Advice for dudes changing their last names

Photo by Wild About You Photography

In the comments to this post about men changing their last names, I got this question:

I don't want to change my last name, and my fiance is pretty open to changing his. But he's got 10 years of work under his belt with his name, and ffhe'll be the first to admit – he works with a bunch of macho types who will probably not be so supportive. So he says, "Show me another man that has done this – let me talk to him, let me learn how he navigated these challenges." … But I can't find him a single one, except anecdotally. So where are the men who have taken their wives' names? And how do I find them?!

I know a couple men who've taken their wives' last names in two different ways (one got rid of his last name, the other hyphenated), so I pestered them for some answers:

The dude: Will Merydith, CTO of software startup

His maiden name: Will Anderson
Macho cred: Former competitive snowboarder, watches COPS.
Why did you decide to change your name? When we got married, we decided to keep our own last names. It wasn't until Dawn got pregnant that we decided a unified last name was important. We decided to take Dawn's last name for three reasons:

1. Dawn's father died at an early age, when she was in college. His last name carried extra significance for her.
2. My father has been estranged from his first family for over fifteen years. His name carried little importance to me.
3. Hyphenated names are great symbols of unity and compromise, but silly.

What responses have you gotten? It's been weird. I think Dawn's friends see it as nothing surprising because they know her feminist past. My friends really never knew what to say. They responded with puzzled looks or statements indicating they would never do such a thing. Taking Dawn's last name ended up revealing that a lot of my male friends are more macho and conservative than I would have suspected.

What advice would you give to men considering changing their names? Don't make the decision lightly. It's been a complete bureaucratic pain in the ass. Government agencies, my work, my insurance company, my credit card company, banks, the car loan agency, anything requiring a credit check … they are not accustomed to men changing their last names. It's been five years now and I still have a stack of photocopied documentation of my name change, ready to send in order to prove, yet again, that I am who I am.

The dude: Rob Rummel-Hudson, Author

His maiden name: Rob Hudson
Macho cred: Known for cave-mannish confrontational outbursts, watches COPS.
Why did you decide to change your name? When we were talking about getting married, Julie expressed hesitation to change her name, and I agreed that really, there was no reason for her to let go of the identity she'd had all her life just because of tradition, particularly one with perhaps some misogynistic origins. At the same time, we wanted to acknowledge our new family with our names, so it just sort of grew out of that, a desire to illustrate our new reality without either of us letting go of the identities that we'd grown up with. (Also, my student loan people lost me for about three years. Woo! Maybe I should change it to Hudson-Rummel and see if they lose me again.)

What responses have you gotten? Responses have been mixed, largely depending on where we are. When we lived in Connecticut, it was less of a big deal than it has been in Texas, but even here, it seems to be less of a big deal than I thought it might be. Our families are both pretty conservative (surprisingly, since we're both such liberal heathens), and my family in particular isn't in love with it (my brother is like, "I guess it's up to me to keep the family name going now"), but honestly, I don't think either of us care much.

What advice would you give to men considering changing their names? Balance out how you feel about the traditions that seem to suggest you should keep your name and leave the changing to her. Do you value those traditions? If they don't resonate with you, then really, they're not so much traditions as arbitrary rules without reason. Keep in mind that you're sending a message to the world, and while some people may react negatively to that message, I suspect that if you're considering it in the first place, you probably don't give much stock to those kinds of opinions. In the end, it's about how you identify yourself, in the context of your marriage and your new family.

I'd love to hear from more men who changed their last names! Feel free to share your story in the comments.

  1. This whole issue is so strange to me. I'm Puerto Rican, and the only woman I know who had to take her husband's last name is my grandmother; my grandpa was in the army and the US military pretty much forced her to do it.
    Of course, we're all used to having 2 last names to begin with, and for families to share the kid's last names: The "Father's First Last Name"-"Mother's First Last Name" Family. Is this really sucha big cultural/legal issue in the States? Will I have to change my name when I move back there?

    4 agree
    • It's not really a big deal for women, here in the states. You will absolutely not have to change your last name. The issues come for the men. It is not as culturally acceptable for men to change their name as it is for women. Men will just have to prove a lot more often that they are who they say they are when women do not.. This is just because men change their last name when they get married far less often when women do.

