As a fiancé(e), many wonder about changing their name after they get married. Some people dream about having a new name, some don’t want to ever get rid of their current last name, and some just wonder what their options are. The good news is that there are a slew of choices when it comes to this question; the most important thing is choosing the path that best fits you and your marriage.
Do I have to change my name when I get married? The answer is most certainly NO! When your marriage certificate is signed and submitted, you’re married, no matter what your last name may be. So if you find yourself in LOVE with your current name (or whether for professional purposes, a strong sense of personal identity associated with your name, you just plain like the way it sounds, etc.) then absolutely don’t feel like you need to make a change. You are under no obligation.
With that said, many people welcome the change a new name brings to a new marriage. Many like having the public and prominent connection that sharing a name brings. But there are also more options available than you may realize when it comes to changing your name. Below are some of the ideas for what you can do with your name once your marriage is signed, sealed, and delivered.
Full on name swap
With this option you are completely saying buh-bye to your “old” last name and switching it out for your partner’s last name.
Example: Jane Elizabeth Doe becomes Jane Elizabeth Smith, Mrs. Smith
Example: John Andrew Smith becomes John Andrew Doe, Mr. Doe (I give this example because while it may not be as popular, mens’ names can just as easily be changed as womens’!)
Dropping your middle name
In this option you are getting rid of any middle name that your parents may have bestowed upon you (and maybe only used when they were really angry…I knew I was in deep trouble when mom said “ELIZABETH CLAIRE”). You take your “old” last name and it becomes your new middle name, and then you take your partner’s last name as yours.
Example: Jane Elizabeth Doe becomes Jane Doe Smith, Mrs. Smith
Adding a name
This option is simple. You keep all of your current names, but add on your partner’s last name as your own, essentially giving yourself an extra middle name.
Example, Jane Elizabeth Doe becomes Jane Elizabeth Doe Smith, Mrs. Smith
Just like it sounds, and popular in many Hispanic cultures, hyphenating adds your partner’s last name to yours, creating a double last name.
Example: Jane Elizabeth Doe becomes Jane Elizabeth Doe-Smith, Mrs. Doe-Smith
Creating a new name
Not many people realize that you can also create a new name together. This could include some kind of combination of each partner’s last names.
Example: Jane Elizabeth Doe and John Andrew Smith become Jane Elizabeth Smoe and John Andrew Smoe, Mr. and Mrs. Smoe.
Did you know you had that last option? While “Smoe” may not be the best of examples, I know a couple who did this with their names, and it’s pretty cool. They each got to keep parts of their names while also taking a part of the other's, simultaneously preserving their lineage while creating a new one.
Stay tuned for the follow up to this blog, where I’ll go through the steps of changing your name, as well as provide a check-list of institutions and places that you’ll need to alert of your name shift if you have one!
All the best,