Top 5 reasons hyphenated names are awesome

Updated Sep 29 2017
Guest post by Rebecca Miller-Webster
drawing a name
Which name do I choooooose? Thanks to flickr member erinbellavia27 for submitting this to the pool.

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.

the maid of horror
This is just hilarious. Thanks to flickr member zachlinandcate for posting this to the pool.
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 definitely 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?

  1. a name is one of the first gifts you give your child and it stays with them their whole life, even if they change it later because it's on their birth certificate. it's worth taking time when making that decision. it's equally important when choosing a name for yourself.

    • Actually if you change your name you're supposed to get a new birth certificate, which from most states will have your new name and not your old one.

        • It's not true for simply getting married. Your name remains the same on your birth certificate. You only get a new birth certificate if you are legally adopted and change your name for that reason. And, even then, not always, I'm thinking.

      • No, if you legally change your name it is still not changed on your birth certificate. I legally changed my name and was told in instances where a birth cert is required for ID I would also have to show the court document that legally changed my name.

      • I believe this varies by state as some make after-the-instant changes to birth certificates and some expressly forbid changes to birth certificates. I believe the same is true with assigned-at-birth gender and parents, some states allow changes and others do not.

  2. I feel your pain. Try having an apostrophe in the name O'Sullivan. People think my middle name begins with O, my surname is Sullivan. Nobody seems to get that both letters should be capitalised. Worst of all, an apostrophe in javascript or something pertaining to online forms means the extremely long tedious form you just filled in errors because of your name. I've even had banks saying my name was invalid.

    But after the fight to take my step dads name, I wouldn't get rid of it for the world. I'm going to make life harder for myself by making it a second middle name and then taking his double barreled, unusual spelling name. Oh the fun that lies ahead

  3. If I change my name at all, I'm hyphenating purely because then my last initials will be "BS," because I am emotionally a fourteen-year-old boy. But I told my partner that I'm not hyphenating unless he does, which he hates because then *his* initials will be BABS. Bwahaha.

    No, but seriously. I *love* my last name. A LOT. I am either hyphenating or doing nothing at all because I refuse to give up my awesome name. My only concern is that my current last name is short (5 letters) and my partner's last name is, like, four thousand letters and very few vowels, so people always mangle it. We went on a cruise recently, and went through hell trying to get our documents together–they couldn't find us in their databases after we'd booked the tickets, and it turned out it was because one of the data entry folks had mangled the spelling of his last name beyond recognition. Hmm, decisions, decisions 😛

      • I was born with the initals BS, and I can tell you it's been fun my entire adult life. I like to call people their initials if they are cool like MC or something like that and then have them call me by mine and then they get all giggly when they realize what they've just said. I just initial with my middle inital too, and it's obvious when someone attempts to forge my initals too!

      • 44 RBS outlets are expected to close, I'm sure you can pick up some monogrammed coffee mugs and stationary for cheap!

        I'll be CBS.

    • As a 14 year old boy who's last name is hyphenated to the tune of B-S, I can guarantee that is a bunch of fun. For the entirety of middle school, I went by Leo B-S. My entire squad and I would torture teachers with it so often, they would just call me Leo BS without a fight. I am changing my name once I turn 18, but not just to get rid of the BS, as I have reasons that I don't want the S associated with me. So in the future I will be Leo B with no middle name. It was fun while it lasted, and who knows, maybe I will just change the S to something else like J or something. xD

  4. My last name is French, it has letters that are not pronounced, and it sounds horrible if said without a French accent. That being said I do love it. It is my name after all. However, when I wed my FH I will be taking his MUCH easier to say and spell last name. I will be keeping my maiden name, and use it along with my middle name without a hyphen. The bonus is I get two middle names which I have always wanted.

    • i did the same thing. my husband's last name was SUPER easy, while my maiden name was complicated and hard to spell. so now my middle name is my maiden name!

      • I never thought of doing things that way before! I have the same problem…my current last name is Italian and long and hard to spell and pronounce. My FH's is only shorter by 2 letters, but is much easier to pronounce and spell. I have always been proud of my Italian heritage and name, but it's killer when spelling it out for someone over the phone, or listening to someone butcher it. I have considered the hyphenating thing, but then my last name alone would be ridiculously long and my name doesn't fit on most lines as it is. However, it would be interesting to keep my maiden name as a middle name. Thanks for the idea!
        Now the only question is, do I keep my original middle name or nix it? I kind of like the idea of having 4 names though.

