You’re Married- Should You Change Your Name?

Newlyweds have more options today than ever before

We all know that there are many decisions to make while planning a wedding. From dresses, to flowers, to invitation design and seating arrangements. But what happens when the wedding comes and goes? What decisions are left to be made after the big day is over? The question of changing your last name may not come up before you say “I do”, but it will likely come up in conversation with your spouse after the knot is tied. In today’s world, there are a variety of choices for you to consider. Many newlyweds are now embracing unique alternatives that we would like to share with our BOLI community! Read on as we discuss some popular choices when it comes to name changes and how each may affect your life, as well as quotes from our very own members!

1. Keep your name– This one is simple. You keep your surname and your spouse keeps his or hers. The benefit of this is that you will not have to go through the process of changing your name professionally and all the hassle and paperwork that comes along with that.

Something to consider: This route may make it more difficult to prove that you are married in instances of traveling together, if one of you should be admitted to the hospital, or if you eventually have children.

BOLI Cassie Reynolds on why she is choosing to keep her name:
“I’m keeping my name. His doesn’t sound good with my first name. It doesn’t represent any part of my heritage or background. Also, I like my name and I don’t want to change it. And if I decide I want to in the future, I can change it then.”

BOLI Sara Bridget on why she is choosing to keep her name:
“Keeping my name! I don’t like the history and where changing a woman’s name stems from. Also, I’ve worked hard to get where I am professionally and when I reach my overall goal, I want my name on it. And I love to argue with people when they try to convince me that my kids ‘NEED’ to have the same last name as me.”

BOLI Danielle on why she chose to keep her name:
“I wanted to take his last name but did not since we were moving out of the country quickly after marrying. I did not want to have paperwork complications. It is also uncommon for a woman to change her last name in Italy, where my husband is from- so he does not care. Now that it’s been almost two years, I don’t think I will change it! I kind of like having my own identity.”

2. Take your spouse’s name- This is typically the most traditional option. Usually a bride will take her husband’s last name, but that is not always the case as same-sex couples make their own traditions as well. Choosing this route will make things easier when it comes to traveling, medical issues, and having children.

Something to consider: if you have previously built a name for yourself professionally, changing your surname has the potential to cause confusion and a loss of that reputation or profit.

BOLI Founder Heather Cunningham on why she chose to take her husband’s last name:
“I took my husband’s last name for multiple reasons. First reason, I LOVE the name Cunningham, it just has a great ring to it in my opinion (lol) and secondly because having the same name as my husband and child means the world to me. I was totally down for a fresh start with a great name and giving myself a new name doesn’t change who I am, my identity, or who I am going to be. It’s simply a last name! It unifies my family and I feel more connected to my husband!”

BOLI Jordan Feis on why she chose to take her husband’s last name:
“I took my husband’s last name because all the good things I’ve accomplished have been with him by my side. I don’t have as good of a relationship with my family as I do with my husband so I became a Feis.”

BOLI Lindsay Kenn on why she chose to take her wife’s name:
“I took my wife’s name. We spent a lot of time talking about it. Our last names are so similar: Cahn and Kenn. And because of that, we didn’t want to hyphenate it. We talked about all kinds of options, combining them, using our mom’s maiden names and hyphenating, making up a new name. But at the end of the day, family is so incredibly important to us. We both have very close families and after conversation, agreed to just pick one our ours. For our families and for our future one. We wanted our kids to have the same name as both of us. And it was an easy change, it felt right. We are for each other, we are each other’s family, and we share a name.”

3. Hyphenate both of your names- This solution is becoming more common when it comes to name changing. In this scenario, one partner, or both, hyphenates their last name with their partner’s. For those who have a professional reputation, this is a great middle-ground option because people will still be able to find you.

Something to consider: Some hyphenations may result in a complicated, long, and awkward last name. Keep in mind that if you have children, down the road they may choose not to keep both names if they get married and have children of their own.

BOLI Dana Barash on why she is choosing to hyphenate her name:
“I’m going to hyphenate my name because I have been Dana Barash my whole life and I’m not losing Dana Barash. I’m adding a wonderful piece to my life so I will soon be Dana Barash- Robinson.”

BOLI Tracy Romano on why she is choosing to hyphenate her name:
“I’m planning on hyphenating my name for family reasons. My dad passed away a few years ago and I feel like his last name is one of the last living parts of him, and one of the last things I have that connects us. Plus Romano-Cuoco has a nice flow to it.”

BOLI Kristina Nowak on why she is choosing to hyphenate her name:
“Hyphenating! FH didn’t have the greatest family life- it was very hard for him growing up. People don’t always realize that changing your name can also be a big part of your identity. I decided that I don’t want my identity to just be an extension of his family. I want to start something new. A combination of our names gives me a brand new last name, that doesn’t define me by either of our family’s pasts, instead for me, it means I get to start fresh in building our own values, and foundation for our future family. And I’m also an artist, and a lot of my work has my maiden name on it, so I want that to still mean something! All a part of my identity and who I am as an individual going into this lifetime partnership!”

4. Keep your name, but only professionally- This option works best for those who would like to keep their professional identity separate from their married identity. Following this route would not affect your career or business, and will also allow you to have the same name as your partner and children.

Something to consider: Having two different names may be difficult to keep track of when it comes to legal matters.

BOLI Kellie Marie on why she is choosing to use her maiden name professionally:
“I’m hyphenating my name and using my maiden name professionally. I love my FH and can’t wait to share his last name and pass that along to our kids. But I worked my ass off and put myself through law school and that lady isn’t going anywhere.”

BOLI Morgan Lavender on why she chose to use her maiden name professionally:
“I took my husband’s name, but I kept my maiden name professionally. I’m not close with my father, and my mother has a different last name, so letting go of my maiden name for most things was a no brainer. Also, my husband is the last of his line, so I like the idea of carrying on the name with him. But my career is very public facing- I get quoted in the press quite a bit, and I’m known by my maiden name throughout my industry. I didn’t want to disrupt that, so I kept it the same.”

BOLI Laura Fitzgerald Miranda on why she chose to keep her maiden name professionally:
“I kept my surname for my profession only and took my husband’s last name. I wanted to be a joint unit and when we eventually have kids to all have the same last name. But I wanted to keep a part of me. All of my cousins on my father’s side are female. I am the youngest cousin making me the last Fitzgerald in my grandfather’s line. I wanted to keep a small part of who I was before so I decided to keep my surname Fitzgerald at work. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Some other unique options are combining your last names (unlike hyphenating- think more along the lines of mashing two names together to form a new name, Brangelina anyone?) Making your surname your middle name and taking your spouse’s name as your last is another great option. For creative minds, creating a completely new last name can set your new family apart in its own way! There are lots of options to consider. Which is the best for you?
Will (or did) you change your name after getting married?