Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

"Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?

So in looking around the boards for inspiration on different ways to approach the name-change deal, I have a question: Several people have mentioned that they keep their maiden name legally but take his name socially; what does this mean?

Does that mean that all documentation (IDs, bank accounts, insurance, employment/paychecks) remains in the maiden name? But that you answer to Mrs. HisLastName on a verbal basis? I'm interested in learning more about this and how it plays out in various everyday situations.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?

  • edited January 2012
    It means if people refer to you as Mrs. Hislastname, or "The Smiths", you dont't get offended. An unofficial name, if you will. Anything legal or professional, you still are Ms. Maidenname.
  • edited January 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:3ec9923a-23b6-49ad-ad3f-c569700d5258">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't know why it would cause issues, though I can see where if your health insurance has to be in your legal name but your doctor knows you by your social name it could cause issues with getting prescriptions filled/covered, etc. Personally, I don't understand it.  The women I know who choose not to change their names (myself included) are very staunchly opposed to being called by their husband's last name.  If you're comfortable being called by his name, why not just change it?<div>Posted by DramaGeek[/QUOTE]</div><div>
    You make several good points. I am not opposed, necessarily, to taking FI's name; it's more that I don't want to completely drop my maiden name. I have two graduate degrees in my maiden name and I am fairly emotionally-attached to my maiden name and the side of my family that it represents. I am leaning toward some option that would allow me to use both -- either making maiden name a second middle name, or not legally changing but using his socially. I'm still on the fence about some of these options so I'm just trying to get a sense of how they have worked for other women.</div>
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  • AdeleDazeemAdeleDazeem member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited January 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:3ec9923a-23b6-49ad-ad3f-c569700d5258">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't know why it would cause issues, though I can see where if your health insurance has to be in your legal name but your doctor knows you by your social name it could cause issues with getting prescriptions filled/covered, etc. Personally, I don't understand it.  The women I know who choose not to change their names (myself included) are very staunchly opposed to being called by their husband's last name.  If you're comfortable being called by his name, why not just change it?
    Posted by DramaGeek[/QUOTE]

    Because I was born and my parents thought long and hard how to name me.  They chose a first and middle name that flowed with my last name.  I had this name for 30 years of my life, I'm attached to it, and I don't feel that I should have to give it up for anything.

    That being said, I have a husband now and socially I've gained a new name.  Mrs. HisLastName is definitely someone who I am now so I happily answer to it.  At work, all documentation, etc... all in my maiden name and will remain that way.  Social mail, people who assume I've changed my name, future children's friends and their parents?  Call me whatever you like - I am all those things.  But legally and forever, I am my maiden name.

    OP - I really do keep a line between professional and social settings.  At work, at doctor's appts, at airports, etc... anything that would require legal documentation - that all is my maiden name and I will correct people.  Out with friends, meeting new people to have drinks, etc?  If they assume my name is Joy HisLastName, I happily respond until there comes a point that they need to know.  Both our families refer to us at the HisLastNames.  I don't mind one bit.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:3ec9923a-23b6-49ad-ad3f-c569700d5258">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't know why it would cause issues, though I can see where if your health insurance has to be in your legal name but your doctor knows you by your social name it could cause issues with getting prescriptions filled/covered, etc. Personally, I don't understand it.  The women I know who choose not to change their names (myself included) are very staunchly opposed to being called by their husband's last name.  <strong>If you're comfortable being called by his name, why not just change it?
    </strong>Posted by DramaGeek[/QUOTE]

    Well for me it would involve a mess of paperwork with two state Supreme Courts.  It would also change the identity that I am known by in the legal community. 
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  • redheadfsuredheadfsu member
    2500 Comments
    edited January 2012

    When people say they go by his name socially, I think they just mean they don't get bent out of shape when people call them by his name or they use either depending on the situation (like they may use his name when dealing with a hotel that will get booked on his card, or using it because their kids have his name, etc.). There is no hard and fast rule.

    I use my legal/maiden name everywhere and everyone knows I didn't change it. Most people refer to me socially by my legal/maiden name.