        • I did exactly that, 4 names. I have always liked my name just the way it is and I wanted to keep the history attachment I have to my last name but it was super important to the husband that I have his name also. Dropping my middle name was a no go from the beginning, it is unique and familial and will be passed on to the generation I create. So when it was time to change my name it became Myfirst Mymiddle Mylast Hislast. A four part name. At the SS office they told my I could have my name read out however I wanted (the exact example I believe was Purple McStuffins Twinkletoes) so both my last name and his last name are my legal last name separated by a space because I don't prefer hyphens and now I can use either last name. In short: I vote for having 4 names!

  5. My fiancé and I have decided we're both taking our names together, probably hyphenated. My name is so common it's ridiculous, which brings it's own set of challenges, such as the wonderful confusion throughout college regarding me vs. the other Sarah M***** who also had blue eyes, blonde curly hair, and a very similar major to mine.

    Also, a friend realized our kids could have the initials BAMF, which pretty much sealed the deal. Now it's time to find good BA name combinations!

  6. I'm adopted by my father. I chose to have to last names with no hyphen and believe me, its crazy to try and make people understand. At my doctor's office, its listed with a hyphen…when I went the DMV to update my license they hypenated it (but I had them correct that) I agree, I love being unique. I also love my maiden name, Walton (and for the record, my brother is John Boy!). I also loved the tradition of taking my husbands name so I just compromised.

    • My friend has that policy- and triplets. The two boys have the father's last name and her daughter has her last name. My feminist mother had quite a mouthful to say when she heard about it- that separating by gender is no better than having all children take one last name- but I think it will give the littler girl (who is still a baby) a special bond with her mother growing up.

    • My fiance and I are considering doing two last names with no hyphen. I am wondering if sometimes people ignore your first last name, thinking it's your middle name? Or any other issues you might have.

      Or, if you really like it, I'd love to hear about that as well.

      • My FH was born with two unhyphenated last names. It's been horrible for him. All of his major forms of ID (birth certificate, SS card, passport) have different versions. All 1 word, hyphenated, space, 2nd one gone entirely, etc. Which makes it EXTREMELY difficult when trying to identify himself for things like boarding airplanes or getting PO boxes or ID cards.

        I guess if you're suuper careful and always pay super close attention when getting your documents for the first time, it might prevent the headache. In FH's case, his birth certificate, SS#, and passport were all created when he arrived in this country as a young child, and his parents obviously didn't pay that much attention (or probably even realize how important it would be down the road).

  7. My mother didn't change her last name when she got married, but would often use her maiden name hypthenated with my dad's last name when it pertained to my sister and myself (school forms, etc.), since we just have the same last name as our dad. The only problem with this is that she often forgets which name she has things listed under, her maiden name, my dad's last name, or the hyphenated combo. Now that I'm all grown up, I realize how cool it is that she kept her own name, but never got all offended or condescending if someone called her by my dad's last name. I intend to follow in her footsteps.

    • I like this idea, too and was hoping to just do that – keep my name everywhere official but won't mind if people call me Mrs C. This is partly because I've gone through a name change twice (full name due to ridiculously religious Hindu family of the manipulative ex and again after divorce) and it is a great pain to do when you reside in UK but hold a Polish passport.
      The kids have my last name as their second middle name. Problem sorted

  8. My last name is Jolly and I LOVE IT! As for changing it? He never even thought to ask. 🙂
    Instead of hyphenating for possible children (because Jolly-Paleos sounds wretched), boys get his last name, girls get mine, and they get the other parent's name as a second middle name. *dusts off hands* Easy!

    • Do you have a plan in place for what you'll do if your kid is intersex or trans? I ask because I have a trans friend with a Jewish mother and a Christian father – the parents decided to raise the girls in their mother's religion and the boys in their father's religion. My friend has had some identity conflicts related to this choice, since he got raised in the "girl" religion. I can imagine something similar happening to a trans or intersex child (or any child really) who is given a last name based on their gender.

