The Name Game: Should you Take your Husband’s Surname When you Marry?

Kathryn Underwood was always last to be called in the school register. I’m not sure why it bothered me so much that I was stuck on the end every time, but it did. I felt like an outsider and I longed to be all snuggy in the middle with the Matthews’ and the Smiths’ and the Jones’. “It’s OK though”, I justified to myself, “when I get married I’ll never have to be at the end of a register ever again…”

And then I married a Williams.

When I married, keeping my maiden name was something I never even considered. I’m actually a little surprised with myself that this was one of the few traditions that I never thought to rebel against! I’ve personally never felt that taking my husband’s name had anything to do with me being an oppressed woman, and I certainly never felt it was an archaic tradition that made me somehow become my husband’s possession (just as I didn’t even consider that my father wouldn’t walk me down the aisle. I actually felt this was a really special part of our wedding). I know many people do feel this, but me? Nah not so much…

I love that we have the same name and we often joke about being ‘Team Williams’. I never felt particularly tied to my old surname. I didn’t dislike it but it didn’t define me. I defined me. However I think deciding people should call me Kat instead of Kathryn (when I was about 16) was empowering. I chose to be Kat, just as I chose to be a Williams.

However I really started to think about this topic when I received the following email last week. Charlotte has, without a doubt, the coolest surname ever and is unsure of what to do with it when she marries her boy…

Hello Kat

Firstly may I say precisely how much I love your blog! Barely a day goes by when I’m not pawing over its beautifully designed pages. Thank you for existing!

Now on to my question. I want to make it clear that I’m not expecting a conclusive answer but I want to discuss this issue with someone objective who will share their opinion without rolling their eyes at me and telling me “that’s just the way it is – get over it!”

My fiancé and I planning to get married in 2014. We already have distinct plans and ideas for the day and wanted to get everything sorted as far in advance as possible so we can use our outstanding creativity to DIY the hell out of many many things. However, one detail we’re still confused about is our names. I have a pretty wonderful surname. My surname is Cloud. It makes me smile every time someone tells me how nice a name that is and it’s always bothered me that I’d have to drop it. I decided I didn’t want to drop it a while ago, but my fiancé won’t take mine. Although his argument isn’t that “it’s not the man’s job to take another name” (I have heard this opinion a lot recently!) it still leaves me wondering what on earth we’re to do. His surname (Fleming) is just a general English surname that a good few people will have. It’s not offensive, but it does become so when coupled with Cloud, so double barrelled is right out.

I then thought about each of us keeping our own surnames. I really don’t like this idea. I do feel that sharing surnames is an important part of being a married couple, and if we don’t share surnames then I won’t feel as married as I could. If we have children, I don’t want them to have a different surname to either of us; I want people to know that they’re ours, not just mine or just his.

I have heard of couples inventing their own surnames in situations like this but I’m quite lost now. I’m not really sure what I want to do and the easiest thing may well be to suck it up and drop my surname. Our families will be expecting it and if he drops his in any way they may feel betrayed. This does remind me though that many marriage traditions exist because a woman was property to be traded, and I don’t want to be branded as the property of his family name. I know that attitude might not fit in nicely within the ideals of someone who values marriage, but I’m full of contradictions!

Is this a situation you’ve come across before? I would appreciate some words of wisdom.

Many thanks

Charlotte Cloud

Charlotte Cloud! Yes, she’s right, that is the coolest name ever. It certainly made me smile as I saw it sat there, looking all cute and pretty on the page. Honestly though, I don’t feel well equiped enough to answer her dilemma on my own. My one tiny piece of advice would be that you have to do what’s right for you. In your gut you probably know what the right choice is and just because there are pressures from both camps (to change or not to change) you are the only person who can say what is right or wrong for you. After all it’s no-one’s name but your own!

To name oneself is the first act of both the poet and the revolutionary. When we take away the right to an individual name, we symbolically take away the right to be an individual. Immigration officials did this to refugees; husbands routinely do it to wives. - Erica Jong

Anyway, in order to get a more rounded idea of opinions on this subject, I took to twitter and facebook and asked my wonderful followers to help me out. And oh boy did you! In droves! I had literally hundreds of messages from you all (you can see the ones that were posted directly to facebook here). I wish I could post them all but alas it would equate to the worlds longest blog post so here are just a few of my favourites…

♥ Emily Quinton - I have pretty much always know that I wouldn’t take my husband’s name if I ever got married, and I interestingly so has my sister. I was absolutely sure about it until my little girl asked me why I wasn’t a Lewandowski too and it was nearly enough to make me do it. But no, I have kept my name.

However, we have had several conversations about merging our two names and becoming Quinski. Some of our friends call us the Quinski family and I do really like it. The coming together of two families into one new name. We haven’t done it yet and I’m not sure if we ever will but you never know! There was some objection from family members, so perhaps it might be too political and a step too far. I think the fact I haven’t changed my name is enough for some people!

 Lyndsay Kirkham – I didn’t change my name. Firstly, we were living in Brussels, Belgium at the time and it just isn’t done there, so the logistics of getting name changed on documents would have been a nightmare (and you do not want to do anything administrative if you are an expat living in Brussels).

Secondly, I was pregnant with my son and the idea of him carrying both of our names was really lovely to me. My husband is English and I am Canadian, so I really liked the idea of our son carrying both of his cultures in his hyphenated name.

Third, my name is my own. I have had this sucker my whole life and didn’t see why I should take the name of my husband. It did seem a bit archaic and unnecessary to me. I mean, it is lovely and romantic to think of becoming one family under one name – but that really isn’t what marriage or family is about. It isn’t about the symbols, it is about the day to day respect and love that you give each other and how you treat your marriage in ‘real time’.

