Last name discussions seem to happen a lot when weddings come up — especially on Offbeat Bride. Do you change your name at all? If so, do you just take your partner's last name or do you hyphenate? Does your partner change his or her name? Do you combine names or make up a totally new one?
As someone who has had a hyphenated last name — Rebecca Jean Miller-Webster — my whole life, I feel uniquely qualified to deal with the last name issue. I mean, I have been asked since I was about six years old what I would name my kids. Seriously. My answer: "I don't know if I'm having kids." I was six. My reasoning: why would I have kids if I can't have my name too?
Since I've been asked since I was a kid what I would name my kids, I want to address it quickly … but I'll get to the top 5 list soon, I swear! My feeling about the "But what will you name your kids?" question is this: Everyone has to deal with this question. Everyone makes a decision about what last name to give their kids (or take as a spouse). They either make that decision without much thought and go with cultural convention, or they may make a thoughtful, conscious decision (which still could mean going with cultural convention). It is not a question that is unique to those with hyphenated names.Perhaps it's my own sensitivity, but I've found a general trend on this and other alt-bridal sites against hyphenated names. There seems to be this idea that it's really horrible or something. Well, I'm here to tell you that I LOVE my last name. Like love love. I might marry it if I could. (I jest!)
Ok. Quick disclaimer (and then I PROMISE to get to the point!): I know there are people out there with hyphenated last names who probably hate them and I am in no way telling you what to do about your own last name — that is a totally personal decision. And for the record: I did not change my name when I got married. What will I do with the kids? I'm still not sure we'll have any. We do joke that we'll give them a triple hyphenated name.
I'm also not saying that having a hyphenated name is all bunnies and daisies. It can be annoying. For example, airlines don't let you use hyphens in your name on a plane ticket. Pharmacy clerks seem to have a really really hard time with the idea that the first letter of my last name (Miller-Webster) is M and not W. I tend to think that this isn't any worse than someone with a space or strange character in their name, or just a name that is difficult to spell.
Phew. Disclaimer done.
Top five reasons hyphenated last names kick ass:
5. You can always find your name on a list. It's the longest one!
4. You know how people like to call others by their full name: FirstName MiddleName LastName? You got that three name ring without anyone having to know your middle name. In other words, it's fun to say. (This is based on the totally unscientific study of how often I hear my full name said.) Rebecca Miller-Webster FTW!
3. Everyone always remembers your name. ALWAYS.
2. I definitley don't have a Google doppleganger. What's a Google doppleganger? It's the person (sometimes the sketchy, criminal, drunken person) who comes up ahead of you when you (or a prospective employer) google your own name. BUT if I was Rebecca Miller or Rebecca Webster, there would be about a billion other people with my name.
1. The most awesome thing about my hyphenated last name? It's mine. Whether it's an homage to your parents, an honor to your new family, or completely your own, your last name is a part of who you are and that pretty much makes it awesome squared.
What's awesome about your last name?