Changing Your Name When You Get Married

Taking a Name, Keeping Your Own Name, and All the Options In-Between

Bride and groom hands
Nerida McMurray Photography/Digital Vision/Getty Images

When you get married, there are so many decisions to be made, such as the color scheme, the food, and the venue. But there are decisions to be made after the big day, as well, such as will you change your last name? According to recent reports, somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of brides take their husband's last name when they get married, while 20 percent choose to keep their maiden name. But is a new last name right for you? Here, we'll share some things to consider before you take your partner's name.

The Pros of Taking Your Partner's Name

Considering taking your partner's last name? Check out these reasons in support of leaving your maiden name behind:

  • Having the same last name throughout your family unit just makes things simpler, especially once you have children. You'll likely find that things are easier when you go on trips, dealing with schools, and even just interacting with other parents when you're easily recognizable as being one family with a common last name.
  • If for some reason you don't like your given last name, this is an easy excuse to make a change.
  • Many brides find that having the same last name as their husband helps them feel more like a family and changing their name is an important and official symbol of the commitment they've made to each other.
  • Monogramming home goods, personalizing decor items, and making dinner reservations all become easier (although changing your name for a doormat probably isn't the best reasoning!)
  • Whether you intend to change your name or not, many people will assume you are and therefore may begin to address you as Mrs. Jones whether you like it or not (you may even get that personalized doormat as a wedding present). Perhaps going with that flow is not a bad option.

    The Cons of Taking Your Partner's Last Name

    The New York Times shared that 20 percent of women keep their maiden names after marriage. This list of reasons may have you considering increasing that percentage. 

    • You are getting married, not becoming a different person. Changing your last name may feel like a loss of self or a loss of identity, and if so, perhaps you shouldn't change your name.
    • It may go against your politics; after all, why does a woman have to change her name, and not the man? Or in the case of same-sex partners, how do you decide whose name to use? Furthermore, changing your name may imply that you are more old-fashioned or traditional than you actually are.
    • If you are the last of your family with your last name, you may not want to give it up.
    • If your name is unique, interesting, or alliterative, and your partner's name is hard to pronounce or just dissonant, it may be better to stick with the name you were born with.
    • If you've become well-known in your career field, it may be hard to reestablish your reputation with a different last name.

    Fortunately, it's not just as black and white as his name or your name, and there are other options to consider as well.

    Other Options to Consider Besides Just Taking Your Partner's Name

    • Hyphenate your last names. Sometimes just the bride hyphenates, while the groom stays with his last name solo. Other times both will change their names to the new hyphenated versions. You both can discuss and decide whose name goes first.
    • Keep your maiden name as a middle name. This way, you can choose to sometimes put Amanda Smith Jones and sometimes just Amanda Jones, depending on the circumstance
    • If you're worried about being the last in the family with your given name, consider taking your partner's name, but use your maiden name as a first or middle name for a child. So if your name was Lisa Alice Fielding, your son could be Fielding Charles Burwell. Using your former name as part of your children's names is a great way to carry on your family legacy. 
    • Your partner could take your last name. While only a small percentage of male-female couples are going this route, it will mark you as modern folks who aren't afraid to buck tradition. If you have the cooler last name, both of you can win with this option.
    • You can combine both of your last names into a new name. If your last name is Miller and his is Pelton, why can't you become the Milltons together? Or there's really nothing stopping you from choosing a new name altogether; think of it as a chance to make a clean break.
    • Consider changing your name legally, so as to make traveling with the kids, dealing with schools and other personal matters easier, but still use your maiden name professionally. It will be a small hassle setting things up when you change jobs but will make day-to-day life much simpler.

    No matter what you decide, be sure to listen to your heart and make the decision that is best for your personal situation.