      5 agree
  2. This is also a hot topic at my house… My future husband refuses to keep his last name. He said he either wants to take mine, or change his name to his mother’s maiden name and I can take that. Under no circumstances does he want to carry on his father’s name. (Insert years of pain and abuse here) In conversations we came up with a hybrid version of our names, since they are both Italian we can take the “Di” prefix in his name and add it to mine. This way we each get a change. We have gotten such mixed feelings from friends and family, from “that’s dumb”, “what happened to tradition?” to “that’s awesome he wants your last name.” I think we are pretty settled on it, but given my parents are in their 70’s explaining this does not come without issues. Not to mention I started researching males changing their names and I can’t believe the red tape you have to go through! Grrrr… Thanks for sharing the above stories it is nice to have some reassurance that you are not crazy!

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  3. Thanks for your continued attention to this issue. My fiancé is considering changing his name to mine, and luckily California is now an equal name change state, so it's easier than it could be!

    Our concern is that it seems like virtually every man who changes his name says something like, "and I had a poor relationship with my father/family anyway." my fiancé has a strong attachment to his family and is a little weirded out by this. From my perspective, I find it odd that no one expects women who change their name to have trouble with *their* family of origin! I wish we could talk to some men who changed for other reasons, like aesthetics or somesuch.

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    • Thanks for this comment! I am changing my name to my fiance's when we get married in September. Forst of all, it was my idea, not hers, and secondly, I have a pretty good relationship with my dad. Here are my reasons:

      1) Why should I need a reason? I've heard tradition cited, but "TRADITION" is the same BS argument that CA has been using to keep same-sex couples from marrying, so screw that. I have also heard that I would be insulting my family, but why wouldn't she be doing the same if she changed hers? For the record, I told my Dad far in advance, told him my reasons, and he is (at least I think) not insulted.

      2) She is an only child with no male cousins. If she drops her last name, it's gone forever (and it's a beautiful name too: Farren), I on the other hand, have 4 brothers, and our last name is Johnson. Is our name really in danger of going extinct? Please.

      3) I'm tired of having a generic name. When someone has to look up my account by name, I'm usually one of 40 billion "Greg Johnsons" in the system. Her last name is cool. I like it.

      The only thing that pulls on the strings of my masculinity at all is the phrase "maiden name." But if enough people like me say "screw it" to tradition, maybe that word will become archaic.

      62 agree
      • Just start using the term "birth name" or something like that. "Maiden name" isn't even an accurate term for most women, anyway. 😉

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      • You should ask your father again how he feels.My son just did the same yesterday on his wedding.I feel he did this due to the fact his mother and I divorced when he was young and never really accepted it.
        It ripped my heart out.

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        • Do you mind if I ask why? Did he tell you that was his reason? Do you and he have a bad relationship otherwise? There are so many step-people and fostering/adoption in my family that I've never really considered a name a connection to my family. If your relationship is otherwise good, what is it about his changing his name that hurts you?

    • My Fiancé has a very strong relationship with his family, but always wanted to change his name. He just didn't like the fact that he has a long last name that most people cant spell or pronounce. Where as I have a very easy very short last name.

  4. (To clarify: not that these other dudes who changed names didn't have many other primary reasons! We just wish we could hear from guys who changed their names entirely for whom family history was not a huge factor. I just don't understand this fixation on Your Relationship With Your Father!)

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  5. Jess, I think it's less of an "I hate my dad!" thing and more of a way to reason through the issue. If the name is passed down through patrilineal channels, it makes sense to consider your father when considering his name.

    I totally agree that it's a weird double standard that women don't typically think about these things, but I don't think it's odd that when men consider taking on a new name, part of what they think about is their relationship to their existing name … that they got from their father.

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  6. My fiance hates his last name and wants to change his to mine. At first I was into it, but as silly as it sounds, I was always looking forward to changing my name when I got married, and being a Mrs. So and so. Antiquated, sure fine whatever, but I wanted it However, I hate his last name too. It has the word "cock" in it. And not like totally ridiculous like Woodcock, just kinda lame. So, I'm not going to do that. Plus, after all the teasing and crap he says he had to put up with, if we have kids, I don't want to subject them to that. I thought about hyphenating, but I come from a french-canadian background where all the kids had hyphenated names, and then what happens when 2 kids with 4 names get together? Too complicated. He's going to change it, but I don't think he'll be able to stick to it because that means that he will hae to tell all his old buddies who call him by his last name that he's now "so and so" instead of "blah di blah" and since he's still sensitive to teasing, I just don't see it. Women in our society have been somewhat conditioned to accept the name change, but men are totally foreign to it. I don't think he understands that he's not just changing his name, he is erasing his old name. As in he will have to change his signature, all his documents, what he responds to. It's quite the paradigm shift. I suggested we wait until we had kids and changed it then so it's more like a family name, but he wants to change it after the wedding. My last name is actually my mother's maiden name because she was a single parent, so it's I guess sort of keeping with the tradition to continue to pass this name on matriliarily. which, I must admit is pretty cool since we are the bearers of life, so why shouldn't we pass our name on. But, it's not really my beliefs or those of my family and friends that worries me. It's this stupid soceity that feels it haas to judge and destroy anyone who does anything differently. I love my fiance so much, and I just don't want to see him teased by a bunch of sexists both male and female. I wish people would just mind their own damn business!

