I Do or Do Not… Take Your Last Name

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bride taking husband's last name
Source Credit: bigstockphoto.com

Weddings are traditional events. From the cake to the dress to the pictures, most weddings share a common thread of actions and aspects that are included in just about every wedding. As time progresses, brides and grooms increasingly strive to be unconventional — making their wedding unique and different from anything else their guests have ever attended. They serve donuts instead of cake. The bride wears a short, cocktail dress rather than an elegant princess gown. The happy couple snap pictures even before the ceremony takes place.

Another customary practice assumed by brides after their wedding day is taking her husband’s last name. Some brides are ignoring this custom just like all the others, but about 90% of women continue to change their last name after marriage. Such a statistic reveals that this may be more than just another tradition. There may be more to this action than simple sentiment. So should you preserve this tradition? Sit in on the discussion between married women who decided to take their husbands’ last name and those who decided to keep their own.

I Do Take Your Last Name

bride changes last name
Image Source: weddbook.com

Some brides changed their name in the name of tradition:

“I’m pretty traditional and liked becoming a new person once I got married. It was like shedding my old skin and leaving that self behind. It gave me a fresh start.” – Kacey

“It was never even a question about whether or not I’d change my name when I got married… I loved the idea of taking his! My parents did it, his parents did it — I liked the tradition and wanted to follow suit. There was something so romantic about taking his name and really, truly becoming family in that big way.” – Melissa

Other brides changed their name as a reflection of their commitment:

“It took me a lot of time to decide but honestly, I liked the idea of being a little team with the same last name. It’s so sweet. I was afraid it would hurt my career, but the Internet makes it so much easier to just add you maiden name to things, too.” – Rachel

“My identity comes from so much more than just my name, so I didn’t feel I was taking away from who I am as a person by taking his name. I also just liked the idea of our lives merging, and beginning this next part of my life with our shared last name.” – Hartley

And still other brides had quite simple explanations for changing their last name:

“My maiden name was too long and difficult to spell.” – Anne

“My husband didn’t feel strongly about whether I should change my name, and I was on the fence, too. But I realized that once I had kids, I would want our family unit to share a name.” – Katie

I Do Not Take Your Last Name

bride not taking husband's last name
Image Source: gazetteunion.com

Some brides wanted to buck the trend of taking their husband’s last name:

“I love my last name, and I don’t like the convention.” – Anna

“Because I am still me when I get married, and I would never change my name unless my partner changed his name (i.e. we both blend or hyphenate our names). I literally cannot believe people still change their names to their husband’s names and are excited to do that. It’s embarrassing as a society that we permit that.” – Noorain

Other brides felt loyalty to their family:

“I like my last name better. Plus, my name ends with me, as my whole family had girls.” –  Kate

“I like my name, I like the lineage connection to my family of birth, and I like that my friends, colleagues, and school and professional networks know who I am now and in the future.” – Emily

“I kept my maiden name because I like how it sounds. It takes parents a long time to choose a name for their child (my parents named me Jessica Woods and later had it legally changed to Aubrey Woods). After all that, how could I change to my husband’s last name?” – Aubrey

Still others kept their surname out of laziness:

“My mom kept hers; a hyphenated name was too cumbersome; I didn’t want to worry about publishing under two names before/after marriage, or in the case of divorce.” – Simone

“Too much hassle and paperwork.” – Liz

And even other brides did so for professional reasons:

“I was a successful pharmaceutical salesperson and had worked really hard to establish respect and credibility. I was not willing to start over with a new last name.” – Tracy

“I had just received my master’s degree with my name, and thought it silly to change my name after achieving that milestone.” – Julien

The decision of whether or not to assume your husband’s surname after marriage is a very personal one. You could have various reasons for saying I do or I do not take your last name, as exemplified by the testimonies of the above brides. You also have a variety of ways to represent your marriage through your name — you could hyphenate both names together or make your maiden name your middle name. Hopefully their explanations help you as you decide whether or not to preserve this tradition!

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