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  • OP I'm planning to go the second middle name route. I looked at all the options and this was the one with which I felt most comfortable. To me, it's the best mix of nostalgia for keeping my own name and the daily realities of doing something kooky. My mom hypenated her name when my parents were married and it drove her crazy that no one knew what her name was.
    Lizzie
  • My plan is to hypenate my last name so it's maiden-his, but then only go by his last name 'socially.' I am also attached to my last name since I'm the last generation in my family with our last name, so after me...it's gone :(. I figured I'd let it live a little while longer. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:3ec9923a-23b6-49ad-ad3f-c569700d5258">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Personally, I don't understand it.  The women I know who choose not to change their names (myself included) are very staunchly opposed to being called by their husband's last name.  If you're comfortable being called by his name, why not just change it?
    Posted by DramaGeek[/QUOTE]



    Here's a scenario for you. Say your name is Elizabeth, but everyone calls you Liz. Does that mean that you should change your name to Liz? I have a cousin that has a very hard to pronounce first name. While she loves it, she goes by something much simpler at work. Her work contacts don't even know her real given name. Outside of work, she goes by her real name.

    Sometimes changing your last name A) is not worth the hassle B) you have a strong attachment to your last name C) don't like your DH's last name E) accomplished a lot professionally, so you don't want to confuse your business contacts. Just because you don't correct or mind when your friends call you Mrs. Hislast name doesn't mean it has to be that way legally.
  • If you have children, it can cause issues for the and the professionals who work with them (teachers coaches etc).  My BIL got into a legal problem as a children's coach.  He had a team member who was the child of divorced parents.  Dad was mad at Mom and claimed she was violating court orders by allowing son to leave the state with the team for a regional championship.  Dad sued Mom, the athletic association and coaches individually for taking the son out of state.  Mom had signed the paperwork for the athletic association with her social name rather than her legal name.  Son and stepson were on the same team.     It took over a year to settle this situaiton and BIL was out the cost of the lawyer. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:01133ecb-d259-449f-aac6-c0270663c6c3">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean? : Well for me it would involve a mess of paperwork with two state Supreme Courts.  It would also change the identity that I am known by in the legal community. 
    Posted by tldh[/QUOTE]

    This makes sense to me.  I still don't understand the "I go by his name because I want to go by his name but I'd never take it legally" stand, but to each her own.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:1088e9f3-ba5f-40d5-ab09-0089bf5d3542">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]If you have children, it can cause issues for the and the professionals who work with them (teachers coaches etc).  My BIL got into a legal problem as a children's coach.  He had a team member who was the child of divorced parents.  Dad was mad at Mom and claimed she was violating court orders by allowing son to leave the state with the team for a regional championship.  Dad sued Mom, the athletic association and coaches individually for taking the son out of state.  Mom had signed the paperwork for the athletic association with her social name rather than her legal name.  Son and stepson were on the same team.     It took over a year to settle this situaiton and BIL was out the cost of the lawyer. 
    Posted by Magdala9[/QUOTE]

    <div>The first problem is that she signed a legal document with a name that wasn't her legal name.     The second problem is that she violated the terms of the custody agreement by allowing him to go out of state. I'm sorry for your BIL, but he didn't do anything wrong, and the fact that this woman used the wrong name has nothing to do with the fact that she uses one name socialy and another legally.</div>
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:f9c6bec8-3e9c-4d36-91e8-1e17937ebe90">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]OP I'm planning to go the second middle name route. I looked at all the options and this was the one with which I felt most comfortable. To me, it's the best mix of nostalgia for keeping my own name and the daily realities of doing something kooky. My mom hypenated her name when my parents were married and it drove her crazy that no one knew what her name was.
    Posted by aragx6[/QUOTE]
    Thanks for this. It is both the nastalgia of my maiden name and the convenience/ease of having the same name as FI -- and he would like us to share a name but not enough to be insistant on it.<div>
    </div><div>I've also heard countless nightmare stories about hyphenating, so I'm not considering that route.</div><div>
    </div><div>Does your state allow you to have 2 middle names? I've heard some courts have issues with that as well.</div>
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  • in the author/artist(musician included) world the opposite is actually quite common...to change your name but to continue to use your maidenname as your "preofessional name" especially if you are already established in your profession with that name, you would have to sign anything that holds legal weight with the new last name though.