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    • Amen to the last two sentences.

      So far I'm mixed. I Like my last name a lot more than my fiancée's, but I wouldn't mind hyphenating it just to stick it to the man.

      Incidentally, I have my mother's maiden name, which wasn't even her birth name in the first place.

      5 agree
    • Amen to the last two sentences.

      So far I'm mixed. I Like my last name a lot more than my fiancée's, but I wouldn't mind hyphenating it just to stick it to the man.

      Incidentally, I have my mother's maiden name, which wasn't even her birth name in the first place.

      2 agree
  7. P.s Why do people feel it is their duty to tell you things like: If you don't do…(usually a big traditional wedding, or grade 12 math) that you'll "regret it for the rest of your life" and stuff like that? Who decided what and if I'll regret something. I'm a little "offbeat", and I've been hearing crap like this my whole life, and so far the only thing I regret is ever listning.

    41 agree
    • HAHAHA!!!! Very true, but I just loved the way you said something I've thought for sooo long. :)

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  8. This is the first time I've seen first person male responses to this issue. It's a great post.

    My husband would definitely hyphenate if I asked him. He did for his last marriage. :)

    But I couldn't bring myself to change my name, so it was moot.

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  9. Ariel your research has shown something extremely interesting – the relationship between watching COPs and taking your wife's name is clear.

    Jess –
    I've asked myself the question, "would I have taken my wife's last name had I been close to my father?" And that's an impossible question to answer obviously but I've tried. On one hand I'd like to think I'd have had the kind of relationship with my father to still make the decision to take my wife's name. On the other hand taking your wife's name is a rebellion the existing instituion of marriage and I would argue to your father (in this paternal system).

    I too would love to hear of someone who took their wife's name AND has a great relationship with their father. But not finding that individual shouldn't be of "concern" imo.

    Ultimately men taking their wife's name is an act of rebellion to the paternal component of marriage. Having a crappy relationship with your father makes that act of rebellion easier. But a man who takes his wife's name AND who has a good relationship with his father is most likely going to choose this path out of protest to the system or cultural circumstances.

    I could be wrong, but I think it's pretty early for the process of men taking their wive's names to be a choice that doesn't have any of this other baggage or offbeat cred around it.

    One last point of history on my situation:

    My wife and I weren't even going to get married – out of protest to the instituation of marriage itself. In part because our gay couple friends couldn't get married and reap the benefits of that contract. I worked at Disney at the time, which offered insurance to domestic partners. When I went to sign Dawn up, it turns out that Disney offers insurance to a) married couples and b) SAME SEX domestic partners. Disney's attitude is apparently that if you're living together you either needed to be gay or married.

    12 agree
    • My partner has a relatively good relationship with his father, they're not super close but they can hang out OK and keep in touch. We're considering hyphenating our names because I'm not willing to let go of mine and I don't think his desire to change his second name has anything to do with not wanting to carry on the family name.

      Whereas if I change my name (I already did it once before, to my mother's maiden name) then it will die out. I'm the last X other than my grandparents and I don't want my family's name to disappear in that way.

      1 agrees
  10. My parents have friends who did this in the seventies. They hyphenated, one long name one short name. It works out well for them. I think it was mostly professional reasoning behind it- he needed a more "authentic" last name for the museum he curates.

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  11. I asked a few of the more traditional guys I knew about this, just out of curiosity- wondering what level of harassment a guy changing his name should expect from these sorts of guys. The usual first reaction was "wtf?? why??". After I stoped ranting at them, the admited that away from femmenist female ears, they would probabaly give a guy friend of theirs a hard time about it.

    Then I asked "what if he had a really shitty relationship with his dad and didnt want to carry on his name or have anything to do with him?". That got a much more positive responce. Looks like, from my limited sample, guys with bad relationships with their father may not only have an easier time changing their names for sentimental reasons, but becuase their less likely to catch as much greif over it.

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    • See, "wtf?? why??" is my first reaction to the idea that I (a woman) should change my name! 😀

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  12. The dude: Mordicai Knode
    His maiden name: Burke
    Macho cred: Three titanium plates in skull from brass knuckle clobbering.

