Mr & Mrs Plaques

Non-Traditional Surname Changes After Marriage

Marriage name change is back in vogue around the world. The last decade has seen a definite increase on the number of brides who drop their former name to take on their husband’s name after marriage, and at the same time fewer brides are adding their husband’s family name to their own to create a double-barreled or hyphenated name. While most brides are more straightforward and conservative in their approach to their newly married name, there is also a small but rapidly increasing trend to do something totally different.

Mr & Mrs Plaques


Modern couples view marriage as a collaborative effort where the husband and wife are equal, so at some stage many engaged couples will debate bridal name change. It can seem a bit odd that while we are so forward-thinking in relationships, we are so traditional in our approach to marriage name change.  Opinions from brides over various surveys over the past few years show that most brides identify marriage name change as a sign of ‘commitment to their new family’, or that they see marriage as an achievement and changing names is a reflection of that. A survey undertaken by Easy Name Change in 2011 reported that every bride surveyed who changed names did so for personal reasons, not because they were making a social or political statement.

Around 80% of UK brides will change names in 2013, with the large majority taking their husband’s name. The 20% of brides who decide not to change names usually have a strong personal interest in retaining their former name. The largest group not to change names are women entering their second marriage or those who have kids. Professionals who are known by name – such as academics, legal professionals, or entertainers – are also more likely to be hesitant in changing names. Others just can’t don’t get around to it, or don’t see the point in changing names.

An interesting third group of name-changers has emerged over the past 10-15 years and while their numbers are still small, they are part of an increasing trend. Some couples choose to take on a totally different name after marriage, or men take on their wife’s name, or they both take both names. Like most other name changers, members of this group are motivated by personal reasons and the name they take is a reflection of that. Men who take their wife’s name are most likely to be marrying into an existing family. The wife and her kids have one name, so it makes sense for the new husband to change his name, rather than everyone else having to make the change.

Couples who decide to both change surnames often do so to reflect their attitude to a joint commitment, and a new surname born of the combination of both existing surnames is popular. Another popular reason for both the husband and the wife to take a new name is because the groom has disassociated with his father. It can seem pointless to honour a family member who is mostly absent. In these cases the groom may take the bride’s name, but more often the couple decides to take the plunge with a totally different name, again reflecting an equal commitment to changing names. Newlyweds who have ventured down this path have chosen ancestral family names, blended or “meshed” names, favourite trees and more. It seems anything goes with this group!

If you have discussed a name change with your partner and you both decide you want a different surname after marriage, it is often easier for the groom to make the name change before applying for a marriage license. Upon marriage the bride can then assume her husband’s new surname, saving the expense and paperwork of a deed poll.

While marriage may be the trigger for changing names, a deed poll is required for all changes except for traditional taking of the husband’s name, or keeping the maiden name. All other changes require a deed poll. This could be the wife wanting to slightly alter the spelling of her husband’s name before adding it to her own, or it may be the husband and wife wanting to take on an entirely new name. The cost and process of applying for a deed poll is the same regardless of what your new name will be.

No matter what surname you take after marriage, or your reasons for ending up with that new surname, the process of getting your records updated is much the same. You can contact each company directly to learn their procedure, then get busy writing letters, or you can purchase a Name Change Package and get all the name change notification forms, plus ready-to-send letters provided for you. To learn more about the name change notification process after marriage, visit NameSwitch Name Change service.

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