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!
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.