How Do I Tell Everyone I’m Keeping My Name?


AAPW: Every time they call me "Mrs." I wanna rant about the patriarchy...

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

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Q: I know that this site has discussed the idea of name-changing many times and I have found each and every one of those threads to be incredibly helpful, but now that my wedding is four months out and we are booking vendors that will deal with what we will be called once we are married (DJ and officiant), I am having trouble sticking to my guns that my name will remain the same as it was before after we say our vows. My partner and I have already fought twice regarding me not changing my name, and I know he isn’t crazy about having to explain to the DJ or officiant that we do not want to be announced as Mr. and Mrs. His-last-name. My question is, how do I gracefully and kindly explain to vendors as well as my soon-to-be MIL that I am not changing my name? And do you have any suggestions for how we would be announced post-ceremony/entrance to the reception? This is a very heated topic and one I am VERY opinionated on. It is often difficult for me to breezily reply that it is just what I want instead of going on a rant about the patriarchy of name-changing, and why don’t they ask my soon-to-be-husband about what his new last name will be.

—Optimistically Vouching for Equality Rather than Inequitable Tyranny

A: Dear OVERIT,

The ranting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. By keeping your name, you are making a statement, and a little piece of that is an outright questioning of gendered traditions. Putting words to that action, explaining your rationale, only makes sense. These conversations about your name are a nice invitation to climb aboard that soapbox. You don’t have any responsibility to explain yourself to anyone. But, if keeping your name is important to you and you enjoy explaining why, take the opportunity.

The caveat is, of course, that people are often moved to change their opinions by the softer words than the strong, emotional ones. Gently pressing someone to question their assumptions about names and women and tradition can have a lot more impact than red-faced vitriol (is what I try to remind myself basically all the time).

I’m going to open it up to the commenters who may have a nice, pat answer for you to have at the ready when someone asks about your last name. Because, sure, maybe sometimes you don’t feel like getting all het up during your lunch break. And yeah, sometimes those gentle words are most convincing. Maybe you can start by narrowing down just what it is about keeping your name that is most important to you.

But hold on for just one quick second, because there’s something we need to discuss before all that. Explaining your name to your vendors and mother-in-law and the teller at the bank is one thing. But having your husband fight you on this is another story. I can’t tell from your letter—have you guys resolved your disagreement about this? Is he going to be irritable every time you correct someone who mistakenly calls you, “Mrs.”? Will he roll his eyes at his mom while you explain to her that your name isn’t changing?

Don’t even worry about that DJ until you make sure you guys reach some sort of agreement on this. Maybe you’ll never get to a place where he fully understands your decision, but I would hope for you to work until he backs you on it. Backing one another is one of those things that’s important now, but will continue to be important through the rest of your marriage. And this name decision is a big thing! A thing you’re concerned that you’ll need to defend and rationalize to friends and family and strangers. His support is crucial. He doesn’t have to get it. He just has to be on your side.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Eenie

    When someone asks me about changing my name, I’ve been using the line: “Neither of us will be changing our names after the ceremony.” It gently suggests that they made a sexist assumption and communicates our wishes (without getting into a whole long deal). I cannot tell you how I will react if someone actually calls me Mrs. Probably not as nicely, since they’re now making assumptions too.

    • clairekfromtheuk

      Love this tactic, I used the same one.

      I also think that its none of your vendors business what your name will be after the ceremony/why you would or wouldn’t change it. Tell them your name, say it won’t be changing. End of conversation.

      As for being announced – why not have your officiant say ‘the newly married yourname & hisname’ or ‘the bride and groom (+ yourname & hisname if you want)’ or ‘the happy couple’. There are a millionty options here

      • Emily W

        As a wedding vendor, I ask my couples if either of them is changing their name because I mail them things after the wedding. It’s merely an administrative thing. Otherwise, I really don’t care.

        I also know women who “change their name” and months or years after the wedding tell me they’ve only done it on Facebook, so…

        • Eenie

          I feel like this is the equivalent to changing your name “socially”.

        • Vanessa

          Yes. A friend who is a pediatrician has changed her name on facebook so that her patients & their parents can’t find her, but still uses her own last name professionally and socially.

          • Brittany

            I did the opposite, for similar reasons. I changed my last name when I got married and changed jobs, but left my maiden name on facebook. It serves a dual purpose- first, it makes it really hard for my students to find my social media accounts. Second because I mostly use my maiden name with friends and an unfortunate number of them call me almost exclusively by a mildly inappropriate nickname that is closely related to my maiden name. This wasn’t a problem- and I never worry about adults hearing me called this name, but it’s just inappropriate enough that I wouldn’t want my students to stumble across it on facebook…

        • Eh

          My step-mum changed her name to my dad’s last name when they got married. She was pretty well known in their community before they were married as her first husband (who passed away) was a local politician. After she got married no one recognized her name (my dad is the only person with that last name in the community) so she actually started hyphenating her name in those types of situations and on FB. Her drivers license still says my dad’s last name and when something is from both of them they sign Mr and Mrs HisLast.

      • Bklyncyclone83

        Yes, perfectly easy this way. We just had the DJ refer to us, the bride and groom, by our first names only at all times. The entrances for the wedding party were from a written list so everyone was correctly named. It’s really not difficult.

    • Lisa

      This! To people who say, “Oh, you kept your name?”, my line has consistently been, “We both kept our names. He had a choice in this, too.”

      The Mrs. thing was the worst. I found out the day after our wedding that my new husband hadn’t told ANY of his family that we were keeping our names by my MIL greeting me with “Good morning, Mrs. HisName!” at breakfast.

      • CateB

        Ugh. I changed my name, for convenience reasons, and it drives me nuts when people refer to me as Mrs. B because 1) I have a first name that you’ve used just fine for the last 10 years, and 2) no one calls him Mr. B.

        His mother sends us mail now addressed to Mr. and Mrs. HisFirst B, which I hate (hello! not property over here!). Every time I send her mail now I use return labels I made that say Ms. and Mr. MyName B. It’s a quiet rebellion, but it makes me smile.

        • CateB

          I should add that I meant when family and close friends call me Mrs. B, not random strangers who are simply using my last name.

          • emmers

            Even though my husband and I have the same last name, I still get annoyed at the random strangers. Why are they assuming I want to be called Mrs?
            I was also annoyed that the vet put the dog in my husband’s name (i.e. we get dog-related mail addressed to my husband), even though I took the dog to his vet appointment.

          • Lauren from NH

            Since you brought the dog in that seems kinda silly, but I am a little sympathetic to people trying to be consistent for record keeping purposes. It can get so confusing! My first job at a law office it became a common question when I couldn’t find a client to ask if they and their spouse used different names. So I guess you could say we adapted, but sometimes behind the scenes it was a hot mess because different names is pretty common here.

          • emmers

            And it’s definitely something that’s minor. I mean, it’s mail from the vet. But it still pisses me off!

          • I’ve found the small things like that the most tiresome. It just rubs in how entrenched the whole idea is.

          • Eenie

            Yes… Our cats have his last name which drove me nuts because I was afraid it was setting precedent for our kids. (Both cats have each of their own last name, thank you very much.)

          • Ally

            I was so psyched that my vets not only got my MyLast HisLast (no hyphen) last name correct for me, but that the dogs also have it. I asked my husband if he felt lesser as the only plain old HisLast in the house!

          • Eenie

            At the time I didn’t fight it, but I will at the next vet.

          • Kayla

            I also kept my last name and added his last name, and when I mentioned that to our vet, she asked, “Will Mr. Dog also be adding HisLast to his name, or will he still be Mr. MyLast?” I thought it was adorable that she asked.

          • MDBethann

            Yay for double-barrelled last names with no hyphen! That’s the route I took because I was Ms. MyLast professionally for 9 years

          • One More Sara

            I’m an English teacher in a non-English speaking country, and constantly have to educate people (students and coworkers alike) that Mrs. is not the default title for a woman.

          • emmers

            I do experience this more with non-native English speakers, trying to give me respect. So there’s that!

          • Marcela

            In many countires/languages, their “Mrs.” equivalent is not related at all to marriage and instead serves as a marker of respect. I have no problem being called Senora MyLast.

          • mado

            I actually just got slightly annoyed when I realized recently that there’s no male equivalent of “señorita” in spanish – so baby girls are señoritas but my baby boy is a señor (as in, “what a handsome little señor!” etc.). Its annoying to me precisely because of the respect aspect – although I think as a native English speaker I don’t really get it, since here señorita seems to be the default if you’re under 40 (even when I was pregnant) – youth being more prized than respect I suppose?

          • mado

            Also, I still can’t get over the fact that here formal invitations are addressed to “Señor X and Esposa (wife)”. I know it’s just the custom but seriously, if you can’t even acknowledge that I have a name I don’t really feel like attending your event.

        • Lisa

          I think my MIL was taken aback at first, but I got a great laugh out of her sense of humor when she sent our two Christmas gift boxes, the first addressed to “Lisa and B HisLast” and the second to “B and Lisa MyLast.” I’d say she’s definitely come around now!

        • JDrives

          Same here. My mother and mother-in-law both do this, and it’s not a battle I wish to have with them each time they send us mail, so I have resolved to just roll my eyes, mumble something about smashing the patriarchy, and move on.

          However. I have a dear fellow-feminist friend who addresses cards to “Mr. and Mrs. MyGivenLastName.” It’s so lovely.

        • shannonly

          This is what I’m struggling with! It was a long, tough decision but I am adding his last name to my name (and still “keeping” my last name as my middle name. He is adding my name as his middle name.) It worked for us, and i recognize it’s not the most feminist choice, but it’s a compromise that means a lot to both of us and I’m happy with my new, full name.

          That said, I cringe at being referred to as the-soon-to-be-Mrs. X or Future Mrs. X! I still want to be Ms.! Mrs. Is too far over the side of patriarchy for me. I don’t know how to explain it though or correct people. Because i ultimately did make the traditional choice and Mrs. X isn’t wrong. It’s just not what I will prefer to be called.

          • Ilora

            This is what I did at the wedding (see pic)! I still expect to explain it a lot whenever it comes up, because it really matters to me.

            So far I haven’t corrected anyone ‘out of the blue’ as it hasn’t happened much. But right after the wedding we had one person say “is it weird being called Mrs. L?” and I said “well, yeah, because I’m not Mrs. L, I’m Ms. L” and they said “oh, you can do that?”

            I also get very excited about my Ms. and Mr. signs that I made so showing them off was how I told people before the wedding. I made sure that all of my important documents show Ms as my title and for friends/family/random people I’m just gonna take that day by day. The wedding was just last month so I’m sure there will be lots of opportunities.

          • I’ve been addressing all my STD’s and everyone who is married but hasn’t changed their name has been addressed “Mrs. Her FirstName Her LastName.” OOPS D:

            I guess I know for the invites? WHOMP WHOMP.

          • Ilora

            I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much over it. I should clarify that I did change my name (we both did, created a new one) so I totally understand why people make the assumption. Like I said, some people don’t even realize that Ms. is an option for a married woman. Whenever possible asking is the best policy!

          • I prefer Ms & I didn’t change my name. That being said, my husband’s cousin regularly sends us mail to & calls me “Mrs. [first name spelled wrong*] [husband’s last name].” It is entirely and completely misaddressed.

            And you know what? It makes me laugh. This woman has shown me nothing but warmth and love over the many years I’ve known her. I accept the mail in the spirit it was sent–which is love. (And! She always includes picture of her adorable children.)

            Don’t sweat it! People love you, and will receive your sent mail in the spirit it was intended. :)

            *Everyone spells my first name wrong

          • Fitzford

            There is no “feminist” choice. You are a feminist? You made a choice. That’s a feminist choice.

          • I have to disagree with this. Feminist’s can and do make choices that support the patriarchy all the time. It’s a by-product of living in a patriarchal society. It’s important to talk about how and why that happens rather than say that every choice a feminist makes is a feminist choice. I don’t have anything against women keeping their name, but it does support the current patriarchal structure for name changes and I think it’s disingenuous to call that a feminist choice. Especially considering the amount of pressure that a lot women get to conform to it.

          • shannonly

            Yep. It was actually through discussions on APW that helped me understand that this particular choice isn’t a feminist choice and that’s ok. Each of us have to fight our own battles and separate the personal from the political when it makes sense for us. I’m changing my last name for reasons I promise make sense and I don’t have to defend that. I will STILL challenge to the death the ASSUMPTION that I took his last name or that women have to or that men can’t. In our case, he is taking my last name as a middle and through that process he understood what it’s like for women to change their names. So I’m a feminist. My FH Is a feminist. We made a traditional choice and also a non traditional choice. It’s complicated but I’m ok with it.

          • My problem is in Mexico, women keep their maiden names and yet Mexico one of the most patriarchal societies I know (bc I grew up in a Mexican household). It’s always been hard for me to justify that name change has anything to do with patriarchy–taking my husband’s name doesn’t make me any less of an equal in our marriage. And keeping your maiden name (as they do in Mexico) doesn’t make you any more of an equal either.

          • shannonly

            Responded more below. I can recognize that my “choice” does support and conform with. a patriarchal norm. I compromised in a way that feels right to me-my soon-to-be husband is taking my last name as his middle and we are being explicit that we BOTH changed our last names when ask. I had my reasons for wanting to change my last name. In this scanerio, I felt like my choice was fight the patriarchy and keep a name I don’t like and that doesn’t feel like me OR add my husband’s name to my name and feel like I’m letting down feminism. I’ve come to the place where I can accept that I made the choice i needed to make and I’m still working to challenge assumptions, explain to people that we both changed our names and his happened to be the better last name, etc.

            Does that make sense? I feel I don’t need to my defend my choice bc again, it was what I know was best personally, but on a macro level, I can still acknowledge it wasn’t the choice that would have resisted patriarchy the most.

          • CutePants

            preach

        • Molly K.

          I changed my name and I freaking hate Mrs. K as well. I also dislike being called Mrs. HiisFirst K. I

          All of that said, I come from the deep South, where changing your name and making the maiden name your middle name is what people do 99% of the time. Also, it’s still extremely common for people to address mail as Mr. and Mrs. HisFirst HisLast.

          I’m not one to make a scene, so I let it slide, but it does bother me a little. I’m not an extension of my husband, dang it!

        • texassa

          My mom addresses married couples that way, too. I can’t stand it. I know it is considered proper etiquette, but it is just so rude.

      • Eenie

        Oh wow. Although maybe he didn’t realize what a big deal it is to some people? Our discussion on name change went like this:

        Me: What do you think about names after the wedding?
        Him: I want to keep mine.
        Me: Me too. What about taking my last name?
        Him: I want to keep mine.
        Me: Well I guess that’s only fair.

        My one request was that he correct anyone who assumes that I’m changing my name with the response above.

        • This was basically our conversation too.
          Him: “I’m lazy, I’m keeping my name”
          Me: “Okay, well I’m not sure if I want to keep mine, take yours, or hyphenate”
          Him: “Okay, well it’s your name, do what you want”.
          *thinks* Me: I’m pretty lazy too. I think I’ll keep it.

          Both of his brothers are married already and both of their wives kept their names so I don’t think I’ll be getting a ton of pushback on this.

          • Eenie

            His entire reasoning is that he doesn’t want to file the papers. And well, ok.

      • Sarah

        Ugh! A lot of women I know get really excited about being able to call their newly married friends ‘Mrs Hisname’, without even asking whether said friend is changing her name, which I find really awful. At this stage my fiance and I are both planning to keep our names. I don’t mind the idea that people might mistakenly refer to me as Sarah Hisname (I actually like his surname a lot), but for some reason the idea of being called Mrs Hisname really grates on me.

        In terms of talking to people about our decision – I figure we’ve been together for nearly 6 years without any need for us to share a last name, so why start now?

        • Lauren from NH

          We had only one couple friend write this in a card. Otherwise naming has mostly been left alone for us. My boss asked for records purposes, people have neutrally asked here and there. Just saying depending on your area people can be mostly chill.

        • I found myself deeply offended that we got wedding invitations addressed to C and K Hislast a few weeks before we got married. I think it bothered me the most because I was super diligent about asking everyone who had gotten married in the last year or so how they wanted to be addressed that it felt like a slap in the face to not be extended the same courtesy.

          • Eenie

            Yeah, I based a lot of stuff off facebook, but one person didn’t change on facebook and I thought they announced as Mrs. Hislast at the wedding. I’m glad I asked cause she did change, but everyone I asked has made it seem like it’s a silly thing, to which I replied, I’m going to make sure I call you the right name.

          • Eh

            We were announced as Mr and Mrs HisLast at our reception (long story, I wasn’t going to fight it) but I didn’t change my name (and I haven’t changed it on FB either). But I think it’s great that you did follow up with everyone. I know some people’s names were wrong on our invitations.

          • Alex Bacon

            I wish more people used FB as a guide. We’ve been married a year and we’ve gotten mail from friends who swapped the order of our last names. Neither of us has changed our last name legally (yet, we’re still deciding) but socially we’ve chosen to go as Mr. and Mrs. B-L. B is my last name and L is his. We got mail addressed to the “L’s” and to the “L-Bs”. It’s on FB as B-L, on both our profiles. It’s super annoying. Additionally, both friends were at our wedding where we were announced at “B-Ls.” It annoys me to no end that they assume HIS name is first. I also prefer the Ms. over Mrs., but won’t pitch a fit over it.

          • Eenie

            Well I’m glad someone is appreciating it! Name stuff is hard. I don’t want to make it any harder. And even if you haven’t legally changed it, I still want to call you by the appropriate name. It’s like with nicknames. I only use a nickname if the person prefers it.

          • Vanessa

            YES. We got one this summer to Mr & Mrs Hisfirst Hislast which is not only a convention I hate but we aren’t even married yet (and I don’t plan on changing my name when we do). I spent a couple of weeks going on and on about why are we even going to the wedding of people who don’t know that we’re not married. After I got over my fit I made sure to write on the rsvp card Ms Myfirst Mylast and Hisfirst Hislast to send the point home, and thankfully our place cards at the reception had the correct names.

          • Angela Howard

            I swear that during my wedding planning I saw etiquette guidance that couples of our generation could (should?) be addressed Mr HisFirstName & Mrs HerFirstName LastName.

          • Kate

            Yes! We addressed our invites as follows:
            Mr. and Ms. HisFirst & HerFirst TheirLast (or sometimes Ms. then Mr.) – for married couples with the same last name and
            Ms. HerFirst HerLast & Mr. HisFirst HisLast

            I had a big discussion with my mother about Mr. and Mrs. HisFirst. I’m not a fan of it but she told me she really likes being Mr. and Mrs. Dadsname. So our invite to them was addressed that way. I think it’s important to respect people’s individual preferences, but I always (try to) default the more liberal/feminist versions.

          • emmeline

            I don’t get this about wedding envelope ettiquette, and “could” be done. Is the envelope going to burn on arrival if it’s not addressed correctly? Ettiquette is about treating people well. Envelopes are about being addressed to the person you want to come.

          • Fitzford

            This is would be awesome if it caught on. I changed my name but still really hate being called Mrs. HisFirst Last.

          • JDrives

            I did something similar, “Mr. and Mrs. HisFirstName & HerFirstName LastName.” The only ones I did not do that for are my mother and grandmother, who I know care about being addressed as “Mrs. HisFirstName LastName”.

            My very feminist friend who I mentioned in another comment here did not take her husband’s name, and I accidentally addressed their invitation to “Mr. and Mrs. HisFirstName & HerFirstName HerLastName” to her great delight!

          • JDrives

            That also happened to me, and I was annoyed. I was like “Honey, I think this is addressed to your mother. Mrs. YourLastName is your mom. I’m Ms. MyLastName. So weird.”

        • texassa

          Since I’ve been engaged, SO many people are making name comments to me. Like calling me soon-to-be Mrs. H or FirstName H with a wink-wink nudge-nudge. No.

      • Haha it always cracks me up because my husband often gets called Mr. My-Last-Name because the bills are under my name, and I’m usually the one to make hotel reservations and travel arrangements. (I’m more of the planner in our household, so I usually take on that role.) I DID receive a lot of letters to Mr. and Mrs. His-Last-Name right after we got married, but after we sent out holiday cards noting both of our names, it hasn’t been an issue at all with our family members.

        • Meg Keene

          Mine as well. I always cackle when he’s called Mr. Keene. I’m doubly amused when he sighs and looks vaguely annoyed and says, “That’s my father-in-law.” Indeed. But no one questions women taking the same name as their MIL (usually her name, at least). So: I FIND THIS ENJOYABLE.

          Almost makes up for all that incorrectly addressed mail, both to me AND our kids.

        • Danielle

          On our honeymoon I made a reservation to eat somewhere under my name, and indicated that we had just gotten married. The waiter was very kind, and kept calling us Mr. and Mrs. MyLast, and it made me giggle. Eventually he asked, “So, how long have you been Mr. and Mrs. MyLast?” and I laughed and said we’re not — neither of us are changing our names.

          One of the best of many great memories from our honeymoon :)

        • Eh

          My husband was called Mr MyLast by a resident at the hospital when I was in triage at labour and delivery (just to get checked out, not the day I delivered). I thought it was odd assumption (both nurses we had asked what we wanted to be called, eg by our first names or last names, and asked his relationship to me and the baby). I laughed and said ‘he is my husband and the father but we have different last names.’ (My dad was a teacher at my high school so that’s what I associate Mr MyLast with.) I live in a city where tons of women don’t change their last name, and I live near Quebec (and women from Quebec have babies at that hospital) where married women can’t change their name (and many do not get married).

          When I was there to have our daughter the nurses wrote our first names on the white board in our room so everyone called us our first names and their was no confusion. The other great part was that while at the hospital our daughter had my last name.

          • Amie Melnychuk

            I loved that too, when my daughter was Baby M in the hospital, not Baby S. It made my heart melt to see it like that.

            It’s crazy that something which is always touted as being “just a name” can illicit such a strong emotional response when struck with the decision to alter that name, append that name or remove that name.

