I knew that eventually I’d start getting this question. As our wedding quickly approaches, this question is coming up more frequently from friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Earlier this week, it came up at a doctor’s appointment:
Nurse: I heard you’re getting married soon!
Me: Yes, we’re so excited! I can’t believe we’re only a month away!
Nurse: What is your new last name? I can make a note to change it in the system.
Me: No, that’s okay. I’m actually keeping my last name.
Nurse: Not even a hyphen?
Nurse: Oh, okay. Well if you change your mind, we can change it later.
I smiled and said thank you, even though I know that I’m not going to change my mind.
While in college I decided that if I ever got married, I would keep my last name... not hyphen it or use my maiden name as my middle name. Literally keep my last name. Now, ten years later, I’m getting married to the man of my dreams, love of my life, soulmate, and best friend.
Guess what? I’m still not changing my name.
People have told me for years that I would change my mind once I meet the right person. Well, lucky for me, I did meet the right person. He supports my decision and knows that my different last name will have no impact on us as a couple. We had this conversation before we got engaged. It was a genuine and emotional conversation that made me love him even more. We are in agreeance that love, understanding, respect, and commitment make a family and support a marriage… not a last name.
Before anyone comes at me, I want you to know that I support and respect everyone’s personal choices. I will cheer for you if you change your last name, keep your last name, or create a new last name. If you're happy, I'm happy for you! What you and your significant other decide is no one’s business but your own and that is a beautiful thing.
Despite that, a lot of people ask me why I’m not changing my name. As someone who also asks a lot of questions (duh, I’m a journalist), I honestly don’t mind answering it. Below are my personal reasons, which, by the way... have nothing to do with feelings, families, politics, history... or anything else you might assume.
I don't want to change it
That should be enough of an answer. But just in case, I’ll elaborate. I don’t want a different last name because I really like my current name. I was never that kid in elementary school who wanted a different first name. I remember girls saying they were changing their first names for the day to "Jennifer" or "Ashley" because they liked those names more than their actual names. Not me. I’ve always loved my entire name. As a woman who made this decision years before even meeting a husband, it didn’t matter what my future husband’s last name might be… it wouldn’t be mine.
My name is my brand
From a professional and career standpoint, my name is everything in broadcasting. There are plenty of reporters and anchors who choose to legally change their names once they get married. They may or may not change their on-air name. Some do, some don’t... and whatever they choose is their business and their decision. For me personally, I’m continuing my career in my current city and I want my brand to be seamless. I’ve worked very hard for my name to be recognizable in the community. This effort will continue with the same name as I am always looking to grow my brand and outreach.
It will give my family privacy
I am a regular person, but my job puts me in the public eye. Unfortunately, that can make me a target for stalkers or people who don’t have/understand boundaries. I’ve had a few instances in the past with strange letters, phone calls, and messages. I take these cases seriously and want to protect myself and my family. Having a different last name is not a guaranteed way, but it can help. Our future children will have my husband’s last name and I hope that will give them a slightly stronger sense of privacy than if we all shared the same last name.
So... yeah. Those are my personal reasons why.
I mean, there are also a few bonuses that come with it like not having to change my emails, website, social media, credit cards, bank accounts, passport or identification. Those are definitely not part of my reasons “why” but they are a nice advantage. ;)
If you take anything away from this post, I ask that you be thoughtful in how you ask someone about their future last name. It’s totally normal to be curious and to mention it in conversation. Consider asking them if they’re changing their last name instead of asking their new last name. Instead of showing assumption, you will show understanding.
Okay, that’s enough of that.
Now back to the regularly scheduled weekend full of wedding planning!
My entire career is based on writing about others. Honestly, I like it that way.
However, I guess if I’m going to start a journal, I should introduce you to the writer.
That’s me, Maria Satira.
I was born and raised in a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m the oldest of four children. I’m also the only girl. Our mom and dad’s parenting philosophy was centered on family values, work ethic, and a lot of love. I'm sure most other Italian-American families can relate. Honestly, I feel like I had the perfect childhood and I’m so fortunate to have grown up in a home with so much love, support, and really, really, really good food.
I was the first in my immediate family to graduate college when I received a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and Communication from Robert Morris University. Upon graduation, I immediately moved to a tiny town in Virginia to start my first job as a morning reporter.
Shortly after I was offered a promotion as the weekday morning anchor… my little television station shut down and we were all laid off. Plot twist, right? I found a new job within a couple weeks and moved to Greenville, North Carolina to start off 2014.
I worked as the weekend evening anchor and reported three days during the week. Later that year, I was offered the weekday morning anchor position. I really enjoyed my position and my station, but after a couple years I was ready to see what else was out there. So, I started job searching and scoping out my next television market.
Then, I fell in love.
Drew and I met in early 2016 and we started dating that fall. He's originally from Long Island and moved to North Carolina to attend East Carolina University in 2007. He ended up getting a job in Eastern North Carolina and started his own business. Once things got serious, I remember asking him if he would consider moving away from Greenville if I got a job elsewhere. Without hesitation, he said yes. That was enough assurance for me. Knowing he would move for me meant I would stay for him. I put off the job search and decided to continue my journalism career in Eastern North Carolina. Drew proposed last summer and without hesitation, it was my turn to say yes. We're so excited for this journey! We're planning our wedding for this October in Greenville.
When I’m not wedding planning, you might find me with a hammer and tape measure helping Drew with his property management and renovation business.
That said… I am passionate about community involvement. I’m a huge animal lover and serve as a board member for the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. In 2017, staff members came to my television station for our weekly adoptable pet segment. They brought a malnourished and emaciated puppy named Badger. Despite his sickness, he was so sweet. It was love at first sight and I knew he found his forever home as soon as he walked into our studio and came straight to me. He is now a healthy, 93 pound lovebug who loves long walks, stuffed animals, and couch cuddles. Thanks to a doggie-DNA test, we learned that Badger is a Doberman, Pit Bull, Great Dane mix. He and Drew's 12 pound Yorkie mix, Yogi, are complete opposite but have surprisingly become best friends.
I’m starting this journal to share stories about topics that I feel need more attention, passion, and education. Where my journalistic words end, my personal words begin.
Maria Satira is a full-time communications director, small business owner, blogger, freelance writer, and content creator. She loves sarcasm, rescue dogs, and red wine. She despises bland food, poor grammar, and litterbugs.