not change to PAYNE. I will NEVER switch my name to something that isn’t me, and told him if it meant so much he should change his name to mine (wouldn’t do it)

  39. I loved my maiden name — McMillin — because it sounds so Irish, and the second capital letter is just cute. I wanted to take my husband’s last name, and I’m happy I did, but I feel like “Kreisel” aged me about 10 years. I’m a teacher so that’s usually what I go by!! I still misspell it occasionally. The e beore i is a little weird. Haha.

  40. I find this truly fascinating… Honestly!

    In Spain we do not change our surnames at all!
    We get our name and then our dad’s (1st) surname and then our mum’s (in the English speaking countries our first surname is often confused with a middle name, so we need to hyphenate both surnames!).

    Women’s surnames are also lost in the generations, as it is the first surname the one that survives, but recently a new law lets us choose the order of the surnames. That is quite nice, especially to avoid funny rhymes or losing a nice surname to a López-kind-of-thing :)

    Anyway, no López, but I have a reaaaaaally common first surname (González). There are plenty of common Spanish surnames that end in -ez (historically, it was like the Spanish equivalent of -son, -sen, van der… etc.)… My sister married a Gutiérrez, my husband-to-be is a Sáez… That’s quite a lot of z’s!
    My second surname (Panizo) is not that common, especially in the region where I live, and I really like it. I used to sign my writings with Sabela G. Panizo but my dad gave me such a sad face one day… I never did it again!

    Also, if I understood correctly from the comments… in the US you are only allowed to have 1 name + 1 middle name + 1 surname?? That’s quite odd!

    Just for the fun of it:
    – In Portugal, they can have up to 4 surnames (maybe more, that’s what I’ve seen!), but the father’s surname is placed last. When asked for their names, they will often give you just the first name and the last surname, but there may be more!
    – In Bulgaria (and maybe other countries), children have a first surname which is their father’s first name in genitive (like Alexeyev for Alexey or Spasov for Spas) and then their father’s surname… which would be their grandfather’s name, if I am not much mistaken!
    – In Iceland, your surname depends on being a girl or a boy and it isn’t your family’s name, but your mother’s or father’s!: the last part of it changes, -sson if you’re a boy, -sdóttir if you’re a girl.

    (sorry for the enormous comment!) :*

    1. I like the sound of Iceland’s tradition, too.

      One thing to clear up: in the U.S., you are definitely allowed to have more than one middle name. In fact, our son Oscar has two middle names. And I’ve always heard you can have as many as you like. But for sure, the majority of Americans go with First, Middle, Last.

      1. I am Icelandic, and I live in the UK with my Icelandic husband and daughters, and we of course use our patronymic names . In our family my husband has one surname (Gunnarsson, his father´s first name being Gunnar), I have another (Viðarsdóttir, my father´s first name being Viðar) and our daughters a third (Helgadóttir, the daughter of Helgi, my husband´s first name). This has never posed any problems. We don´t change our surname on marriage, and our registers, phone books etc are ordered by our first names. You don´t become someone else´s son or daughter simply because you marry!

      2. Oh, ok! Reading the comments it looked like some people tried to keep both their middle names and two surnames but couldn’t… Thanks a lot!

    2. Sabela,

      As far as I can tell, in the US it depends which DMV you go to when you get your name changed! They let me keep my first + middle [mom’s maiden] + my maiden + husband’s name with no problem, but a number of my friends had to pick one to drop. I have no idea why that is. I like my full name, though it’s a lot to sign. It’s kind of like the Spanish way, now that I think of it — a whole story of where I came from.

  41. I was happy to change my name when I got married, not because I hated my maiden name (I love it actually) but because I have zero connection to my father or my father’s family. I went from being Megan Tenney to Megan McMeans. I love the alliteration of my married name, and I love that it’s a “Mc” name because I love all things Scottish and Irish!

    I used to watch Paige Davis on Trading Spaces (now she’s on Home Made Simple, I think) but she had a TV special about her wedding years ago, and her new married name was… Paige Page. She still goes by Paige Davis, professionally of course.

