I’m Keeping My Last Name, and Here’s Why

You and your fiancée have agreed that you’re not taking his last name, and you’re both at peace with it. Now comes the challenge of explaining your decision to everyone else. Here’s how. 

“We’re both keeping our names.” What a nice way to say, with a wink, that you’re equal partners, and neither of you is demanding that the other chance his/her identity. Then the burden is on people who suggest you change your name, to justify their sexist notion that a bride must give up her maiden name.

“I’m keeping my name for professional reasons.” Quite often, the bride has already established herself in her career, or she’s from a prominent family, and her name carries certain currency that would be erased if she started all over with an unfamiliar name. People in broadcasting and entertainment do this all the time. You can, too.

Put it on your invitations and your thank you letters. When people receive multiple mailings from you with your separate first and last names, they’ll gradually start to accept that that’s how you’re to be addressed as a couple.

Let your officiant and your DJ know. There’s no law that says your minister or rabbi has to introduce you after the ceremony as “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” Why not just “John and Mary”? And a professional DJ who is going to introduce the wedding party probably has a reception worksheet that asks you how you’d like to be introduced. It can be “Mr. John Smith and Ms. Mary Jones,” or “John and Mary,” or anything you like.

“My legal name will be —-.” Period. Once people know that that’s your legal name, they’ll know that calling you anything else is incorrect.

Have “Mr. and Ms.” signs at your head table. You can do the same thing with your cake topper. It’s a subtle way to start educating people that you’re a “Ms.,” not a “Mrs.,” even if you’re married.  

Don’t take it too personally. Your older guests grew up in a generation in which it was simply expected that a woman would take her husband’s last name. They may still refer to you as Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It’s just the language they understand, and it’s not a personal slap at you.

Get your own stationery. Use letterhead and envelopes with both of your names when you’re communicating as a couple. Eventually, people will put you in their address books with both your names.

“Do you disapprove? Does that mean you don’t want to come to our wedding?” When all else fails, and someone keeps challenging your decision to keep your own name, don’t be afraid to imply that there are consequences for rejecting a decision that you and your mate have made together. Anyone who doesn’t respect your individuality may not be a true friend.

We all know married couples who have kept separate names for years, even decades, and their love shines through every single day. What matters is what’s in your hearts, not what’s on a piece of paper. The people who know you best and love you most will certainly understand.

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© Fourth Estate Audio, 2015 – Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio, a professional Chicago DJ and Chicago Wedding DJ company.  

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