Finally, I am a writer and didn’t want to take away the connections to my poetry and articles. Few they may be, I didn’t want to start fresh as a Mrs….

♥ Corinne Hills - When I got married (the first time) I happened to marry someone with the same surname (no, we weren’t related!) so I kept my surname. Now I am remarrying my partner is taking MY surname, this is partly because we have children and I have a son from my 1st marriage so I want us all to have the same name.

Changing your name is a tradition, nothing more and keeping your own name shows no less of a commitment to your lives together. I like that my partner has changed his name, his dad left when he was a baby so he was never very attached to his name which helped. I suppose if you are planning a family it can be nice to share a name.

♥ Clare Waterfall-Hallam – I am a Waterfall by birth. I got stick for it being a child, then Sarah Green (the real one) told me through the telly that it was a lovely name. Something I already knew, but it made a 6 year old me brush off the childish comments more easily. As you can imagine there are not many of us Waterfalls so the name is very defining. On occasions our name ‘sticks’ and can be a hindrance, it can also be a gift.

As a love struck teenager-20 something, I’d practice my then-boyfriend’s surname as my married signature. After all that is what you do, take his name. Then the bastard broke my heart and I spent a long time not knowing who or what I was. After a long time I looked back at the 6 year old me. What did I want to be when I grew up? So I made big efforts, with the help of a great support team and became who I wanted to be. At 32 years old I was marrying my Rob. He is an awesome man but I had taken a long journey to appreciate that I am an awesome person too. I had been Clare Waterfall for these 32 years, I liked her and wasn’t willing to leave her. My Dad has 3 daughters and his brother is in Canada so our line stops here. It’s not an age old lineage, we adopted the name 3 generations ago when the Birches of Waterfall moved to Manchester. I simply wanted to keep something of my Dad and my Grandpa and of me.

Another thing that bugs me is the assumption that a woman ‘should’ take her husband’s name. Like she belongs to him in the same way your mum writes your name in your school jumper, let’s everyone know who’s it is! This opinion has come with time and experience of a shocking presence of latent and sometimes aggressive sexism that runs still in our generation (that’s another story all together). I decided that I should like to double barrel. I want to share a family name with him and any kids. For my creative work and tv credits I retain Clare Waterfall. For school I am just Hallam, it saves the kids doing Facebook stalking etc. and gives me a very clear separation between teaching and making.

My husband initially remarked that I should take his name as it’s commonplace in the UK. I expressed my feelings and he totally got it! He told me he was marrying Clare Waterfall and that was all that mattered. However he didn’t want to take my name, for pretty much the same reasons, all his tv credits are Hallam, plus I think the latent sexism crept in, a proud and traditional man in many ways. With regards our children, Rob was quite insistent that they be Waterfall Hallam over Hallam Waterfall, which was a relief as that is what I wanted too! I cover all bases because ultimately my heart lies in many camps. I do love it when they call ‘Mr and Mrs Hallam’ to a table. I love being Clare Waterfall and I love sharing my name with my son. I am indecisive and greedy. I don’t know why people are reluctant to double barrel. It is not a snobbery or elitism thing. It is pride in both families heritage. I also cannot understand why it has to be an issue. My friend’s country you keep your name, there isn’t even an equivalent of Mrs. Mrs, belonging to Mr.

I’m still not sure what the correct and proper camp is, perhaps I’m straddling the two or perhaps I’ve created my own. Either way I’m happy with my many names! I would just like to add, when facing protestations from chaps over why I didn’t automatically take Rob’s name, I ask them if they would take their wife’s. Most flat out refuse with many a justification, many of them are the same as mine. Sometimes that quells the issue, other people simply don’t get it.

I wish it really didn’t matter, after all, A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

♥ Jill Blanc - I love my surname “Blanc” so didn’t want to take my husband’s name “McDermott” (Ugggh!), and was very adamant about it, which kind of disappointed him. As it was getting closer to the wedding, we were having hassle with family and stuff so wanted to show my love for my wonderfully supportive husband-to-be, so I told him I would take his name… he actually got really emotional and really appreciated it. It made me happy that I made him happy!

I then decided to start designing wedding stationery and Jill McDermott just didn’t have that creative ring to it so I went back to Jill Blanc. Now in my personal life I am known as Jill McDermott… and in my work life I am known as Jill Blanc… I love the separation of it!

Gilly Rosenthol - My fiancé and I started discussing marriage maybe two weeks after we started dating.  A few days later, I turned to him and said suddenly “I don’t have to take your name, do I?”  He said “Good god, no!”  Even as a kid, thinking about my future marriage, the idea of taking my husband’s name never felt right to me.  Why would I suddenly give up my identity to take on his?  I can see that it’s convenient for a family to have one joint name when there are children involved, but I’ve never felt the urge to have children, and since I’m 42 and my fiancé already has a 15-year-old daughter, we’re definitely not planning on having any more.  So when we marry, we will each get to keep our own names, with all of their history and identity, while we join together to create a new identity as a family.

As to advice for someone who isn’t sure she wants to change her name… I’d say, first of all, try to look at the reasons why you feel you should, or reasons why you don’t want to, and explore the feelings behind them.  And remember that the only choices are not keeping your own name or taking his!  You can hyphenate, you can both take a new name together, you can change your middle name, you can keep your names but come up with a plan for naming future children, you can keep your name professionally but change it personally… you can do pretty much anything you can come up with that feels true to yourself and your partner.