    Why did you decide to change your name? As some people have said, the (potential) little whippersnappers were the root of it. I wanted to have the same last name as them, & I attach more importance to my chosen family than my birth family. So as there wasn't a new name or a combination that worked, I went with hers.

    What responses have you gotten? Pretty much a "good for you," & a "uh, okay?" mix. A few "friendly" uses of the word "whipped," but I don't really sweat it.

    What advice would you give to men considering changing their names? I am still going through the legal hoops of it. A bit of a pain. Socially, I can only recommend it. New clan!

    17 agree
  13. Can we hear from couples who have both decided to drop their given last names and come up with a new married last name together?

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    • I know this is way later than anyone else commenting, but I wanted to throw in my 2 cents. My fiance and I are both ditching our last names. Mine is "Henderson" and his is "Berube." We've decided to change our last name to "Berson" as a fun combination of the two. Over the last few months, we've both really gotten in to building the strength of our new Berson family (even though we aren't married yet), and the new name has helped us feel a connection to the ways in which our lives are intertwined as we work together towards our mutual future.

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      • My darling and I are also changing both of our names. At first he was a little hesitant, but when I explained that I didn't want to join his family but would rather create a new one, he understood. I also explained that women didn't start taking on their husbands names until the rise of christianity; In jewish culture men still take on the ladys name, as they did in old celtic cultures and egyptian.

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        • I didn't know this about Jewish, Celtic, and Egyptian cultures, and it is wonderful!

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      • My partner and I will probably go for a portmanteau (combined name) too: Mattery. We're a 'Mattner' and a 'Buttery' at the moment and, while they're both awesome names, the portmanteau is the best way for us to symbolise the equality that we hold in so many parts of our relationship.

        One problem we weren't expecting was having to find a way to make the portmanteau work. Mattery doesn't fit brilliantly with his first name, but he's okay with the way it works. The other options were Battery, Muttery and Buttner, which are all hilariously awful.

    • Close friends of mine both dropped their last names and between the two of them created a last name that reflected their love of ecology and their mutual interdependence on each other and their community. For their wedding favors they gave each guest a beautifully designed shirt with a definition of their new name on the back. I still have that shirt and those friends because although they live far away, they continue to nurture their relationships in a way that affirms their chosen name.

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    • Four years too late on this, sorry! But when we first got married, it was a shotgun wedding situation (long story), so I took his last name because I was so pissed at my family. I regret doing that because I really hate the tradition of it. We ended up both changing our last names to something we made up together: von Blackwood. Much more fancifully gothy that either of us had before! My hubby hasn't gotten any guff about changing it at all.

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    • Hey, all.

      Kevin and I both changed our names to Sagan in honor of Carl Sagan. We both have strong relationships with both of our families, but we're not into the aesthetic of hyphens, and neither of us felt deeply attached to our 'maiden' names. Since we didn't do a legal marriage, the paperwork was a HUGE pain for both of us. It took a long time, and we 'gave' working on it to each other as presents for various anniversaries.

      We explained at the ceremony that we want our lives together to be defined by Carl's spirit of wonder and discovery. The decision definitely surprised some people, but we're not exactly normative in any way, so they dealt with it.

      PS, Kevin's macho cred: I asked, and he purports to be offended by the question :-)

      4 agree
  14. On another note, I know a lot of women that have changed there married name but kept their professional name (especially those who have gone to PhD and need that degree to have the same name) That way no credit card change. Can a guy not do that too?

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  15. This is an interesting issue for gay couples too, who like the legal symbolism of having the same last name, even when the gov't won't recognize our relationships. But it presents a problem for us when we'd never consider changing our names if we were marryng men. And the whole kids thing is tricky too.

    It's nice to hear more perspectives on this!

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  16. Both of us changed our last names to something completely different.

    We each have good, though completely different, relationships with our families; there was no reaction to a bad history for either of us. I wanted us to have the same last name as a representation that we were now a team–he & I, not me & the men in his family. He said, "Well, you shouldn't have to be the only one who changes their name," which seemed fair.

    I filed all the paperwork and, 7 years later, we still get compliments on the name. The paperwork is a bit of a hassle, depending on where you live. If you are combining lives anyway, you are going to have to change some information no matter what. You might as well change a little more while you're at it. Of course I kept the copies of the legal documentation–every once in a while we still need to send a credit reporting agency one.

    I was raised very traditionally and yet my conservative family really didn't bat an eye when we did this. If you have always been a person who did things a little differently, wouldn't it be more shocking if you followed the norm suddenly because you were getting married? I would guess that negative or critical comments come from people who don't know the real you as well. No one in either of our families seemed to care, our friends didn't seem to think twice, and the only ones who gave me any hassle were the HR people who didn't know how to process the paperwork for him.