          • Eh

            I am very emotionally attached to my name. My mom passed away when I was a teenager and she had the same last name. And I get it was her married name (since she changed her last name to my dad’s) but it’s the name I knew her by (and she was married at 18 so the name she had her whole adult life). My husband isn’t attached to his last name. He offered to change his name to mine but we decided against that since his mother is very traditional. We originally planned on giving our children his last name but later decided to hyphenate to honour/acknowledge both sides.

      • LJ

        The same thing happened to me at breakfast! I was all I could do to hold back on the snark because I knew that wouldn’t lead to a productive anything. But my husband got referred to by his first name and all of the sudden I was Mrs. His last. I was so upset.

      • texassa

        gag

    • Ellen

      I used a similar phrase. However, I also try and just be gracious when someone refers to me as Mrs. [his last name]. To me it doesn’t really matter if the plumber/handyman/whomever, knows my correct name. Similarly, although correspondence from us always lists both of our last names, I don’t let it bother me when holiday cards from somewhat distant relatives come addressed to Mrs. and Mr. I cared about keeping my name, but for me it’s not a soapbox worth spending much time on.

      • laddibugg

        Exactly. I mean I totally understand correcting people you regularly interact with, but sometimes, it’s not worth the fight if you’re never going to see someone again.

    • Jenny

      Yep this is what I did up until like 2 months before, when we both decided that we did want to change our names to hislast herlast. Now if it comes up, I say that we both talked about it and decided to both change our names.

      We also has several intense discussion about it, with lots of emotions on both sides. Keep talking about it. Until you both can support each other in the decision you’ve made. He doesn’t have to understand it, but he has to be willing to actively support you and not say nothing or gang up on you when you get haterade. To be honest, I expected it to come up way more often than it did, it came up in the 2 months before the wedding and maybe a month or so after, but since then it hasn’t. I make sure to use our names on all social media and correspondence with family and friends, but for the most part no one really seems to care.

    • Simone

      I recently told someone that my FI would also be keeping his maiden name.

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      • texassa

        Bwahahahahaa. Love this.

    • Meg Keene

      A-FUCKING-MEN. I refuse to use the phrase, “I didn’t change my name,” even still, five years later. Because the assumptions behind that statement are so unbelievably gendered. I wanted my husband to change his name, he declined. So it’s only accurate to report that we both kept our names.

      • AnneBonny

        The funny thing is, my partner DID want to change his name—he wanted us both to combine our last names (either hyphenated or not, British-style). I thought about it and decided even that was too much for me, which he accepted. So if people ask only if I’M changing my name, they’re actually missing out on some info!

    • I did change my name and I always try to respond with we both are changing our names (even if we are both ending up with his last name, we both have one of my names as a bonus middle name). Because it is more accurate than I changed my name.

    • Kayla

      Pre-wedding, my husband and I had agreed to both change our names. I followed through right after our honeymoon. He didn’t change his name until yesterday, almost a year after our wedding.

      But now, FINALLY, I can respond, “Yes, we both changed our names.”

      And I am feeling really good about this.

    • Kate

      How would you feel about the question “Are either of you changing your names?” I was thinking of getting a return address stamp made as a gift for a friend’s wedding and wasn’t sure what to put on it. Obviously didn’t want to assume, but is asking at all prying?

      • ML

        I think in this case, while it does ruin the “surprise”, asking is best because it’s something you want them to use over and over! I got on for my sister, and asked her what she would like on it because regardless of last name changes, they may prefer “John Jones and Jenny Smith” or “The Jones-Smith Family”, or just “John and Jenny” who knows. So I say, ask! :)

      • Marcela

        Definitely better to ask! So many gifts can be monogrammed/ personalized I think it would just make sense to give out that info

        • Kate

          Yeah that’s a good point. I really wanted “The Ourname Family” for ours but it is pretty personal.

      • Eenie

        I think that’s an appropriate question. The phrasing I use is “what should I call you(plural) after the wedding?” I don’t think many people would be offended at you wanting to call them by the name they want to be called.

      • Nah, I think this is great. I know one couple where he took her name and another where they both changed their names so I think this is starting to become the best way of phrasing this, outside of making any sort of feminist point.

    • I don’t understand why this has to be a battle with every single person. Neither of us changed our names legally. But if someone in passing uses his surname to address me I don’t a turn monster into a monster and jump down their throatH.Heck, some of our friends even call my husband Mr. My last name as ajoke It went so far that some of his colleagues that barely know us were addressing him as such in work emails. It’s funny and our lives are now joined that either of our names refers to us as a couple. at our wedding my in-laws wished upon us lots of little “mylastname-hislastnames” (which is funny because his name is already hyphenated).

      Maybe this is a cultural difference as 0.1% of people in Quebec change their names after marriage But I don’t see this as a big deal.

      • Eenie

        It matters because the chances of me being addressed by the wrong name and 99.999% higher than him. I very much disagree with the whole idea of it. Saying that we both changed our names or neither of us did isn’t a battle. It’s taking a small stand in every day conversation to change the way people think. I’m glad the expectations in Canada are different, but here in the U.S. I’ve already been hassled for a choice that has zero effect on the questioner, and I’m only four months into this engagement. Change has to start somewhere.

      • Eh

        I would definitely say it is cultural in that case. I live in Ottawa and my husband and I grew up in rural (READ: conservative) Ontario. In Ottawa it’s not a big deal since lots of people from Quebec work here, and the demographics of the people in Ottawa are the ‘type’ of people who are less likely to change their name. My in-laws live an hour away from Ottawa and it was a big deal for them that I kept my last name. And my MIL wants a grandson to carry on my FIL’s last name (which won’t happen since my BIL/SIL are done having kids and have three daughters, and we hyphenated for our kids).

      • Amy March

        Ugh Quebec. It took my hours to find my mother when she was hospitalized up there because they hospital inexplicably insisted on registering her under her maiden name, even though she hasn’t used it in 35 years and it forms no part of her legal name.

        • Not Sarah

          In Quebec, women are required to use their birth last name in any official capacity, even if you legally changed your last name in another state or province. That would be why! One of my friends refused to move there because she’d already gone through the effort of changing her name…

    • Caroline

      i love this! I think if I ever manage to bring my OH, his family AND my family around to the idea of keeping my name (which I hope I can, eventually), then I will put this on our wedding invitations.

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  • jhs

    We had our DJ/officiant just call us by our first names or “the newlyweds.” As for explaining it down the line, I definitely have used “neither of us have changed our names” and “I just didn’t want to” as reasonings, because there are a million practical reasons I didn’t change my name but the fact is it was just never what I wanted to do. (Also my mom never changed her name so I was never raised thinking it was in any way expected.) Sometimes I’ll get into it deeper, like “why aren’t you asking the same of my husband?” but mostly I just curtly correct people and hope they get the message.

  • CateB

    You don’t have to explain anything to a vendor (DJ, officiant, or anyone else) – just tell them what you want. This is your decision. It involves your to-be husband, but it is your name and identity. It’s no different than going by a shortened form of your legal name or by your middle name – when you meet people, you tell them what you prefer to be called. Tell your vendors how they should be addressing/referring to you.

    The most important thing is to make sure that you and your to-be husband are on the same page. Even if he doesn’t agree with your decision, he needs to respect and support it.

    • Lauren from NH

      Agreed. You are the client. If they give you any pushback, just be firm, “No, this is what we want etc.” you especially don’t have to explain yourself to them. You are the boss.

      Also I thought it worth noting, unless your community is hyper in love with traditional naming and announcements, they probably won’t notice the change or even if you aren’t announced at all. These little tweaks typically go unnoticed in the moment would be my guess, which is not to say they shouldn’t be important to you, but I doubt it will produce much drama.

  • Lisa

    I would like to offer some support for the LW regarding her arguments with her husband about the name change. I discovered my sweet, caring now-husband had a lot invested in this tradition during our engagement when I opened the discussion, and he said a lot of patriarchal BS during those discussions, which turned into fights quickly. We had some of the most heated arguments of our relationship over this topic.

    He’s now at a point where he accepts my decision and can support me, his super-stubborn feminist wife, even though he doesn’t understand why I didn’t choose to take his name and would be over the moon if I took it next month as a first anniversary present. However, it took the better part of a year of our engagement to get him to that point, and the discussions haven’t stopped there. (What do we name our children is the newest debate I like to spring on him during long car rides.) But you love each other, and I think that love will eventually bring him around to supporting you, even if it does take a while.

    • AP

      This has been my experience as well, almost to the letter. We almost didn’t get engaged over the name change issue, but we finally came to an understanding. It took a year, give or take, and he’s now fully supportive of my keeping my name. We haven’t really come to terms with the naming of future kids, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

      • Eenie

        We’re at that bridge as well ;)

        • AP

          My mom has been after me to have the discussion now, before we get married, to make sure we’re on the same page about what to name our future kids. And I get where she’s coming from, but it’s like, why now? So we can call off the wedding if we can’t come to an agreement? I know deep down we’ll do what’s right for us when the time comes, so I’m ok with not hashing it out now in the two weeks before we get married. (But yes, a teeny tiny part of me is probably just wanting to avoid the conflict that I know is coming.)

          • Lisa

            I think it’s important to have the discussion before pregnancy/kids so you both can be on the same page without the hormones flying around, but provided you’re not intending to start trying the day you get married (or before), then I don’t see a reason why this discussion can’t be kicked down the line. We know kids are still another 3-5 years away for us so we’re having the discussions every few months to keep it alive without killing one another in the process.

          • AP

            This is how I feel too. Kids are a few years away so I’ll probably start bringing up the conversation next year. I know from experience with him now that it’s an evolving conversation anyway. It’s not like we’ll solve it in one sitting.

          • TeaforTwo

            My husband and I definitely started on different pages about kids’ names, but it was never a conversation for me. Any argument that they should just be named after him was just so transparently bullshit that I told him straight up they were not going to have just his name and that was the end of it.

            I let him make the call about just my name vs. hyphenating. He kind of flailed around on it a bit, and then settled on a hyphen. But it was really important to me that this was not a back-and-forth. He would say “what if they had your last name as a middle name?That would be fair!” And of course when I said “Good solution, but let’s do it the other way” he realized that it’s not, in fact, fair.

            Not everything has to be fifty-fifty fair in every marriage all the time, so I get why people compromise. But I just couldn’t handle all the bullshit contortions that people (including my husband) were making to make it SEEM like it made sense for any reason other than patriarchy that our kids should get just his name.

          • BSM

            OMG YES. I would write an entire comment, but you said everything I’d need to :)

            We’re still a long ways out from really thinking about kids so there haven’t been too many serious naming discussions yet, but I have made it clear they will not be getting just his last name. For all the reasons you laid out.

          • TeaforTwo

            AP I hope it didn’t sound like I was jumping on you. My husband definitely needed to have an evolving conversation on this, and took him awhile to figure out. I just let him do it on his own because it seemed clear to me that it was his issue and not mine.

          • AP

            Not at all! I haven’t even come to terms with how *I* feel about the naming of future children, and I’m anxious enough right now so I’d like to wait until the dust settles from the wedding to start really processing my feelings and then we can talk. I also learned form experience discussing my name that I can’t come at him with my mind already made up anyway (even if it is) because then he feels like he has no voice. With my name, I was firm, refused to budge, and refused to caretake his feelings on the issue. But I’d like to take a gentler tactic when it comes to our kids’ names. For both our sakes.

          • Violet

            And for the kids’ sakes. When it’s your own name, sure, go in guns blazing. When it’s the name of a kid who is both yours and your partner’s? I’ve yet to meet a kid who was well-served by being the rope in a game of tug o’ war between their parents.

          • AP

            EXACTLY. And I’m definitely thinking of the kids when I consider that they’ll end up with the Rosencrantz-Guildenstern equivalent of hyphenated last names if we go that route.

          • Violet

            Though Rosencrantz-Guildenstern would be pretty epic.

          • Vanessa

            Their mileage may vary. I have to spell my simple last name ALL THE TIME and sometimes I wonder if it would be less annoying to have a longer/more complicated name that actually warrants spelling.

            (Seriously though, my last name is “Conway” and I have to spell it all of the time. And it’s made up of two smaller words that everyone knows how to spell and you can hear all of the letters in it and I just don’t know).

          • TeaforTwo

            I don’t want to split hairs, but I think it’s also a decision that can be made at any point up until the birth certificate is signed. The idea that you can’t have a reasonable discussion and make a good decision with your partner while pregnant does not have great implications for women. (Plus there are lots of other and probably more important decisions that you DO have to make while pregnant!)

          • Meg Keene

            Indeed. Also, when I got pregnant, I was more willing to fight for… myself and my kids and what mattered to me. I think that’s good, not bad.

            Besides, you’re figuring out first names then, why not lasts?

          • Jenny

            Yeah, I do agree, though for me it was less about can’t have a reasonable discussion and more like really don’t want to. We have a lot of other decisions we are making and having that one off the table has been nice for me because pregnancy has just been physically and mentally way more taxing than I imagined.

          • Lauren from NH

            I can’t help it, I need to have an all about me moment. I am so fucking jealous that some people live in a world where parents poking around about kids names can be a minor annoyance. I am so tired of my in laws trying to start a culture war, so freaking tired. Them making me feel terrible about my potential kids that I haven’t even had a chance to decide if I want yet, was the last straw after a full year of BS. Now that we are finally leaving crazy town behind, I can’t wait to get back to normal rudeness, normal annoyances…I can’t wait to have the biggest problem on my plate be something I can actually bring to other people for advice rather keep quiet for shame and fear of scaring them off.

          • AP

            Hugs.

          • Lizzie

            Sorry lady. I hope things get better soon.

          • Meg Keene

            We didn’t come to a decision till well after the wedding, and it was hard fought. We needed to come to a decision about kids and faith first, because that can be an explosive deal breaker. But when it came to names, well… they were gonna get SOME last name, we just had to figure out which. Which we did. With many tears.

      • Jenny

        Yeah, you probably don’t need to have it now, but I will say that it was a pretty long conversation for us, like several conversations over several months, and honestly pregnancy is hard and emotional as is, you have plenty of things to be anxious about, I’m glad that decision is behind us because I know that every morning I was throwing up/ dragging myself out of bed still exhausted after 12 hours of sleep I would have been yelling, THIS IS WHY MY NAME IS MORE IMPORTANT, I’M DOING ALL THE STUPID BIOLOGICAL WORK HERE, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE INVOLVED. Aka, not a great place to be at when having an important meaningful conversation.

        • Meg Keene

          OR IS IT? Seriously though. Seriously.

          Both my kids had wristbands at the hospital that said, “Boy, Keene,” and “Girl, Keene,” and I was like “FUCKING RIGHT.” I mean, I was, in fact, the one who just had them surgically removed from my uterus/ pushed them out of my vagina. Done, and done.

          • TeaforTwo

            Agreed. The way we talk about pregnancy in this culture is just beyond the pale. The idea that women are incapacitated by pregnancy hormones (as though their purpose is to make things WACKY instead of…grow a placenta, fight off pathogens, make breastmilk from scratch and otherwise keep a fetus and then person alive).

            And there are all kinds of physically demanding things about pregnancy like puking and exhaustion and back pain and sometimes much, much worse, but…those things are not irrelevant. They are often hella hard, and so they HELLA COUNT.

          • Jenny

            Yeah, but think about a time when you were puking or exhausted or in pain, and then imagine that you needed to have a really serious conversation that will be really emotionally draining (or it was for me and K). All I’m saying is that isn’t where I feel most able to articulate something that’s important to me. I mean I certainly made the It’s my body that will be doing the biological carrying and delivery of the child, I’m going to be the one with morning sickness, I’m going to be the one whose pelvis unhinges like a snake, arguments, but I didn’t need to actually BE pregnant to make them.

          • Jenny

            Yeah, I do see your point. I guess it’s because our breakthrough conversation came after months of us having those conversations that were emotional and teary already and they were draining and I worry that if I had had them in the throws of morning sickness or the most keen exhaustion I’ve ever felt my reaction might have been, ugh fine whatever you want, just let me sleep. Or I just can’t summon the energy to fight right now. Or I would have been even more stressed out and anxious. Or I would have said some things I didn’t really mean. Because we were able to have the conversation without that I felt like my “win” was truly us making the decision together both understanding and hearing the other person and I think if we had waited until I was pregnant I would worry about one or the other of us getting railroaded and being resentful later. Since we were able to have it he’s become a total champion for our last name choice (hislast mylast no hyphen), he’s shut down haters, he’s explained to people and I feel like it just has so much more power for other people seeing him championing it because it shuts down part of this oh his wife made him do it because he’s clearly able to articulate all the societal and personal reasons I was able to give. He’s used analogies I gave him. Basically I feel like because we were able to have the conversation early and without the high stake I was able to truly get him on my side, not just accept and be at peace with a decision. But maybe if he really hadn’t been seeing it or understanding my point of view watching me physically be pregnant would have made an impression, but I wouldn’t want to roll the dice on my feeling up to the pretty heavy intense discussions. Maybe you don’t have to resolve the discussion before pregnancy, but I do think starting the conversation and giving it some time if you think it might be contentious and it’s important to you is worth a shot.

      • Laura C

        It’s funny, because there was no consideration of me changing my name (once someone asked my husband if I would be and he burst out laughing to their face), but I am totally good with our hypothetical kids having his last name. When women explain that they changed their own names because of all these highly individual factors that had nothing to do with patriarchy, I’m like “but it was also patriarchy. Just admit it! If it wasn’t patriarchy, we’d see men just as often explaining their highly individual reasons for changing their names!” And that’s how it is for us with this. We have highly individual reasons to use his last name for kids — where his family is from, the man’s personal name becomes the family last name, so his last name is his late, adored father’s personal name; plus I think since we’ll have half-Indian kids who are likely to not necessarily look very Indian (based on all his half-white cousins), it would be good to have a marker of that — but it’s also a really easy decision to make because patriarchy. And I’m a lot more comfortable just admitting that than being defensive about it — I do think without those specific factors, other options would have been very much on the table, and in fact my husband feels somewhat guilty about this decision, but gosh it was easier to make the decision knowing we wouldn’t spend our lives explaining it to people!

        • AP

          You know, I’m not too worried about the kids having his last name either. Ideally I’d love for them to be hyphenated, but he and I both have long last names, plus his is a German name that everyone comments on about what a mouthful it is. So hyphenating would be a huge pain and I don’t know if I want to deal with that. My very awesome boss kept her name, then named one child with the husband’s last and one child with her last and I kind of love that. But I’m just not as passionate about future kids’ names as I am about my own name. I want them to have a mother who modeled making a choice that goes against patriarchal convention and know that it’s ok for them to make choices like that too. And I take your point, that if we give the kids his name, patriarchy is for sure a reason. Because otherwise why not give all of the kids my name? But god. I just get so tired of fighting the good fight over every issue. It might be nice to just go the easy route on this one.

          • Laura C

            Yup, we all choose our battles. We have to. I love that so many people I know have done other things with their kids’ names — I know people who did a portmanteau of their last names, people who decided ahead that a girl would get the mother’s name and a boy would get the father’s, people who gave the first kid the mother’s name and if there’s another it’ll have the father’s. All those things are wonderful and I hope they all become more common and accepted. And there are a lot of fights I absolutely do dive into myself. This isn’t one of them under my current circumstances, and I’m fine with it.

        • Mary Jo TC

          Sigh. You’re right. I added my husband’s name to mine, and while it was aesthetics primarily, it was also patriarchy. I do need to accept that while this decision was right for me, it wasn’t necessarily a feminist one.

          • Laura C

            Not one of us makes perfect-world feminist choices 100% of the time. Fighting the patriarchy is exhausting! No shame in picking your battles!

        • CMT

          It’s totally the patriarchy!! And honestly, I get offended when women say they’re changing their names because it would be too hard or confusing to have a different name than their children. My mom didn’t change her name and I have the same last name as my dad, but we’ve never been anything less than a complete family and it never caused any problems.

          Of course I would never tell any of my friends how I feel about their name changes because it’s none of my business at all, but every time I see a name change on Facebook, my inner feminist killjoy rages.

          • CMT

            Sorry, I realize I sound like I’m totally calling you out on your legitimate, personal reasons for making your own decision about your children’s names.

            For me, this topic in particular brings up such strong feelings and legitimate concerns on both sides and I realize I’m just going to have to accept that I don’t feel the same way as everybody about it and that’s okay. And hopefully I can keep my mouth shut and not hurt anybody’s feelings.

          • Laura C

            Not at all! That’s my point — I know what I’m doing and I’m good with it and not defensive.

    • Mary Jo TC

      Solidarity. I did take my husband’s name, but I justify it with aesthetic reasons. My maiden name was constantly mispronounced, and as a teacher, that meant I had to listen to that mispronunciation several times a day from August to November. My husband’s name has the same number of letters, but is rarely mispronounced, though it must be spelled every time someone asks me for it, same as my maiden name. I kept my old name as a second middle name, though, and I use it prominently all the time every time I write my name or even initials. It felt like a good compromise to me.
      I asked my husband if he’d take my maiden name as a second middle name as a 5th anniversary present, which would totally even out this gender disparity in my eyes, as well as make us match, but he said no. It was hard to hear that no. It’s tough not being supported about these decisions by your husband, and changing someone else’s mind is not always possible. I’m considering continuing to ask for this for every Christmas, birthday, anniversary, and Valentine’s day until he does it. The wear-him-down strategy might work, especially since he always struggles with buying presents.

      • TeaforTwo

        AS A PRESENT. This is brilliant!

        When we started talking about kids, we finally settled on hyphenating, and it brought up again that I would actually prefer us to have a “family name” in the sense that all of use hyphens. He’s pretty resolutely against it (fine with being “the Last-Last family” but not fine with having a hyphen in his own name) but I might start framing it this way!

        • Lisa

          Right now we’re settled on hyphenating MyLast-HisLast for kids, but I also love the idea of picking a name from one of our family trees and using that for the kids. (The front runner right now belongs to his great-great-great grandmother, who has one of the best full names I’ve ever heard.)