♥ Fiona Howard – soon to become Butler I’m sure if there are 10 brides there will be 10 different reasons why they decide not to take husband’s surname. I’m also sure my story will be a little controversial and the truth is I think I didn’t take my first husband’s name because I wasn’t 100% committed to my marriage – or so I realised when it collapsed.

I always said I didn’t want to change my name for reasons like a) I’m too lazy, b) In Japan (where I was born & my Mum is from) you have to change your name and I wanted to rebel against that heritage, and c) I’m an only child so would be nice to keep my surname. And insisted I was called Ms Howard. But looking back I think I didn’t want to change it because I didn’t want to fully be ‘in’ the marriage. I must have had some reservations. We married after being together for 8 years and seemed natural thing to do. I loved him but I guess I wasn’t in love with him any more (cliché but it’s true) Marriage lasted 2 years, and after I told my mum I’m leaving him, she told me that she always knew I shouldn’t have married him. Mum knows best!

I’ve met someone wonderful now, got engaged 6 months after we met and getting married in 3 months time. And I can’t wait to change my name. It definitely feels different from it was with my ex – I will be so proud to be called Mrs Butler.

♥ Audrey Caldwell - I did take my husband’s last name. Here’s why: I liked it and even if you keep your maiden name, the truth is the maiden name is still your father’s name (or Grandfather’s if your mother kept her maiden name, but it comes from a male head of family eventually). If most women avoid taking their husband’s name for sake of feminism, keeping their father’s name – a symbol of paternal familial ownership – is still not any mark of feminist revolt and thus defeats the purpose of not taking a marital name! So, just thought I would share that, as it helped me make my decision when I wed.

The true goal of the feminist revolution is to allow women choices, so choose whenever name you like and want most!

Vicky Holmes - I am getting married in September and it has been quite a job deciding what to do with my surname.

I work in academia, I have publications under my maiden name and therefore can’t start publishing in another surname (although I know others who have). I have the option of having a work name and a personal name.  However, from people I know who have done this it can cause quite a headache. For example, travelling to conferences – you are invited under your work name, but your passport has your married name.

Plus, after 30 years of having this surname, I am simply just quite attached to it (I did consider the double-barrel route, but “Dyson-Holmes” sounds like a hybrid cleaner). Although, I won’t be offended if people call me Mrs Dyson.

People reactions to me not changing my surname has been quite surprising.  While others have said ‘why would you?’, others have implied I am not wholly committed to the marriage if I do not take my husband’s surname.

Asking my students opinion (most of whom are 18), both male and females have said they expect that their wives would keep their maiden name.  However, the boys then added that they will expect their children to take their surname.

My advice is, don’t feel pressured into changing your surname, do what you feel comfortable with.

♥ Mandy O’Hara – After I marry in a little over a month, I WILL be taking my fiances name. I LOVE my family name and I’m sad to see it go, but at the end of the day, it’s only a name. I know I will still be an O’Hara at heart and no one can take that away with a legal document. I take my fiances name with pride not because he “owns me” now but because we love and respect each other and for me personally it’s important that our (future hopefully!) children have the same last name as both of us. It may be an ‘outdated’ tradition but I look forward to the day when I can proudly write Beck behind my first name as a sign of our love.

♥ Lydia Stamps – My maiden name ‘Stamps’ is a pretty unusual name, I love it and it’s such a part of my identity – ballsy and pretty strong. So understandably I was reluctant to change my name, especially as my husband’s name is rather ‘beige’ – Evans. In the end however I went ahead with a name change as it was really important to me that as we go forward we have a joined family identity. We plan to have kids and personally, I want us to be bonded and joined by name, to feel like a unit in some way. We did consider going double barrelled, but our names don’t really work together. My husband and his family are also very proud of their Welsh heritage and for his family it was a big deal that I was ‘becoming an Evans’. While I think this is utter tosh, and hate the idea that I’m now part of some kind of clan I do think it’s great that they are so proud of their family and that’s no bad thing to be a part of.

I did draw the line at a family crest ring I might add, and I have insisted that when my passport needs changing my husband will pay for that entirely! It’s his name after all! I would advise anyone who doesn’t want to change their name to stay strong. I’m lucky that my maiden name is still a part of my identity via my business and I’m proud that I still have that part of my roots present in my life day to day. If I didn’t I would have probably stayed a ‘stampsy’. I don’t think people realise the importance of a name until it’s gone it’s not a decision to take lightly if you’re on the fence.

♥ Caroline Baines - I don’t think it’s a case of possession, I think it more symbolisies you becoming a family. Your dad ‘giving you away’ to me is just “I’ve taken care of her for so many years, please love her, and look after her too” not, “she was mine and now she’s yours”. I love my fiance so much, and even though his last name clashes with my first name (I’ll become Caroline Crilly, it sounds like you have a mouthful when you say it aloud!) I’ll be taking it with pride. I’d like our children to have the same name as both parents. I do see why some people chose to keep their maiden name though, one of my closest friends didn’t bother double barreling, because she didn’t want to lose her last name (it’s a very unusual last name, with not many family members to carry it on).

♥ Claire Jackson - After ENDLESS deliberation (and long, agonising chats with my besties) I’ve finally decided to change my middle name to my maiden name and take my partners surname after all. I’ve already changed my surname since I was a teenager through my parents divorce, so it really was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I sure am glad my ‘CJ’ tattoo will still represent who I am today.

♥ Paloma Murillo Trigo – For me it was a tricky one. In Spain, where I was born, no-one loses their maiden name. Children get 2 surnames, first dad’s and then mum’s (my full name is Paloma Murillo Trigo, Murillo being my dad’s last name and Trigo my mum’s) And this is the way it is, and always has been.