      • That is a great question that I had not thought about at all…if intersex, I think we would let them choose, and if trans then they can change their name to the appropriate one–or pick a new one entirely. I have a sister who has no attachment to the name I love so much, so she goes by our mother's maiden name and plans on changing it legally. I love my name, but I have no illusions that anyone else does or should. 🙂

        (Also, I'm still holding out some hope that my husband will still change his name to mine. He's not averse to it…)

    • cool last name! i've never heard of boys taking dad's last name and girls taking mom's..
      To each his own.. it just sounds so gendered to me.. like separate families. Different last names in a family is totally cool, but purposefully doing it based on their sex? Is this a tradition I've never heard of?

      • I don't know of this being any specific tradition but I considered it the moment I realised that if my bf and I decide to get married, I might want to keep my last name.

        I love my last name. I'm an only child and no one else alive in my family, save for my parents, have it. I don't really want to get rid of it.

        Mixing names wouldn't work well. Hyphenating would be awkward, too. I already have two middle names, and our names don't really flow well together and in the one order, it'd make me sound like a road. (My last name's Lane. Also, I usually have to explain/spell about twice before people on the phone understand that it isn't Lang.)

        Anyway, having all the prospective kids have his last name didn't really seem fair. I still feel it wouldn't be quite fair if mine went to just the girls since then the name still wouldn't be carried on unless that child kept their name as well. Maybe we should mix it up.

  9. Though hyphenated last names are awesome I chose to not hyphenate my last name when I got married for two important reasons. First my first name has a hyphen in it already. I thought it would just be too much of a good thing to have two hyphens. Second I was never given a middle name so I took the opportunity to have my old last name be moved to my middle name.

    • This is my reasoning too, I struggle for ages to come up with a solution that doesn't mean discarding my name but equally doesn't leave me with two hypenated names. (I'm not married yet.) Also, our last names are very similar – they're next to each other in tartan souvenir shops, ha – so it'd be an unwieldy hyphenation.

      There's also a tradition of having last names as middle names in my dad's family, though it's more generally that children are given the mother's maiden name as a middle name. We almost did this for our daughter, and I'm starting to wish we had now!

      The other reason (aside from the fact that I *like* my surname) for including both names/not discarding my surname involves our children – I have a daughter from a previous relationship who has my surname, and for various reasons (including practical ones, like when dealing with officialdom, eg customs, or medical staff) it seems like a good idea to keep that surname as part of my name somehow.

  10. I didn't want to hyphenate but didn't want to lose my maiden name either. My compromise was dropping my middle name (which didn't have much significance) and replaced it with my maiden name. It made it more complicated with the whole legal name change business but I'm pretty happy with it. And if we have kids (TBD) they are all getting my maiden name as their middle name too.

    • oooh i totally hadn't thought of that option… i hate my middle name (it is my mother's first name) and replacing it with my surname might just work. Thanks for the idea!

  11. I thought about hyphenating, but I just didn't want to tack on the name Brown at all to mine. So we decided to make a new name by mixing our names together. We worked it out and got a new name! We call each other by said name all the time.

  12. Thank you for this post! My fh and I are hyphenating our last names and it was a tough decision but I'm really happy with it. I'm so excited that the fh and I will have the same last name but that neither of us will be giving up our heritage. Both people gain and no one loses!

    But then there is the argument: what will your children do when they get married?! The horror! Well, they may have a tough decision, just like their parents did when they got married. They will figure it out and they may not get married at all.

    Thanks for giving me some ammo from a grown up hyphenated child to shoot at the naysayers.

  13. Thank you for the post!!

    I will be hyphenating my last name in just a few short months *SQUEEEEE!*. I came to this decision very easily for the following reasons.

    1) our last names sound great together
    2) both of our last names are unique on their own so together I'm really going to have a one-of-a-kind name
    3) Getting married at *almost* 30 means I've had a long time to establish myself with my name. I want to keep the name recognition I've developed over the years but also want to align myself with him in our new family.
    4) I've always thought that hyphenated names were the shit

    The down side is (as my dad pointed out)… now I'll have two names that no one can pronounce just by looking at it. =P But I'm already used to spelling my name all the time so I think it will be no big deal to add a hyphen and 5 more letters to the mix.

    As far as the kids question… We'll probably just give his last name to our kids… but who knows! The children in question don't even exist yet.