          • Laura C

            I know some people who picked a third name (I think from a beloved older family member?) and gave that name and only that name to the kids, then hyphenated themselves with the third name. So it’s HerFirst ThirdLast-HerLast and HisFirst ThirdLast-HisLast, but the kids are just FirstName ThirdLast. Everyone has a name in common but the kids won’t have to deal with what to do when they marry someone hyphenated. Seems a very elegant solution, though it’s not one I’ll be replicating.

          • Another Meg

            Oh my god I love this.

          • sahara

            Yes please! I would be jazzed with this – and there’s not much to be jazzed about when it comes to changing or not changing names. Everybody wins in terms of equality, consistency, and convenience (though for this last criteria I might not hyphenate, just add ThirdLast as another last name). I also love the idea of great-great-great grandmothers saving the day on this.

          • We’ve been trying to figure out what to do for kids and right now it’s between hyphenate or make up a new last name. I hadn’t thought about scoring the family trees for names though. VERY INTERESTING.

          • Lisa

            The names are SO fun. You can find lots of great old names in family trees. (One of our favorite finds is Kunegonde Lighter, which I think is just fantastic.) I love the history that comes with the name (it ties back to something in our families) but also has the luxury of typically being disassociated from our modern concept of our families.

          • I’m going to bring this up to SO and see where we get with it. It might be a good solution to some debates we’ve been having recently. SO is of the opinion that our names hyphenated sounds like a Notary Public office. He’s not wrong. lol

          • Lisa

            Yeah, our hyphenated name isn’t terrible (4 syllables), but it’s a lot of letters and spelling involved (French + German names), which makes it less desirable. My husband is still pretty invested in the idea of having his name as part of our kids’ names, but he also dislikes the hyphen so we’ll see where we are in a couple of years!

        • Sosuli

          Very similar conversations going on between me and my FH! Though there wasn’t that much of a conversation about it, I just said I wanted our kids to have both last names, because they’re in different languages and because it’s important that they share a name with both of us. FH agreed. End of that convo, until closer to the time we have kids, probably. He is currently “thinking about” whether he will take a double-barrel last name, but refuses to give me any indication of which way he’s leaning. I don’t want to push it in fear of that making him go for an automatic “no”… but we’ll see. 10 months to go!

        • BSM

          I also kind of would like a “family name,” hence, the options I’ve laid out so far (in order of preference): Franken-name (combine our two last names), pick another name (from our family trees or just a random word/name we like), hyphenate, 1st kid gets my last name and 2nd gets his (but we aren’t sure if we want to have 1 or 2), or they get my last name. C hates hyphenated names for some reason, so I’m feeling pretty good about the likelihood we’ll go with my first choice of name-melding.

          • Eh

            About six months after we were married I started feeling sad that we didn’t have a family name. Around the same time we were talking about having children. And also my in-laws referred to us as ‘The HisLasts’ which upset my husband because it ignored the fact that I do not have that last name. (Note: if having one last name was important to me/us my husband said he would change his last name since my last name means more to me than his does to him.) We decided that our family name would be HisLast-MyLast (the reverse order does not sound good since my last name is a homophone for an adjective that is not very favourable) even though neither of us have that name. We decided to get return address labels and a family name sign with that name, and we decided to use that name for our children.

        • Meg Keene

          We actually just don’t have a family name, and are totally fine with it. I joke that with two kids with the same last name, they now hold the majority, so we probably will get referred to as the last-Keene family, but I don’t know that we really consider ourselves that. We both have our original last names, and even with kids have ZERO desire to hyphenate them, which I find interesting.

          All of us having different last names (except the kids sharing theirs) has made it super clear to me that last names don’t make a family.

          • TeaforTwo

            Yes, I’ve read other posts where you said the same thing and when we were talking (so briefly, as in, not more than 10 minutes of our total relationship time altogether) about names, that helped me let go of the family name idea a bit. Families come in ALL KINDS of packages, and I don’t feel like we are any less of family for having different names (or for not having kids). But i do still like the idea.

            The appeal for me is basically this: when I was growing up, my father would constantly tell us, “remember you’re a lastname!” for all occasions from the first day of school or big presentations (meaning knock ’em dead) to house parties in high school (meaning don’t get drunk). It’s a simple shorthand, and there are lots of ways to say “take pride in where you come from and remember what we taught you” but I have a sentimental attachment to this one.

      • Amy March

        Would you like it if he continued to ask you to drop your maiden name all together every present buying holiday until you agreed though? I see the appeal but he’s made his decision and continuing to poke at a wound doesn’t usually result in healing.

        • One More Sara

          Perhaps not every holiday until the end of time, but maybe have the conversation about every 5th wedding anniversary. As he ages his opinion could evolve, but it would be important to give him a reminder every once in a while that “hey remember this thing we talked about a while ago? It still matters to me.”

        • Mary Jo TC

          Yeah, you might have a point. Sigh. But I’m not sure your analogy is functionally equivalent: him asking me to drop part of my name/identity is different from me asking him to add part of my name/identity to his. Maybe if I focus on how excited it would make me if he add my name, how much more excited than any other thing he could buy me, and that he could totally choose how public or private to make the change.

          • Eenie

            I think you hit it right. You’re not asking to take away from his name but add to it. And yes, it may be a little bit of poking, but wouldn’t it be a bigger deal if you didn’t feel solid enough in your relationship to ask for what you want?

          • Amy March

            It just seems like a strange thing to take a decades long stance on to me, since you gave up your own name for aesthetics. But if it makes sense in the context of your relationship absolutely go for it!

        • halliemt

          I have an old childhood friend who, along with her mother and sister, has a hyphenated last name. Her dad never hyphenated until she (my friend) got engaged to a man who also resisted hyphenating. One of the points he brought up was, “Well, your dad didn’t do it either,” at which point, her dad finally went out an got his name legally changed. Just made me think of it as an example of a man whose opinion on this changed over time.

          • Eenie

            That’s awesome. I feel like he didn’t want to be an excuse for his future son in law!

          • halliemt

            exactly.

      • PW

        Hey, hugs and solidarity from here. Keep trying and don’t you dare listen to people criticising you for this. If we have to take the slow-and-steady approach to bringing the wonderful men in our lives round to seeing the world from a female POV, then so be it.

    • Lulu

      When our early discussions weren’t as supportive as I expected, my now-husband pointed out that he had 30-plus years of not having to think about name-changing at all, whereas I’d been continually weighing and adjusting my stance over decades. At first, that was infuriating in its own right– look beyond your male privilege for minute, Privileged Male– but it did help me understand why I needed to be patient.

      • AP

        Oh lord, yes to this. My fiancé also said he’d never given any thought before and had always assumed his wife would take his name. I saw red and said, “that’s your male privilege!” and he was like, “what privilege?? why do you always say I have privilege? I wasn’t born rich!” and then we go down the rabbit hole of trying to explain privilege to a white upper middle class man…it took time.

        • Marcela

          I can no longer use the term privilege in these conversations. It completely derails the discussion into “well there were plenty of people at school with me whose parents made WAY more money and gave them blahblahblah whereas I had to work at Marble Slab one summer for spending money”

          • AP

            YEP. So much. I have a few words I have stopped using to keep a conversation in a good place- privilege, patriarchy, feminist. For me to make any headway with my fiancé I have to keep things personal about us, and not get into abstract social theory.

          • Mary Jo TC

            I’m in the same place with my husband. Do you have any tips for keeping these discussions positive and productive? Any words you use instead of those trigger words (ex privilege)?

          • Marcela

            Instead of patriarchy, I talk about society. Instead of privilege, I talk about experience. I try to frame things in talking about right and wrong which he is more receptive to.
            Surprisingly, Last Week Tonight has really helped with some of this stuff. I cringe when I think about how hearing it from a white male (with bonus british accent for added gravitas!) seems to work way better than from me, but I’ll take whatever help I can get.
            Also talking about how I used to think that too, until….blah blah blah or how I still screw up and I am a product of my racist, sexist, transphobic..etc society. I try to call myself out on things too so he doesn’t feel like its such a pileon.

          • AP

            Second talking about my own mistakes and how my views have changed over time. So it doesn’t feel like I’m making him out to be a bad guy.

          • AP

            Hmmm. Honestly, we had to stop talking about it for a while and switch to email. He communicates better without the heightened emotion (usually on my part) so it helps us to have a medium that allows me to edit my tone and send some links that he can read on his own time. I’m a natural debater and quick thinker, so I tend to slam him in conversation before I’ve realized that he’s shut down.

            Conversationally, I have to work to keep things light and remember not to try to come to conclusions in one conversation. Like, I’ve started opening the conversation, maybe saying one pointed thing, then changing the subject before we really dig into it. Then later, I can ask, “have you thought any more about that thing I said the other day?”

            Instead of referencing his privilege, I’ll just say, ‘it’s different for me, and here’s how” and let him draw the parallels. I can use being a woman as a reason, but it also helps for me to have some examples specific to my life and not just “all women have to deal with this.” It helps for me to point out specific things in pop culture too as they come up, like when we saw Wild we could talk about how Cheryl Strayed had to worry about the possibility of rape, and how I don’t feel comfortable hiking alone for that reason, but that he’s never had to worry about that. It’s very strategic on my part and kind of like teaching (which he probably wouldn’t love knowing, I could see him feeling manipulated if he realized I’m playing the long game.) I realized I have to build the foundation knowledge, let him realize some things on his own, then make the complex connections organically. We just finished the first 3 seasons of Orphan Black together and that’s brought up some conversations about women’s agency over their bodies. Seems to be working so far…fingers crossed!

          • I kept my name and my fiance is VERY supportive of it now, but he was
            confused by it at first and felt emotionally like we would feel like
            less of a family. I offered for him to take my name, but he didn’t want
            to. When we discussed it, I focused on making him understand that ALL of
            the things he felt (it’s my name, it connects me to my family, it’s
            what I identify myself as an individual with, etc) are exactly the same
            as what I feel. I also gave it time – we would talk about it, then we
            wouldn’t for a while, then we would. It also helped TREMENDOUSLY when it
            happened to come up with my parents and my mom said “oh how romantic,
            she’ll always be Becca LastName, just like when you first met!”

            It helped SO much for him to realize that there are good things about keeping some outer markings of individuality – because of that one comments from my mom, us both keeping our last names has become a daily reminder that we once were separate, and we chose to come together to create this family.

            Also, early on after it was established that I wasn’t changing my last name, I told him when I first heard the response “neither of us will be changing our names” and I asked him to use it if anyone ever asks about me or assumes that I changed my name. I really think giving him that tool A) helped him see the inherent sexism in it because NO ONE ever asks him, but I get asked all the time and B) helped give him a tool that he can use to help me and be on my side. He is very big on being a team, so this was super helpful for us.

          • Another Meg

            This is how I talk to my brother who is pretty misogynistic but has started to see the light: I stopped using the word as well when I realized i was saying it so much it stopped having real meaning… I do a lot of what AP said, focusing on me and my experience vs. his experience. Things that are already being said to our nieces that aren’t being said to our nephews, stuff like that. Things he can see in front of him. I tell him about microaggressions.

            I make sure never to say easier. It’s not that it’s “easier” for white (straight, cis) men in the world, but they have a much more direct path to success, while it’s circuitous for others. And keeping my wording from implying it’s his fault.

            For my husband in particular, he doesn’t want to hear me rant all the time. He wants to know what he can do. So we focus on that. He can stick up for feminism, and he can stick up for me. To his family, to MY family, to his friends. He can point out to another dude that he’s crossed a line where I can’t.

          • Jenny

            When possible I try to think of examples or analogies that apply. For example, in the name change saga conversations the analogy that finally clicked was biking. I was like look, would you rather bike to work here (where there are maybe a bike lines or sharrows and generally you can do it safely, but you are clearly the outlier and infrastructure is clearly not built with bikes in mind as a mode of transport) or in Amsterdam (where bikes had special lights, and special rules, and infrastructure built FOR bikes everyone generally viewed them as an equal and sometimes better transportation option). I was like as a cyclist if you could choose, which place do you want to bike in? It was my best way of explaining privilage without using that word (because for us it also shuts down/derails conversation)

          • Marie

            I’ve found that people can relate better to the privilege that they don’t have. My husband went to a really ritzy college, so he met a lot of people who didn’t have to worry about student loans or beer money. He’s also short and skinny in a world that expects men to be tall and muscular. Another place that it came up with was in the wedding industry. He was reading an article on how to make a wedding website and was irritated that it kept assuming that the reader was a bride.

      • Lindsey d.

        I have to do a lot of this in general. I tend to think about things A LOT before I bring them up to my husband and I was guilty early on of unloading on him and then saying “What do you think?” and demanding a response. Now I realize I have to give him time to process and think before he can respond.

    • Jeneal Smith

      LW here:
      Thank you for your comment Lisa! What you’re describing is pretty much how the first talks of name changing went. Lots of patriarchal nonsense and lots of tears from me because I was so frustrated that he just didn’t get it.
      Thankfully(!) all the issues I wrote in with have been resolved (for the most part). We BOTH decided to hyphenate our names and the last time I brought it up it went as well as I could have imagined. He still needs to formally tell his parents but we used a return address stamp with our new hyphenated name so I am hoping that the Mrs. onlyHisLast comments will be minimal.

      • Lisa

        I am so glad that everything has turned out well for you both and that you came to a solution you both could get behind! (And to be honest, I’m a little jealous, because both of us hyphenating or choosing a new last was my dream.) Congratulations and enjoy the new address labels! :)

        • Caroline

          Thanks Lisa & Jenny for these comments. I have been engaged for 4 and a bit months and am really, really, struggling to get anything other than extreme angst from my OH whenever we discuss the name-change thing. To make matters worse, my own parents are extremely unsympathetic about it and I feel that everyone around me thinks I’m totally nuts for caring about it. It’s turning into a real sticking point for us and our conversations about it never go well. I’m hoping that, as with you guys, we will eventually get to a point of understanding and acceptance, if not wholehearted agreement, over the issue.

          • Lisa

            I wish you the best of luck, Caroline! It’s a difficult topic with a lot of feelings on both sides, but I know you can eventually get to a point of apathetic acceptance if not enthusiastic. It sucks to be at this point, but you’ll eventually wade your way through!

  • Jen

    We used “For the first time as Husband and Wife, Jen and Adam.” I told the DJ twice that it was important to me that since Mrs. His Last Name would not actually exist that he get it right. Although Liz is correct that people are often curious about why you changed your name or not, I just tell people flat out that I am still Jennifer _____ and leave it at that. I do not explain unless asked. Also, since I tend to often book hotel rooms, fill out forms for home repairs, etc, my husband gets called by my last name. I do get a little happy about this as he also must figure out how to politely navigate the situation. Your husband’s family may be a little annoyed at first but they will get over it, as long as your fiance has your back.

  • Lily

    I didn’t decide about a name change until weeks before our wedding, and two years later, I’m still working it all out. But what I did know was I did not want us to be announced as “Mr. and Mrs. HisLast” after the ceremony. My husband agreed that simply using our first names for any announcement was perfectly fine.

  • SarahJ

    I wish I had thought to say “neither of us will be changing our names” around the time of my wedding two years ago. My tactic was to answer a question with a question. If I was asked why I wasn’t changing my name, I would ask why they hadn’t asked my husband why he wasn’t changing his. I was also asked how we would be a family if we didn’t share a name, and in response I asked the person if they truly believed a name defined a family. I also took the opportunity to explain my choice, and I think that it made a difference. I know, at least, my mom now understands my decision and the reasons behind it, and to me, that is enough.

    Remember that we still live in a society where not changing our last name to that of our husbands’ is unusual, and it isn’t easy being at the forefront of change. But two years out, I have also found that the difficulties are offset by the rewards. I have had some truly interesting discussions surrounding gender ideology and marriage with friends and family as a result of my choice. My grandfather, who had only granddaughters, cried when I told him that I would be keeping my last name.

    You can have the DJ annouce you by your first names — chances are, your guests will be so excited about celebrating the happy newlyweds that they won’t think too much about formal titles.

    • One More Sara

      Our son was 4 when we got married so when people asked if I was worried about having a different name than my kids I gently reminded them that it hadn’t mattered the last 4 years, so I wasn’t about to start worrying about it now ;)

      • AP

        My mom remarried and changed her name when I was seven, so I don’t ever remember sharing a last name with her. It was only ever an issue at school, where to mitigate confusion she signed Herfirst Kidslast-Herlast even though that wasn’t her legal name. When fiance used “but family name!” as a reason for me to change, I countered with the fact that my mom and I don’t share a last name but that never made us any less of a family.

    • CMT

      People actually implied you wouldn’t be a family if you didn’t have the same last name as your kids? And said that to your face? That argument infuriates me. My mom didn’t change her name, but my parents and I are no less of a family than any other out there.

      • Not Sarah

        Yup, my mom has told me that repeatedly. I’ve been working on her for about ten years at this point though and my sister doesn’t plan to change her name either, so she will figure it out eventually. My boyfriend’s parents seem to disagree with more of the things we do than my parents do, but his parents aren’t critical when they don’t agree like mine are, so it will probably work out just fine even if they don’t agree about me not changing my name. His brother and girlfriend were surprised that I would consider it and my boyfriend would allow it, but not remotely critical. His parents had some judgey comments about us moving in together without getting married, but they only said them to his sister and not to my boyfriend.

    • Ilora

      We both changed our names and I’m so glad we did, but honestly there’s a part of me that is sad I missed out on the opportunity to respond to this question:

      “I was also asked how we would be a family if we didn’t share a name”

      With “I guess we won’t be, might as well cancel the wedding!”

  • EF

    It was an interesting discussion with the inlaws on this one, because while it made me feel really welcome that MIL wanted me to change my name…I was not going to. And she pushed on it, which partner thought was weird, because she’s always used her maiden name professionally, and her legal name for only private correspondence.
    But she dropped it after a while, though does sometimes, friendly-like, remind me how easy it is to change your name in England.

    As for announcing to everyone you’re keeping your name, I don’t think it’s that complicated to say ‘Now welcoming Mr His-Last and Ms Her-Last, married!’ or something.

    It’s the long-term reminders and the reminders for those not at the wedding that I’m struggling with. I think we may send new years cards (I don’t do christmas) this year just so we have a formal way to announce our names, once again, to the larger crowd.

    • emmers

      Or even just, “now welcoming Ben and Susan as a married couple!”

      • Amanda L

        This was going to be my suggestion… simple and easy. Though if LW wants to make a statement about keeping her last name, it doesn’t quite have the same punch.

        • Lizzie

          How about “Introducing for the first time as a married couple, Ben Hislast and Susan Herlast”?

  • TeaforTwo

    Yes to having him back you up! Our conversation about name changing lasted about seven seconds and wasn’t a big deal. (I asked him to take my name, or to hyphenate, and he said “I can’t change my NAME, it’s my NAME” and I said “yeah, I pretty much feel the same way” and that was that.)

    When we DID have a fight was on our honeymoon when my well-meaning FIL sent us an email with some snapshots of the wedding referring to us as “Mr & Mrs HisLast”. My husband thought I should just let it slide, but I knew that would mean a lifetime of being called by the wrong name, and I wanted a gentle correction. And I wanted it to come from him.

    I had two reasons for this: first, it was as much his choice as mine that we don’t have a family name, since he refused to hyphenate or take mine, so it’s his job to explain it too, and second (probably more important) I want him to have my back. It’s on him as a man who loves a woman to challenge sexism when he sees it and not just leave it up to me.

    • Eenie

      YES. This. We both need to back each other up. Our conversation went about the same way.

    • Lisa

      YES to this! My SIL sent us a wedding present a couple of months after the day, and she addressed the gift to Mr. & Mrs. HisLast. I made my husband call and thank her for the present and include in the conversation that we have different last names still. I got so much pushback on it at first (“Why does this matter so much? Do we really need to correct her?”), but it was really about getting a demonstration from him that he was on my side and would stick up for our decision as a couple.

      • TeaforTwo

        Yes! I think that context matters. We got a wedding card from friends of my parents, for example, calling us “Mr. & Mrs. HisLast”. I grew up around these people, but now I see them every five to ten years, so it wasn’t worth addressing.

        My FIL, on the other hand? I see him a couple of times a month. He needs to know what my name is.

        • Laura C

          Yes on context. We’ve been so lucky that I think the only gift we got addressed in any problematic way was to Mr. and Mrs. HisFirst HisLast, which came a couple months after the wedding and was from a family friend who I’m quite sure had just forgotten my name. I mean, her own return address labels had HisFirst and HerFirst HisLast, so it’s not like she habitually refers to herself as Mrs.HisFirst HisLast, and I can see where it would have been awkward to call my MIL and ask my name…

      • Kayla

        I really cannot understand men who have to ask, “Why does this matter so much?”

        Well, because I’d like to be called by my name. Do you want to be called FirstName McChoochootrain? No? Why? Because it’s not your name? Oh, but I thought last names didn’t matter.

        • Lisa

          “Do you want to be called FirstName McChoochootrain? No? Why? Because it’s not your name? Oh, but I thought last names didn’t matter.” I snorted at my desk.

        • hmmmmm….

          “Do you want to be called FirstName McChoochootrain?”

          Well, I do *now*…

    • AP

      “It was as much his choice as mine that we don’t have a family name, since he refused to hyphenate or take mine.” YES YES YES. This was the lightning bolt moment for my fiancé.

    • MC

      YES TO ALL OF THIS. While reading the letter I was thinking, “Why does the LW have to be the one to explain to her in-laws?” My husband mentioned to his parents or grandparents that we both were keeping our names, no changes. His extended family didn’t get the message, which is fine because I rarely see them, but his parents and grandparents have always addressed both of us with correct names and it hasn’t been an issue.