So when I got engaged to my lovely English now husband, it wasn’t an option, I didn’t like the idea of becoming Mrs X, I wanted to keep my name, because this is what I grew up with, this is what I know, and I like my surname (Murillo was a very talented artist!) For these exact reasons my husband was a bit annoyed, as he always thought his wife would have the same name as him.

So I decided to look into it, and see if I could maybe have both of our surnames in a double barrelled one… and it turns out, in Spain, you can only change your name under a number of circumstances, Marriage not being one of them (‘yay!’ I thought perfect excuse…)

Rebecca Paul - I would burn my bra and swing it happily round my head alight, for women’s rights and equality (in both directions, it is a two way street after all), and although I’d have a very cold lady front and be down one bra, I’d do it with the smile of knowing I believed in what I was doing.

I plan to marry next year, and I already know for certain that I will be taking Paul’s (my HTB’s) surname. It isn’t because I feel I should, it isn’t because it is expected of me, it isn’t even because I prefer his surname to my own. It is because I want to, more than anything in the world…

I grew up in a multi-divorce family, my parents are divorced, my maternal grandparents are divorced, and despite that not putting me off marriage, it has meant that I yearn for a single family name. I yearn for my children’s parents have the same surname as they do. Throughout school I hated having to explain that my mother had a different surname, and yes, that my two youngest brothers did too. It made me feel our family was fragmented. My younger brother took it literally and went off the rails, only listening to those in our family with the same surname as us two, clinging and clawing on to his identity, taking years to feel truly like himself. And although I never kicked out, I felt the same.

I want ‘Team Lismer’. I want people to know that we face the world together as a unit, that we are part of something bigger and that we belong to the same family.

So why not have him take my surname I hear you cry? He would in a heartbeat…

But my surname is Paul. And no-one would ever take him seriously again…

♥ Gala Darling - I changed my name to Gala Lumiere Darling when I was 23 years old. The name came to me in a dream, I wrote it down, & made it legal a couple of months later. For me, changing my name was an act of magical transformation. I had never identified with the name I was given at birth, so choosing a new moniker felt like I was establishing my independence, asserting my place in the world. I have always felt like Gala Darling is a big name, one I have to live up to, & I feel like I am becoming that person more & more every day.

I never identified with my birth name. I was always in a class at school with a bunch of other Amy’s, so I’d be “Amy P” or whatever & it was terrible. It just didn’t feel like it fit. I started using the internet in ’96 & the ability to choose your own name or handle was so exciting to me – it felt like I could step into an identify that was more comfortable. I suppose that is what empowered me to make the choice to legally change my name in the first place! Good old internet!

When my husband & I got engaged, I never even considered taking his surname.  Actually, he thinks about officially becoming “Mr. Darling” quite regularly!

I think from these few messages alone, it’s clear to see that no-one can give anyone else a conclusive answer. It’s easy to see why some people find the whole subject such a minefield actually!

What you you think? I’d love to hear more ideas and opinions on this subject especially if you have any advice for Miss Cloud.

Did you take your partner’s name or did he/she take yours? Or did you keep your own individual surnames? Did the thought of having children with a different name to your own have any influence? What do you think about making up your own surname and would you ever do it? (I kinda love this idea…) I’d also really love to hear from any gay couples – what are your plans when you marry?

Supporting Cast

150 comments

  1. I’m recently engaged and this topic has been playing on my mind so much! More than anything else, in fact.
    To me, my surname is such a big part of who I am and my ties to my family that it’s difficult to think of myself as anything else.
    Whilst I love my husband to be without reserve, and I know he would like me to take his name, keeping my surname is important to me and maybe we can find a happy medium by going double barrelled but then there’s the kids names! Will they be one or both?

    So many things to consider!

  2. I try to live my life intently by the motto, “What would you do if you didn’t know ‘what was done?’” and it served me very well in planning my wedding and my partnership with my husband. It’s why I proposed to him when I realized I wanted to marry him. And it surely informed my decision to keep my name–I never thought about changing it.

  3. Lucy

    i wanted to change my name… mainly because my maiden name is so boring – smith! but also because i love the idea of us sharing the same name. I think from reading the comments in the article its obvious that no one else can make the decision for you Charlotte. I so however really like princess lasertron’s quote “What would you do if you didn’t know ‘what was done?’” I never really thought of it like that.
    i hope you choose to do whats right for you charlotte. good luck with it!

  4. I kept my name and our 3 children have my surname very anglo! My husband is Turkish and although from the age of 2 his family lived in Australia and grew up there, he encountered a lot of racism and he vowed to never let his children go through that. Our eldest child has questioned why daddy doesn’t have the same name as us, and we told her straight, and that she is completely free to change her name to his one she’s an adult. I think had he not of gone through what he did he might have a different view, I didn’t take it because I couldn’t be arsed changing everything and the kids not having the same name would have just got confusing! I already get asked where I am from with the name Nataliya adding a Turkish surname would be a rocky road lol

  5. p.s. i cant wait to take my fiances surname… his surname is MIZZI! (pronounced mit-zi) how cute! i will forever be referred to as a kitty!

  6. Post author

    thanks for all the comments so far! id also think it would be interesting to hear from some dudes. how would you feel if your wife didnt want to take your name? would it bother you? if so, why?

  7. To be honest, I had always kind of known I would take my husband’s name, I am very aware of ‘losing my family identity’ but at the same time echo Caroline Baines’ comment, “I’ve taken care of her for so many years, please love her, and look after her too” not, “she was mine and now she’s yours”. For this I totally agree. My Fiance and I take good care of each other, love each other etc and if it wasn’t for our ridiculously long same sounded surnames we would probably consider double barrelling.

