Over the years, we've often been asked, "Should I change my name after marriage?", and our answer has always been the same - yes if you'd like to, no if you wouldn't! But the more frequently the topic comes up for discussion, the more we feel we need to expand on that response. So today, we're providing our top tips on deciding whether to change your surname when you get married, plus a handy pros and cons list to use in the process.
But first, a note on changing your surname after marriage:
If you're considering changing your name after marriage, you're probably thinking of two options; 1) taking your partner's name, or 2) keeping your original or maiden name. But there are actually a couple more options beyond this, including asking your partner to take your name, going double barrel, merging names and even making up a new family name! We'll be publishing a feature on these alternatives very soon, but for now, let's focus on the dilemma of whether or not to take your partner's surname.
Deciding whether to change your surname: Our top tips
- Listen to your gut instinct. What's your initial response to the idea of changing your surname? Do you love the idea of becoming Mrs. or Mr. XYZ? Does the idea of taking your partner's name feel too traditional? Try to block out what society expects of us, and what friends and family members have done, and focus on what you'd like to do.
- Establish how strongly you feel about changing your name. This ties into our point above. If your initial gut instinct was a strong one, you'll know all about it! If, on the other hand, you're struggling to form an opinion either way, it may be that it's just not something you're passionate about.
- Have a discussion with your partner about the idea of changing your name. This isn't to suggest that your partner's opinion should hold equal weight (it's your name that's potentially going to change, after all!), but it's definitely worth discussing it with them, to see where they're at.
- Establish how much other people's opinions matter to you. Of course, this is your name we're talking about, it's the most personal thing about you, so your feelings on the matter should come first. But for many soon-to-be newlyweds, their partner's opinion, their family's opinions and/or their partner's family's opinions are very important to them, which is completely understandable and acceptable, too.
- Read through the pros and cons we've listed below. It's important to familiarise yourself with the work involved in changing your name, what this might mean for your family in the future, etc. before making your decision.
- Weigh up points #1 to #5 above and you'll hopefully start to see a front runner emerge. Remember, there's no wrong solution here. If you feel strongly about changing your name, the opinions of others shouldn't matter. If you don't feel strongly either way, they might actually help you make up your mind!
Keeping your Original Name: The Pros
- You don't have to do any of the admin or pay any of the fees associated with changing your name.
- It's the obvious choice if you prefer your original name to your partner's.
Keeping your Original Name: The Cons
- As you and your partner will have different surnames, you may still need to decide what surnames any future children would have.
- You may feel pressured to explain your decision to more traditional family members or friends.
- People will probably call you by your partner's surname by mistake and need to be corrected.
Changing your Name after Marriage: The Pros
- You now have a family surname. You, your partner and any children (or pets!) you have together can all have the same surname.
- You're unlikely to receive loads of pushback from family members or friends. One partner taking the other's surname is the established norm, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to anyone, and many people in your circle will be expecting it.
- It's the obvious choice if you prefer your partner's surname to your own.
- You get to indulge in cute Mrs. or Mr. XYZ accessories for your wedding (see top image!)
Changing your Name after Marriage: The Cons
- You have to actually do the work involved in changing your name, which is obviously more costly and time-consuming than not changing it.
- Changing your name can pose extra challenges in certain professions. Of course, you can choose to still go by your original name professionally.
- Some of your friends or family members may judge you for changing your name. They shouldn't, of course, but it's a good idea to prepare yourself for this. Largely, people will keep their opinions to themselves, but there may be a few bemused comments coming your way.
- People will probably call you by your original surname by mistake and need to be corrected.
- If your original name is rare or unusual, or you're one of the last in the family to have it, some family members may be especially disappointed that you decided to change it.
- Women taking their husband's name emerged from patriarchal history, which may or may not be important to you - a lot of everyday customs did, after all!
- If you're in a same-sex couple, friends and family members may not be expecting you to take your partner's name, so it may require explaining.
Decided to take the plunge? Then you need our guide to changing your name after marriage!