      I also have a hard time letting it slide and my husband doesn’t totally understand my frustrations around that, which does suck. For our wedding we got a BUNCH of envelopes and checks (mostly from extended fam on his side) addressed to Mr. & Mrs. HisLast, and it really bothered me, and he was like, “Well, we hardly ever see them so it’s fine.” We ended up getting return address labels to put on the thank-you cards with both of our full names but every once in awhile it still happens. Our car insurance company sent me a letter addressed to MyFirst MyLast HisLast and I was like, “Well, I guess I need to call them and correct it,” while he was like, “Why? It doesn’t matter, I’m sure they have your correct name somewhere.” Wish there was a way to make him fully understand how tiring/annoying it is to have to correct people a million times.

      • Jessica

        1. It’s a tad annoying that he doesn’t get it. I hope some lightning strikes soon on that.
        2. I’m the one who deals with all of our bills and car/house insurance. The other day my broker sent us a quote with J & J MyLastName on the forms. It was a funny, tiny victory that was soon corrected

        • Laura C

          We get that when we stay at hotels — I almost always book us because I have a Starwood AmEx and a lot of points, so we stay on my points, and he gets Mr. MyLast whenever he interacts with hotel staff.

          • Ally

            Yes! My husband got that on our honeymoon ;)

          • Marcela

            Our honeymoon was booked through a family friend who interacts the most with my grandfather. When we arrived they had us down as Mr. and Mrs. Grandpa’sLast, which was neither of our names. It was hilarious and really opened my husband’s eyes to how annoying it can be to be addressed incorrectly.

          • Rachelle

            Same – we had a card in the room congratulating Mr. & Mrs. My Last – even though I did change my name the res was obviously made before the wedding. I got a laugh out of it at least :)

      • Sosuli

        I totally agree with you on the future husband being the one to talk to his family about it – it shows a united front, and really why should women always be the ones to have to fight back? Any ideas on how to get my FH to talk to his family about this? He fully support my choice to either keep my name or double-barrel (if he does too), but doesn’t seem to want to bring it up with his family. I’ve tried explaining it to him rationally – as in, it’s just courtesy to give his family time to get used to the idea because it very well may not have occurred to them before. And he kind of nods and says he sees my point, but still has not actually made any move to speak to them. We’ve still got plenty of time before the wedding, but I just don’t want it to come up in a negative context.

        • Meg Keene

          Though honestly, sometimes I find that it’s better to apologize then to ask permission. We didn’t break the news about the kids last names till RIGHT before our first was born. By then it was pretty clearly a done deal, and it saved us from 9 months of possible debate.

          • Sosuli

            That’s an interesting perspective I hadn’t thought of. Though I wouldn’t consider it “asking permission” so much as preparing them for something they might not expect. My brother-in-law’s brother’s baby was given the mother’s surname, and no one was told until a banner with the name on was unfurled at the naming party. Apparently the paternal grandmother looked noticeably shocked and upset and later felt bad about it, but couldn’t help it in the moment. I don’t want to put my FMIL in a similar situation. I don’t agree with that reaction, but I can understand where it might come from if it has never occurred to you that wife/children might not have the man’s family name.

          • TeaforTwo

            Which seems really fair. No one in my family has ever revealed any of their baby-naming deliberations or decisions until after the baby has been born. And then when the baby is born, either on the phone or in person or through an email announcement, they introduce Baby First Middle(s) Last(s). I can’t imagine any of it ever being a point of contention, but my family does have fairly rigidly enforced boundaries. (We’re all very close, pretty private, and pretty non-interventionist.)

            I was disappointed when my brother’s kids got only his last name (his wife has been a huge feminist and activist mentor/big sister to me since I was in high school), but…none of my business. And my nieces’ and nephews’ last names could not possibly affect me less.

      • Meg Keene

        Indeed. For us, the conversation about the kids last names was the harder conversation. (Not with my side of the family, obviously they won the lottery on the back of my stubbornness ;) But I wasn’t the one to have that conversation with his family, and I really shouldn’t have been. There were ways that it was honestly hard for at least his dad, and while we weren’t going to change our decision, we did want to respect that. And that was a conversation he needed to have with his son, not with me, you know?

        Plus, there is no better way to make clear that a decision is a joint decision.

        • Eh

          Our daughter’s last name was our choice and non-negotiable with our families so we did not tell them her last name (actually any part of her name) before she was born. When we called them to say she was born we announced her full name, including that her last name is hyphenated (his-mine). (This should not have been a huge surprise for our family since we have return address labels and a family name sign with this name on it.) That said, if my in-laws want to discuss it, it should be my husband to talk to them. I doubt it will come up, but I think if we had a son my MIL would have said something since she really wants her husband’s last name to continue (currently they have four granddaughters). The only people that have commented on her last name have been a couple of our aunts/uncles who think it’s ‘long’ or ‘a bit much’.

    • Jenny

      Yep, we have a not my circus not my monkeys policy when it comes to communicating stuff to families. So I was like this applies, you have to communicate to you family about this, the same way you wanted me to when my mom could not be bothered to learn how to spell his (now part of our) last name.

    • YES. I get really worked up about how this is supposed to be just MY choice. Um, Actually, we are both making choices here.

    • Caroline

      I am so pleased that you got back up from your husband on this (and that he understood how you felt). I am going round and round in circles with my partner on this and every time we have the conversation, he gets all upset and sulky and we don’t get anywhere beyond “I don’t want to take just your surname”(me)/”well I want you to” (him).

      • TeaforTwo

        My starting position was that I would like him to change his name, and he was horrified. “But it’s my name! My degrees are in my name! It has been my name my whole life! I would have to change everything and explain to everyone!”

        And then he said “why don’t you just take mine?” And I just repeated what he had said word for word.

        Has your guy explained why it is he wants you to take his name? Most of the reasons either could be solved by him taking yours, which might give him a way to think it through.

  • AP

    I didn’t change my name for my first marriage and I won’t be changing when I get married again in two weeks. I l learned a lot from people’s reactions the first go-round so I’m way better prepared this time (Fun story: After my first wedding I returned to work, where a coworker introduced me to a new colleague as Mrs. Hislast. I gently corrected her and introduced myself as Mylast to her colleague. Instead of just leaving it there, my coworker said, “What?! Why aren’t you changing your name?! A lady is supposed to change her name. I’m going to call you Hislast anyway.” In front of the colleague, who just stood there awkwardly. I just said, “Uhh sorry, Janice, don’t know what to tell you” and went back to my work. Janice did not, in fact, spend the next years calling me Hislast. I think she came to her senses, but that moment still stands out as the craziest reaction anyone had to my name.)

    For vendors, I echo what others have commented- you don’t owe them an explanation or any awkwardness over your name. For the ceremony, have the conversation with the officiant about not wanting to be announced as Mrs. Hislast, but you may also want to look over the ceremony text and make sure it has been crossed out/changed. My ex and I were announced as “husband and wife, His Full Name and Her Full Name” and most people seemed to get it. Except we did get a few checks made out to Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast. Which made me crazy, but I let it go. Word eventually got around, and I know those people probably felt embarrassed for assuming.

    • Lisa

      I started a new job three weeks before our wedding, and the HR lady asked me for my new name so she could introduce me to staff as that instead of dealing with the name change. I had to gently correct her that not everyone changes.

      There was another woman in the office who got married two weeks after me, and when she came back to find my name still the same, she was completely flabbergasted and stated that her husband would have killed her/never married her if she had tried to keep hers. She still brings this up on occasion when my co-workers have lunchtime discussions about the topic (name change in general), and it takes everything I have not to say that I pity her if those words are actually true.

      • AP

        Ughhh. I’ve heard variations on that sentiment from women before and it always hurts to hear. More often though, my female friends react like they never realized they had a choice, like it was just the default to change their names so they never thought about not doing it. Which hurts to hear in a different way.

        • Lauren from NH

          Though….. (man I am just a ray of sunshine this morning) it’s pretty awesome when you make someone realize they have a choice they didn’t before. Our officiant was a friend, who is unofficially engaged himself and from a slightly more Christian and conservative background. He stayed with us the night before he left and we skype met his lady. He told her about us not changing and she was so surprised. He then offered if she might like to keep her name. You had to be there, it was adorable!

          • AP

            That’s awesome! I would love to be someone’s inspiration for not changing. Sadly, my experience has been way different. Most of my friends treat me like the lovable eccentric.

      • Marcela

        I always wonder why on earth would you marry someone who would get VIOLENT at the thought of you not changing something about yourself.

        • Kayjayoh

          And yet… People get married to their abusers all the time. People get married to people who have already been physically and/or mentally and/or emotionally abusing them for years. And because of how abuse works, this abuse doesn’t stop them from getting married. It doesn’t help them to leave.

          So, why on earth would you? Because they have conditioned you to believe it is because they love you. Because you are pretty sure it would be worse if you left. Because they seem like they might change. Because everyone expects you to. Because of the kid/s you have/are having together. Because… Etc.

          • Marcela

            You are right and I was not thinking when I wrote that comment. I did not mean to be dismissive to those in abusive relationships and understand how difficult it is to break out of that situation.
            It really grates on me that it is considered “funny” or “accepted” the idea that a man would kill you for changing your name.

    • Erin

      Oh wow. My mom experienced something similar. She assumed my dad’s last name in her personal life but had decided not to change her name professionally. When she returned to work after her honeymoon she discovered that the office assistant had sent out notes and letters to all of her colleagues and work contacts informing them that she was now Mrs. HisLast. “So it’s all done and you don’t have to worry about it”. She was right ticked off, and considered going through the whole rigmarole of correcting it, but ultimately decided that the damage was done, and continued to go my Mrs. HisLast professionally. Talk about a misguided attempt to do a nice thing!

      Now as I’m preparing to get married and consider changing my name, I find myself wondering what I would have done in her position. I honestly think I probably would have made the same choice. For me, a big part of wanting to keep my name is that I don’t wan’t to deal with the hassle of changing it on EVERYTHING. It’s about half resisting the patriarchy, and half laziness. I’m not actually that attached to my last name. It’s really really common one. There are enough in the world to keep the name going. My fiancé and I have had some tough discussions about it, and ultimately he respects whatever decision I make, though I know he doesn’t fully understand. We’ve gotten to the point now that I joke that I’m willing to change my name if he is the one that does all the paperwork. He doesn’t care enough about it to do the paperwork either. So as of now, I’ll be keeping my last name, but I don’t think I’ll be bothered at all if people address me by his name.

      • Marcela

        Paperwork was also a determinant in my choice too. It made an easy scapegoat when I got some pushback since I would need to change my name on not only all my US documents, but also my Brazilian ones.

      • Lisa

        Oh, man, the paperwork. When I asked my husband why he wouldn’t consider changing his name, his two responses were “But it’s my name!” and “It seems like there would be an awful lot of paperwork, and that would be too much work.” He didn’t have a great response when I pointed out that, if those were valid reasons for him not to change, then they were valid for me, too.

    • MirandaVanZ

      The weirdest reaction I got to not changing my name was from a coworker too. When she found out she said “Oh, your one of THOSE.” And ever since then has called me Miss Firstname (like in conversation, it’s really weird.)

      • Not Sarah

        I had a manager who called EVERYONE Mister Firstname or Miss Firstname. It drove me bonkers. I even complained to HR over it.

      • Marcela

        Is she southern? Calling people Miss FirstName is a very typical southern sign of respect thing.

        • MirandaVanZ

          Nope Canadian, I’ve never heard anyone else do it around here.

      • AP

        “One of THOSE.” Ugh.

    • Ugh the checks totally drove me crazy and I DID change my name. But even
      if you are changing, your name doesn’t legally change the day you get
      married, it changes slowly over time as you go to various government agencies and wait in line a long time and then fill out paperwork/hand over money to accomplish the change.

      We got basically all our checks addressed to Mr. and Mrs. His First His Last. Then we had to go to the bank with our marriage license and beg them to let us deposit them when my legal name at the time did not even remotely appear on the check and we didn’t have a joint account yet, so we deposited roughly half the money into my account and half into his. They basically said they were only letting me do it because of how long I’d been a customer and how much money I had in my account, and would be putting a hold on the funds to make sure nobody rose a stink about it when they saw the check clear.
      I always write the check to the one person in the couple I am closer to, in their actual legal name as of the day of the ceremony. Even if I know for a fact that a name is going to be changed, because I know it doesn’t happen instantly.

  • Amy March

    Sometimes when I’m unsure how to deal with rude judgy prying people, I ask myself what the Dowager Countess of Grantham would do. Certainly she would not be asking how to gracefully and kindly explain things to the staff! You’re paying your vendors- all the need is “neither of us is changing our names, please announce us as Petunia and Sebastian, the newlyweds.” Firm and clear not graceful and kind.

    • Sarah

      Best advice ever, Amy! :)

    • Liz

      For sure. I think we should be clear about the parallel questions going on, though- correcting your mother-in-law isn’t the same as giving the facts to a vendor.

      • Marcela

        I don’t know, I think firm and clear is a great way to set boundaries about names. You can throw in a smile if you think it would smooth things over a bit.

        • emilyg25

          Agreed! Boundary pushers will just sift through your explanation to find things to argue over.

          First time: “Oh, actually, I kept my name.” (smile)
          Second time: “As I mentioned before, I kept my name.”
          Third time: “I’m not discussing this anymore.”

          I love WWTDCD.

        • Jenny

          right, but it’s unclear if it’s a boundry pushing thing, or a generational/norms thing. For example, when I wasn’t planning to change my name, I was literally the only one in their family (or mine) who wasn’t going to be mrs. hislast. We explained it gently, that I had publications, and as an only child of 30 I felt strongly that my name was part of my identity in the same way he did. His mom got it right away, his grandmas were sort of confused but they are trying. My point is needing to explain isn’t the same thing as needing to set boundaries (though could be a first step if the explanation isn’t taken at face value). When we both decided to change our names that has been mostly fine, if slightly more confusing since people are REALLY not used to the guy changing names. Sometimes the order gets mixed up, sometimes they hyphenate it, sometime they just give us our original last names (I mean we get an anniversary and Christmas card addressed to both of us so it’s not like it comes up that often). when it’s wrong I can usually tell they tried and it doesn’t feel insulting so I let it slide.

        • Liz

          Yeah but like someone mentioned, firm and kind aren’t mutually exclusive. Just pointing out that a conversation with your DJ stating “here are the facts, irrelevant to you beyond enabling you to do your job,” will probably be different than one with your mother in law who, whether right or wrong, may feel personally invested in your decision.

          • Marcela

            I’m interpreting firm and clear to mean more like factual, references to the dowager countess aside, there is no need to make someone quail before you in sharing this information.
            Sometimes I feel as though the name change thing has become this whole Big Feminist Issue and by reacting in ways where we feel we have to soften the news or prepare people for it, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. No one tells women they have to be careful in how they tell people that they are changing their names upon marriage. By constantly justifying and listing all the reasons why we had to keep our names, we are still paying homage to the patriarchy.
            If my name was Jessica and someone called me Jennifer, I would have no problem correcting them. In the end it doesn’t matter how invested someone may feel in my name, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s Jessica.

          • orienteeringirl

            Thank you Marcela. I’ve also come to feel like no one is owed and explanation outside of my future marriage for this decision. I am not planning to change my name legally, but am considering hyphenating our last names socially. I’m 8 years into my career and about to finish a graduate degree, so when people ask about my plans for my name (note: I don’t volunteer this information, but I will answer honestly when asked), most people feel the need to invent a reason, usually career related for why I’ve made my choice. Since people who do this kind of rationalization have usually asked me, I feel fine with politely correcting their mistaken assumption.

          • Bklyncyclone83

            Inventing reasons or I should say Projecting reasons on me is an issue I have been dealing with, however, it is usually only coming from other people who did change their name and/or old people from my grandparents’ generation. For the older people, I usually give them a pass if they use the wrong name. For the younger name-changers, I will usually tell them outright that I did nothing because I wished to do nothing. That is the real answer, after all.

            In fact, the banks do not seem to care either, which is convenient for when we had to deposit gift checks, since many of them had the wrong names on it. The best solution I have seen was a check payable to myfirstname mylastname OR hisfirstname hislastname. This way, either of us can deposit it. Why don’t more people do this?

            FIL sends us mail to myfirstname hislastname even though I am pretty sure he knows I have the same name as before. I do not take it as an offense, though, I just ignore it completely.

            If it ever comes up in conversation, I will correct them if they are family or friends, but if it does not come up as a topic, I am not going to waste my breath. Professionally, nobody has questioned anything since it’s easier for them not to have to change any paperwork just as it’s easiest for me. Why make things harder than they are? I have a friend who told me she was the only one of about 30 friends who changed her name. Sometimes it’s regional, though, as the writer from the south wrote up above. Writing from NYC here.

            Also, just a quick note, I have a sister and she has a wife, therefore, nobody automatically expected them to change their last names, so why do people expect a hetero woman to change her name??

          • MC

            “In the end it doesn’t matter how invested someone may feel in my name, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s Jessica.”
            YES thank you for saying this so clearly. Love it.

          • Lauren from NH

            Yeah on this and some other wedding issues, I feel like, you always get to have feelings, but you don’t always get to have your feelings, no matter how strong, be the deciding factor in something that’s not about you. There were so many times when I felt like people where saying, “oh but this is really important to me so do it my way please!” But I’m like, “that’s nice, but it’s my life so I think I’ll do it my way, thank you!” I really get tired of people making a fuss about not getting their way about something that is not their business to begin with.

          • Liz

            I don’t see kindness as synonymous with apology. I’m routinely called the incorrect first name (I just have one of those names + my business is confusingly named), and I’m gonna stand by my point that correction is better received when said kindly, no matter how factual etc the situation. Moreso when you’re trying to help someone question an assumption that underlies their misinformation.

      • Meg Keene

        Though I’m pretty sure the Dowager Countess would take a similar approach with her MIL. Family ties do not seem to soften her firmness with great frequency ;)

    • Vanessa

      What Would The Dowager Countess of Grantham Do – words to live by, this needs to be on one of those rubber livestrong bracelets or maybe updated for this decade one of those gold temporary tattoos

      • Amber

        This is going to be my mantra from now on! Love her so much

    • Teresa

      PREACH. The Dowager Countess is my patronus.

      Also, firm and clear can still be fairly kind. Sticking to your boundaries does mean being rude, though that does require a lot of patience and less ranting. It can be done.

      We did not do DJ introductions, so we didn’t deal with that, but our officiant introduced as as “for the first time as husband and wife, Herfirstname and hisfirstname!” My mom was all, but how will they know you’re married??? And I was all because they just sat through my wedding ceremony and that ended that.

      Also, it’s okay to pick your battles. I do not correct my way older, well-meaning relatives who are sending us cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. His Last. I do not correct my husband’s boss who cannot remember my first name, but still pleasantly greats me as Mrs. Hislast. I do correct basically anyone else who I would really like them to know or think that they should (if you’re my friend on facebook and 3 years after my wedding, I haven’t changed my name, it’s because I didn’t). My mom, my in-laws, they are very respectful of it.

      We deep in the kids talk and I think that may be a different set of issues that I don’t have to deal with yet and really am not looking forward to. SIGH.

      • jspe

        “My mom was all, but how will they know you’re married??? And I was all because they just sat through my wedding ceremony.” <3

      • Angela Howard

        I wish I had fought harder about our kids last names, but I just couldn’t see him budging ever so I didn’t see the point in all the negative emotions. :(

        • Teresa

          My husband has put up zero fight when I say all kinds of ranty things about how our children have to have my last name b/c I’ll have carried them in my womb for 9 months. But. I kind of want to hyphenate them. But my last name is 4 million letters long. I…just don’t know.

      • lori1813

        The kid name talk is hard but you can do it! Remember that ultimately this is about your baby family, and what the grandparents (or anyone else, for that matter) think is not important unless you let it be important. Just make sure that you are very clear with your partner and yourself about what matters to you. Figure out where that name ranks on the list of values and issues you have about raising these potential children. Make sure your partner does the same and that you listen to their list. I think you’ll find there are more places for compromise than holes you can’t fill.

        I usually tell people that I kept my name or, when they ask what my maiden name was, I say “Lastname. We didn’t change our names.” We seriously discussed both of us hyphening Mylastname-Hislastname. We made the mistake of mentioning it to my In-laws, who said that it just wasn’t a good idea, because “her name would always come first.” Totally not the point. They didn’t get it- at all.

        We realized hyphenating would make our lives very complicated for forever. We talked through it a LOT, as we do any big decision- pro-con lists, opportunity costs, potential kid repercussions, etc. He realized how much my name means to me, possibly more than his means to him, and yet he is very attached to his own name. We decided that both of us keeping our names was the best choice for us. When husband told MIL I was keeping my name, she said I don’t love him if I wouldn’t change my name. So the in-laws are on board. Ba-dum-bum.

        Snarky feminist friends send invites and holiday cards to “Ms. and Mr. Herlastname” or “Herfirstname hislastname and Hisfirstname Herlastname.” Usually it’s just service people that address me as “Mrs. Hislastname” and I’m fine with that. The only family is, to my surprise, my own parents, who can’t seem to remember (accept?) that I kept my name. I think both of them really wished I had changed it, for divergent reasons that I did not see beforehand. Hindsight.

        Ten years down the road and we have decided we are ready for this reproducing business. After talking long, and often, we decided on using his surname as the potential kid’s surname and mine as the middle name. I expect there to be just as many opinions on the topic but this time I care even less what said opinions are and who has them. We work very hard so that our marriage doesn’t look like either of our parents’ marriages. We won’t do it any differently when we name & raise this potential child, either.

      • Bklyncyclone83

        My mom was all, but how will they know you’re married??? And I was all because they just sat through my wedding ceremony and that ended that.

        That is literally the BEST and funniest comment ever. Like, duh?! Also, as I pointed out to everyone who was present in the bridal suite with us BEFORE our ceremony (which was a large number of family members, both his and mine) we signed our license out there and then said hey look, we are married! Really, it’s just that simple.

    • Meg Keene

      I love you.

    • JDrives

      Bonus points if you add an arched brow and a look of utter incredulity.