  14. I have a slightly different perspective: When my spouse and I married in CA before Prop H8te, I took on a hyphenated name because:
    – After fifty years with my name, I really didn't want to lose my original last name, so taking on just my spouse's name wasn't an option, but
    – We're raising our grandkids and I have no relationship with them that's immediately legally recognized without pulling out all the paperwork, but by sharing a last name with them all I now have to say to pretty much ANYone (doctors, teachers, etc.) is "I'm the grandmother" and it's taken at face value where it wasn't before my name change, and
    – honestly, I just love shoving my MARRIED name in some people's faces, since I live in a county so conservative that 66% of the voters actually voted for Christine O'Donnell to be our Senator.

    I do find that more and more SOCIALLY I just use my family's shared last name and not the full hyphenated version, and there are many things about having a hyphenated last name that are truly a pain in the tuchus. But overall, I'm very pleased with my new last name.

    FYI, Spouse did not hyphenate. Instead, as someone who was never given a middle name at birth, my last name is now my spouse's legal middle name.

  15. I think hyphenated names are great! My fiance and I are wondering what the hell we're going to do. He'd really prefer I take his name. He's more traditional. I for one love the name I was given. Being an academia, I want to keep my published name because it's my birthname and so flippin' great!

    I tried compromise by hyphenating our names. He's not too keen. I'm still trying to win him over. :p

    • My parents were both academics and neither changed their name. They just hyphenated the children's name.

    • In Quebec, where I live, the woman always legally keeps her maiden name, so it's pretty standard practice that the kids get hyphenated names (at least, that's what my man's parents did. But they also gave him three first names.)

      But I'm excited to see what happens when my generation starts marrying and having babies. SOoo many names!!

    • My boyfriend and I had the name conversation. He wanted me to take his name (he's more traditional like that and really loves his adopted family's name) and I very firmly didn't want to lose mine (I love my family name). It was a bit of a problem at first because he wants our family to have the same name and after the mama-dram from losing his middle name to be replaced by his original last name in his adoption, there's no way he's changing his.

      I brought up hyphenating it but he rightly pointed out how unwieldy that would be with our three-syllables-each names (Anderson and Solomon. It doesn't help that they end so similarly). Also, we're in the Army, so our last names are constantly on display. Hyphenating our names would give us sixteen characters to have squeezed onto nameplates. Arg.

      Fortunately, my Mutti's family's naming traditions came to the rescue. In her family, you get your own first name and then three middle names: your same-sex parent's first name followed by your same-sex grandparents' first names (can't remember the order of those two). I decided to take a page out of her book and take my last name as a second middle name when we wed. But I'm keeping my last name as is for the army and answering to either elsewhere (just easier that way), though I'm not sure he knows about my plan yet.

  16. Ugh, but what do I do if I want us both to have the same last name, as well as our kids if we have any, but his name is perfect for him and mine for me? And Fleury-Kinney just plain sounds weird. But I'm French and he's Irish, and we both have emotional attachments to our names but love the idea of a family name… . This is going to be tough.

    I'm thinking I'll keep my maiden name for professional things, like if I create art or ever get my own business, but socially and family-wise I'll take on Kinney. Any thoughts?

    • Here's a little secret: you can call yourself whatever the hell you want. The point at which it matters are things like birth certificates, passports, etc.

      I kind of like Fluery-Kinney actually, but I might be biased. 🙂 Or would you consider Kinney-Fluer or Fluer-Kinney? (Get rid of the two Ys).

  17. Not that I have anything against people who have one, but I *LOATHE* hyphenated last names. I don't know why. It's an inexplicable rage. Not towards the person, just the name. Maybe a hyphan slighted me in a past life, who knows.

    This became a problem for me, since I also loathe my last name. I use to dream of the day I could change it when I got married, as a little girl. It's only 5 letters, but only one person I've met, in my ENTIRE LIFE, could pronounce it correctly. One. So, of course, I'm going to marry him.

    Except he has a double-barreled last name. The irony! The horror!

    For a while, we flirted with just dropping half of it. I liked his father's surname more than his mother's, but imagining the drama fest that would result from her feeling slighted was not fun.

    So, we're going to 3rd option route of picking something completely different! He's cool with whatever I decide (it made no different to him if I took his name, he took mine, we only took half of his, we ditched the concept of last names altogether like Prince and Madonna, etc).

    The one we're considering the most is my maternal grandmother's father's original last name, before he americanized it to avoid getting kitchen/janitorial duty in the navy. I've always loved the sound of it, and it goes particularly well with the names we're considering for our future children.

