Getting married is an exciting event. It means starting a new chapter of life with the person you love. Whether you’re choosing to elope or planning a large celebration, marriage means some legal changes.
Once you’re married, you and your partner will be seen as one unit. So, there are some practical things to consider when going about the marriage process.
One question many couples have when planning a wedding and getting the legal documents in order is about the last name. Should the bride change her last name in a heterosexual marriage? Should both partners keep their last names? Should they pick a new surname?
In many western cultures, such as the US and UK, it’s standard practice for the woman to take her husband’s last name when getting married. But this cultural norm isn’t a universal rule. Many women keep their last names when in heterosexual marriages, and many couples are coming up with new ways to merge their names.
If figuring out the right last name weighs on your mind, here are some pros and cons of changing your name when you get married.
Some potential pros of changing your last name when getting married
When you get married, you’ll have the option to change your surname for free. So, if you or your partner have ever wanted a different last name, marriage is the ideal time to make the switch.
Another good reason to change your last name when getting married is unity. With the same last name, you’ll feel more like one unit.
Finally, it can be practical to have the same last name. This way, it will make it easier to do things like open joint bank accounts and set up other official documents. For non-heterosexual couples, sharing a last name can also be affirming.
Potential downsides of changing your last name after marriage
There are some potential advantages, legally and emotionally, to having the same last name. Still, there are also some cons to consider.
First of all, there can be a lot of pressure to conform to what is traditional. Brides might feel obligated to change their last names, and some grooms might be upset if this doesn’t happen. Also, the expectation that the individuals must now function as one might not work for all couples, as some prefer to feel more independent.
Secondly, many people feel attached to their names or may not want to give up their family connection by changing their surnames. Changing one’s last name can also make things difficult if you have a high-profile career or have many things published under your current name.
Finally, many couples feel that keeping their last names is more progressive or in line with their relationship goals. This can apply to both heterosexual and LGBTQIA+ couples.
How to make the right choice for you
Deciding on last names when getting married can be a fraught topic for many. It can cause discomfort or even lead to arguments. But, overall, it’s best to remember that this is an individual decision that each couple should work toward together.
While different cultures have cultural norms on naming, there is no legal obligation to change your last name. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible to change both of your last names to something completely new or to hyphenate both surnames together.
Finally, note that it’s possible to change your last name again later if what you initially choose doesn’t feel right, so don’t feel too much pressure on your wedding day to stick to one last nazme forever.