What’s In a Name?

whats in a name

In these last few weeks before the wedding, we’ve been dealing with all the legal, insurance, and financial stuff that goes along with getting married. Newsflash: there is a lot of paperwork that goes into becoming a married couple. Like, a lot. Nothing that we didn’t know going into this, though. On several of the forms, we’ve had to include what my name will be after we get married. Before I share what I’m planning on doing, I thought I’d ask a few married friends what and how they decided what to do after getting married.

(Just a reminder, this is a judgement free area. All reasons are valid for why each person chose what they did. This goes for what I’m doing, too. To quote Miss Vida Boheme from To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, “your approval is neither required nor desired, but I will take your acceptance.” If you’re not hip to this movie, get with it.)

Throwing shade via www.carriefairfield.com (Yes, that is Patrick Swayze.)

Stephanie V-H

People sometimes wonder why I hyphenated my last name, it is after all, quite a mouthful. In full disclosure, I never had a middle name (& my children each now have 3 names).
Once, soon after I was married, someone commented on my hyphenated name. “Waiting to see if it’s going to stick?” (implying my marriage). My response was ‘No, I’ve just spent more time being single than married & I like my name!’ You see, by the gentle age of 33 I had spent more time being ‘me’ than ‘with’ anyone. By that time in my life, most of my friends were busy having large families & I was still out there as a single lady. During those single years I worked very hard & took lot of pride in what I had accomplished. My name became my identity; in a sense , it was all I had.

Right from the very beginning of our engagement, there was no question.  If I took my last name away, in some strange way, I would be eliminating who I was for all those years & I would have to start assuming this new identity of ‘his wife’- which, if you know me, wouldn’t have worked out well because I am a strong independent woman. But when I met my husband he didn’t try to take away that piece of me, he ‘added’ to the person I was & still am becoming. He respects me & the passion that I have for the work that I do.. which bears both of my names. Because as much as it is a reflection of me, it is also a reflection of him- we compliment each other in our work as well as in life.

If I were younger when I had gotten married, I probably would have assumed his name- but that is not how my cards were dealt.

For me, I still have this piece of me that no matter what else changes.. I still have my name- it’s who I am, & who I will always be &…I LOVE IT!

Michelle O.

I never thought twice about changing my last name once I got married. I was so ready to begin the new chapter of my life as Mrs. O’Neil. I was always one of those girls who fantasized about one day being a Mrs. to the man I loved. To me, changing my name was all a part of the package… and not always the most fun part. I have been married for almost four years and still have a credit card and my passport with my maiden name on them! The most overwhelming part of the process is trying to think of every last place you have your maiden name. Hopefully, someday I will finally have everything under my new name!

Dee B. – be sure to check out her “Real Bride” profile!

The first reason I didn’t change my name was that I was truly overwhelmed with everything else going on in my life- destination wedding, reception, a million other weddings to be in and attend… then time slipped by and I asked myself, why change it now?? We talked and Zach said that no one would expect him to take my last name so why should I be forced to take his? I read a lot about it and decided that I will reconsider when we have kids… but there’s also nothing wrong with kids having 2 last names! (Other than their initials being “BS,” haha…) My family name is also pretty strong and there is a lot of property that my grandpa always wanted to keep in the “Black” family. While it would still be in the “Black” family, I like keeping my name and I honestly think my grandma was pretty happy to hear that I was keeping it. I get letters addressed all the time to Mrs. Sharrow and I’m so not offended! We’re a family- we use my last name when we ask for a table at a restaurant and Zach’s last name for bills… we just consider ourselves a two-last name family.

Dominique H.

When I was a little girl, I used to imagine the man I would marry. Of course, he would be tall, 6’1, dark curly hair, brown eyes, most likely italian. He would have very broad shoulders, be wealthy, possibly bilingual, and play guitar and serenade me every night. Over time I realized how my expectations of him were absurd. What if he had similar expectations of me? Then we would be in trouble! The one thing that remained constant about my daydream was the last name, the excitement of changing mine to his, that is.

While my daydreams changed, and I no longer needed my future hubby to be 6’1, I wondered if his last name would be Smith, or Keggins. Dominique Keggins. How weird would that be? I began to think about how I might change myself to be a part of his family. If I were to become a Wheaton or a Davis, I’m sure they would want a daughter in law who was accepting, kind, and patient. I decided while waiting for the right man, I had to make sure I was the right woman.

I met my husband, Ronnie, when we were in high school. I was immediately a love struck puppy and wanted to marry him by the time we were eighteen, but we broke up and went our separate ways in college just to make sure we were meant to be together. Years down the road when he had proposed, it was an easy decision to take his name. The person I had become with him was not the same person I was before I’d known him.

Ronnie is not 6’1, his hair is brown, but not curly, his eyes are hazel, and his is most certainly not Italian. He has broad shoulders, but we aren’t wealthy, if video gaming was a language, he would be bilingual, and there is no serenading in our house, unless you count the dogs singing occasionally. I may not have known what I wanted when I was a little girl, but my heart knew all along, that all I really wanted, was to be a Hout.

The Original Twyf

My decision

Part of me would say that this is a no-brainer for me, and it’s always been an easy decision. The other part of me says that this is something about which I’ve thought long and hard and gone back and forth over the details. Both parts would be right. I’ve decided that the best route for me is to retain my last name and add his onto the end, no hyphen.

I never grew up doodling my first name with other last names, and if there was going to be a guy who’d make me want to give up my last name, it would be Brian. But I’m not giving it up. You see, my dad died when I was very young, and with the exception of two distant male cousins, there are no more Twyfs. I refuse to be the one to end that line. It always irked me that a woman had to go through so much and change such a crucial part about her, while the guy doesn’t have to do anything. I have way too much invested in my name, and I’ve somewhat built a personality around it. My degrees, papers I’ve written, and this blog are all as Twyf, and I’m so proud of them. My last name is a very important part of who I am and where I come from.

Still, I want to acknowledge our relationship, and I feel that adding it to the end is an appropriate way of doing so. Its not that I love him any less, or that my faith in our relationship will waver; in fact, it’s quite the opposite: I’m making him a part of this journey. In adding his last name, it will make things easier legally and financially, and while I’ll have to change it with HR for my jobs, I’m not going to make them reprint hundreds of business cards or change my name in the directory. Legally, I’ll be Twyf Wils, but socially, I will remain Twyf.

There are countless reasons for a woman to keep or change her last name, and those also apply to men who may choose to change their last name. The Married Name Game is just one resource to give you food for thought about your options. What factors will you, or did you, consider when it comes to changing your name after marriage?


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