  18. Though I am not married/engaged/at a place in my life where these things are options, I am almost certainly taking my partner's last name. My last name is one letter off of the word "fucks" and I'm tired of people pronouncing it as such, and hyphenating it would probably be even more horrible (think about it). Also, though I love my dad, I have a strained relationship with his side of the family and I hate being tied to them with my last name.
    I'm all for preserving one's pre-married identity and all that but I've always hated my last name and changing it doesn't change who I am.

  19. My last name begins with a G. My husband's last name begins with an M. When we got engaged, I knew that I wanted to acknowledge the idea of two becoming one with including his name, but because I'm a journalist and I have strong connections to my ancestry on my dad's side, I didn't want to give up my name in the process. I decided to hyphenate.

    The big surprise, however, happened when we got married in the Czech Republic. Per law and custom there, the husband's last name goes first when hyphenating. We didn't realize this until they told us at the ceremony. And then had to explain to the city councilwoman marrying us what was so funny about my having the initials OMG. It's my new moniker.

    (Sidebar: One of my favorite name changes is operatic soprano Measha Brueggergosman. She was born Measha Gosman but when she married a man whose last name is Bruegger, combined the two into one fluid and fantastic name.)

  20. Like so many women on here, I love my last name. I identify with it. It's very Italian and probably the last bit if Italian heritage I have. Plus it means Of Christmas in Italian…and my favorite holiday is Christmas…pretty nice bonus. Hubby didn't care that I didn't want to take his name. We're not planning on kids but if we do, I wouldn't mind if they had his name and not mine. I have yet to personally know anyone else who has kept their maiden name after marriage. I feel pretty alone in our little social network in that regard. At least I have the Tribe!

  21. I also *LOVE* my last name! I didn't even know it until I got married – I felt like a part of my identity had been taken away from me. I wasn't "one of the Gross girls (there are six of us). When I got a divorce and got my name back I swore never again! Plus my Dad converted to my Mom's faith, so I have a very Jewish name but wasn't raised Jewish. I love how much history my last name is and I can't imagine changing my name ever again.

  22. I actually have a painful REVERSE decision. If I hyphenate, I will have FIVE names and well, they just don't make enough space on paperwork for such names. So my choices are switch my last name (after I jumped through hoops in high school to get legally changed to my father's birth surname which he illegally changed via white out on his birth certificate) to Petersen, or drop my third name. My third name happens to be my mom's maiden name, and I am the last person in the US to have that family name. So it's either cut out a name I really like, or deny my heritage to make room for a hyphen. So far out of all the things in my wedding, this choice is by far the hardest.

    • Try already having 5 names, and trying to figure out where to put the 6th! Recently engaged and the thoughts have just started flowing of what to do…. and like you all 5 of my names have meaning and history and I don't plan on dropping any of them to make room….. decisions, decisions 🙂

  23. (fake names for illustration) My mother is Ms. Blue and my father is Mr. Jones. My brother and I are Quincy and Francis Bluejones. Not Blue-Jones. Not Blue Jones. Bluejones.

    I love that my brother and I share something with each other separate from our parents. It makes me feel like we belong to a special club, especially since there are like 20 total Bluejoneses in the world. We're also eminently google-able.

    I also like that my mother and father kept their own names. Sure it was hell on medical and school records, but it makes me feel unique and connected at the same time. And I can still hyphenate my last name without losing either of my parents!

    C'mon Francis Bluejones-Harrison! Can't get better than that!

    • My cousins have names like this! They were both adopted back in the day WAY before gay marriage was even on the table. Their moms have very combine-able last names, and it worked out awesomely!

  24. Well, it could be worse. Due to various clerical errors from before I was adopted, my name has become quite long. 11 names long. All are legal and all are used. You may think that this would make me dread adding one when I marry but I can't wait. I'm so excited to take his name and add it. It makes my name even more unique.

  25. My last name is Roach. Like the bug, or the clip. But I love my last name! Aside from my mother (who took my father's last name) I'm the only Roach left. It certainly built character and gave me a thick skin growing up. By the time I was seven my standard response to the bug jokes was, "WOW! That is so original! Did you just come up with that?!" I used to really struggle with whether to change my name when I got married, and then I met Himself and I just knew…I would take his name. It's actually part of the reason why I knew our relationship is "The Real Deal", because it made my struggle over whether to keep my maiden name when I got married completely disappear. That said, I'm going to keep my maiden name as a second middle name, because I love my middle name as well (and I've always wanted two middle names). Our kids will get HisLastname, and two middle names (after various grandparents and great grandparents) so they'll have a ton of fun figuring this issue out when they get married. Mwahahaa!

