There are a ton of traditions surrounding weddings and marriage and top of the list is for the bride to renounce her maiden name and take on her husband’s surname. But in 2015, brides are less likely to ditch their name in favour of their husband’s. While the practice is becoming more common, it is often regarded as shocking, unusual or strange–we don’t think it’s any of those things. Here is some practical advice for how not to take your spouse’s name after marriage … or how to do it in a contemporary way.
1. Realise Changing Your Name is a Choice, Not a Requirement
You don’t have to change your name when you get married. Just because this was status quo once upon a time doesn’t mean it’s a requirement now. If you don’t want to change your name, have a frank discussion with your partner about this and make sure there are no ambiguities or uncertain expectations. You have a right to be called whatever you wish to be called and putting a ring on it doesn’t mean you have to lose your identity.
2. What Not Changing Your Name Means
It means you don’t have to pay the costs and fees associated with changing your name. It also means you don’t have to send off for new identification cards, your passport or driver’s licence. You won’t have to change your email address at work and you won’t have to change your magazine subscriptions, bank account info or medical info.
3. What Not Changing Your Name Doesn’t Mean
It doesn’t mean you don’t want children or that you don’t respect your husband. We’ve heard people assign all sorts of bogus ideas to what it means when a woman refuses to change her name after marriage. About 98% of them are false. There’s nothing to read into it, no hidden agenda or message. There are dozens of perfectly legitimate reasons for a woman not to change her name after marriage including, but not limited to:
- the fact that she may just like her name
- the fact that she may not be too keen on her husband’s surname
- the practicality of having a successful career associated with her maiden name
- the fact that she simply may not want to change her name
- feeling that changing her name may attribute to a loss of identity
- not agreeing with the practice in general
4. Name Change Convention for Gay and Lesbian Couples
At the moment, it is customary for same-sex couples to keep his or her own name, but this isn’t the only option available! In fact, same-sex couples face the same options heterosexual couples have when it comes to changing their name: one can change, both can change or none can change. There is no right or wrong answer, just what works for you and your spouse.
5. How to Adopt a Double Barrelled Name
The double-barrelled name is the best of both worlds: it says you and your identity is just as valuable as your spouses’s, while still telling the world that you and your spouse have merged into a family. When it comes to hyphenating, there’s no convention for whose name comes first; most couples decide based on what sounds best. For instance, Meadow Giles and Julian Edmonton may become Mr and Mrs Giles-Edmonton or Mr and Mrs Edmonton-Giles.
It’s also worth noting, that 10 percent of Confetti.co.uk brides surveyed reported that they’re hyphenating their name to combine with their spouse. When this usually happens, the spouse’s name remains unchanged, leaving: Mr Julian Edmonton and Mrs Meadow Giles-Edmonton.
6. Choosing an Alternative Surname
If you can’t decide on which name should come first in your double-barrel, you could always ditch both names and choose a completely different surname. We love this options because it gives you room to be creative and to choose a name that is a reflection of both of you or an extension of your hobbies or passions. We’ve heard stories of brides and grooms who choose an obsolete or old family name to revive in this manner.
7. Creating Your Own Surname
Similar to choosing an alternative surname, brides and grooms can create their own surname! Whether you mash your names together –Julian and Meadow Gilemonton, for instance or if you choose something completely unique, this options gives you ultimate creative freedom and allows you both to feel a part of your new journey together.
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.
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.