  • Lydia Jane Yoga

    So – its fine to let your passion shine through when truly speaking for yourself (I’m not comfortable with, I don’t like how…, it bothers me that…) and make sure you stop yourself before you get to “and it should piss you off too!” Because, even though its probably true that they should be pissed off about the patriarchy, they have to get there for themselves and there are a couple ways for that to happen – 1) they see somebody else passionately standing up for their beliefs, 2) they feel respected for who they are and where they’re at right now, and not pressured to change. (I’m saying all this as an overly passionate, often angry speaker. I’d make a great pastor). So, as the advice-giver said, there’s both a place for passion and a place for softness – and they can happen pretty much in the same conversation. With your husband, or anyone else you need more support from, you can take a moment to state how you feel, and once that’s said and heard and accepted, also take a moment to ask how they feel, and really hear it and honor it (or listen for the authentic feeling underneath the words and honor that – not everyone can express themselves gracefully with words). This process can also be done in reverse, which can be useful if you can keep your emotions in check. Maybe he always dreamed about having his wife share his name, so he’s disappointed; or maybe he’s scared you aren’t really committing – I don’t know, you probably have a better idea than me. The thing is you have to try and understand his concern and respect it for what it is and let it be there as long as he needs – and of course, vice versa. Marriages are full of unresolvable conflicts (thanks, Gottman Institute for the great info) – its how you approach them that matters.

    Re: DJ/officiant introductions: they can introduce you by your first names, “the happy couple” or any other non-mr/mrs variation, and they don’t need any further explanation (unless the officiant is someone you have a deeper relationship with, then you can see above). “At this time, please introduce us as…” and done

  • halliemt

    Being Latina, I just tell them, in our culture, changing your name is not traditional. Kind of eye opening to a surprising amount of people.

    • Lauren from NH

      Same for my husband’s culture. I don’t get to enjoy all of these interactions, but I imagine them with great satisfaction! People assume too much!

    • A.

      Interesting! My husband’s Latin American side of the family told him that I would be emasculating him and our future sons if I didn’t take his name, which I didn’t take super well at first. They still call me “[My First Name] de [Husband’s Last Name]” instead of my actual last name and my husband’s said that especially when we visit them out of the US it would be easier for me to just go with it so I won’t get a lot of very stubborn grief. Maybe very specific to their country (or their family)

      • halliemt

        Yeah it might be his family or the specific place they’re from. In my experience, the “de (husband’s last name)” is used in situations where your relationship to his family needs to be stressed, and maybe visits qualify. For what it’s worth there’s some country by country info here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanic_American_naming_customs

        Happily, I’ve got a mom and a grandma who didn’t change their names backing me up on my choice here.

  • joanna b.n.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but when I read, “I am having trouble sticking to my guns that my name will remain the same as it was before after we say our vows”, it made me wonder if you’re having trouble coming to terms with the decision yourself. Is that at all part of this? Have you done your own thinking and grieving about the challenge not taking his name presents? You know, the internal processing, which can sometimes get overlooked in the effort to address external pushback. Just something to explore if you haven’t already – and maybe part of the conversation to have with your fiance about the need for support… Because on the other hand, if you are very clear about what you want, but feel like nobody is listening and it’s making it hard for you to honor your own desires, that might get his attention in a different way as a partner vs. someone negotiating a position.

  • Amie Melnychuk

    I didn’t change my name. He doesn’t get it, and it does bug him, but he is on my side. He supports me that it is my name, my choice, but he is still sad that our family won’t all have the same last name. He didn’t want to change his name because he is the last of the S-es. I didn’t want to change my name because that is my identity. So for our daughter, she is Her First Name, Her Middle Name, My Last Name as a Middle Name, His Last Name.

    • Angela Howard

      My husband sounds much like yours. I didn’t push to have my name as a middle name for our first child (daughter) but now I’m wondering about adding that with future children. Hmmm…

  • Juliet

    Your letter shows a lot of anxiety around the anticipation of explaining your choice, and I want to jump in and say that though there may be a few tense or awkward conversations, I really don’t think you’ll need to defend your decision as much as you think you will.

    Every family and friend group is different, but I didn’t change my name, it was not nearly as big of an issue as I had anticipated. My husband was initially disappointed, but he got used to it, and now even says that he likes that I didn’t change my name. When I first told my in-laws they had a long list of reasons why it would be so much easier for our family if I did (car loans, future kids, etc.) but I shrugged and said, “well, I’m not too worried about it” and they more or less dropped it. My family had no opinion, and even though I’m one of the few women in our friend group that kept her name, none of our friends had any problem with it. I promise you that most people will not even think twice about it, and you can save all of that energy and the arguments you’ve prepared for those conversations for the (very) few close family members that may decide they do.

    Oh, and like many others have said, don’t stress AT ALL about the vendors. They most certainly have worked at weddings where others have not changed their names and will be totally understanding of a straightforward request.

    • AP

      I totally agree that you won’t have to defend it as much as you think you will. (At least that’s been my experience.) Most people don’t challenge it. There might be a moment of awkwardness, but in general it’s not too bad.

      • TeaforTwo

        Yep. I would say that most people assumed I would keep my name, a few people asked, and only one person gave me even one word of guff about it. (A coworker who was promptly cut down to size.)

        And apart from one or two wedding cards from elderly and distant relations, and a single email from my FIL that called us “Mr & Mrs,” no one has gotten it wrong since then.

    • Marcela

      I also got so much less crap for it than I had expected. We’ll see what happens when we decide to expand the family though. I’m sure that’s when shit will hit the fan from my in-laws.

    • emilyg25

      It really has never been an issue for us. Yes, we need to correct folks sometimes, but no one’s been a jerk about it. It’s 2015. While keeping your name still isn’t super common, it’s far from rare.

  • ruth

    I am still struggling with this 2 years after getting married. I ended up hyphenating my name with my husband’s as a compromise solution (initially I’d asked my husband if he’d hyphenate as well – but the amount of hostility he got for even discussing the idea with his friends and family was shocking – in the end we decided to not pick that batttle.) Sometimes I wish I hadn’t hyphenated because it has been an administrative nightmare – the world is simply not set up for hyphenated names. But I’m glad I stuck to my guns and had us announced as my first his first on our wedding – the fights my husband and I had about name changing, while it didn’t change anything with society, helped him to at least see my point of view.
    Two years later, I find myself using just my husband’s name more and more out of convenience and not correcting people – I don’t know if it’s because I am feeling more ok with it or if I’ve just gotten so sick of the blow back I always get in the discussion

    • Yes! this! I know hyphenating is going to be annoying but it’s what I want to do, and it feels like the right option for me. Our conversations about this have helped him understand and have made him realize some of the archaic crap that comes up when women get married and why I feel so conflicted about all of this. Someone on a post a few months back said “keep shouting about things that matter” and that advice was priceless.

  • One More Sara

    Sounds like you and your fiance since have some talking to do, but as a name-keeping bride, any professional wedding DJ knows better than to assume anything about name-changing. During our consult with our DJ, he asked us how we would like to be announced. I don’t quite remember exactly what we decided on, but I might have just said “anything that doesn’t involve Mr. and Mrs. HisName.” So if you are worried about vendor conversations, I’d advise to talk about this with them before you sign anything or pay any deposits so you have the freedom to take your business elsewhere if the vendor reacts poorly.

  • Christina McPants

    As someone who works as a wedding vendor, any vendor who gives you shit about not changing your name does not deserve your money. We ask if you’re planning on changing your name to inform any announcement that we (or the DJ) may make about you. There should be no discussions beyond that.

    One of the great ways I’ve seen officiants handle no name change is “I now present to you, the newly married Steve Pants and Louisa Pantaloons!”

    Also, the wife and I hyphenated our last names because it was before our marriage was federally legal and man, it’s a pain. Someone downthread mentioned that the world isn’t set up for hyphenation and it’s super true. No database knows how to handle us, or puts us under the wrong last name or whatever. It can be a huge pain.

  • Alicia R

    Um. Just tell the vendors what you want to be called (we both changed our middle names). YOU are paying THEM, so they should do whatever you ask them. We just were “Myname and Husbandsname.” When people call me Mrs. Husbandslastname, I kindly say “this is Myfirstname Mylastname, Husbandsfirstname Husbandslastname wife.” People on the receiving end of that often seem a little flustered, but it always works out fine. You shouldn’t have to have fights with people you encounter about it. In-laws are a different story all together. I get monogrammed stuff with not-my-initial quite often now (and in anticipation of the wedding); I thank them kindly and just don’t use it (which my husband very much supports). I use the cloth napkins they gave me as rags for staining furniture, so actually quite a useful gift! It really doesn’t come up with beyond that.

    So stop stressing, it will be fine. Just stick to your guns. It is only a big issue if other people make it one, and then, it is their choice to do so.

  • articles of interest

  • ZOO

    A word about relatives (especially older ones):
    Give them time to get used to the idea. I changed my name (happily), but one thing I hate is being addressed as Mrs. Hisfirstname Ourlastname. My mom sent a package shortly after the wedding to “Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirstname Ourlastname” and I lost. my. shit. However, I did it by ranting to my husband and leaving my mom out of it. I decided that if this looked like a trend I’d confront her, but if it seemed to be something she just needed to get out of her system I’d let it slide. It never happened again, probably because she remembered how much I hate that.

    I think sometimes relatives just get SUPER EXCITED and try to remind you, constantly, that omg you’re getting married or omg you just got married. It comes from a place of love. That said, there’s nothing wrong with correcting someone who uses the wrong name. I’d just advise you to be kind and patient about it unless it seems like they’re deliberately trying to ruffle your feathers.

    • Saxyrunner

      I think you’re right about the excitement causing relatives to use the Mr and Mrs Hislastname addressing. My fiance’s father asked a young cousin to guess what my last name would be after we got married. I don’t know what he was going to tell her because I jumped in and told the little cousin that it was a trick question because my name was going to be the same as it is now, Myfirst Mylast. Fiance’s father looked a bit surprised but there was no issue at all behind the quizzing the younger cousin.

  • AR

    Liz and everyone else has given wonderful advice on this issue. I chose to keep my name, and my now husband was very supportive of my decision. I am very thankful for that, because it did take some explaining to his family. I still often need to gently correct people, although if I’m unlikely to see or interact with someone again, I’ll often let it slide. At least we frequently get mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. My Last name as well, which is amusing and somewhat vindicating for me.

    One thing I did want to alert the LW about, however, is that things get a little complicated when it comes to cashing any checks given as gifts for the wedding, when the check writer makes the wrong assumption about your name. Many people will think it’s super cute to write out the check to Mr. and Mrs. His First and His Last Name, assuming that you’ll be taking his name. The bank would not accept those checks for deposit unless I signed Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName to the back. Given that my name is actually Dr. MyFirst MyLast, all parts of this felt like I could have been signing any random name; how could that be preferred over my actual legal name??!!! It all worked out fine in the end, but I found it to be one of the more ridiculous and surreal experiences connected to the wedding.

    • One More Sara

      I signed those annoying checks as Sara MyName aka Sara HisName. Irritating, but I think just signing Sara HisName would have driven me nuts.

    • Saxyrunner

      That is strange… but I’m glad there’s a way to get that money anyway. I do worry about how that will go from time to time.

      • AR

        Based on some of the replies from others here, maybe it will vary a little bit bank to bank. Fingers crossed that your bank makes it easy for you!

    • Lisa

      That was one of the most annoying things ever; our new joint bank wouldn’t take the checks without me signing a false name, but his old bank would take my real endorsement. We ended up having to cash all of the checks at his old bank and then transfer the money to our new account.

      I don’t see why people think this is a good idea or cute. It’s the same way that you can’t put your honeymoon tickets in a new name because usually you won’t have gone to the SSA, post office, or DMV to change your passport/license/SS card yet. I can’t deposit checks in a name that isn’t mine!

      • AR

        I know I have become hyper-aware of this when writing a check for a wedding gift, after our experience. I might have even been guilty of writing a check like this in the past; if so, it probably didn’t occur to me that it could cause problems.

    • RoseTyler

      When you sign the back, you can always sign it as written, Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName and then underneath that sign Dr. MyFirst MyLast. Similar to how you would sign a check over to another person for deposit and then they would add their name beneath it.

      Technically, checks made out to someone that doesn’t exist (Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName) are treated like checks made out to CASH by the legal system. They are “order paper” instead of “bearer paper”. Caselaw exists that even checks written to impossible recipients (such as squirrel) are technically valid and treated like a check to CASH. Now, convincing your friendly neighborhood bank teller to agree is a whole different story :) I’m currently commenting from my office, But i’m pretty sure I still have my notes from negotiable instruments with the specifics somewhere in my files at home.

      • AR

        That is so interesting!

      • notmarried, question for you. As a Dr, do you correct people when they say Mrs by saying Dr? I’m sort of excited that I only have a year of saying “Actually it’s still Ms.” before I can say “actually, it’s Dr.” Not sure if that will come off as obnoxious though.

        • NotMarried!

          I have my Juris Doctor, so unlike my medical friends, I don’t get the Dr. title. That said, I guess it’d depend on my audience. I give the grandparents quite a bit of grace in naming conventions in general; where-as professionally I do insist that people get it right.

          Also relevant – I mostly have issues with students making assumptions and throwing in Mrs. So I always correct them as their professor to just break their little paradigms for all adult women being Mrs.

    • Ant

      This is something I’ll never understand. Why do women in the US and the UK suddenly “lose” their first names after marriage? For me this is really weird – if that tradition ever existed here in Germany, it was abandoned long before I ever thought about marriage at all. Even if a woman takes her partner’s name, she is still herself and female and should be called Mrs. HerFirstName HisLastName?!

      I also really appreciate the fact that women in Germany, regardless if single or married, are called “Frau”, which means “woman”. When I was a kid, the term “Fräulein” (= “little woman”) was still used for girls sometimes, but luckily it was banned from official use in the 70s!

      PS: We both kept our names :)

      • Sosuli

        Yeah – Finn speaking here, we just don’t use any titles. They technically exist, but sound laughable in use – and if you think about it, they are really unnecessary. I live in the UK, and miss that so much while I’m here.

      • raccooncity

        I definitely notice this, but I have also noticed that in a male-dominated political group in university (when we all looked too young to be married), visiting guests would often refer to the boys as Mr. X but me as ‘firstname’. I think that the tradition comes from firstname being considered childish and men are considered not children when they accomplish something or simply get older, while women are considered not children when they marry.

        So it’s this fraught thing where I like my first name, but I also prefer to go by Ms. mylast in any circumstance where men in a similar position would be called by their last name.

        • RoseTyler

          This is one thing I loved about Law School. Everyone was Mr. or Ms. or Dr. Last Name. First names did not exist and that was just fine by me.

    • emilyg25

      It shouldn’t be an issue with the bank. You can endorse the check as written and then with your correct name under it. You might have less trouble if you’re depositing instead of cashing.

      Signed,
      A former bank teller

      • AR

        We were depositing, actually, and not getting cash out. I think I did end up writing my correct name under it, but I don’t remember if they requested that I do that, or if I just did it because it felt less weird.

    • laddibugg

      If you can deposit checks without a teller, it’s sometimes easier if there is a question about who it’s written out to. For a while my partner didn’t have a bank account, and he just signed his checks over to me, and I deposited them into my account via mobile banking/ATM deposit. I don’t know how it works if you’re trying to obtain cash from the check immediately.

      • I actually tried that and had the machine spit the checks out. I always assumed it knew the names didn’t match, but maybe it was just coincidence. I did change my name and have since deposited checks in the ATM written to my maiden name without issue.
        Also my grandmother spells my new last name wrong (short one r in the middle) and I’ve never had a problem. I also don’t know how to bring it up to my grandmother that she’s spelling it wrong so I…haven’t.

    • Another Meg

      I know that Ally won’t take them, but they will offer to change your name. Over and over again. Ugh. I know, they don’t know they’re the fifth person from Ally to offer that…

      Anyway, there’s a silver lining – I had some super productive conversations with relatives when making the world’s most awkward call. Hey, um, the bank won’t take your check because the name’s wrong, silly banks, can you please make it out to Myfirst Mylast?

    • Anon

      I was frankly shocked at the number of friends and family (close and distant, from both my husband’s and my circles) who addressed cards, gifts, and checks to Mr. & Mrs. HisLastName. In this day and age, it may still be a majority of women who change their name, but a significant minority do not. Do these friends not care what my name is? Is it not important to them to get it right? Is it possible that they don’t know anyone who didn’t change theirs? Do they think it’s cute? We had check-depositing issues because of this. A few friends made the point to ask ahead of time whether I was changing, for which I have become disproportionately grateful. My husband and I have not made a big deal of correcting anyone and in fact they might still not know, but we’re pretty consciously just going to let it roll off our backs unless it continues to happen from people who are close enough to know better.
      Regarding vendors and pronouncements, it was 100% not an issue for us. We simply specified what we wanted to be called (“now presenting FirstName and FirstName”) and that’s what was said. In fact, the pronouncement seemed to clue some people in, since it was conspicuously missing the last name.

  • Ali

    I also chose to keep my name, and thankfully this wasn’t any sort of issue at all with my husband or his family or mine. Quite a few people send letters and cards addressed to me using his last name, but this doesn’t really bother me much. If someone addresses me in person incorrectly, I or my husband just lets them know without any fuss or anger that I haven’t changed my name. This really hasn’t caused much fuss at all, and when someone makes a big deal about me not changing my name, my husband will say something like “well maybe I’ll change my name to HerLastName instead”, which makes some people almost faint!

  • eating words

    To answer the question of how to be introduced at your reception is a good one. We don’t identify with “Mrs.” and we didn’t want to make a big announcement about my wife’s decision to change her name, so our DJ said, “Introducing, for the first time as a married couple, C and D!” And people cheered, and it was a fun and happy moment.

  • Amanda

    Yes! Whatever you tell your vendors or your in-laws, your husband needs to support you. as for the DJ, just ask him to say, “And now introducing the happy couple First Name & First Name!” Do a monogram of just your first names to create a visual. And get on your soap box with your future MIL.

    i’ve always hated my surname because it’s decidedly Irish and no one in my family is Irish except for some very very very distant male relative whose name kept going. but you would not believe how often people assume i’m a “good little Irish girl” or make comments about how much i love st. patrick’s day or assume that i have some sort of “Irish luck” throughout my entire life, including professional settings! to me, his name is ethnically neutral, easy to pronounce, and uncommon. my name paints a picture of a person i’m not before people meet me, gets misspelled all the time, and is so common that my accountant had to convince the Dept. of Ed that it was a different Amanda in my state with my exact name who defaulted on student loans, not me!

    but in my social circles, it’s very strange to become Mrs. Hisname and my closest friends are surprised to learn that i will be taking on his name (because gah, patriarchy!). professionally, my partner has questioned whether it’s in my best interest to change my name at this point. we’re in the same field, in which it’s common for a lot of people to be married, but keep their own names. should our work stand on its own, or should people know we’re married from the outset? he’s one of the few men i’ve ever met who thinks it’s weird for women to change their names, but has said, “hey, if you want it, it’s your’s for the taking.” my family genuinely asked if i would take his name, and didn’t seem to care either way. it was only the other day when my future MIL made the comment, “well, it’s going to be your name too!” but i’d never discussed whether or not i would become Mrs. Hisname, that i was actually taken aback!

    • raccooncity

      Hey, just wanted to say, in a non-attacking way, that no name is “ethnically neutral”. Our society’s view of what is neutral is decided by what we consider the racial default, which is a problematic concept. All names came from somewhere, and even something like “Martin”, which has made its way to being common in lots of racial groups has an ethnic history.

      • Amanda

        worth pointing out! i merely meant “ambiguous.” i should have been more specific & sensitive. his surname is used commonly three disparate European countries & has a Greek root, so no one makes the assumption of a single cultural origin. it gets exhausting explaining that my heritage is eastern european and italian all the time, even when it has no relevance to the conversation at hand.

  • Sarah

    “And now, presenting for the first time as a married couple, “Jane Doe and John Smith!”

    • Hannah

      Yep! This is precisely what I’ve done when I’ve been responsible for introducing a non-name-changing couple. Trust me, it sounds just as lovely and exciting as “Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Smith!”

  • Sosuli

    I literally had a conversation about this with my FH last night!!! We haven’t quite figured out the name thing, but our options atm are both keep our own or both double-barrel. We’re totally agreed on this, just figuring out which one we prefer. My family all know this, because I’ve been completely outspoken about how I’m not going to be a “Mrs.” (I’m also getting my doctorate a couple months before the wedding… if I stop procrastinating on APW and finish editing my dissertation, that is… I’ve already started knitting “Dr & Mr” bunting for our wedding)

    His family have not yet brought the name thing up, which makes me wonder whether they’re assuming I’m taking his (which, with grandparents I think is quite likely… they also assumed we were having a church wedding). He insists that this is not the case, but hasn’t actually discussed it with them. I’ve tried to explain to him that I’m not saying his family are a horrible patriarchy monster, but that because name-changing for women is still so common and in his circles no one has NOT changed their name, it probably just hasn’t occurred to them that I might not. And because FMIL and I have clashed on a few other non-traditional wedding issues, I’ve been asking him to have a conversation with her to just let her know that I will not be “Mrs. Hisname”, just so that it’s clear that this is not me dictating the situation and he’s on board with this, and so if she does have any strong feelings about it, I don’t end up getting into a fight about it.

    But he is yet to do it. And I don’t want to nag, but I’m afraid someone is going to call me “Mrs. Hisname” in a joking way round the dinner table, and I won’t be able to just smile and shrug it off, and it might cause some drama. Argh!

    • Marcela

      +1 to having him have the conversation with patriarchy monster infected in laws. It lets them complain about it to someone who is less likely to get into a rage-induced tirade against the patriarchy and also presents it as a united front. After all, if your future spouse has no issue with you not changing our name, where the heck do they get to be mad about it?
      This, of course, only works if you are sure you future spouse is not going to go to their family complaining about the non changing. You don’t want to give them ammunition.