  26. when i tell people that we are both keeping our own last names EVERYONE always reccomends we hyphenate… the problem is that gives us to similar sounding/looking names together and it sounds terrible(both names are short and start with S and end with N)

    when we have children they will have my last name and his last name as a middle name. if they dont like it they can always choose to change it legally like i did

  27. I love my fiance's last name, although he hates it. He would never change it though – just a rogue branch of the family that causes issues occaionally.

    Changing to my name isn't an option – it's my ex-husband's name, so THAT'S not going to happen LOL! I kept it because of my daughter – ease with schools and everything (although fiance gets "assigned" my daughter's last name because the school system isn't set up to recognize that he has a different name). Annoying!

    Anyway, I was talking to a friend of mine who convinced me to hyphenate. She said you can use whichever name you want, whenever you want. I love my middle name – my grandmothers were Anne & Anna, my mother's middle name is Ann and so is mine. (Coincidentally, both my grandfathers were Frank, so is my dad, so guess what my brother's middle name is?)

    I have a friend who has gone through 5 last names in the last 12 years – maiden, 1st marriage, 2nd marriage, new last name entirely, 3rd marriage (now ending). I told her after her new last name entirely that I was not changing her last name in my address list because I couldn't find her! I also said I was sending her picture to the county clerk's office with a warming that she was a fugitive and should not be allowed to change her name again 😉

  28. My maiden name is very unique, but I think I'll take his last name. It's much shorter, and easier to spell. We do plan on having kids, and though I think it's manageable to hyphenate, I just think it will be simpler. I've gotten a lot of "okay, but you know a last name doesn't make a family right?" Yes – and changing my name doesn't mean I have to stop being a feminist, either. And whatever we do with our names doesn't really define our relationship – we do.
    I actually spoke to my ob/gyn today about it, and she kept her name. When she and her husband had kids, one kid got his name and one got hers – kind of cool!
    I may move my maiden name to my middle name and it would make a kick-ass middle name for a kid, too.

    • I knew kids in high school who did that — the boy got the father's name (younger) and the girl got the mother's name. Kind of cool. 🙂

  29. I wish hyphenated names were an option for me and my partner…but…our names together are just borderline inappropriate (or awesome, depending on maturity level).

    I'm a Cox and he's a Fors (With a Swedish accent it sounds a bit like force).. Cox-Fors…Fors-Cox (yess!)…. I can't help but to laugh about what that would be like for our born unborn 12-18 year old child in school…

  30. My dude and I are taking both last names without a hyphen. Where we live we can do that at various institutions without doing a whole legal name change. It means I can use my last name for academic stuff, and my dude can use his for art, but we will actually have both last names. We will be starting our own family. Neither of us is really tied to our last names, but a totally new one would be much more complicated.

  31. I'm stoked to change my name because 1)I hate my last name. Everyone pronounces it "fat" which it isn't. And because I'm a plus size gal, it's annoying. I also teach high school, so you can see why I want to change it. 2)My guy created a brand new last name when he changed his name, and I want to be the originator of a last name.
    2 very good reasons in my mind.

  32. Not married yet, my last name is hyphenated as are my siblings, my parents (still married 25ish years) do not have hyphenated names. I know my SO and i will be getting married and I'm dreading having to choose what name I'm going to take/keep. Its my name, it is my siblings names (we all have the same first initial so they're going to have to be creative with their email address selection for work in the future muahaha) sometimes it is the only thing we have in common.

    I won't be hyphenating all three… the two are already too long 🙂

  33. (To avoid confusion, Mari Fee is a pen name)

    I'm fairly sure I'll keep my own last name and not hyphenate (it doesn't roll off the tongue hyphenated), but the fiance and I are debating combining our names – to Proton. He'd be Jonny Proton, and that's just hilarious. 🙂

    • I could be Photon. ..or Bolips…Phibon..The random combination of our last names make me laugh. I will likely take his name, because I have no sentimental attachments to the surname I was born with.

