I’m definitely one of those people who see both sides of the coin when it comes to changing your name after you get married, and I completely understand that it is a personal choice that has a lot of factors, and that you should take those factors into consideration when trying to decide if you should change your last name. To help make it a little easier, I thought I would share some tales and advice from both ends of the spectrum, because I have wonderful friends and family who have chosen to keep their names, take their husband’s names and even join them together. I am writing this new post as a short two part series to introduce you to the wonderful people that I know and love, and you can read about why they chose what they chose, and help you consider your options if you are an engaged woman wondering what to do. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to your own personal choices and preferences, so read the entries, consider the options and do what makes you feel right!
Photo by Nora Devai Photography
Changing from Courtney Lewis to Courtney Carr
Choosing to change my name from Courtney Lewis to Courtney Carr after marriage wasn’t something that I needed to strongly consider – I was down for it from the start. Many people actually asked me why I wanted to get married, and it wasn’t for any religious or cultural reasons, family background, for my children or because I wanted to become a whole different person. I got married because I love my husband Byron and I wanted the honour of being his wife, and that included sharing and taking his name.
It helped that at the time, I was becoming a whole new person. I was confident, understanding, and strong from the years being Courtney Lewis. I was coming into my own, developing my own interests and keen to develop a new sense of style that works with me and my body type. I hadn’t done anything outstanding professionally that would be a hindrance when changing my name, and I was keen to take on the full opportunities of the person that I was becoming. Changing my name was not only joining my husband in a partnership, but was a chance for a fresh start and to embrace change. It was a positive choice that I made because I wanted to, and that’s ok!
We did consider our options, if only briefly and in somewhat jest, to combine our names together to become “Lewarr”. Everybody laughed at the possibility mainly because it was so different, but in reality if we had done that it wouldn’t really have changed anything either. Byron agreed that he wanted to remain a Carr out of respect to his paternal line, and because I wanted to join him by name as well as in life and love, I became an alliteration. He was completely respectful to what my wishes were, and I think that’s what really makes a difference when it comes to deciding.
So days into my honeymoon I changed my name on Facebook and it became official, and I never looked back. I changed everything with Courtney Lewis on it but my licence and passport (due to validity reasons) and having the last name of Carr became second nature to me almost instantly. I still identify as being a Lewis, because having a different last name doesn’t mean I’ve lost my family or my roots, it just means that I have planted some more. I love having my husband’s name, and if that is what you choose to do (or not) it’s fine either way!
Photo by We Are Origami
Changing from Nicole Nesbitt-Allan to Nicole Powell
Before I begin, I want to clarify that I’m of firm belief that you should do what’s best for you. Changing your own name is a very personal, very private, very culturally relevant, very sensitive decision. And no one should make you feel any poorer for whatever you choose.
Rock on to all couples!
In that light, from the moment I was engaged, I never really questioned that I would change my surname to that of my soon to-be-husband’s. It wasn’t until after the (very awesome!) wedding, when it actually came time to change licenses and email addresses and bank accounts, that I felt a twinge of uncertainty.
Am I succumbing to culturally ingrained sexism? Am I losing a part of myself? Am I ignoring my heritage? Am I subtly flipping off my parents?
My brand spanking new husband was very supportive of my (in) decision. He didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable in my own identity. Neither of us wanted me to go from being Me, to being solely a Mrs.
But then I wondered what does it mean to be a Mr and Mrs?
It means unity. It means a team. It means forging your own path together. It means facing the world together. It means filling out forms, and moving house, and travelling, and signing contracrsm and booking tickets, and buying furniture, and grocery shopping – all of it together. It might mean raising a family.
Why did I want to get married if I didn’t want to create, and perceive, and display a united front? There’s something to be said for team spirit. The world can root for us, and we can root for us much more easily if we have one team name. No one’s calling out each individual name on a football team – they’re just calling out “Go Team BlahBlah!”
I wanted that for us. I wanted that for any maybe children. And our first names don’t meld quite as well as Brangelina.
Sure, we both could have hyphenated our surnames, but my surname was already double-barrelled, and as much as I loved it, I wasn’t triple-barrelling a surname for anything.
Those poor future children! Those poor future corporate email addresses!
The new Ball and Chain could have taken my hyphenated surname. But, and this is a very personal decision, that hyphenated surname was practically defunct; my mum had re-married and changed her surname, so I wasn’t honouring her anymore. And if I just took my dad’s, then how is that any less sexist (if that’s the complaint) than taking my husbands’?
Once all of this was thought through, I settled very easily on my husbands’ surname. And I think that if there are children in our future, we’ll find ways to honour my parents in their name/s. And – bonus points – I’m very happy with my new surname! It’s classic. It’s easy to say and to spell. It’s somewhere between one and two syllables. It goes well with a lot of first names and it sounds good with mine.
And now we’re the Powells. We’ve got that Powell spirit. I’m me, and he’s him, but when we do stuff as a couple, we do it Powell style.
And for us that’s the way it should be.
So now that you have heard two tales of new wives that changed their names to their husbands’ names and why we did it, stay tuned in the next couple of days to hear the sides of two people who didn’t change their names, or incorporated it into their current names. Remember, each decision to change your name is a completely personal one – your husband or partner will support you and love you no matter what!