    Emotionally has it mattered to both have dropped our given names and chosen a new married name? It's hard distinguish from all of the other subtle changes that go along with marriage. My husband says, "I hadn't really thought about it." So, there you go. He did suggest that it depends on how "pliable" your relationship is to your family and to your concept of legacy; his was pretty malleable. I also don't think he has a lot of macho friends he had to consider, though I suspect he would have done it despite them, if he had.

    As for the question that generated this comment, the length of work history with a certain name is a very legitimate argument, particularly if you're building a business of your own or an expertise in an industry. You've spent all this time on a brand and now you're going to change it because one of the unrelated features (your marital status) has changed? That's hard to argue for either the man or the woman. Deciding to change or not change your name because of the reactions of others is unsupportable as an argument and disrespectful to your spouse (you'd rather avoid comments from others about something that's none of their business than do what you and your spouse decide together). I guess if I were the guy, I would be cautious about the work thing and ask around to find out how it might have impacted others in his field. And I would drop the argument that "my buddies will give me sh*t" like a hot potato.

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  17. Such an interesting topic; I'm glad you posted about it!

    First of all, I don't know why anyone changes their name if they don't want to. And I can't imagine that the kind of guy who'd take his wife's surname would really care if other people snorted at it. He's gotta be secure and enlightened and that is sexxxxy!

    I always thought it would be easiest if girls got their mother's surnames and boys got their father's. It's not a perfect system, but at least it doesn't TOTALLY overrite the geneology of female lineage.

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  18. My husband changed his name to mine-his. His family did not understand why, but for us, it was because my last name had major significance, I didn't want to lose it, and his name also had major significance so I offered the solution to both go hyphenated.

    We'd had numerous friends who had either changed their names to something completely different or hyphenated so it wasn't too strange for my husband to change his to "mine-his". It was our way of being equal on the name thing, why should the woman give up her perfectly good name? It's funny though, because my family sends us cards to Mr. and Mrs. Hyphenated-Last-Name and his sends them to Mr. and Mrs. "His Last Name", which should irk me, but actually irks him more.

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  19. My husband and I decided before we were even engaged that, if we were to get married, we'd both change our last names to a new name. He's got a great relationship with his family but no particular ties to his last name (it's only been his family's name for 3 generations, long story) and I'm neither attached to mine nor do I have a particularly good relationship with my father. We wanted the same last name when we got married, but neither liked the other's name enough to change to that. Luckily, our old surnames combine quite nicely to make a new one that we both like a lot – Stryker. We've been telling people of our plans for the length of our engagement (14 months) and have to get the legal paperwork started, since we got married in CA and there was noplace for our names to be changed on the license, and we live in CO. So we're both going the court order name change route.

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  20. Great reading, but something to take into consideration are the genealogical implications. My parents are the genealogists for their respective sides of the family, and there has been confusion with last names in the past (second marriages, etc). If you choose to do this, make sure the records are very clear so that anyone doing research in the future doesn't want to get in a time machine and punch you for complicating stuff. That said, a guy I went to high school with took his wife's last name so her children wouldn't be confused or teased. I thought that was pretty awesome.

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  21. My man and I are both changing our names. I had though, first of all, that I wasn't going to get married, so changing my name wasn't an issue. We both, as I'm sure most folks reading this, have issues with patriarchy and state-sponsorship of relationships. Finally, we decided that in order to make marriage into the sort of institutions we want to be a part of, we need to exemplify it. Put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. So,we decided to get hitched. I suggested that he take my name, but changing completely is really a better match for us. We're choosing a name that is not particularly outlandish and is what my maiden name means in another language. I'll keep my last name as another middle name. Not sure what he will do with his, but let me tell you there is no way in the nine hells that I would take his icky sounding name! It also helps to marry a feminist; I highly recommend it!

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  22. This is an interesting topic. I kept my last name when I married (had to do lots of talking with the husband first…).
    My sister did the same thing. When they had their child the agreement was – if a daughter, her last name, if a son, his last name. Since she had a daughter, the family name has made it down yet another generation on the female side.

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  23. "and I’ve been hearing crap like this my whole life, and so far the only thing I regret is ever listning.

    Hear hear ShiloM!

    I have told the boy I will only change my name if he changes his, that seems very unlikely at this stage (I had suggested that i go hisname-myname, and he goes myname-hisname at one point). I would say we will end up keep what we already have and then work it all out if kids happen.

    1 agrees
  24. We're also choosing a new last name (paperwork is already in process). For us, we got jammed in to a tight corner and a new name seemed to be the best way out. Here's our long story =P

    -FH was born with a hyphenated last name (mother+father's last names). He's encountered a lot of problems with paperwork, etc. with it, and wishes it was shorter.

