getting engaged

Marriage is a union, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your personality altogether to be heart-and-soul united with your life partner, does it? For instance, if you’ve worked hard to make a name for yourself in your chosen field (or your maiden name is just awesome-sounding), you have the option to do what Lucy Stone, a 19th century suffragette, did: keep your maiden name and all that it represents.

A surname isn’t just another name appended to your given one, after all. It’s a title. Taking on your spouse’s surname has a lot of implications, as well as a lot of conveniences and setbacks.

Off the top of my head, if you’ve been living with a funny or embarrassing family name all your life, getting married is your chance for a clean slate in the name game. Likewise, if would-be hubby is the one with the questionable sounding last name, you can stick to yours. Shallow and superficial reasons they may be, but we’re talking about options here.

Incorporating your husband’s name after marriage spells out practicality spanning a lot of things. Once you start having children, it might be more convenient if you become a Mrs. Someone, so the little darlings won’t have to keep explaining why Mommy has a different last name from the rest of the family’s.

This will also be welcome once the monogrammed stuff come pouring in, expectedly as wedding gifts and then snowballing into anniversary presents. His-and-hers household items are well and good if they’re embroidered or printed on a first-name basis, but watch out for the Mr. & Mrs. part of the deal. Guests and other acquaintances might not be privy to your decision of keeping your own name and just assume that you changed it.

Speaking of which, letting other people know about this choice might prove to be just a teensy bit of a hassle. Some new brides opt to make an announcement in the papers, while others just include a note in their wedding invitations or thank you cards to inform friends, family, and even business contacts. At any rate, get ready to invest some time doing these things so no legal setbacks can occur in the long run.

Now, if neither sticking to tradition and changing your name or keeping yours sounds appealing to you, and you want to flex your creative muscle as a married woman, consider the following suggestions. Hyphenate!

Not only do you get to keep your name and add his, but you’ll also end up, more often than not, sounding distinguished and more interesting. Ms. Hermione Granger-Weasley sounds more sophisticated than Mrs. Hermione Weasley, doesn’t it? Just make sure your name doesn’t clash or sound too contrived when annexed to your husband’s.

For instance, if your family name is Livingston and his is Segal, you might just end up reminding people of a fictional angst-ridden sea bird when you hyphenate the two. Or, you can just keep your maiden name as a middle name for your children.

Remember Annie and her husband’s decision on Father of the Bride to do just that? Annie’s last name was Banks while her husband’s was McKenzie. Too bad they decided to christen their baby Cooper, so he ended up sounding like a law firm.

Bottom line is, you can break free from tradition and choose to really start a new (or enhanced) life as a married woman.