A woman taking her husband’s name on her wedding day has always been the norm. Historically, a surname denoted ownership. Children were seen as their father’s property, and upon marriage, the girls would become property of their husbands instead. That’s why, traditionally, you’re named after your father, and husbands never take their wives’ names.
However, this is no longer the case (fortunately). While the majority of women still choose to take their husband’s name, it’s merely done for reasons of tradition.
And nowadays, many women choose not to take their husband’s names at all. Surveys suggest that up to 20% of women choose to keep their maiden names when they get married. And many other women will choose to add their husband’s name to their own, creating a double barrelled name. Still others will take their husband’s name, but keep their maiden name as a middle name.
Today, we’ll discuss your options for changing your name when you get married. We’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of keeping your maiden name or changing it.
What Marriage Name Change Options Are There?
Long gone are the days when women had no choice but to take her husband’s name as soon as she said “I do”. Nowadays, it’s completely up to you. And you have are a wide array of choices when it comes to what to do with your name.
• Don’t change your name at all. Keep your maiden name, and simply change your title to Ms or Mrs instead of Miss.
• Take your husband’s name and get rid of your former surname entirely.
• Take your husband’s name, but keep your maiden name as a middle name. For example, if you were Sue LOVE marrying John SMITH, you would be Sue Love SMITH.
• Double-barrel your name with your husband’s. Using the above example, you’d be Sue LOVE-SMITH (with or without a hyphen).
• Mesh your name with your husband’s name. This is something you’d both do together. For example, if your last names are Hudson and Thomas, you could become Mr and Mrs Thomson.
• Choose an entirely new name. Both you and your husband could pick an entirely new name for your new family, that is nothing like your former names.
The choice is yours, but there are upsides and downsides to each approach. We’ll start off by considering the pros and cons of keeping your maiden name.
Should I Keep My Maiden Name?
There are many reasons why more and more women are choosing to keep their maiden names when getting married. However, there are also some downsides.
Pros of Keeping Your Maiden Name
Many people consider the act of keeping their maiden name to be the ‘feminist’ choice. By refusing to take your husband’s name, you’re making a statement that you are an individual, and that your husband doesn’t own you. It’s an empowering move that will help you feel like an equal in your relationship.
Aside from the above, there are many benefits to not changing your name. For example:
• It’s much easier. You don’t have to go through any difficult paperwork with the bank, the DVLA, the passport office, etc. Changing your title to ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’ is as simple as a phone call.
• If you’re well-known by your name in your professional life, keeping your name will help you retain your brand image. It could cause confusion otherwise.
• You’ll keep your identity. Many women feel a strong association with their birth name, and consider it an important part of them. If that’s you, don’t let anyone dissuade you from keeping a name that feels like ‘you’.
Cons of Keeping Your Maiden Name
If you love your name and couldn’t imagine changing it, then there’s no need to. But you should be aware that there are some downsides to not taking your husband’s surname. These are as follows:
• You will face judgement from others. Although it’s getting more popular, keeping your maiden name is still not the ‘done thing’. Older generations in particular may consider this move unusual, or even disrespectful to your husband.
• You’ll constantly have to remind people that you’re married. People will assume you’re ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ rather than spouses.
• If you go on to have children, you’ll have to decide whether to give them your name, or your husband’s. Whichever you choose, one parent will have a different surname.
• People who learn your name before learning your husband’s will naturally refer to him by the wrong name. For example, if you’re Ms Smith and he’s Mr Jones, they may call him Mr Smith. Though that’s not a serious problem, it can be quite annoying.
Should I Take My Husband’s Name?
On the other hand, you might want to consider the ‘traditional’ route of taking your husband’s name. It’s still by far the most popular option, but is it right for you? Only you can decide, as it’s a very personal choice. Here are the pros and cons of waving goodbye to your former name.
Pros of Taking Your Husband’s Last Name
The vast majority of women still choose to take their husband’s last name, even in 2020. Around 80% of women cast off their maiden name upon marriage. But it’s been many decades since this was a legal requirement. So, why is it still the norm?
• It’s seen as the ‘done thing’. Many women prefer to stick with tradition and not ruffle any feathers.
• Sharing a name with your husband can make you feel more like a cohesive team, or a ‘real family’.
• Any future children would share the same name as both of you. This makes things easier, and again contributes to the family feel.
• Having your husband’s name may make your day-to-day life a little easier. Upon learning your names, everyone will instantly know that you’re married, and you won’t have to explain yourself.
Ultimately, changing your name is a personal choice, but it’s one that many women opt for in order to feel that extra special connection with their favourite person.
Cons of Taking Your Husband’s Last Name
Though it’s the most popular route taken by women when getting married, there are some definite downsides to changing your name.
The main one, of course is the paperwork hassle. Changing your name means sending your marriage certificate off to various government offices, banks, credit card companies, your local authority, utility services – the list goes on. Marriage certificates can be lost in the post, and the whole process takes a surprisingly long time.
Other downsides include:
• You may have ID problems. For example, if you order a package using your married name, but your name hasn’t yet been changed on your credit card.
• It costs money to change your name. At the time of writing, it costs £75.50 to order a new passport with your updated name (or £85 by post).
• You may have an identity crisis. A name is often entwined with a person’s ‘sense of self’. It can be disconcerting to suddenly be called something else.
• Changing your name can be confusing if you use your maiden name in your professional life.
To avoid identity problems, you can take your maiden name as a middle name. But if you want to do this, you’ll have to have a deed poll written.
What About Double Barrelling?
Double barrelling your name means connecting your name to your husband’s, to create a two-part surname. For example, if Miss Butler marries Mr Marks, she could change her name to Mrs Butler-Marks. Both ‘Butler’ and ‘Marks’ would be considered part of her surname. You can choose to double barrel your name with or without a hyphen.
Some people see double barrelling as the ‘best of both worlds’. It allows you to be connected to your husband by name, and it’s immediately clear that you’re married. But at the same time, you get to keep your maiden name, which is (for most people) a huge part of their identity.
However, there are some downsides. Double barrelled names can be quite long, and won’t fit on certain forms. And people will have a tendency to call you just by the last part of your name – especially if you don’t use a hyphen.
Usually, it’s just the wife that double barrels her name. It’s rare for the husband to do so as well, though feel free to ask your other half if he’d be willing.
Double Barrelling vs. Meshing Last Names
‘Meshing’ surnames is a very modern alternative to double barrelling. It means that instead of connecting both names together, the names are squashed together into a new name.
• Miss Charlesworth and Mr Ainsley could become Mr and Mrs Ainsworth
• Miss Williams and Mr Johnson could become Mr and Mrs Wilson
• Miss Perkins and Mr Simms could become Mr and Mrs Simkins
Unfortunately, meshing has two big downsides. Firstly, it doesn’t work well with many names, and is especially tricky with single-syllable ones. And secondly, both you and your husband would have to change your name v