    -FH's parents have since divorced (not amicably).

    -FH and I want to share a last name (along with any possible kids).

    -I don't want to take two last names, when neither of them are mine. I don't particularly want to keep mine, since I don't have a great relationship with my dad.

    So it would seem the easiest option would be to just choose one of FH's last names and keep that, which would be fine with me, but his parents were both very adamant that FH did not choose the other person's name over their own. Very, very adamant. And angry. Not good.

    So then we tried looking at past last names in the family tree. Same problem. Can't choose a name from the other person's side of the family either.

    So new name it is. Both of his parents would rather we took a new last name than the name of the other person. My parents sortof thought that I was going to change my name anyway, so they don't seem to care, though they think it's weird. I like this better anyway, since I never thought the whole woman-changes-her-name-but-guy-doesn't thing was very fair.

    We chose our name by using those baby name sites where you can search by meaning. So it has an important meaning to us, and some interesting classical relationships. And, google doesn't show it to be anything else obvious either =)

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  25. So nobody has yet discussed what happens when one party has been married already…I still have my ex-husband's last name (mostly because it's cool); my fiance has a name that is most definitely not cool. Naturally, he doesn't want to take my name, and I don't want his… Unfortunately, I think he's too conservative to consider making up a name. ~sigh~

    1 agrees
  26. I responded to the last post about this, but I thought I'd tell our story more fully this time around.

    When we were engaged, we both decided to change our last names to a new name when we got married. We were going to combine our maternal grandmothers' maiden names to make a new name, but my husband just wasn't that into it. Instead, we settled on changing to his mother's maiden name.

    My husband began the name changing process before our wedding, but his court date wasn't until after we got married. Because his old last name is on our marriage license, the Social Security office won't let me change my name to his new name (even if I bring in the court documents for proof). So we are in the process of trying to amend the marriage license (which is a bureaucratic pain in the ass) or just going through the courts to change mine.

    I think it's wonderful when men are willing to subvert tradition and take on a new name. I just wish that it had been easier for us.

    4 agree
  27. The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, combined his last name with his wife's. He was Villar and she was Raigosa. They're getting divorced now, but I always like the idea.

    4 agree
  28. Great topic! I am having a hard time deciding what I want to do. When I was married for the first time, I kept my maiden last name as a middle, and took his really cool sounding last name, which is also a very unusual name. I kept the name after the divorce. Fiance's name isn't as cool, but it isn't bad either. And somewhat unusual. But I graduated college with this last name, and have built up a network with this last name. I was thinking about us keeping our own names, because I know he won't want my ex's name, and I don't particularly want to go back to my maiden name. I didn't think about the kids aspect, though, so I need to have a conversation with him about that. Thanks for a great string of comments!

  29. I'm having trouble deciding too. I always thought I'd keep my name, but I never thought I'd fall in love with someone whose last name I like so much better than mine… :)

  30. My fiance changed his name when he left school. He has a fabulous relationship with his father, but his surname had exposed him to enormous bullying at school as it is totally ridiculous. He wanted to lose it before he started university. He thought about it long and hard, and went with his mother's maiden name, which she still uses.

    I'm not terribly fond of my name, and I've always liked the idea of getting a new one when I got married. I quite like his, and I like the symbolism of having the same name. If he still had his original surname, I'm sure he'd change to mine – I certainly wouldn't be changing it to his!

  31. I had decided to take my wife's name before I ever met Jackie.
    Subordinating women is a time honored tradition, both through society and the Bible. I think this tradition has less to do with any mandate from God, and more to do with an ingrained sense of male superiority. Since I view men and women as equals, I felt I needed to do my part to tip the balance. Hyphenation is problematic for when you have children and they get married, so I just decided to take my wife's name. It is a great conversation starter on the misogynistic nature of our society. Usually women totally agree with me, and men don't want to look sexist in front of the women, so they nod their heads. I also tell people that there are no male Day's in my wife's family, but there are male Forsters. Therefore, I also took her name to keep the name going.

    I think it is a private decision that every couple should make together. I have no problem with a woman who takes their husband's name. But I think we should all consider the history of our society's treatment of women. That of second class citizens. I am happy to see that we have both a black and a female candidate this year. We are getting there, but we are still behind "less developed" countries like the Phillipines and Pakistan. That is really sad.

    As for changing your name, make sure to get a new driver's license first with your new name. They usually require the marriage certificate. Then you can go to the social security office to change the name on file w/ the federal government. The person at either office might give you a little trouble, but I think they are getting more used to this type of name change.