  8. Nettie

    My mum decided not to give up her family name, so I’ve got a double barrelled surname coupled with an unusual first name (and TWO unusual middle names – forms never have enough room!), and I do love that I am probably the only person in the world with my name.

    However, I always used to vow that I’d change my name if I got married, because my name has so many negative connotations from my life.
    It was so cut and dry for me and I was so blinded by my own feelings that I once had an argument with a friend who wants to keep her name because I thought it was “the right thing to do”.

    I’ve since come to truly understand my darling friend’s point of view.
    The only right thing to do is what is right for you. If you love your name and it is a part of you, it makes no more sense to get rid of it than to cut off your arm! For me, it was a little bit more like cutting your hair – I’ve had it, its served me well, but when the time comes I will be able to let go.

    Or at least it was. As I get older, I am really embracing my uniqueness and my beautiful long name is a part of that. So, I’d only give it up if the alternative suited me.

  9. Sasha

    After my mum divorced, i took off my dads name and stuck hers in its place.
    When my mum remarried, I took my stepdads name as a surname (but kept mums name as a second middle name).
    Now I am about to marry, and at 22 years old and having had 3 different a names already there is no way I am cutting any of my current names off – what I am doing is keeping ALL of them and taking on my HTB’s family name. I like having a ridiculously long name that represents three loving families but I do not write it out every time someone asks me, simply I shorten it. My full name will be Sasha Rxxx Yxxxxxxx Vxx Vxxxx Pxxxx. But I am only going to use Sasha Vxxxx Pxxxxx. My husband to be will take my name too and keep his and be known as Rxxxx Vxx Pxxxx.

    Have your cake AND eat it. You can officially have the name, but you don’t neccisarily have to use it anywhere but on your passport unless you really want to.

  10. I took my husbands surname in a second. As a child I used to hate my name – very common first name, literally every other girl in my year at school had my middle name, and my maiden name was Smith. So I always felt like my name was really common and awful. When I started my wedding photography business, it was impossible to get a URL with my name in it. When my mum and dad got married, they almost took my mums maiden name. Richards is still quite a common surname, but not as much and I like how it sounds. I like my name now! I did a wedding a couple of weeks ago though where the groom changed his name to the brides as she didn’t like the sound of her name and his surname, which I think is awesome.

  11. Eleanor Boardman (soon Von Hallam)

    I have incredibly mixed emotions on this topic!

    I have zero loyalty for my own name, my dad being less than ideal and it being a long, long time since he acted as if we were family. (I detest the idea of being “given away”, so that won’t be happening either.) So keeping Boardman isn’t something I’m partial to.

    In the same vein, I don’t want to take my fiance’s name, Hallam. I like it and I love him but its from an archaic idea that women are possessions and abhorrent to me. I’ve spent my entire adult life walking my own path and supporting myself, earning as much as my partner.

    A while ago, we joked about being Von Hallam, but the idea has grown and grown in my head. It’s a nod to him, but it’s also a pretty cool new identity. I will be Von Hallam. I’ve said that my fiance can do it too, or not if he’s not comfortable, but its my way of being a bit different and putting my own stamp on it.

    My ma freaked when I told her, sometimes she’s ultra traditional but hopefully her feminist principles will win out. However, as yet, I’m way too scared to tell my fiance’s parents, I love them dearly but they are very set in their ways and I don’t want to insult their name and heritage. Its a very tricky situation! But I hope they understand my principles and that I mean no offence.

  12. Kitty FOreman

    I never knew the story as to why the woman took the man last name and frankly i never thought about not taking his name. As much as I loved my maiden name of Hanson. I just knew i would change it when i got married. plus When I married(while serving in the Air Force) I acquired the awesome nickname “Kitty” and I ever so want to legally change my first name to Kitty, I don’t just in case I stop liking to be call Kitty. Plus I can say i grew up when i got married, because I went from a “son” to a “man. (Hanson to Foreman). I also took his last name because I didn’t want our children to have a different than me and we have to explain why. And combining the the two name didn’t work. And the main reason I took his last name is because he is the last male with the Foreman name. If we don’t have a baby boy to carry on his last name I pray to God that one of our girls meets a man and take her last name.

  13. Rowen Parker

    When we get married (hopefully next year) we are giving each other our last names, it feels great to share. His last name is Shirley which really badly does not go with my first name I feel people would think I had my names back to front. I cant wait to be Mrs Parker-Shirley and join our son. Plus I think the being Mrs P.S is pretty cool. My mum already calls our son Mr P.S I love you.

  14. Fiona Howard

    I forgot to add in my email – our honeymoon 1 and 2 (yes, we’re going on two honeymoons and both are going to be epic!) are both booked under Mr & Mrs Butler, so I *have* to change my name in passport (and so everything else) if I want to go to my own honeymoon!
    My other half has joked it was all a clever trap he has set to make me change my name…

  15. I think this is such a personal decision, that regardless of what anyone else says something that has to come from your heart.

    I was born with my both parent’s names double barreled and I hated, it was clunky and no-one else had a double barreled name. But when my mum remarried I had to take her new husbands surname and as it was the eighties it was done totally unofficially and no-one batted an eyelid.

    So for the next 25 years I had a nightmare with two surnames (one on my passport and birth certificate) and another that everything else was in (bank account, driving licence, exam certificates etc). Imagine how hard it trying to set up a bank account or change you driving licence when you need your passport as proof of ID but it’s in a totally different name.

    So when I got married I was more than happy to take my husband’s name to stop this administrative mess I had been subjected to for the last few decades but it was also like having a clean slate.