      • Sosuli

        That is a good point, but I’m pretty confident it’s not a concern. We’ve been having this conversation for about the past four years, long before we got engaged and he’s never once expressed any serious desire for me to take his last name. He’s even horrified when I tell him about the reactions male friends have had to the idea of their fiancées not changing their names

    • Ashlah

      “I’ve already started knitting “Dr & Mr” bunting for our wedding”

      Love it! I work in an office where most of our clients are older and pretty traditional, so it always makes me smile when we have clients where the wife is a doctor or both spouses are doctors. So I would get a kick out of seeing that at your wedding.

    • Ah, part of me wanted to wait until I got my doctorate to get married, but we didn’t want to wait another year (provided I can also actually finish the damn dissertation, I feel you on that). I kind of want “almost Dr” and “Mr” but that would be silly. FH suggested I do a Ms. and Mr. one instead. :-) At least it’ll only be a year of correcting people that I’m not Mrs. before I can say “actually it’s Dr”. I’m hyphenating but not sure if I am doing it before the doctorate or not. Torn on that one.

  • april

    I don’t know, I actually don’t think you owe anyone an explanation for not changing your name. If you want to get on your soapbox, good for you – go for it. But a simple, “Actually I’m keeping my name” is also fine.

    Seriously, I hate when people ask my why I didn’t change my name. I don’t know! I don’t have any strong moral opposition to name changing – I just didn’t want to. I resent the idea that you only get to keep your name if you have a reason like “I’m already known professionally by that name” or “my partner’s last name sounds silly” or “I want to stick it to the patriarchy.” It’s ok to just like your name and not want to change it!

    • raccooncity

      “Hmm. Ask my partner why he didn’t change his.”

      • emilyg25

        Also works for when your partner is telling you to change your name. How about instead, he takes her name!

    • Molly K.

      Exactly, I don’t think she owes anyone an explanation. It’s an extremely personal choice. I changed my name, and I’m not going to spend time explaining my choice to people. They just have to accept it.

  • Marcela

    We were announced as the “Newlyweds: Marcela and X!” I dealt with people asking about it in a very factual way like when the HR lady at work asked if I wanted to get a head start on the name change forms, I just said it wasn’t necessary since my name wasn’t changing. My MIL did insist on calling me Mrs. HisName all day post wedding ceremony, but she’s moved on and correctly addresses cards and etc… now. I come from a long line of women who kept their names and it wasn’t a big deal to my family, his family is figuring it out.
    My husband originally was really upset by the idea of me not taking his name, but that came from a place of tradition and not ever really being exposed to people who did not change names. When I asked him if he would be willing to change his name to mine and he immediately balked and flustered, the conversation ended and wasn’t an issue ever again.
    He occasionally gets called Mr. MyName and he takes it in good humor.

  • emilyg25

    We both kept our names when we got married. I just politely say, “Oh, I’m still Emily G.” Or, “It’s Ms. actually.” A few people asked why I didn’t change it and I said, “Because that’s my name,” with a smile. I’ve generally found that being succinct and friendly about it is the way to go. I don’t owe anyone an explanation and if someone questions me further, I don’t feel I can change their mind.

    Telling vendors is so not a big deal. They’ve almost assuredly dealt with it before. And trust me, you’ll be correcting casual acquaintances for the rest of your life. As will your husband, because he’ll get called Mr. Yourlast too. And we doubled down and gave our son a hyphenated last name. Explanations for all! :)

    Your partner IS a big deal, and others have good advice for that.

  • Kayjayoh

    Oddly, I was just posting about this on Facebook the other day. I did change my name socially for a year, adding his last name to mine into a non-hyphenated four-name. But at our first anniversary I decided not to make it legal and dropped the name on a social basis, since a “nickname” for a last name makes things confusing. I’d asked him in the past about also adding my name, so we would both be “Firstname Middlename Mylast Hislast,” but he really didn’t want to do that. And while I like his name better than mine, I’m really used to mine and I like my initials (kjo). And, of course, it is the feminist thing to do if he won’t change.

    Cut to this Monday, when we received a really nice housewarming card and check from my dad. The envelope was addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast” and the check was made out to “Hisfirst and Myfirst Hislast.” Fortunately, our bank has been pretty cool about me depositing checks made out to me with his last name, so that wasn’t a problem. But at some point it might be. And am definitely not Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast.

    Posting about it on Facebook got a *lot* of positive interactions, including from my dad, who now knows how to address envelopes to the two of us. (I reminded him that the post office doesn’t care about titles, so he can just use our names.)

    Meanwhile, I have decided that my preferred title is Mme. Sadly, most forms that require you to pick a title don’t offer that as an option. But when I get the choice, I’m Mme. Mylast.

    • Lizzie

      I hear you…my preferred title is Bandit Captain, but I never see that anywhere either. *shakes fist*

  • laddibugg

    IDK. I am on the fence about changing my name or not, and I’m lazy so if it takes much effort I might not do it right away, but I wouldn’t mind being introduced as Mr and Mrs X at the reception regardless of the eventual outcome. But why not just be introduced as “The newlyweds, Overit and Underit!” at the reception?

  • jay

    Heh, for some reason, NOBODY asked if I was changing my name or assumed I was. (Maybe because my now-ex husband had one of those long-ass, impossible to spell Polish names.) Instead we occasionally got junk mail that referred to him as Mr. [my last name], which was hysterical.

  • Alexandra

    This topic comes up periodically here, and I have to read through the comments diligently to understand why women feel strongly about keeping their names. After all, your original last name came from your father, did it not? The literal patriarchy?

    For me, my entire name has always felt foreign and not my own. I was adopted at birth and somehow never felt connected to any part of my name. When I married, I finally had a name and family that I had chosen for myself. I really enjoy being Mrs. Hislast.

    I just wanted to add a comment that it is possible to want to take one’s husband’s last name and not be a patsy for the patriarchy. Although after reading everyone else’s rationales, I can definitely see the other side of the issue.

    • Eenie

      It may have been my father’s name, my father still uses the same name, but it’s been mine for 25 years. It has to stop somewhere. No one is saying your a patsy, but it should be recognized that patriarchy contributed to the decision.

    • Marcela

      My name came not only from my father, but from my mother and both of their mothers (my grandmothers). It is a symbol of not only my family, but my heritage. It has been part of my identity for my whole life.
      I feel very attached to my name and the concept of changing it at marriage felt very foreign and not my own. I feel for you that you did not feel comfortable in your name and I’m glad you have been able to craft a new name that feels good. I wish it was easier to have conversations about namechanging that weren’t dependent on marriage.

    • Totally understand your viewpoint. For me, it was a combination of things – while my last name may be my father’s last name, my entire name (full middle last) is MINE. And I didn’t want to lose that identity and didn’t feel I was obligated to do so solely because I got married.

      In the end, I actually added my husband’s last name to mine, no hyphen. I’m retaining my identity but I also enjoy having that connection to him. It was change from my very firm feminist stance, but what I love about feminism is that I have the ability to make that choice for myself :-)

    • TeaforTwo

      The argument that my name came from my father has been thrown in my face triumphantly by a few people and it just doesn’t work My husband was named after his father, and so is First Last Junior. When people told me that I got my name from my father – as though it made it any less mine – I always ask where they think First Last JUNIOR got his names?

    • AP

      That’s one of the first things my fiancé, and some family members, said to me about not changing my name. That it’s my dad’s name, and I don’t have a relationship with my dad so why would I want his name? But that response is insulting because it assumes that my surname was NEVER mine simply because I’m a woman. Just because I *share* my father’s surname, that doesn’t mean I was only borrowing his name until another man *gives* me his surname. It was always MY name. My brother has a worse relationship with our father than I do, yet no one expects him to give up “his father’s” surname when he marries.

      • Lisa

        This is what I said to my husband’s best man’s wife who said that I was complicit in the patriarchy by keeping my father’s name. Just because it came from a man doesn’t mean that a name exclusively belongs to a man.

        • AP

          Hahahaha the mansplaining in that scenario just made me laugh out loud. ETA: oh wait, I just realized you said it was his wife.

          • Lisa

            Yeah, she was the one who gave me the most grief and concluded the conversation with, “Well, you still have 10 months until you’re wedding. I’m sure you’ll change your mind!”

          • AP

            Classic!

      • jubeee

        I wish I could post an applause gif. Yes my name in mine, even if I share it with some men.

      • Ashlah

        Exactly! Why is my husband’s name *his* name, but mine is my father’s? Are women just wandering through life completely nameless? Yes, the name chosen for me at birth occurred because of patriarchal tradition, but what exactly is the solution to that? We can challenge the cycle, or we can continue it. Or maybe women should all just be one-namers like Oprah.

      • Vanessa

        “But that response is insulting because it assumes that my surname was NEVER mine simply because I’m a woman. Just because I *share* my father’s surname, that doesn’t mean I was only borrowing his name until another man *gives* me his surname.”

        x1000000000 A+ 10/10

    • Lizzie

      I think the point of the whole issue is choice. If you take your husband’s name, it’s your own decision, just as it is if you keep your name. I feel so lucky to live in an era where the choice even exists, and I love that everyone can make it for their own reasons. There should be no judgment over any of them.

      • Lizzie

        Plus, sure I kept my father’s last name, but he passed away right before I got married, and the name makes me feel connected to him. No patriarchy invoked here.

    • Violet

      I think these discussions are just an indication of how a female changing her name when marrying a male is still considered the vast norm- women who don’t do it are expected to explain their reasons. I’m a female who did change my name when I married a male, and yet, no one asks me my reasons. The whole reason why the choice you and I made isn’t discussed is because it’s still the default, and no one is expected to explain (over and over, sometimes to polite curious people and other times to rude or demanding people) the default choice. So even though you or I might be very thoughtful feminists who have considered our reasons and decided this is right for us, we’re not usually held to account for our choice the way women who decide the other way(s) are. And men aren’t asked at all.

    • jubeee

      I just wanted to say that not all children have their father’s last names….so maybe its a bit of a generalization to say we are just trading our father’s names for our husband’s.

    • emilyg25

      Yes, it came from my father, whose family I’ve always felt very close to, with a history and culture I’m proud to carry on. Also, it’s been MY name for 31 years, all my life.

  • Krissy

    I told my MIL and GMIL accidentally at the dinner table! It had come up and I was paying attention to another conversation, and then I had suddenly turned my attention to their conversation about my last name. I just said in a very matter-of-fact way, “Oh, I am actually not going to be changing my last name,” and an “Oh,” and that was the end of that! It had come up, and I kind of let it tumble out, maybe not so gracefully. But, my husbands family is either pretty understanding or they didn’t tell me their feelings on the matter – which I can’t do much about if it is the latter. But they seem to have been fine with it.

    MY mother is a different story. One of the most innately feisty and feminist women I know, she was upset that I didn’t change my last name! And then she kept buying us “Mr. and Mrs.” stuff leading up to AND after the wedding, and I was like, “Why are you doing this?” and she said,”Well you’re still a Mrs., just with your own last name, right?” Managing her feelings during my wedding time was a good half of my wedding stress and a whole different post, so that is for another time. :)

    My hubs also had to get used to it and did not like it at first – we had many discussions in which I came up with different scenarios and asked him about what his emotions and feelings were on the situation, and maybe why. I think when he discovered that although he likes the idea of strong family traditions like that, he also realized how unfair it is to someone he sees as his partner, which helped him come along. After the wedding, I made a point of telling him whenever I felt really happy about being married and having my last name still, which was a lot. I would tell him that it STILL means a lot to me that he has been so supportive about it and that I feel really amazing to be Ms. Me MyLastName, M’s wife. He is now a defender of my choice. :)

    He also wants a “family name,” which I can understand, but I am also getting him to come around to kids having both last names (he can have the LAST last name, was our compromise).

    I get mail all the time – mostly from individuals – that is addresses incorrectly, and it’s especially killer when I get a Mrs. Me HisLast, or a Mrs. HisFirst HisLast. Sometimes I let it go, sometimes I correct it, it depends on who it comes from. I think a friendly correction (even if that’s not how you feel) goes a long way (for me). Not changing your name IS a statement, and letting people know in a friendly way that you didn’t is also a statement in itself.

    It’s a fight, for real. And it may come from your MIL, it may come from your friends, or your husband, or all. But if keeping yours is what is going to male you feel really good, then it is absolutely worth it. Maybe try asking people why they feel so strongly about something that is YOUR choice? Why would they be sad if you didn’t change it? Feelings can be born out of thoughts – even if they aren’t logical thoughts. If you can clear up the emotional aspect around that, it could help people come around.

    • Sosuli

      It’s encouraging to hear that the dinner table conversation with your MIL and GMIL went so well. I’m terrified that’s the situation it will come up in for me, and that it will lead to friction… but maybe I’m just worrying for nothing.

  • kdkeating

    My MIL never changed her name & as a result my husband did NOT want me to change mine. Fortunately I love my name too much to even think about changing it to his tree/fish last name. It has led to hilarious situations in which people I know just assume he has the same last name as me. I generally don’t correct people when they call me Mrs. HisName, but when he gets called Mr. HerName, he is super quick to correct.

  • Sarah E

    LIz hit it right. I’d add that when you explain your choice, keep it short, even if you do include the feminist reasons that made you keep your name. And definitely keep your tone calm and conversational. “Oh, I’m still Ms. Soandso. Taking my husband’s last name is a tradition that really just doesn’t sit well with me, especially when I think about the roots behind it.” And then move on in the conversation unless they engage with you further. You can absolutely have your soapbox moment, without derailing the interaction into a stand-off.

  • RNL

    My tendency when people ask me something ridiculous is to laugh. So when people ask me what my new name will be, I tend to make a joke out of it. “Hahaha you can pry my name from my cold dead hands” (or something more witty, hopefully. I mean, come on.

    But here is MY question: is it too bitchy to get those back of chair signs that say “Mr and Ms”?

    • Eenie

      Why is that bitchy?

      • RNL

        I think because in my head it’s a send-up of people who use a the Mr. and Mrs. signs, because the point of those signs is to emphasize your new status as a married couple, but the point of my sign is to emphasize that I think Mrs is a ridiculous appellation. But a lot of people I know use it. I think it is bitchy. I like to think about it as a joke, but I wouldn’t use it at my wedding. My wedding shouldn’t be an opportunity to make fun of other people.

        • Eenie

          Some people are genuinely excited about becoming a Mrs. You’re happy/excited/want to show you’re a Ms. Seems like you’re just good at communication?

        • Marcela

          I don’t think it’s a problem unless the only reason you’re doing it is to make fun of others. Why have that negativity on your wedding day?

          • Eenie

            And that’s not bitchy. Let’s just stop using that word.

          • Marcela

            I said problem, not bitchy. Might you have meant to reply to the original poster?

          • Eenie

            Yeah that wasn’t directed at you, more frustration on the use of the word from up above.

    • Emily

      Not bitchy at all, IMO.

    • TeaforTwo

      We didn’t have chair signs, but we were announced at our reception as “I present to you, still Mr. and Ms….the newlyweds R & S!”

    • Ilora

      I was quite proud of my Ms & Mr signs! ;) I made them myself so it was easy enough for me to just say “oh look how great they turned out!” (posted above but since I AM proud of them I’ll post here too)

      We actually both changed our names, I just feel quite strongly that my title shouldn’t show my marital status any more than his does.

  • It took my husband and me one million years to decide what to do. He says it took him approximately two seconds after meeting me to realize I wasn’t changing my name, and while it hadn’t occurred to him until that point that his future wife wouldn’t have his name, he completely understood why. We ended up with both of us hyphenating socially and planning to get around to the paperwork if/when a kid shows up.

    Pretty much everyone who knows about our choice was fine with it, although there were a lot of folks we hadn’t seen in awhile who thought Mrs. Hisfirst Hisoldlast was a cute thing to put on a card. My only wedding day regret is that we didn’t follow Miss Manners’s advice: have at home cards. These handy things can tuck into your invitations, programs, or be out on the cake table. They have your all’s names, your address, and when you’ll return from your honeymoon. Doing that would have been such an easy way to communicate our choices without seeming pedantic and getting a little queasy every time someone shows how insidious the patriarchy really is by calling me by Mrs. Hisoldlastname.

    • Marcela

      We sent out moving announcements post wedding that had our names clearly on them along with our new address. I know it doesn’t work for all situations, but if either one of you is moving, it can be an easy way to remind people. Ours had a photo of us leaving the wedding in a pedi-cab and the caption “”First came love, then came marriage, now come boxes and a u-haul carriage”. I saw many of my friends put it on their fridge and I think the visual reminder might have helped with the ease in which people got used to the no- name change thing.

      • I love that! And yes, our Christmas cards, which came out two months after the wedding and are still on some friends’ fridges, definitely helped, too. It just would have been nice to have at the actual event where the people most likely to care to know were all gathered in one place.

        Also, we used Weebly for our wedding website, and one family of cousins I hadn’t seen for years addressed their card to Mr. and Mrs. Weebly. Some friends now call us the Weebly family.

    • emilyg25

      We were open about our name choice at our wedding, did thank you and Christmas cards with our last names, and sent baby announcements with our last names and people still get it wrong sometimes. It’s just one of those things.

  • ShortnSweet

    I found the quickest way to resolve this issue was to speak to my celebrant and my DJ up front and just say please announce us as Mr and Mrs Last-Last. Our DJ actually had a line on the form asking how to announce us. It let everyone know without any passive aggressive exchanges just how we wanted to be addressed. The alternative would be to ask for Mr. HisLast and Mrs. HerLast or Mr. Hislast and Ms. Her Last or maybe even introduce OP first, the horror!

    I found that though we discussed it with some family, people just take their cues from the big announcements. I’ve been fortunate that it comes up periodically but people tend to be bemused by our family’s feminism rather than aggressive. The most difficult issue in our family was that my husband was and now “isn’t” a junior (not to mention the possibility of a third), but even that we just said we heard their opinions but our family name is really our business. We encourage those people to make apply their opinion to their own children/marriages.

  • Julia

    I’ve kept my name and actually hardly ever anyone comments on it. It’s not that much of a big deal to keep your last name. But if somebody says something I usually say that changing my name would be too conservative for me.
    And the thing you’ve mentioned with people calling you Mrs. Yourhusbandsname, I don’t really care if somebody calls me his last name either. Those are just names, and we are actually married and a family now, so if somebody calls me his last name I think it’s funny and it makes me smile but not angry at all.

    • emilyg25

      I feel the same way! It’s just not a big deal to me. People make mistakes and I either correct them politely or chuckle a bit to myself. I think if you choose a non-traditional option, this is the best, easiest approach.

  • Sosuli

    Reading through these conversations, I had to come back and share the horror/amusement that I found in the Wedding Planner notebook (subtitle: every bride’s best friend) that my FMIL got me and FH as an engagement present. In case it’s blurry, the page says “No-one’s looking! Go on, try out your new signature…*” At the bottom of the page there’s a footnote that says “*Every bride does it!” Yep. That’s two whole blank A4 pages for brides to practice their new signature on.

    I initially stumbled on this and was horrified, but now it just kind of makes me laugh.

    • Lizzie

      Oh man. Is this a recent publication or from, say, 1950?

      • Sosuli

        I believe it is from last year. The entire book is incredibly sexist, including pages with “Her To-Do list” which is about 2 pages long, and “His To-Do list” which has space for 5 things. The front page also asks for the date that “he asked and I said yes”, which I had to edit, since that’s not what happened. We’ve been using the notebook because it was a really sweet thought from my FMIL to get one (and she ordered it online, so probably didn’t look through the entire thing before giving it to us). But I have edited sooo many sections in pen, because no way am I just letting that stuff be.

    • Violet

      Haha, just goes to show, one woman’s horror and joke is another woman’s warm fuzzies- I found an old notebook page from high school where I wrote my name with my now-husband’s last name. And it IS my name now, and it makes me all sentimental and happy. So you know, different strokes and all that. ; )

      • Sosuli

        Oh yeah, I can totally understand that. I also might be double-barreling my name, and find that thought quite exciting. It is more the presumption here that EVERY bride does it (and only brides) that bothered me… and 2 pages seems like a lot, especially considering that’s more space than the book includes for contact details for guests!

        • Violet

          Sigh, “EVERY bride.” Don’t you just loooove generalizations?

    • anonbride

      ha! that is pretty funny. Even though husband and I both changed our names to MyLast HisLast, I don’t think either of us is changing our signature. What a hassle, and mine is basically just a scribble anyways. ;)

    • eating words

      Wow. Though I have to say that the other day I found a piece of my paper that my new wife had practiced her new signature on, and it was awesome. (I always assumed that we would each keep our own names, but she decided she’d rather have my last name than her father’s.)

    • Ha, this reminds me of my mother. I explained to her that I was going to keep my name for a bit and she was so surprised to hear that I hadn’t spent hours practicing signing my married name. I told her I was 33, not 13, and aint nobody got time for that.

    • Ashlah

      Ha! I actually spent a lot of time practicing my new signature in a drawing app on my phone (both husband and I hyphenated), but the generalization and assumption in this planner is gross.

    • Kayla

      I have (kind of) gotten used to printing Kayla MyLast His Last, but my signature is still Kayla MyLast. I can’t imagine how many pages I’d need to unlearn my signature.

  • anonbride

    Husband and I have had to do our fair share of name explaining/correcting. We both changed our names to MyLast HisLast (no hyphen). I never thought I would change my name but when we talked about it before the wedding, husband said that it was really important to him that we have a family name. I suggested this solution and he agreed that it made the most sense. We got a few cards and cheques to Mr. and Mrs. HisLast from people who didn’t know, but we gently got the word out by wording our thank you cards from the new Mr. and Mrs. MyLast HisLast. Most people have been cool about it but we do get a lot of “oh that’s so modern!” or whatever to which I just
    shrug my shoulders and say that this makes the most sense for us. I think it’s a little funny that some people find it so radical. There was one snide comment from his traditional aunt but I’m sure she’ll get over it.

    The most annoying thing just happened when changing our names with the government. We filled out all the forms correctly and explained everything to the clerk, but I guess someone got confused with the no hyphen thing and our drivers licenses both came back with our names as HisLast First Middle MyLast. How does that even happen?! Now we have to go back and get it corrected.

