For some brides, agonizing over the style of their wedding dress, the theme of the wedding, or the flavor of the cake, is not nearly as difficult as deciding whether or not they will take their husband’s last name. Traditionally and in year’s past, it was never a question and was always assumed that a woman would take the husband’s last name. Today, it’s not that simple.
We find ourselves in a time where more and more brides are indecisive when it comes to changing their name. Do you take his last name? Hyphenate? Use your maiden name as your middle name? Combine both last names to make a new name? Or, do we break all tradition and have the groom take the bride’s last name? When it comes time to sign the marriage license, the most frequent questions remains “Do I have to decide now to change my name or can I wait?”
You can wait. But please keep in mind that if you elect not to change your name on your marriage license and two months down the road decide that your decision was a mistake, you will have to go to court and appear before a judge to legally change it. And that takes time and costs money.
There are certain pros and cons to the name change. At the height of the feminist movement in the late 60’s and early 70’s, the feminist perspective questioned if you would lose your identity if you took your husband’s name. But there has been a turn in that thinking and women are now more likely to recognize that changing your name doesn’t mean you have to change who you are. You can take your husband’s name and still be as much a feminist as ever.
Traditionally the popular opinion is you and your husband should have the same name if you are planning on having children. Being recognized as one family makes life a little easier when traveling, dealing with school, or common day-to-day activities and believed to be important for the child’s overall identity. But in today’s world, with so many blended families, everyone in the family having the same last name may not be as important as it once was.
Speaking from a wedding planner/minister/photographer’s perspective…please plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are sitting in the wedding office or at the county clerk’s with pen-in-hand-marriage-license-in-front-of-you to decide what your name is going to be. Five minutes before you walk down the aisle isn’t the time to make such as important life decision because let’s face it…nerves, excitement, and wedding day jitters could lead to a choice you may later regret. So prior to the big day, discuss it between the two of you and make a decision that is comfortable for the both of you and one you can live with for the rest of your life.
Life used to be so simple.