In recent years, more and more women are keeping their last names. In fact, those who hold on steadfast and strong to their maiden name is teetering around 20 percent, according to a WeddingWire survey. But while the history of women releasing their family name dates back hundreds of years and was instituted mainly as a way to demonstrate ownership, the traditions vary depending on values, country origin and many other factors. Most modern women — especially in the United States — have the option to whether they head to the Social Security Office for an update, change nothing, hyphenate or use one name professionally and another personally. (Pro tip: If you do decide to change your name, try HitchSwitch, a service that literally handles all that paperwork for you.)
If you’re trying to decide what option is best for you, consider the reasons these women decide to keep or take their partner’s name.
“I didn’t think twice about changing my name.”
Even though Megan Hume O’Dea says she was beyond proud of her last name - Hume - for 26 years, it wasn’t a question that she’d take her hubby’s name when they got hitched. “By taking on my husband’s last name, I believe that it signified our new life together. It pathed the way for the two of us to start our own family and to create our own legacy. It was the start of Megan and James O'Dea, and I could not be more excited for our future,” she shared. Though she’s happy with her choice (and new name!), she did note that the actually process was a bit more emotional than she anticipated. “My siblings and I could not be closer and I am so proud of everything my parents have done and created for us. In fact, my mom is currently battling pancreatic cancer and to watch my family come together to help her fight these last few months has been hugely inspirational and has only drawn us closer. So would I be lying if I told you that it didn't make me a sad to let go of 'Hume'? Absolutely.”
“I took my husband’s name, but kept my name professionally.”
The owner and co-founder of Bad Yogi Official, a lifestyle yoga brand that defies the common stereotype of a vegan, kale-eating yogi, Erin Motz, recently said ‘I do’ to her partner, both in life and in career. She decided to legally change her name for a reason she calls ‘hippy-dippy’: “I think there’s an energetic ‘feeling’ with accepting my husband’s last name. It was a semi-tangible delineation of a new chapter, stepping out of one and into another.” However, for any business transactions or the further development of her career, Motz kept her maiden name, mostly because of the brand she’s built and for another important reason: she likes it!
“I love the tradition.”
The second Allison Cooper got married, she started making plans to officially take her husband’s name. The reasoning was simple: she loves the tradition. “I married a soldier, and I remember rushing to get my marriage certificate, so that I could have the same last name as my husband on my military ID for insurance and such,” she said. “I love looking at the ID and seeing my new name.”
“I’m a feminist - and his last name didn’t work with my name.”
Melissa Harlow is a feminist and finds her last name to be valuable to her career as an actress. So when she married her husband - whose last name is Cissel - she had to mull over if she’d take his name or not. Though there were many reasons why she didn’t end up choosing his name, the biggest one was based on the phonetics of how her ‘new’ name would sound. “My full name is Melissa Sue Harlow. Ain't that a thing of beauty? Should I have taken his name I would've been Mrs. Melissa Sue Cissell. Say it outloud. No, really. Say it outloud. Now, you've got your next favorite tongue twister or Dr. Seuss character,” she jokes.
“I didn’t want to change my name.”
For Kerri Moriarty, a financial advisor, changing her last name was never, ever a question. In the 29 years she’s been alive, she’s cherished the name, considering it establishes her Irish heritage and reminds everyone she meets of Sherlock Holmes. “I chose not to change my last name after I got married because….well, I didn’t want to. I’ve been living on the planet as Kerri Moriarty, and I didn’t want to start over with a whole new name,” she explained. “I married my husband last summer after 7 years together and by then we’d been through enough together to know that my last name, whether it’s Moriarty or Taylor, has no impact on the way we feel about each other and the life we’re building together.”
What did her husband think? A name was merely a name, and didn’t change his feelings. In fact, he was supportive. “I worried that it would be a hard conversation originally, but when I approached it, Chris looked thoughtfully at me and said, ‘I’ve never really thought about how it would feel it someone asked me to change my name right now. I like my name. That would be so weird.’ He told me that all that mattered to him was that we were committing to building a future together, for the long haul, and that was that – Kerri Moriarty, it is,” she said.