    I hope this helps.


    6 agree
  32. 24 years old and about to be married. Going to take the woman's last name as my first-hyphen, and leave mine as a second-hyphen.

    We like the combined name, except that it sounds a lot like a certain famous hotel scion who made a sex tape. But maybe our marriage will outlast her antics?

    I haven't told my friends yet – I think I told my family? We have this conversation all the time, and girls are much better at remembering personal details than guys are (generally). We're both feminists, so in terms of philosophy it's all good.

    I probably would've gone either way, truth be told (hyphenation, combination or the girl taking my last name). It's one of those things wherein I like to defer to the person with stronger feelings.

    All the credit benefits and headaches seem to be an amusing touch, since I hadn't thought of that at all – and my credit is outrageous.

    Thanks for starting this conversation!

    1 agrees
  33. My fiance and I discussed this seriously for a long time before coming to any decision. We both love our own last names, and have established careers to which those names are attached. But we did want to feel like we were creating a new family, all our own, and wanted a unifying name to symbolize that. My middle name is already my mother's last name (she never changed it), so hyphenating wasn't high on my list of ways to deal with it, but ultimately seemed like the best way to not lose our own names, but join together in the formation of something new. So we're both hyphenating, MyLast-HisLast. So far, there has been a bit of eyebrow-raising about his decision to hyphenate along with me, but nothing overly negative. Most people have been incredibly supportive of our decision, which we're announcing on our invites.

  34. I *think* I am going to go ahead and take his name, although I am still a little foggy on the logistics. So I'm not all that offbeat, but I did think I would offer my thoughts on the idea of "brand recognition" for those who have significant work product associated with their name. I have a girlfriend with a very long last name, who married a very nice guy with a very short last name. In order to not professionally disappear, she hyphenated (HerLast-HisLast). For about three years, as I recall. Which was long enough for about everybody of interest (at locations across the country, as we both consult fairly widely) to become not only very familiar with the new component of her name, but also very tired of typing that whole hyphenated thing every time we needed a signature or referenced her recent work. Apparently people started suggesting strongly that she could just drop the hyphen and take the shorter name. As far as brand recognition, mission accomplished! She now has his last name. And a compendium of work under a total of three last names, but the hyphenated period does pretty effectively allow you to trace her work throughout her professional career.

    1 agrees
  35. I'm thinking of making my last name a second middle name and doing the same for our children if and when we have them, then we will all have my beloved name but also without the stress of the little ones having such a lengthy last name to combat. However the offer for him to change was laid on the table…but backwards his initals spell C.R.A.M and forward they spell his name…how can i mess with his little pleasures…

    2 agree
  36. I am keeping my last name, but doing the same for the kids as atlantis is. They will have my long, hard to pronounce, german last name as a middle name. This may be a good substitute for the asshole comments such as "who will keep the family name going?"

    1 agrees
  37. We got married 14 years ago. I wanted my wife to keep her name, which I really like. But she thought it was important to have mine.

    Maybe I should have changed mine. I don't remember if we talked about this approach. Sounds fine to me.

  38. My former partner and myself wanted to both change our name to Wyrd. That way, when people talked about us, we would be "that weird family down the street".

    Unfortunately, we didn't last long enough to do the dirty deed, but what fun would it have been!

    2 agree
  39. My husband and I both changed our last name with a NEW one we created. When the question first came up on what name to use his or mine we decide neither I don't his father and my last name is misspelled all the time so we compromised. I LOVE his step dad and he was so supportive leading up to the weeding that we decided to surprise the family by using his with a twist. Since my maiden name begins with two L's and his step dads name is Lamb we added an extra L and got LLamb. The family loved the surprise.

  40. Adding to what Bracket said, I just wanted to throw it out there that people get seriously lazy with what I've head called "uselessly long" names. Approximately a year ago I started going by my entire given name (I write or state my First Middle Last names each time) and it has been not quite a logistical nightmare since I haven't had to legally change anything, but a pain in the ass: some people use my whole name, some refuse to aknowledge my middle name, and me and any paperwork involved get alphabetized in two different places depending on whether my middle or last name was used.
    I wanted to share this because the problems I've run into seem similar to potential issues faced by people choosing to hyphenate their names, and personally, I hadn't anticipated any sort of problems when I decided to use my whole name.

    1 agrees
  41. Just to chime in on Amy's comment, y'all would not BELIEVE how many people think my name is Ariel Meadows. It's not: My first name is Ariel. My middle name is Meadow. My last name is Stallings. But people get lost somewhere between the second and third and just call me Ariel Meadows. I agree that hyphenation (unless each name was very short) would be equally as much a pain.