  34. I love this article. It helps to solidify how I'm going to address the whole "last name thing" next month when I get married. I was married once before and took his last name. As soon as we divorced I went back to my original last name and swore I would never change it again. My now soon-to-be-hubby is so fantastic and has agreed to let me do what I wish when it comes to my name. I would love to take his name because of what he means to me, but I still can't let go of mine. So, I've decided to combine them by hyphenating them…but not your typical way. My last name is Novak and his is Mattson, so once we've said "I do" I will become Linda Mattson-Novak (instead of Novak-Mattson so my initials will be LMN!!!)! It makes me giggle everytime I think about it! 🙂 and this way I am embracing my new family but my family is still the anchor! 🙂

  35. Thank you for sticking up for the hyphenated kids! My parents gave me and my brother hyphenated last names and kept their own. People always tell me that it was a nice gesture, but that my parents had no forethought – what did they think I was going to name my kids? I think they probably thought I could decide that for myself if I ever had kids! They made the decision that was right for them (not a "gesture"), and my soon to be wife and I will make the decision that's right for us. They'll probably get my name, which is both the most conventional (getting the father's name) and the least (getting a hyphenated name, especially one that's not Mother-Father). Then they'll decide what to do if/when they have kids. What a crazy idea.

    • Power to us hyphenated-kids!! Glad to meet others who love their name!!

      Also – WTF. I know I've been getting it my whole life, but the whole 'what to do with kids' thing is just so baffling … but I digress.

    • My fiancé and I have decided to do what your parents did (keep our names, kids are hyphenated) and I've had so many people pull the "but what will your kids call their kids?!?" line. I would be super mad if someone told me what I had to do with my name, so why would I make that decision for my (currently theoretical) kids who may or may not even want children. Cart before horse much?

  36. My dad taught me how to write my signature and as a result I write my "y's" exactly like him. I didn't want to give that up, and my husband and I both decided we didn't want to hyphenate. We decided to combine names. As in, if he was Smith and I was Johnson, we would become Smohnson. We've had amazingly positive reactions to it, and I got to keep my "y".

  37. What are the legal ramifications to different name options? I think I want my mother's name (von Dobeneck) or his mother's name (Mullany). (I like them better than either of our father's names)I like being the only Laraine Weschler in the whole wide internet, but I'd still be unique as Laraine von Dobeneck or Laraine Mullany.

    • I do have a secret. I was actually born Rebecca Miller Webster (Miller was my middle name). My mom didn't change her name and got annoyed at being called Mrs. Webster, so they decided to hyphenate (long before I have any memories). A lawyer advised them that it is really difficult to change a child's name and they could call me whatever they wanted. And they did – I was enrolled in school and got a driver's license and a ss# with the hyphenated name. It was only when I went to get a passport that they put the name on my birth certificate, so when I was 18 I legally changed it to the only name I've ever known.

      Anyway, the process differs from state to state. Usually you have to file docs with the court (I did this all without a lawyer) and then put a notice in a local paper for X amount of time. Then I went in front of a judge and he was like "um why are you changing your name? uh ok."

      Once you've legally changed your name — which is easier upon marriage — you go to the DMV and SS etc etc and apply for new docs. On certain things – loans, credit apps, etc – they'll ask you if you've ever been know by a different name or your maiden name.

      In other words, I don't think there's much of a legal ramification. It's a pain, but people do it all the time.

      Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

      • No way! You are exactly like me!

        I also have a hyphenated name, which I love love love. Like someone above said, thanks for speaking up for the happily hyphenated kids. And the whole "what about your kids" things really annoys me as well. I mean, most people choose one name out of 2 to name their kids, I'll just have to choose 1 or 2 among 3! It's not so different.

        But, like you, I have a secret. My Mom's name is actually my middle name, but I use both names is my day to day life, hyphenated. (That's how much I love hyphens!) It's a problem because I never remember what name I'm under for different things. I'm jealous you got your social insurence number and driver's licence in your hyphenated name, mine isn't and it makes me sad. I'm also thinking of legally changing it, but it seems like a lot of money/hassle to simply turn my middle into half my last name…

        • Honestly, legally changing it really wasn't that bad and it makes me SO HAPPY that my name is my legal name. It's probably worth looking into what's required — I'm sure it's on a website somewhere.

  38. I went through a long process of legally changing my name (including birth certificate, high school diploma, etc…) from my abusive father's to my momma's last name quite recently. After waiting so long to actually get the last name that I now have, I really don't want to just throw it away when I get married. Plus, after getting my degree and my (new) last name on that…

    So, I've decided I'm either keeping my name or we can both hyphenate (even though both of our names are pretty long to begin with)… plus, both of our last names our really Celtic so it's kinda funny..