    I didn’t like my old surnames and for me they held a lot of baggage and by taking a new name it felt like drawing a line underneath all the crap in my past when I was THAT girl with THAT name and now I could put all that behind me with a brand new shiny name.

    But as I said this was so personal to me I doubt this has been much help to Charlotte but I think you have to play with both names for a bit and see which one you feel most comfortable with.

  16. I’m glad my comment was useful to use, it’s been really interesting to read other people’s opinions, ultimately you must do what feels right for you.

  17. A brilliant article with lots of different viewpoints. I kept my name when I got married for lots of reasons I won’t go onto now, but the bottom line is it felt completely the right thing to do and no one that knows my fella and me would ever doubt our team credentials to face the world together. It is such a personal choice, good luck on decoding what to do! X

  18. Post author

    ive legally changed my name everywhere except my passport actually. i didnt do it before our wedding cos it was just another thing to do and i was busy enough! so we booked out honeymoon in our separate names. it does feel weird when i travel now and im ‘Underwood’ I’ll just wait til it expires next year and change it!

  19. I am a German national married to a Spaniard and living in Spain.
    In Germany, brides usually takes on her husband’s last name, just as in the UK or US.
    In Spain, as mentioned in your post, they simply never change their names. And they pass on both last names to their children…

    For me, it would have been way more convenient to take on my husband’s name.
    1. We got married in Germany where they do that by default
    2. We live in Spain and no one gets my weired foreign name, just booking a table at a restaurant is spelling marathon for me

    But I didn’t.
    The fact that no one does it here and no one even thinks about it helped me a lot to see that’s it’s just a cultural construct that has taken on so much meaning….and I don’t like what it means. It symbolizes belonging, yes, but also posession. And usually it’s a one way street, not many grooms think about taking on their future spouses last names.

    I just don’t get the whole concept of it, it’s not what my relationship with my husband is about. I was so happy and proud to marry him, but I am also very happy and pround to still be carring the last name I grew up with. I submitted my MA thesis under that name, I filled out my first job application. It’s me, my history, why give that up?? To me, it’s got nothing to do with getting married.
    People might feel differently about this issue (most of my friends and family do), and I respect that, but I was glad I got to make my own decision.

  20. Some of my earliest memories are of hating me name – first and surname! I was born in Israel and I think my mum thought if I was growing up there, I might as well have a local name, but when my folks divorced a year later we moved back to London, and then I was stuck with an odd name!
    When I was ten my mum remarried, and my sister was born, so I’m now the only one with my surname. In fact, through a long and convoluted story I discovered I’m the only Livne (pronounced Liv-knee) in the UK! So around this time I started to appreciate my name a bit more and, now, I feel its a really defining part of who I am. I have no relationship with my biological father so its not to do with family ties, but its my name, and its very personal to me and, lets be honest, what other surname goes with Inbal?!
    I am also about to complete a PhD and have a growing academic career, which has all been achieved as a Livne, so I don’t really want to give that up.
    However, like many other commentators, I want us to be a unit, a team, and I want our kids to have the same name – for us to be one proper family. I know my htb wouldn’t want to change his name, for all the same reasons – its who he is.
    So, the compromise – I will take his name, change passports etc., but will continue to use my maiden name for work purposes.
    I can be me, and we can be us, all together.

  21. I think ultimately it comes down to how attached you are to your name. I love my surname. Always have, always will. I used to say I’d never change it ‘because it’s so archaic, and I’d feel as though I was becoming his property’. However, my opinion has changed on this now and as pointed out by Audrey Caldwell, the likelihood is that your maiden name is a name inherited by your Father anyway.

    I come from Anglesey and the people there are still very traditional in many ways. Each of my married friends didn’t even consider keeping their maiden name and I’m pretty sure if they told their now husbands that they were keeping their maiden name, a good number of the husbands would refuse to marry them! I’m engaged now and sometimes get asked ‘What will your name be’ to which I reply ‘Elen Looms’. This does raise a few eyebrows back home but to be honest, I quite like that.

    Honestly, I think the best thing to do when making this decision is to block out everybody elses opinions. At the end of the day, it is you who has to live with the name you chose to either keep, or take. As long as you are happy with your decision, it doesn’t really matter what anybody else thinks.

  22. Ruth

    I have to confess that I’m not 100% sure that I really want to change my name but I’m not really bothered about losing my old name and we’ve been married a fortnight. It seems a surreal thing to actually choose your name when I never had the chande to choose the other 3 names I have for life. One of which is actually an in joke my parents had together when I was born(!).

    I promised myself that I would flip a coin on our wedding day to choose which never happened. Our honeymoon chose for me in a way. The hotel booking came back as Mrs Hayward and the look of pride in my now husband told me that it really ment far more to him if me to change my name than seeing how I lucked out flipping a coin.

  23. Lulu

    I only have one little thing to add, which I suspect that people will either love or loathe.
    I think Cloud is a gorgeous surname, and can totally understand why you wouldn’t want to change it.
    I completely agree that you have to do what feels right, but what about….Ifyou are a Cloud, and your husband a Fleming, is it crazy for your kids to be Cloudlings? Is that legal?

  24. Post author

    in terms of legalities…id think so. its your name. you can call yourself whatever you want…

  25. Lou Dijkstra

    I recently got married, my surname was Liddy and I liked being Lou Liddy. All my friends called me “Liddy” so it almost felt like changing my first name.

    My husband’s surname is Dijkstra. I wasn’t exactly over the moon about changing my name (to the hardest name to spell and say!) BUT I did, and as much as I didn’t want to lose my maiden name as I did feel quite attached to it are 31 years, I love that we have the same name, and it is lovely to be “Mr & Mrs Dijkstra” – it’s like we have our own little club!