  42. Thought you might find this story on Salon interesting — it's about a couple in CA that went through "two years, a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination, and a change in California law" for the man to change his name: The groom will be changing his name.

    2 agree
  43. I have a few friends who went through this. My friend Paul changed his last name when he married his wife, beacuse she already had a daughter and wasn't willing to change her last name or her daughter's. He decided he was more than comfortable with changing his name to hers to show that he was a part of their family.

    When my other friends got married, the groom already had a hyphenated last name and the bride wasn't keen on having a hyphenated name when one of them wasn't her name. So they decided to take only the groom's father's name, and both of them changed theirs.

    And one example that has nothing to do with getting married – a couple of my sister's friends in high school had horrifically long hyphenated last names. Their mother's name was 10 letters long and their father's was 9 letters. So the kids combined the two names together to make one that was a little easier to handle. I don't know if it was an official change, or if they were just known by that name in school.

    1 agrees
  44. I changed my name to my wife's. Part of it was for name-unity, we were planning on having kids, and didn't want to have to deal with different or hyphenated names.

    Both of us feel it's important to subvert the Heterofascist Raciopatriarchy(tm). That's part of the reason. Another part is that I've been disowned from my family (for such subversions), so there's really no need for me to keep my former name. I'm willing to be a force for social change, but that's just me.

    If you are male and change your name, places will give you a hard time about it! All states in the US will allow a woman to change her last name with solely a certified copy of the marriage license, whether it be a new driver's license, SS card, or whatever.

    When I first went to the SSA to get a new card, they told me that I couldn't get one without a court order, and pointed to a place in their regulations that said that a marriage license could be used only if the agent allowed it. This agent didn't, so that didn't work. I finally managed to get a new driver's license in my state's DMV using just the license, and then used that to get a new SS card, credit cards, and the like.

    Last note, I don't think it's fair to say "if he's not willing to change his name to yours, why should you be willing to change yours to his?" Such a question doesn't really work in a vacuum, outside of societal pressures. It's similar to saying "I'm willing to go topless at the beach, why aren't you?"

    3 agree
  45. Neither of us have middle names. I love (like, deeply love) my (very unique) last name, and don't so much like his (very plain).

    We've agreed to take each other's last name as a middle name. No hyphen. A new initial in each of our names.

    My future stepson has his mother's maiden name, and she's since been married. If/when he comes to live with us, I've agreed that I'll change mine for the sake of family unity, but only if he wants us to all have the same last name.

  46. My partner and I have been together for 5 years, and at my family reunion earlier this year, I told him I'd like to keep my name when we get hitched…or even get him to change to mine (his first and my last sound better than me with his last name). Didn't go down as well as I'd hoped..

  47. My fiance said he would be willing to enter into discussion about me keeping my last name, but I don't think he's offbeat enough to ever think of taking mine. Unfortunately, I'm last in the *Italian-name-here* line, which makes me totally sad that I can't "pass it on", and also totally bummed to lose my sweet last name which totally jives with my first name.
    That said, I consider myself quite offbeat, but also a little lazy and not willing to fight real hard for something that isn't really THAT big of a deal to me. So the Italian with the sweet opera-star-sounding name goes plain old Irish…and another one bites the dust.

    2 agree
  48. I have grown up in a feminist household, yet I feel that honoring tradition doesn't have to equate with opression of women. I am about to be married, and I would never take my soon to be wife's last name. For clarity, I work in a female dominated field, and I probably wouldn't receive any negativity if I did take her name. That being said, the guys on here saying that most of their friends didn't hassel them are delusional. I know almost all of my friends, liberal or conservative would hound me about how "whipped" I am. I guess I feel it is okay to be a man and hold onto tradition…it's just a name, I am not putting her into servitude.

    1 agrees
  49. I didn't even consider changing my last name when I got married. My husband said he would consider changing his, but I thought why should either of us have to change our names.

    I'm the only person left with my father's rather unique last name and my husband can trace his family name really far back. It seemed important for both of us to keep our names. The funny thing is we don't know if we even want kids. I guess the point of carrying on the name is moot if we don't have kids.

  50. my husband and i both changed our last names dramatically. he used to be andy smull, i was ingo wurl, now we're pixels! we told people about it all along the way, as we were working on choosing a name and when the wedding was rolling around. we even invited our friends to help us choose (though we took suggestions with a grain of salt as this was a very important decisions) we had some hilarious party discussions over cocktails about possible silly names. when it was all said and done no one was surprised and it just worked perfectly!

    3 agree
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