  • lauren

    I’m not changing mine, and my solution to this has been to not give a fuck. Whenever someone calls me by his last name (it’s only happened once), I’ve made a resolution just to let it roll off my back. I don’t have the emotional space to spend my entire life getting worked up and angry.

  • Lizzie

    We both kept our last names and made no announcement about it at the wedding, but if anyone asked we told them. Now, two years later, we still get Christmas cards addressed to J and Lizzie Hislast, and I was listed in a relative’s obituary as Lizzie Hislast. What puzzles me is this: I’m on social media as Lizzie Mylast, my email address is my first and last names, and my full name is on the return address of mail I send to everyone. So what exactly makes them think I changed my name? Traditional assumptions, I guess, but man, how about weighing the evidence before making said assumptions?

    • MC

      Yeah, that’s why I don’t feel bad about correcting people – because at this point, a year after we’ve been married, my name hasn’t been changed anywhere and if they’ve received correspondence from me or seen me on social media they have just been (unintentionally or not) ignoring the fact that my name is not First HisLast. I’m not going to worry about coming across as rude to you when your assumptions come across as rude to me!

    • emilyg25

      Confession: I have sent several pieces of mail to my husband’s cousin’s wife with the wrong last name. I’m friends with her on Facebook. I feel terrible about it and I double check every time now, but it happens, and there’s typically no ill intent behind it. It’s just one of those things.

      • Marcela

        I tend to still think of my SIL as her birth name (original name?) instead of her new married name. In my defense, she’s in my phone as original name and her email is still FirstName.OriginalName@blah.com, but it really is rude of me to do that. I will go change it in my phone now and maybe that will help. Do unto others and all that.

      • Lizzie

        I totally get that. With the obituary mention, my first reaction was “really?” But then I remembered, you know, grief and such, and I know it’s an honest mistake and doesn’t matter. I wonder if my friends who HAVE changed their names get irritated when I slip up and refer to them by their maiden names.

  • CMT

    Wait, am I missing something? Putting aside the arguments with your fiance, which are another matter entirely, why is it so hard to just tell the DJ, oh, by the way, don’t introduce us as Mr. & Mrs. HisLastName?

  • chirpygirl

    My husband was not thrilled with my decision to keep my own last name, (I think we were both surprised by the more traditional side of him that didn’t make an appearance at all until we started wedding planning). But my name is a really important piece of my identity, both culturally (my Italian heritage is a source of great pride) and because I was an older bride (married four days before my 50th birthday), so we talked it through and I kept it. I have no problem answering to Mrs. his-name socially, though! : )
    We handled the DJ and officiant announcement issue by simply having them use only our first names and the titles of husband and wife.
    And as far as any family objection goes, that’s between you and your husband. No one else gets a say.

  • Rae

    Ohhh boy this is so timely. I had an awkward discussion at the bank yesterday with someone who knew me before my wedding and made the assumption that I changed my name. When she finally got it straight (I was polite about it) she said “well isn’t that confusing!” At which point I lost it and said “it’s only confusing to you – what’s confusing to me is why everyone assumes women always change their name after marriage” and walked away.

    On the topic of dealing with the issue at the wedding, I envy people who can just tell their officiant how they would like to be introduced. My husband’s very traditional grandfather married us and that was very important to my husband, so we didn’t want to offend him by reminding him that his grandson was marrying an atheist feminist

    • Marcela

      How is keeping the same name you’ve always had confusing?

      • Emily

        This made me laugh!

      • Rae

        I have no idea how it’s confusing. She’s a bit of a wacko, and I live in a small town with a lot of traditional folk around. I still have to correct people an average of once a week, over a year after the wedding. It’s ridiculous, and the struggle just makes me even more determined to come to a kids-naming solution with my husband that isn’t just his last name.

  • jubeee

    My advice, from personal experience, even if you explain all the reasons why you aren’t changing your name, people who did will feel like you are judging them and they will judge you in return. As for the officiant and the DJ-I think just saying here’s the Newlyweds: Genie and Bruce!!!! I don’t think you need Mr. & Mrs. or a last name.

  • jubeee

    Oh and one more thing, its so weird how many complete strangers will make remarks about changing your name as you get closer….then explaining to them that you aren’t. I had to explain this to a young woman making an appointment at a spa the other day, then assure that no, in fact, my fiancee really doesn’t mind that I’m not changing my name at all. And yes, you changed your name because you want to have a family, I also want children just not my fiancee’s last name.

  • orienteeringirl

    Though it horrifies me, I’m also so relieved to
    learn that I am not alone in being partnered with an otherwise thoughtful,
    loving, respectful H/FH. He is actually more liberal-minded than I am, but that
    STILL doesn’t get why I would feel so conflicted about my decision about what
    to do with my name. A few years into dating, but long before either of us were
    thinking of marriage, I casually mentioned that I have no intention of ever changing
    my name and was shocked at his surprise upon hearing this, but it always stayed
    in the back of my mind.

    So when we became engaged, in the rush of all the
    love and warmth of our engagement I hastily told him that I would hyphenate my
    name. After a few months though, I came to regret that decision and when I
    tried to explain to him that I’d had a change of heart – because, feminism – a
    huge fight ensued. Like others have mentioned he doesn’t seem to accept any
    reasons I provide outside of the partnership that we share. I think he gets
    that it’s my name, my decision, but he doesn’t seem to accept or respect that
    being a feminist is a part of who I am and matters. And I sometimes feel like
    he pulls out the “we’re a partnership” card when he doesn’t get what he wants.

    Unfortunately we’ve had a rough go of life lately
    including a last minute decision to move for reasons of personal safety and a
    bed bug scare that turned out to be body lice (gross, and we have no idea how
    we picked them up!) all at the same time. In the midst of all that stress, we
    wound up getting in a fight over whether or not I was being a good partner by “unilaterally”
    deciding to take a shower before we had agreed upon how we were going to tackle
    our lice issue. One it’s face it was one of those dumb stupid fights about nothing
    because we were both exhausted and at our wits end, but I was also horrified
    that he would try to use the argument that we should both have a say on what I
    decide to do with my body, even for something as benign as a shower. We just
    had to both apologize and let it go (and I took the shower when I wanted to,
    thankyouverymuch) but when life has calmed down from its current unrelenting
    insanity that’s going to have to be discussed further because I’m not OK with
    how things went down.

    So not resolved, and probably won’t be for a while,
    and it sucks to feel like we don’t have solidarity around our choices about our
    names or what exactly our partnership means going forward. I don’t give a hoot about
    what the rest of the world thinks or feels about our eventual choices about our
    names, family included. While I won’t do anything inflammatory when the day
    comes to inform, or correct people about our names, I’m also not going to offer
    justification for personal choices that don’t concern them.

    • Mary Jo TC

      That’s tough. I hear you on saying something once, and then being held to it after you’ve thought better. I’ve had several fights with my husband that went that way. And LOL “unilaterally deciding to take a shower.” Um, yes, most of my showers are in fact unilateral decisions. I don’t exactly call in the whole committee to see when is the appropriate time to clean myself.

      • orienteeringirl

        Yeah, it was one of those fights where I was like, “Are we really fighting about this???” but at the same time I felt the need to stand my ground out of principle. I know that he didn’t mean what it sounded like he was suggesting in trying to pull the “partnership” card on me, but it seemed really important at the time to try and make him see the ridiculous patriarchy in what he was saying. Like I said, our nerves were pretty frazzled at that point and neither of us were at our best, so we just both apologized for upsetting the other and tried to move on. Egalitarian relationships aren’t always easy just because you both believe you want the same thing.

    • Violet

      Look, I don’t wanna start something here, but I do think part of why some people object to a married couple not having the same name is they interpret that to mean the two individuals can’t come together, into a partnership, to decide on something. So by each keeping their own name, they’re digging in and not showing compromise, which is always needed in unions, to a healthy degree.

      But that’s bullshit. Sometimes you don’t need to compromise. Sometimes I want pepperoni on the pizza and husband wants chicken and you know what? The Pizza Place Will Make It Half and Half. It’s okay. Not every argument has some “Peace on Earth” answer. Sometimes two people just do their best and muddle through, and hey. That’s a partnership too.

      So yes, to how these arguments can seem like they’re about something bigger. But if the majority of the time you’re functioning well in your partnership, you’re allowed to have things that you’ll just not agree on, and it’s okay.

      • Sara

        I love your pizza analogy. Amazing.

        • Violet

          Thanks! Have literally had the “What does it say about us that we get half and half on our pizza sometimes?” freakout and partner goes, “Uh, that we wanted different toppings.” Right.

  • Emily

    I haven’t read the comments (and can’t right now) but I really liked (and used) the response I read on APW awhile ago: “Neither of us are changing our name.” I said this with a warm smile and an “of course” attitude and it was usually met with an “oh, I see” type of response.

  • I changed mine which is weird and unusual in my collection of people but not at all in his family. I think all the women in his family changed their name when they got married and I don’t think any of the ones (on my mom’s side, at least) did. His family was surprised when they found out I was going to change my name, though. But really we both changed our names.

    Both of us changing to my last name wasn’t an option because (a) I sort of have two last names, which made it confusing and (b) my husband would have the exact same name as my father if he changed his name, and that made everyone involved sort of uncomfortable. I didn’t want to delete any of my names.

    I really wanted the same last name (while he didn’t really care). I changed my name because my mom had a different last name than I did growing up (well, sort of, we had her last name as a second middle name) and there were tons of little explanations that were necessary and prolonged conversations more than would be needed. And as someone who finds these normal daily conversations already somewhat tiring (as in, they use up more energy than I have to look up reservations under two sets of name), it didn’t seem practical to me to add this new issue. Also, I like sharing a name with people in my family, and I was expanding my family, so it made sense to expand my name. I was already connected to my mom’s side and my dad’s side, and now I would add his name on, too.

    For simplicity and for reducing conversations, his last name is our legal last name and then he added my last last name as a second middle name. So legally we are both Hislastname, and to make forms easier and save energy I can be First MiddleInitial HisLast if it’s necessary, but we both have two names, so socially we can be the Mylast HisLast. But I didn’t lose any of my names and we both added one and that was very important to me.

    Now, changing gmails is the real tricky part that I’ve been putting off. (I mean, and I’ll have to go in and do the legal stuff soon now that we got our marriage certificate back).

    • But it did take a good three years of talking (before we got married) to get to this point. Also, I’m still uncomfortable when I’m called Mrs. HisName. Although I wonder how much of that is because my parents also never go my Mr/Ms/Mrs (my dad always uses the line Mr. Lastname is my father even though my dad is almost 60) so maybe I’ll never really be comfortable with that.

  • Tenna

    I have a very agreeable friend who comes from a conservative background — when family friends ask her about her choice to keep her name, she says sweetly, “Well, I’ve always been M. K., and I thought I would just keep being her!”

    I’m also keeping my name, as is my partner. Our plan is to have the MC say “For the first time as legally committed life partners, T. N. and J. B. !”

    But my favorite joke about this is the comedian Jamie Lee’s line.. “I’m taking my husband’s name when I get married. So I’ll be Steve Rosenberg, and he won’t have a name.”

    • sahara

      This is even better than my personal joke that I would take his first name (but not his last). So we would be HisFirst HisLast and HisFirst HerLast.

  • Anya

    As someone who didn’t change her name and am planning to pass it along to my HFK (hypothetical future kid), it’s an ongoing fight. I’ve had my med school classmates ask me things that are sort of ridiculous (‘How will your husband know you love him if you don’t change your name?”) to outright ridiculous (“how will your children know that he is their father if they don’t have his last name?”). I’ve scratched off vendors who literally said “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be so happy to change your last name; it’s so complicated.” I’ve had to correct my MIL and my BIL (that’s brother in law) a number of times, because I’m not Mrs, I’m actually Dr, and yes, I’m keeping my last name. My husband will try to point it out if I ask him to, but he has a very lackadaisical attitude (why does it matter?).

    I’ve found what works is pointing out what makes me love my last name: yes, it’s complicated, yes, it’s hard to spell. But it connects me to my grandfather who fought in the war, who has a story worthy of the Hollywood story. It connects me to my grandmother who inspired thousands of her students, and fought for every single one of them when most of the society gave up because of some standardized test. It connects me to my parents who moved across the ocean to give me a better life. It’s not a trivial, little cute thing. It’s my name and my history. I think when I tried to explain it that way — I’ve gotten a lot of traction.

  • Angela Howard

    My husband and I got married three years ago and one night this week he turned to me and said he was jealous that my best friend, who got married last week, had changed her name and I hadn’t. Intellectually he knows that not changing my name was important to me for a variety of reasons but he still can’t entirely get past the fact that he believes that women changing their names is what happens when you get married. I don’t have a good answer for you about what to say to vendors or in-laws. My suggestion about an announcement at the wedding would be to avoid last names all together – “For the first time as husband and wife, hisfirstname and yourfirst name!” Best of luck! A disagreement about changing your name is something you can live through. :)

    • Angela Howard

      And this is still an issue for my husband. :(

  • Still ML

    It really is tiresome to not have your decision recognized or respected. I was so tired of getting cards and invitations referring to Mr & Mrs HisLastName, but felt bad calling people out. The second year after we got married, I made holiday cards that said “Warmest Wishes from MyName MyLast Name and HisName HisLastName” to really make it clear that those were our names, even after marriage.

  • Another Meg

    Our plan was to put in, for the first time as a married couple, Meg Mylast and Him Hislast! We also put it in our wedding website FAQ.

    The weird thing is that by the time our big wedding came around, we’d been legally married for a year and everyone knew that. Bless them, so many aunties assumed I was waiting for the “real wedding” to change my name. I’ve never been so surprised/touched/annoyed at anything in my life. At once.

    About a year after that, we moved, so I sent out a new address announcement with our names at the top just to put that final coat of paint on. I get much less mail addressed to someone who doesn’t exist since then. :)

    As for vendors, if you get push back from them, they don’t deserve your money. It is none of their damn business.

  • Elizabeth

    This topic is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons. The first is that my mother did not change her name when she got married — and when it got to naming children my brother got our dad’s last name and my sister and I got our mother’s — and neither did quite a number of family friends (although most of them had the kids just take the fathers’ last names). So it’s surprising and disappointing to see my female coworkers and college friends taking their husband’s names.

    When I was younger my mom tried to get me to agree to not change my name, and at first (high school years) I didn’t see the point either way. After all, it was just a last name, and she wasn’t that close to her father anyway. But as an adult in the workforce it’s my name, it’s what I sign on engineering documentation. It’s not just hers, and that’s one of the arguments I’ve come to dislike the most (the ‘it’s either my father’s name or my husband’s’, because by that logic it’s either your father’s or your husband’s father’s) because it strikes me as a little sad tbh.

    On the other hand, I’m seriously considering changing my own name to do a melded name, partly because in this day and age I dislike the strictly gendered path (all the more so because I’ll be marrying another woman) and because I like that symbolism of creating a new name and new family together.

    My sympathy is entirely with the OP, because it seems like a lot of the time it’s a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ sort of situation.

    • Violet

      Definitely damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I think your family’s system is very cool! I don’t quite understand why you’d feel disappointed by other women changing their names, though. Sure, it’s disappointing when you find out people haven’t even thought about it. But what if they had, and still decided they wanted a change? Why is that a reason to feel disappointment? Thoughtlessness is disappointing to me, but I don’t relate to the idea of being disappointed by someone else choosing something that works for them.

      • Elizabeth

        It’s more a ‘is this really still the world we’re living in?’ Partly because growing up with friends of my parents (and parents of my friends), probably 40-50% of the women I knew didn’t change their name. Now, as an adult, 100% of the women I know in my peer group have changed their name (no one has hyphenated, one took her maiden name as a middle name). It makes it seem like an unusual option to me to not change it, and while I don’t have a problem with any individual decision, they aren’t made in a vacuum.

        I guess it’s because it seems a little like if my friends who are working on advanced degrees/titles or who have taken extensive gender and sexuality classes (way more extensive than my 0 at least. :p) aren’t going to keep their last names then there’s been no real challenge to the idea that it’s the man’s family line that matters, and I want that to be challenged. Continually and constantly. Which is maybe me on my soap box a little, and I’m not going to make anyone else fight the fight for me, but it makes me disappointed in the same way it makes me disappointed when someone whom I know hates dresses decides to wear one for a customer meeting or social situation, because it’s expected of her. I’m not disappointed in her, but I am disappointed in society and I feel bad for her.

        • Violet

          I see, like there’s a tidal wave of reform that you’d like to see, but that can’t happen if the individual droplets of water keep choosing something else. Is that it?

          I actually don’t even get the whole “family line,” or “last of this name,” thing people bring up. Because ummm, no one cares. There is no aristocracy in the US, no titles that matter anymore. When people say, “Oh, but then the Violet Birthname will die,” I’m like, “Uh, who cares?” Literally no one. Crickets chirping. I know it’s not in a vacuum (otherwise statistically wouldn’t it be split closer to 50%, as you’re saying you saw growing up), but if it’s the man’s name being passed on, that still matters very little to me. What’s in a name? I don’t care about that, I care more that women are bothered about their choices, whereas men aren’t bothered about their lack of thought on it, plus when men DO change their name to their wife’s, they get about four times the grief women do for not changing theirs. That’s not good.

          Do you read any meaning into the fact that these women who have taken gender and sexuality classes have decided to make that choice? Just curious if you heard their reasoning on it.

          • Elizabeth

            Yes, that is it, the drops of water metaphor.

            For the second, I don’t think it’s that no one cares, because people clearly do. It might matter very little to you, but it’s one of the important factors. Not so much in the ‘family line’ issue so much as a ‘I want to have the same name as my children because I associate that with being a family’ sense, which is very powerful. I mean, look at all the women in this post who haven’t changed their name and have tabled the discussion of what to call the children. It wouldn’t be a discussion if it didn’t matter to them. And I don’t think it would statistically be a split of 50% because if there weren’t a societal expectation that women’s names should change, then I think there would be a reason required to change the name, and I think less than 50% of women (and men) have a reason they want to change their name away from their birth name.

            I read some meaning into it, yes, because it means, I presume, that there’s an awareness there of the fact that there is this wave keeping women’s identity secondary to men’s (to use a shorthand, because it takes more energy than I have at the moment to figure out how to phrase that in a more subdued manner), but they don’t change it. The answer I got was that she wants to have the same name as future children. Which isn’t an…empowering answer to me.

          • Violet

            Thanks for explaining. So it was discouraging to hear that she understood the ramifications in terms of the “family line” concept (Again, not an issue I can get riled up about; I meant “no one cares” in that no one cares about my name, specifically. You don’t, I don’t, no one cares about my specific surname “living on” or whatever.), and yet she decided to sort of “give in.” Rather than fight for the alternative.
            I think the alternative is something that should be addressed. It is really hard in many states for men to change their names (or for women to hyphenate), as you pointed out. What if the dynamic changed so that when a couple got married, they could choose any name they wanted. Like, literally, anything at all. That way people who wanted to share a name with their offspring could, but not in a way that privileged males over females. I mean, unless there’s a real answer that works for people, this is going to just be an ongoing issue. Options are good, but it seems like from the comments that hyphenating or doing an extra middle name or anything else that the commenters have been discussing with regard to their children aren’t fully satisfactory either.
            Anyway, I don’t see a lot of good options, which is why I don’t get too bummed out about any particular choice an individual woman makes. It’s too fraught, and I don’t particularly think any of the current solutions are simultaneously fair and logistically possible. Maybe that part could be worked on. Until then, I kinda go easy on all women who have to grapple with this issue (so, all women getting married).

          • Elizabeth

            It’s a good discussion. Thanks for listening and responding, I’m really enjoying being able to have this conversation.

            Oh, I haven’t said a thing indicating disappointment to any of them because I don’t think anyone has to justify themselves to me or even should. Their reasons are entirely reasonable and good, even if I really hope I would do differently.

            I would love that dynamic changing. I don’t know if it needs to change legally/logistically first, or if more people changing their name will make it become a thing that will then get logistically easier, but I do agree that having that as an option should be a thing.

            And I see, with regards to your name specifically. In my case my last name is a part of my identity. I like the long a that gets mispronounced as a short a 90% of the time people try to first read it (although grammatically in English even, it should be that long a). I’m not tied into needing my children to keep my name and like I said, I’ve talked about combining it with my gf’s, but I want at least a part of it to stay with me. I couldn’t care less with what happens for future generations, but it’s part of the way I think about myself. (Which probably adds to my inability to understand women giving theirs up to take the name of their spouse, although I can realize on some level that many people probably don’t care about their name as much as I do. Although that may be partly because I wasn’t led to expect that I would give it up while I was growing up.)

          • Elizabeth

            I’ll also add that while it’s logistically easy to keep your name the same if you’re a woman or a man, and it’s easy to change your name to your husband’s if you’re a woman, there become complications

            For my state, the only option with the marriage license is for one partner (in the case of a same-sex marriage, otherwise I think it’s just the wife) to take the other person’s name, or to keep their original. There’s no possibility for hyphenation or a new mutually-determined name.

  • Ashlah

    This all makes me want to be a wedding vendor, just so I can be all progressive about names when talking to clients. I want to be one of the good ones!

  • purekate

    Why is this question still so fraught?! It is 2015 for goodness’ sake! I almost find myself with the opposite problem: I AM changing my name and my friends and family are pretty surprised. I feel like I’m abandoning all of my feminist principles and I have to explain myself to everyone who knows how liberal and progressive I am. But I don’t have a great explanation; I’m just changing it. It feels right, I want to. He’s happy I am, but would have been fine if I didn’t and he didn’t push the issue. I just…can’t we just be happy with what others decide and accept they everyone is just doing what works for them? Why is this even a thing? Good luck, LW!

    • Yes to this. My husband agreed to add my last as his second middle and I would do the same and change my last, but I still can’t bring myself to answer to/sign/call myself by his/our last name.There’s just this feeling that if I start using it I’m letting the team down as it were. There is no winning.