    I love having an unusual surname – although most people call me Mrs D! And now my friends call me “Diddy” so all is not lost!!!

    It is all down to personal choice :-)

    Lou Dijkstra

  26. LauraBeth

    Growing up I thought I wouldn’t get married, but when I met my HTB I changed my mind. I’m not a conventional bride. I don’t want all the traditional stuff which has caused a massive argument with the future in laws…but that’s a different story.

    My future Sister-in-law has the same first and middle name as me. On discovering this, when we first got together, she said ‘I don’t like it. You have to dump her’. I know she said it as a joke but it has always been a bit of a concern because not only would I be losing my surname but in his familys eyes I would be L E B…….. 2! I wouldn’t have an name of my own. The only difference would be my name would start with MRS.

    I have found it difficult to come to terms with this and seriously considered keeping my name. The thing that has swayed it for me is a bit daft. My friends suggested I have a go at writing my name down in both versions and compare them. Try creating my new signature. I’ve never been very happy with my signature it’s messy, so when I created the one for the future MRS B I loved it. It looks like a heart and signifies all that my future husband means to me.

    I will keep my maiden name for teaching purposes. Do whatever works for you. Don’t let other people and conventions dictate who you are.

  27. My surname is Hunter and I love it. It’s not particularly uncommon but it balances perfectly with my first name and I love the way it sounds. I am one of 3 girls so no-one will carry on the Hunter name and this makes me sad. If my boyfriend of 2+ years and I ever get married my name would change to Gibbons, which is one letter too long for my love of symmetry and not as awesome as being a Hunter! However, I always envisaged myself taking my husband’s name and so this is a really tough one for me. I still have time to weigh up the pros and cons but I can see this is going to be the biggest issue for me.

  28. Anj

    I didn’t want to lose my surname so told my husband to be that I would double barrel his on the end of mine. He was a bit dissapointed at first as I think he had just assumed I would change my name. I said I would love it if we had the same surname but wouldn’t have a problem if he didn’t want to double barrel his. I then left it at that. Nine months later he announced that he would also change his name to be double barrelled so we could have the same name as he liked my idea of being “team surname” with the same name. Now we have got married he is rather enjoying the fact he has a shiny new married name!

  29. I am getting married in October! Yipee!
    My name is Laura Power but I will soon become Laura Pottrell… Dont get me wrong, Pottrell isn’t THAT bad but it just have the pizazz of Power! I feel slightly reluctant but have always known when I get married my name will change – its the expected thing and I know it’ll make my fiance & his family happy. Its crazy because I am not usually one to follow ‘traditions’ but its something I want to do for our marriage as ‘The Pottrell’s’. Also, luckily I am in a position to use my maiden name for my business if I wish, so at least I can still keep that part of myself separate.

  30. Post author

    Laura Power is such a good name! you HAVE to keep it for your business name! or make it your middle name.. Laura Power Pottrell sounds like a super hero.

  31. Kat McCooey

    I’m a Kat McCooey. Soon to be a Kat Heap.

    All through my life I’ve not exactly loved McCooey. Variants of which are MANY. McPooey, McLooney, McMickeyMouse….Especially when people are pronouncing it for the first time. Cringe!

    It’s only really when my university professor questioned my marital name-taking that I really thought about it. I’ve worked really hard to establish myself academically and socially, and I suppose my quirky sirname has given me some distinctness in this. Now, the running joke is that I will be Kat Heap. As in – Heap of Kats. Meow. Gah.

    But – I love my husband to be very much. Double-barrelling isn’t for me, and this is something that means a lot to him and me in many ways that have probably already been mentioned. So call me a Heap of Kats… :)

  32. Cassandra

    I love my surname, but I have now decided to take my fiancés…even though it’s going to give me some unfortunate initials.

    When we discussed it, he admitted that it means a lot to him for me to take his name. The main reason is that’s he’ll be the only one in his family carrying on the family name – whereas I have 4 brothers. He also likes the idea of us being linked together by our name, like a team. If I don’t, he said he’ll feel disappointed, but he’d accept my decision – above all, he wants me to be happy.

    But it’s become important to me to change my surname too because, like him, I love the idea of us being a team, documented by a common surname, which we can eventually share with our children.

    So I’m excited to become Mrs Lown, and Chris and I will be Clowns together. We’ll just have to make sure that our childrens’ names don’t begin with C’s too.

  33. I am one of many who did not take their husband’s name. My reason for doing so was because I like my name and I could not see a reason for changing it. However my husband also did not want me to change my name either and he had a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was the name that he got to know me by so why change it and secondly, he felt it was unfair that society made it easy for a wife to change her name and not the other way round.

    My advice for ladies who are unsure is to look at your situation. If you are a young professional who has made a name for themselves, you might want to keep your maiden name to avoid confusion with your clients. Then there is my situation, because I have lived with my partner for a long time, I have a lot of bills, banks and documents in my maiden name and the thought of changing everything was just too much to deal with. Especially my passport and driving licence which I had to renew just before marrying. To change the name on those two documents would cost me over £100 which I did not want to spend.

    If you choose not to take your husband name then expect a few raised eyebrows from certain family members. My parents still do not know I have quite my maiden name and the last time I talked about it with them they were not happy with the idea. They felt I was not honouring my husband’s family name even though it was his wish.

    However one thing I would recommend is to setup a joint account in your married name. There will always be family and friends who may write cheques as Mr and Mrs xxxx and your husband will not be able to deposit them into his account.