  42. I got married VERY young, at the age of 19. I took his last name because it never even occurred to me not to at the time. So I became Maria Allen and it just never felt right. But it was what is was you know? Years later (nearly 7 to be exact) that marriage ended and I took my maiden name back. I remember calling my Mom after leaving the courthouse, newly divorced. I said, “Well Mom, I’m Maria Baker again,” and she said, “Welcome back.” It was such a simple thing, but it just made me feel like me again. And I realized how much I’d missed that girl. I’m common law married to my best friend in the whole world now so I’m still Maria Baker. But he and our girls all have the last name Lohnes (pronounced low-ness.) Pretty much the only way I’d change my last name now is if it became an issue for my girls. Otherwise, I am who I am. :)

  43. For me it was easy. My husband changed to my name. No big deal! He had a very common name and I don’t think we even had a very long discussion about it, we just agreed it was the best choice for us.
    (We are swedish and it is not unusual to take the girls last name but most people change to the mans last name or keep their own)

  44. I grew up in a large family in a small town with a unique name. It became very recognizable and common, and annoyed me much until high school. Then I decided to love it, and the alliteration really helped people remember. All through college I loved how my name sounded so fresh and fun, sparked conversations, and no one ever forgot it.

    When I got married just after graduation, I always knew I’d change my name, but it made me a little sad. I’m very glad my parents didn’t give me a middle name so I could easily use my maiden name as my new middle. It’s hard for me that people don’t remember my name as well anymore. I’m sure in a few more years I’ll love it. I love the way it works with my husbands name as he can be MarkO. Many people comment on how Irish my full name is. I grin because I’m Irish, but my husband isn’t at all!

    1. Kelli, what a fun story to read… I’ve known your forever, and hadn’t realized you ever hated your name :) I too love how irish your new name sounds. It really suits you!

      1. Hi Val! You can imagine how it’s hard for teachers to remember our names as we all look alike. It’s just nice when someone knows you are unique. My poor little sister.

        I should also note that the Irish last name was apparently made up/ adopted when a great-grandfather ran away from the merchant marines!

        Are you saying I have some Irish fire in me? Grandma is probably very proud!

  45. @LindTS: I love this! The Swedes are so much more progressive than the rest of the world. To have that level of equality here would be fantastic.

  46. I was 22 when I got married. I had yet to finish college and really wanted my maiden name on that diploma. I was the first in my family to graduate from college and by golly I wanted our family represented. I also had moved 2000 miles to be with my fiance. It felt like I was in another world. I love him with my whole heart forever and ever but I just could not drop my last name. I felt I had given up so much of my life I could not give up my identity too.

    I ended up hyphenating. I never minded if I was called by my maiden, married name, or hyphenated name…I just wanted to know it still existed….that I was still there.

    We’ve been married 15 years, I’m still far far from home but now sign my name with just my married name. I’m now sure of who I am, I also hated explaining that there was a hyphen and I know as much as my husband said anything I wanted was fine I know he loves when I sign with his last name.

  47. I still miss my maiden name. I wanted to go by (first, maiden, married) but my husband didn’t like that, I now realise it is a very common thing in the US, so I wonder if he would have felt better about it if we had been living here then. I don’t really mind, my married name is a goodie, but I miss that connection to my parents and the honour I feel to be part of their family.

    Anyway, I also wanted to say – I have commented before that my maiden name is Wallace (and pondered any unlikely distant connection to Ben Wallace Blair – but would you believe I also descend from Stanleys? My maternal great grandmother was a Stanley!)

    1. Fun shared names! From what I understand of my family history, our Stanley surname was actually a stand-in for something else that was too hard to spell (or something like that). When I was missing my maiden name, I would remind myself of that. : )

  48. My parents are divorced and my mom remarried and had 2 more kids. So everyone had the same last name except for me. I looked forward to starting my own family and sharing a family name. The fact that my husbands last name is Flowers made it that much sweeter.

    1. The variety of stories and experiences is so amazing to me. I’m sure I would have felt the same as you and looked forward to sharing a name, instead of being sad at losing one.

  49. I ADORE these comments. I want to respond to every single one. Interesting experiences and lots of different perspectives. But most of all, I love that they are civil and that no one is attacking anyone else’s choices.

    High-fives to Design Mom Readers everywhere!

      1. We’ve come a long way baby! It’s amazing just how controversial this conversation would have been not so very long ago.

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