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HomeDEBRETT’S LIFESTYLE BLOGDiary of a Bride-to-Be Week 15: The Name-Change

Diary of a Bride-to-Be Week 15: The Name-Change

When I recently had to alert various banks, the council, and the DVLA to my new address, I realised it made sense to register my change of surname at the same time.

Suddenly, however, superstition crept in. Should I adopt my spouse-to-be’s surname with six weeks still to go before we’d officially made it official?

And did I even want to change it anyway? As its obsolescence threatened, I realised how attached I was to my existing surname. It had history; it sounded nice with my forename; it was easy to say and spell, and I shared it with many of my favourite people.

As its obsolescence threatened, I realised how attached I was to my existing surname

On the other hand, sharing a surname seems to be a necessary step in shifting our status away from separate entities and towards a family, even if only a family of two. It supports the idea of a ‘union’. Its lack of history (for me, at least) also confers a fresh beginning.

As with many elements of weddings, the tradition of the bride automatically taking the groom’s surname trumpets unconscious sexism – even the term ‘maiden’ name rankles. And yet, surveys indicate that around 80% of brides still choose to comply with this tradition. Some are apparently so organised that they even send off their passport to be changed well in advance of their honeymoon, so that tickets can be booked under their married surname.

By the same token, it’s still rare for men in an opposite-sex marriage to take their new wife’s surname, though anecdotal evidence suggests it’s becoming slightly more commonplace. The husband of actress Zoë Saldana, Marco, Perego, became Marco Saldana when they married two years ago, causing a froth of bewilderment in the press.

A double-barrelled surname would seem to be a sensible compromise, if it weren’t for the fact that the Groom-to-Be already has one. And if I’m going to take both his father’s and his mother’s surnames, shouldn’t my mother’s maiden name get a look-in, too? A Spanish colleague reveals that people adopt this logic in her home country and end up with too many names to remember.

A same-sex married couple of my acquaintance toyed with the idea of combining their surname to make a new one, an option also chosen by Dawn Porter, who became Dawn O’Porter when she married Chris O’Dowd.

For now, I’m planning to keep my maiden (grrr…) name for work, and to change it for everything else. I’ll be waiting until we’ve both signed (our separate names) on the dotted line of the marriage register before informing Barclays, however.

Are you changing your surname on marriage, or do you expect your partner to do so? Alternatively, are you compromising with a hybrid of the two? And what cultural considerations influenced your decision? Let us know how you resolved the name-change imbalance in the comments section below.

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