  • Sara

    “He doesn’t have to get it. He just has to be on your side.” So very well said. I also do not intend on changing my name. My SO is on my side, whether he gets it or not is something we never even had to discuss because he doesn’t care. But the MIL… I am terrified. Don’t even want to think about it. The only other thing I’m more afraid of telling her is that I won’t be bearing her any grandchildren. Eeeek.

    • Not Sarah

      “The only other thing I’m more afraid of telling her is that I won’t be bearing her any grandchildren.” I’m a little worried about this one myself! But it’s all up to my SO and not to me since it’s his mother ;) She never tries to “parent” me like my mom does to my boyfriend, so I’m not worried about her trying to talk to me about it.

      • Sara

        See, I would like to be part of the conversation, but only because I feel like my SO is afraid of upsetting his mother and wants to avoid confrontation at all costs. It came up the other day when I was not around, and the way he tells it, he told her we “might not” be having kids (and just that was enough to make her cry). That’s just… a lie. We are not, and I think it’s more cruel to leave her waiting and wondering for the next 15 years, personally. Even his brother who knows already has asked him to tell her already!

        So I would like to be there because I am not afraid of being direct (but gentle). And also because my parents have heard me declaring from the high heavens that I’ll never have kids since I was 11 – this is something his parents have always assumed he would do, so it will be coming out of left field for them and I am really afraid they will blame me, whether they admit it or not. I think they are going to feel like it’s something I am forcing him to do even though we obviously made this decision together – I told him from the jump I wasn’t ever planning on having kids and he was totally fine with it. But I don’t think they know any of that. I just want to be there to defend myself if I have to, which sounds terrible. He seems so afraid of upsetting them I can’t trust he will stand up for me. (that’s awful now that I type it out… ugh)

        • Not Sarah

          Ah yeah that makes sense in your situation! My parents have heard me declaring that since I was 16/17 or so and my mom is finally starting to accept it :) I’m glad your parents have accepted it!

          I’m sorry about your SO’s parents :( I dated someone who was more worried about upsetting his parents than upsetting me! That was crazy.

          My boyfriend’s mom likes to tease him that “he should settle down and get married already like such and such friend is!” and he just shrugs his shoulders and it doesn’t bother him. His parents just think that getting married and having kids is SO important and we don’t see it as nearly as important as they do. It drives me crazy that they’ll regularly ask us questions about when we plan on getting married, but couldn’t care less about the Master’s degree I’m working towards? My parents always ask questions about the things that they know are important to me, even if they’re not important to them.

  • egerth

    I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do about changing my name (nor did I want to have to discuss it at the wedding with either traditionalists or feminist friends who have strong feelings on changing it), so I told both our DJ and Officiant to introduce us by our first names only. (Now presenting as husband and wife, E and J).

    It was an easy way to avoid the question, which felt like a distraction to me.

  • Brigid

    I don’t mind being called Mrs J, because that is my title and I earned it. I do object to the people who’ve been all, “Oh, hello Brigid J!” No? No. That isn’t my name. It might be someday, but today is not that day. Don’t change me in your phone. Don’t nag me about changing my name on Facebook. Don’t tell me you won’t call me by my actual name. Not your business.

    My husband is changing his name. His first name. Boy, are there difficult conversations ahead with the in-laws….

  • CK

    I can definitely relate to resisting the urge to rant–my husband decided to take my last name, which means that EVERY SINGLE PERSON needed an explanation. Something that really helped us was turning to the written word. I contribute monthly to an alumni blog from my alma mater, and a few weeks before our wedding, he and I wrote a post together laying out our reasons for anyone who was curious about our decision. It helped immensely–we were think carefully and say exactly what we meant and reach a lot of people simultaneously, leading to fewer awkward in-person conversations and a whole lot of support from our community.

  • dragonzflame

    Well, I kept my name, but there was no fighting over it. Husband had no problem and agreed it was totally my choice, though his sisters were surprised. I did get ragey a few weeks after the wedding when we got a card from some relatives of his who hadn’t been able to go addressed to ‘Mr and Mrs (Hisfirstinitial) (Hislastname)’. Urgh.

    Have you had a calm, rational talk – no fighting allowed – with your fiance about why it’s so important to him that you take his name? Even if you know you won’t change your mind, I think you always get better insight from a proper adult discussion rather than fighting. Maybe he was brought up with the idea that that’s just how things are and he’s having trouble challenging that, maybe it’s something that’s secretly been important to him, maybe he’s worried about your future children’s surname. I know my husband did worry a little about that, because he had a friend at school whose mum didn’t change hers and this kid was always getting teased about her not being his real mum because they didn’t have the same last name. (I pointed out that it’s so common now, kids won’t even notice.)

    Anyway, as for the introduction to the reception, our MC suggested it just become ‘Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the bride and groom’, which we were happy with. You could, of course, also just use your first names.

  • emmeline

    The first thing my FMIL said when my fiance told her we were engaged was “there’s going to be another Mrs. A—!” and a week later we got a card addressed to him and “the future Mrs. Emmeline A—“. At that point I was planning to change my name, but that assumption was one of the things that made me not want to. I tried to take it in the spirit it was intended in, which is she was welcoming me to the family. Name-changing is something that is very important to her. She looked forward to taking her husband’s FIRST name as well as second name when she got married.
    My strategy is just not to tell people who are going to be upset (read: FMIL), and to accept that Mrs Emmeline A will be a phantom person in our lives (like Meg has written about), but to be accepting of her phantom presence because I know the legal truth.
    And I also decided I want our (future potential) children to take his name, and so I am happy for us as a family to be referred to as the A—s.
    That said, I’m happy to explain my decision-making to people who want to hear it, but personally it’s not worth the blood pressure to get upset every time someone makes an assumption. Because really, with about 85% of women changing their names, it’s actually a fair enough assumption to make, if a sexist one.

    • emmeline

      I will say, though, that the whole Mrs HisFirstName HisLastName does bring out my ragesaurus

  • Britta

    Lots here, but an idea for a quick fix for the vendor nagging, could you flex to an announcement something like “here they are, the newlyweds” (instead of “mrs and mrs__”) or something similar that is not name-centric?

  • Eh

    I didn’t change my name (married almost two years). I never told people I was keeping my name unless they asked. Some people assumed that I would change my name (I am the only woman in either family to not change her name – we are both from conservative, small towns). My MIL did not ask me if I was changing my last name until our reception, and that conversation went well since we both had had some wine. In the last two years I have received lots of mail with my husband’s last name (and luckily my bank will let me deposit cheques into our joint account if they are made out in that name). (One of my aunts has finally started addressing my mail again to my actual name – she is on FB and I think she realized that I never changed my name on FB.) It actually upsets y husband when people get my name wrong. He will correct them (I won’t since it doesn’t bother me – I knew that was a risk of keeping my name). His parents called us ‘The HisLasts’ one day (they were excited because they thought there was three ‘the HisLasts’ families) and he corrected them and said its ‘the HisLast-MyLasts’. We recently had a baby and when we announced our daughter’s name some people thought it was a bit much that we hyphenated our last names for her. I pointed out that my sister changed her name when she got married to a name that was four syllables and twelve letters long – the same number of syllables and letters as our names hyphenated. I never defend my decision to keep my name (my husband actually just assumed I would keep it since I already had an established career and stuff published under my last name). If people ask I will give them one of my many reasons (their is a very personal reason I kept it and I only tell some people that reason, most people get the career/published line).

  • Erin Helliwell

    I luckily have a super supportive fiance, who is on board with all my feminism and choices (even when it is red faced vitriol/rage against the patriarchy). However other people have their sexist assumptions, including his family and his parents’ friends.

    After a run in with the future MIL about this issue, I added the line “Please note that the bride and groom will both be keeping their surnames” on our details card of our invite. I wanted to head it off in advance and avoid a) getting called Mrs HisLastName and b) guests getting embarrassed if we had to correct them.

  • Katie Kidwell

    Our officiant announced something like “and for the first time as a married couple, Katie and Hunter” The dj had no problems using our first names only for all announcements. My husband understood, so we decided he would be the one to tell his family and I would tell mine. I love saying that neither of us changed our names rather than going into a long defensive explanation. I talked about my reasons a lot with close friends who already understood, but I refrained from arguing with those who didn’t. I wish you the best of luck!

  • CP2011

    Wonderful response, Liz!

  • Amber

    You just dont change it. It’s that easy. It’s just as much effort to say announce us as “the happy couple” as it is to say Mr and Mrs Patriarchy.

    Honestly I was expecting more push back from others than I actually got (never from my husband). I dont think I had to explain anything to my MIL. My mom thought I’d want.to change my name because his is easier to understand over the phone, I told her no and that was it. One brother said somehting like, guess you’ll have to change your name now, and I said I’m not doing that.

    We are out here, those who haven’t changed our names. I know we seem rare and it can feel lonely, especially when you’re passionate about it, but I promise you’re not alone and keeping your identity is so important and you won’t have to do any paperwork!

  • Gemma

    Hi,

    I had a terrible time of this when my husband and I had wildly different approaches to name changing and he had a bad case of that old male privilege “it doesn’t affect me, I’ve never thought about this, just do what is expected of you “. It was the first thing to really shake us and culminated in a house rattling argument where he finally understood “yes I love him, Yes I’m giving my life for him, Yes I am willing to bear him children bit I just don’t want to change my name”. At the end I think he realised he’d been really unsupportive and after that it was fine between us. I agree you need to be in firm ground with your fiance first.

    For me, I just said to vendors (they most often ask what your married names will be) that “we are both keeping our names” or slightly more political ” neither of us are changing our names”.

    For the entrance I said that because we will always be husband and wife or Mrs and Mr, that we would like to be introduced as the bride and groom, after all you only have that for one day. BTW, on the day no one really pays attention that much to how you are introduced to the room (at least, I never even noticed it I was too busy holding Colins hand and grinning from ear to ear as we entered a room with all our most loved people in it). It was so so wonderful. You will love it even if they introduced you as the feminist and the patriarchy, so I realise it’s hard now, but it won’t affect your day on the day.

    For Mil and fil, i knew Mil would be fine, but fil much more traditional, I thought about bringing it up in advance, but it felt to artificial to raise it. If he’d asked I’d have spoken about it, but he only asked on the wedding reception and I said “in keeping my name, we’ll look at options later (probably when kids come) for maybe adding his last name in somewhere (maybe as middle name) which I do want to do, but I was also just honest that it was a massive administrative burden to do that and I just didn’t have time energy or desire to look at it and anyway, there’s no hurry to do it anyway! Most people don’t realise that it isn’t a tick box on your wedding certificate that changes your name but a huge administration task EVERWHERE YOU’VE EVER NEEDED A NAME FOR ANYTHING. Even if people don’t get your deeper reasons for keeping your name, most people can at least understand the slightly less politically challenging crap that will enable them to be OK about it. Fil and I get on really well, he probably doesn’t like it but he likes me, is happy I’m part of his family and is classy enough to not raise the name thing as an issue.

    I feel your pain, it really rocked me when I went through this, it can make you feel very alone, but you aren’t. If you ever want to chat about it I’m more than happy to
    to.

    Good luck x

  • madeline

    I don’t have much advice about what specifically to say, but we included information about name changes in FAQ of our wedding website. Between that and telling our immediately families, the word seems to have gotten out pretty well. I don’t think we’ve gotten anything misaddressed in years. (My husband changed his name. It occasionally still causes confusion, but no one has ever given him a hard time about it.)

  • Mooza

    I really can’t support the idea that my lineage (name) gets erased automatically because I am not a man. And as a public policy major, I don’t like any solution that is temporary to the couple at hand but reverts back to the patriarchal laws when it comes to kids. That’s why keeping my own name or both our names just to have the kids (if and when) take his name – It still seems fundamentally unjust. Which is why this whole thing bothers me in the first place, and not because I care that much about my (father’s) name or hate my fiance’s name or whatever.
    Right now I’m in discussions with my fiance about what to do after our wedding this year (well, next week – civil ceremony GAH). We’ve discussed the possibility of combining both names into a new name, which I like, but he won’t commit to. And we haven’t really found a combination we LOVE enough…
    But this post reminded me of a modification I read about (on APW of course) to the Latin American tradition, which is that both partners take each other’s name, and the kids get both names as well. But when the kids get married, in order to save future generations from having 4+ last names, the girls keep only the Mother’s maiden name, while the boys keep only the father’s. I think we might end up going down that route… Just wanted to put this option out there.

    • Marcela

      I have 4 last names…Never enough room when filling out forms.

  • Julie McClure

    Loving all the discussion about people’s experiences with changing their name or not. One practical piece of advice for the poster about announcements: I did not change my name and I was worried about how we would be announced by the officiant, DJ, etc at the wedding. What we we came up with was some version of “Introducing for the first time as husband and wife, Jordon and Julie!”

  • Naly

    I never put that much thought into names, to me they are just names to honor family. My family has always been like that; you keep yours and add your partner’s if you choose but to honor family. Family is huge to us and much more important than arguing over a name. That being said, if I ever get married I don’t want to change my name. I am lazy and don’t want to deal with extra paperwork. My cousin didn’t change her name as well and no one cares. We are family and that’s what matters. My grandparents didn’t care either and my grandpa was one of those men who didn’t want my grandma to work. Actually marriage isn’t a necessity to them either. We have plenty of family members that never got married and had kids and my grandparents don’t care. They are catholic and don’t care. We are family and that’s all that matters.

  • Joyce Wondolowski

    I would strongly suggest that you do not try to justify your reason, because it does not need any justification. When people (MIL, my parents, co-workers, etc) ask about it, I just said, with a big smile and an attitude like it was no big deal “because I have no desire to change my name”. End. Of. Story. When they would try to counter with reasons why it would be better to change my name, I just shrugged, said “nah” with a smile, or simply said nothing. Not changing my name was a BIG deal for me, but not giving justification for it was the best thing I could have done. One big difference was that my husband completely supported my decision. Which makes me agree with Liz, that the real problem you have is not explaining this to others, but getting your fiance to support you.

  • CutePants

    thank you so much for this. me taking his name is something my teammate has assumed is a given, although we have only talked about it superficially. i’m really attached to my name. hyphenating is not an option, since both of our surnames are pretty long and sound weird together. the comments here have been really helpful and i think i have the tools i need to help him see how important it is.

  • anneschwal

    We went to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico for our honeymoon and all the staff there referred to me as “Mrs. HisLastName”. I didn’t bother to correct them because it was just easier to go with it while on vacation. But one night we sat down next to another couple at dinner and I overheard her correcting the waiter and telling him that she had a different last name from her husband. We struck up a conversation and I learned that they were from Quebec, where it is apparently the norm for women to keep their names. She said her mother and grandmother had even kept their names. I now have much more hope that norms can change and I won’t always be the odd-one-out mumbling about feminism and the patriarchy when my last name comes up in conversation!

  • Our DJ announced, “And now, for the first time as a married couple, Kyley and {HusbandsFirstName}!” The crowd so loud it moved me to tears.

    I went to grad school for women’s studies, so no one was surprised when I kept my last name. Also: I’m prone to (& love) a good, long rant. That being said, I’ve found the easiest way to address the name issue is simple. I don’t explain or justify why I kept my name, because it’s not something that needs explaining or justifying. I simply state that I’ve kept my name, and move the conversation forward. I’ve found that actually feels a LOT more powerful than all the times I tried to explain it.

  • Zoe

    There are other options to the DJ announcing “Mr & Mrs HisLast” – what about “Welcome to the dance floor HerFirst and HisFirst!” or “…the happy couple!” or “For their first dance as husband and wife, HerFirst and HisFirst!”

    With regards to dealing with vendors or anyone else, remember you don’t have to explain or justify your decision. This is something I had to work hard on – my instinct, whenever I had to correct someone, was to launch into a detailed and apologetic explanation of why I want to keep my name, often using excuses (like it’s easier in my career). The truth is that I just don’t fancy changing it, because I like my name the way it is. Now I try to stick to the facts, and explain clearly what I want, for example: “Actually I didn’t change my name, so could you please address that mail to ________.” Trying to justify and apologise for my decision was actually making me feel pretty bad, so I try not to go into details now. (Although I’d really urge you to discuss your thoughts and feelings with your future husband – it’s so important that you both understand each other on this issue.)

  • Leela

    Your name is your name. It’s not a placeholder to mark your unmarried-ness. It’s not a role you played while you waited to meet your spouse.

    If people asked me or E. about name-changing while we were engaged, we both said “neither of us will be changing our names” — whether we were both present for the conversation or not. It was our way of throwing in a subtle reminder that they were asking a gendered question. We also put that phrase on our wedding website in the FAQ section. Some people got it, and some people didn’t.

    It was really, really hard to issue constant but gentle reminders about an issue that I am very passionate about. At the end of our ceremony our officiant said the traditional bit about presenting us as a married couple. He introduced us as Leela Mylast and E. Hislast. We definitely got a few cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Hislast, and it definitely bugged me (I remember saying “Ugh! Mrs. Hislast doesn’t exist!”), but we sent all our thank you notes with both our names and that seems to have gotten through to people.

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  • Kathleen

    Can’t they just announce you by your first names? That’s what I’d have them do.

  • SmileyT

    I know a lot of women who decided to keep their last names. All you do is just simply say to your emcee or DJ, “introduce us as Ms. Y and Mr. X.” He or she will write it down, why does there have to be further explanation?

    When I got married I took my husband’s last name. Contrary to a lot of the commenters below I didn’t see this as an anti-feminist choice. No one pressured me. Even my MIL was surprised and expressed some disappointment that I was changing my name haha. But I decided to change it because I liked his last name, it’s easier to pronounce and when we start a family I liked the idea of having one last name for our whole family. Also I would like to add my husband would have been completely supportive if I kept my maiden name so I would be a little concerned that your future hubby is so dismayed and even seemingly embarrassed by your decision! It should be your choice.

  • Svea

    I found this article at http://blogs.theweddingexpert.com/2015/09/from-miss-to-mrs.html – it really put some things into perspective for me.

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  • Archivistlady

    Neither of us changed our names, but I was a lot more prepared to be defensive about it than I needed to be. Outside of the occasional, polite murmur of “oh you didn’t change your name”, no one close to me cared or cared enough to enlighten me on their opinion of it.

  • Jacki

    Ditto Liz on getting this clear and resolved with your partner (which, maybe you already have!!) before the wedding. My lack of name-changing was a surprisingly heated issue in my first marriage. Now, 10 years later, I’m engaged to a man whose take is “I don’t want to change mine, and I don’t want you to change yours unless you want to.” Works for me. I probably won’t, but haven’t decided for sure.

    As for announcing you, the DJ could just skip the Mr./Ms. and surnames altogether in favor of something like “the newly married Hisname & Yourname!”

    And as for explaining … well, your mileage may vary. Maybe you want to rant about the patriarchy. Maybe you want to educate people. And that’s great! But maybe sometimes you want to keep it breezy and I think there’s a place for that as well. Someone recently asked me “how could you NOT take his name?” and I just smiled and said it would be so easy, I wouldn’t even have to stand in line at the DMV. It got the message across while keeping the conversation pleasant and moving right along.

  • Kathy Waligora

    My fiance and I didn’t see eye to eye on this at first either. He knows (and loves) that I am a fierce feminist and extremely independent person. However, he had always imagined accepting the woman he married into his family, which he loves dearly, and that absolutely included taking his name. At first we argued a bit, in large part because he would make snide comments. Things changed when one fight finally got down to the real issue, which was that we both feel deeply tied to the family’s with whom we share a name. When we realized that my decision not to change my name and his desire to have me take his name were driven by the same deep love for our families (plus a healthy dose of feminism and career concerns for me) we were able to get to a place where he is disappointed but is totally supportive. I feel like I’m surrounded by so many women that kept their last names and seem to have husbands who prefered it that way, it started to stress me out that he didn’t feel the same. In fact, it was a great opportunity for us to strengthen our communication skills before getting married. I also learned that a lot of those women with incredibly supportive husbands also found it to be a process to overcome generations of patriarchy.

    As for telling people, I struggle too. Sometimes I get into the whole decision making process (feminism, family identity, arguing), but for the most part I say “We are both keeping our last names. Our kids will be *his name*’s and our pets will be *my name*’s”

    I say it this way because it implies the sexism in assuming I would change my name, but not that he would change his. It also heads off the inevitable and waaaaaaaay more annoying questions about the names of our kids–as if we will be the only family in the world that has more than one last name. You know, especially when I’ve never said anything these people about whether we want to have children.

    The part I struggle with is figuring out how to everyone who will attend our wedding, as we don’t really want people to give us gifts with his last name and I know that checks with his last can be a logistical problem. I have a lot of family in the south, so they will absolutely assume that checks should be made out to “Mr. and Mrs. his last name.” Suggestions? I will graciously accept gifts from those who are generous enough to give them, but it would make things easier. I would also hate for someone to have our names monogrammed on a gift and be embarassed when they learn we aren’t taking the tradidional route. However, it is already weird to acknowldege that we just want cash,so I want to be tactful but practical.

  • Nickie Gove

    Practical piece , I was enlightened by the details , Does someone know if I would be able to acquire a fillable a form document to fill out ?

  • texassa

    I am entering this dilemma. My fiance and I are planning our wedding. I will not be changing my name. I haven’t discussed it with many people beyond him, yet, but I am bracing for what I know is coming. One thing I have resolved is to correct anyone who says I’m “keeping” my name. No, I’m not “keeping” my name, I’m simply not changing it. To me, saying I’m keeping it implies that is the action. To me the action would be a change, which I am opting not to do. It seems small, but to me there is a huge difference in tone.

    • Lisa

      Saw your comment on my post, and I’ve really enjoyed revisiting this thread.

      My line was always “We both kept our names” because everyone in the situation has a choice. The husband-to-be doesn’t get an automatic pass because that’s the way it always has been. I wanted to clue people in to this subtly with my language. We change the tide a little at a time.

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