  34. My opinion has always been that you should do what you want to do. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t.

    Personally, on the happy day that I say ‘I do’, I won’t be taking my husband’s name because I don’t think it’s necessary to. I’ll be wearing his ring, and being his wife, and bearing his children. The name isn’t the most important thing; the marriage is.

  35. VikingPenguin

    My surname is Money. I hated it as a kid and I dread having to give my surname even now because people love to come up with what they think of as insightfully witty quips, that I’ve heard umpteen times before.

    I’ve only ever managed to find one other person with my name (different middle name though), and being a bit different is something I like but I’ve always disliked my name (named after the Marillion song and my middle name is a made up spelling). I’ve always WANTED to change my surname, but now that I’m getting married next year I’m feeling slightly sad at the thought of losing of it. I’m an only child and I have no contact with any other Moneys other than my dad and my Nan so in a way our line ends at me.

    My HTB’s surname is Brackett, which isn’t exactly Smith or Jones but it doesn’t flow with my first name quite as well. I’ve got no desire to be a Money-Brackett *cringe*, and like many of the ladies above, I’m from a divorced family and went through the whole “yes my mum has a different surname to me” thing and definitely don’t want that for our future sproglets (I find it weird enough that because I registered our cats at the Vets they’re Loki and Dexter Money!).

    I’d love for us both to change our names to ‘Incredible’ or ‘Awesome’ or something, but in reality I don’t think that will ever happen. I also don’t want to upset anyone (HTB’s family are very proud of their name being part of a Scottish clan and I think it would hurt them if I didn’t want to ‘join’ them). While my education has all been Money, and my MA was taken under that name, as I haven’t gone into academia as I had originally planned then I feel no professional reason not to change it. If I had done then, as with various people in posts above, I’d have strong reasons not to change it.

    I’m considering the possibility of taking on Money as a second middle name, as then I’d still be Mrs. Brackett but I’d not lose that part of me AND I’d not have to use it if I didn’t want to. The only thing that’s putting me off is that ‘money brackett’ is pretty horrible sounding!

  36. I got married two years ago in July, and I never considered taking my husband’s last name. It was never even an option in my mind.

    The main reasons I didn’t take his last names are….
    I was born with this name, its who I am- why WOULD I change it at 30? My name is my identity! This is the top reason I didn’t change my name tbh.Changing my name seems very old fashioned in my mind, and it would make me feel somehow (although I know I am not wording this correctly) that I am his property, or that somehow I am his.I also don’t get along with his family, which make it even worse for me to have his father’s last name.I feel like am still part of my family (mum & dad), as a true daddy’s girl – I love that I will have his last name forever.My parents didn’t have boys so our family name will not be continued in any way.Also why go through all the hassle / beaurocracy / paperwork to change my name everywhere….

    Don’t get me wrong, I pass no judgment on people who do change their name, this is purely how I think.

    Should I have kids though, they will be taking their fathers ( my hubbies/ or the postmans!!!) name!

  37. em

    We got married 3 months ago and I haven’t taken my husbands name…yet. I am unsure- I like my name, I don’t particularly like his, but I do want our family to have the same name when we have children…

    I don’t have a solution but what helped me a lot was realising that I don’t have to make the decision immediately. There isn’t a deadline for changing your name. So, I am giving myself some time to get used to being married and seeing how it goes. I introduce myself with my given names but am totally excited in a newlywed kind of way when people refer to us as mr & mrs _____.

    For me, it is about an identity I have had and am happy with for many years… but I also know how happy and proud my husband would be if i took his name. I am lucky in that there is no pressure from him or anyone to change or otherwise- it is entirely up to me. Yet I still don’t know what to do!

    So, I’ll be giving myself time to think about it and see how I feel in a few months or years…

  38. In my parents’ generation in Ireland it was de rigeur to take the husband’s name. I can’t remember meeting any woman until I was a young teenager who kept theirs. In college I lived with a Norwegian girl. As usual Scandinavia were ahead of us on these things. Her parents didn’t want to enter a tradition with a sexist assumption but wanted the whole family to share the same name. They came up with what I regard as a novel solution – I’m not sure if it would be popular here! If the first child was a boy the whole family would take the father’s surname, if a girl the mother’s. My friend was the eldest so they all carry on the mother’s name. I’m in a long-term relationship myself – My boyfriend’s surname is Hand, mine is Curtin. I can safely say there will be NO double-barrels, whatever else might happen!

  39. Emily

    I would totally consider myself to me a feminist, yet didn’t even THINK about not taking my other half’s name when we get married next year. I cannot wait to be addressed as a Mrs! It does help that I am going from a pretty common one (Wilson) to something a bit more unusual – from next September I will be Mrs Hazard… I also have a brother who is getting married next year so none of the carrying on the family name pressure.

  40. Loretta Stanwyck

    I’m used to having a slightly different first name Loretta, so changing from Moore to Stanwyck didnt bother me in the slightest. I accepted it was someone I wanted to do when I got married.

    I now have what I think to be a lovely and a bit glam name that person comment on frequently, but when it comes to spelling each of them dont get me started on that !

  41. We had a bit of a doubly messy situation when it came to our names. My fiancé had his name changed to his mum’s maiden name when his parents divorced. He had been toying with changing it back to his original surname for a long time and eventually made the decision to have his name changed by deed poll to his dad’s name at the end of last year. So now we’re getting married, I’m changing my name to a name I’m barely used to him having, let alone myself! It does feel kind of nice to share the new start together though :-)

  42. @sophie – but you could be a Gibbon Hunter! I have kept myself amused for a full 2 minutes over this. Thanks for brightening my monday.

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