  39. I decided pretty quickly that I am going to hyphenate (even though it'll result in a really long surname). The thing that surprised me, though, was that my fiancé was actually considering doing the same thing. The only problem is if he wanted to change his name he'd have to pay an insane amount of money and tackle the byzantine court system due to Minnesota not having equal name change laws for both sexes. I find that kind of sucky, but until the pressure is applied to allow greater flexibility, I don't think it will change in my lifetime. That said, I already think of myself with the hyphenated name. We're not having kids, so it doesn't really matter what either one of us do. (That said, I'm kind of tickled that my fiancé is at least somewhat open to taking on the same last name I'll have.)

  40. I'm signing myself up for a lifetime of headache. For whatever reason, I just don't like the look of hyphenated surnames. I also love my middle name and would never replace it. So if I want a double barreled last name (and I do), it has to be sans hyphen. But hey, if it works for Helena Bonham Carter it can work for me, right?

  41. My parent's never married, so the girls in the family got the mother's name, and boys got the father's.

    I always wanted a hyphenated name, only my beau has a very similar sounding name to mine. Lily McCarthy-McDowall would just sound stupid 🙁

  42. Interested to read that nobody forgets your surname when it's a hyphenated (double barrel) surname. People always remember my surname being "Snowball". I have to grit my teeth and smile each Christmas as every shop assistant reels out the jokes I have heard a hundred times! However it is good for business contacts, they remember you.

    If my wife and I had double up we would have been Snowball-Reeves or Reeves-Snowball…

    Mmm not sure 🙂

  43. My first name starts with a K, so does my surname and so does his surname…..which would make my initials KKK
    Hyphenating is out of the question!

  44. Not sure if people would consider my husband's and I respective surnames ethnic, but they're certainly unusual. Which means we've had to endure a life of mispronounced surnames.

    Going into our marriage, I had no professional career or brand built around my maiden name. Yet, it was a huge part of my identity and I felt that despite a lack of career, my choice to keep my maiden shouldn't be marginalized or belittled.

    My husband would have preferred I take on his last name, but in the end supported any decision I made. I ultimately decided to hyphenate our names, my mom thought it was weird and I'm not sure his family understands. Either way, I'm fine with my new 13 letter new last name (even though its a pain now to fill out paperwork).

    If we ever do have kids, we've discussed continuing the Hispanic/Filipino tradition of adding the mother's surname to our future kids name.

  45. I've been having a bit of a struggle as to changing/keeping/hyphenating my last name when I marry my h2b. My last name has always caused me a bit of grief, especially at school as although it is spelt Hawe it is pronounced wh**re!! I do love my name and I'm very attatched to it, it can be an awesome conversation starter.
    As the youngest of three girls with no brothers I feel a bit inclined to carry on the family name. Hyphenating both our names would be ok if it wasn't for the fact that it would be Forder-Hawe (afford-a-wh**re!) I deffinatly want us to both have the same surname but I don't really know how to do it without sacrificing my name or us both sounding a bit silly :S

  46. I think for me, it's a few things. I'm changing my last name when I get married and just taking my husband's.

    For one, I'll admit, I like simplicity. I also am still keeping my first and middle name, so really, even if I considered my name an intrigal part of my personality, I still have 2/3 of it.

    Besides – I've had my last name since I was born…I'd like to try a new one on. 😉

    I'd say the only way I would keep my last name after marriage is if I had already built a name for myself as an Illustrator. But I am not yet world famous, so I will become such with my new lsat name! =)

  47. I'm from Spain, so that's not a problem here. When a couple gets married, each spouse keeps his/her name, with consist in a name and two surnames, as the kids always get their father's first, then their mother's first.

    So, Jane Smith Jones marries John Watson Miller, and that makes their kid Penny Watson Smith. The family is also adressed as "The Watson-Smith Family". Pretty cool if you ask me, and it takes away a lot of the complications… x)

    • I actually had a bit about naming traditions in Spain originally in the post! We cut it for length and flow, but I always bust out Spain as an example when people tell me it's SO WEIRD.

      Since I'm a tid-bit Spanish, I like to think that it's my tradition too – even though I know it had nothing to do with it. 🙂

Read more comments

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.