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  • I don't quite see the point in keeping your maiden name and going by your DH's name in public - why not just go by your maiden name all the time? That being said, I feel it's silly to get upset when someone assums and calls you by your DH's name. 

    I'll become Firstname MaidenName HisLastName after the wedding. It's the norm down here. I didn't realize until I was older that some women don't change their names.
  • redheadfsuredheadfsu member
    2500 Comments
    edited January 2012
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:ddde6942-c585-4bcc-96d4-9f0b7b62ab71">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't quite see the point in keeping your maiden name and going by your DH's name in public - why not just go by your maiden name all the time? <strong>That being said, I feel it's silly to get upset when someone assums and calls you by your DH's name</strong>.  I'll become Firstname MaidenName HisLastName after the wedding. It's the norm down here. I didn't realize until I was older that some women don't change their names.
    Posted by Starfish0116[/QUOTE]

    Why?

    I don't get upset (if they don't know me), but I correct them - if I will see them again. (ETA: I still think it is wrong to assume and shows that people don't even think about the traditions that did oppress woman)

    If someone knows me and knows that I didn't take his name, I do get upset if they call me by his last name. This is because they are intentionally calling me something that they know isn't my name - they are intentionally insulting me. (I say insulting not that I think it is insulting to call me by his last name. But that they are throwing the woman's lib stuff in my face as an insult.) My Aunt (my side) knows I didn't take his name, but she calls me by hislastname as an insult, as she is anti feminist.

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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:8514284b-6d33-4644-a435-116e285efba3">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean? : Why? I don't get upset (if they don't know me), but I correct them - if I will see them again. (ETA: I still think it is wrong to assume and shows that people don't even think about the traditions that did oppress woman) If someone knows me and knows that I didn't take his name, I do get upset if they call me by his last name. This is because they are intentionally calling me something that they know isn't my name - they are intentionally insulting me. (I say insulting not that I think it is insulting to call me by his last name. But that they are throwing the woman's lib stuff in my face as an insult.) My Aunt (my side) knows I didn't take his name, but she calls me by hislastname as an insult, as she is anti feminist.
    Posted by redheadfsu[/QUOTE]

    Exactly that. Of course I would never blame someone for not knowing my name before I tell them, but if you refuse to say it righrt after I tell you, then that's just offensive. This is what bothered my mom about her hyphenation. Many people straight refused to call her that.

    I will say it was easy to go back to her maiden after the divorce though -- she just dropped off half her last name.
    Lizzie
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:ddde6942-c585-4bcc-96d4-9f0b7b62ab71">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I don't quite see the point in keeping your maiden name and going by your DH's name in public - why not just go by your maiden name all the time? That being said, I feel it's silly to get upset when someone assums and calls you by your DH's name.  I'll become Firstname MaidenName HisLastName after the wedding. It's the norm down here. I didn't realize until I was older that some women don't change their names.
    Posted by Starfish0116[/QUOTE]

    I like the analogy given before - if my given name is Elizabeth and I go by Liz, by some logic here I should just go out and change my given name to Liz.  That's silly - a person can go by several names and still only have one legal name.

    I had no idea that so many people "didn't get it."  I think it makes perfect sense to go socially by my husband's name without the idea of "well, if I'm going to use it, just change it."

    Also, yes, I have a profession where I'm know by my maiden name.  That was a very small factor in not changing my name but seems to be the only one that matters in this thread.  I don't get<em> that</em>.
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I was going to bring up the nickname analogy that someone mentioned earlier.  I use my middle name.  I always have.  All of my friends know me by that name.  Social mail comes to that name, everyone calls me that, etc.  

    My bank, ID, doctor stuff, etc all has my first name on it.  Sometimes when I'm at the DMV, the bank or the doctor, they call me by my first name.  They always send the bills to my first name. 

    You'd be amazed at how infrequently your legal name comes up socially.  Once I was out of school, I got to the point where I knew friends for years before they ever knew my first name.  Even today, most of my coworkers don't know my first name.  (Which is funny, as my business card has my first initial on it.)
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:3151faf3-e47e-4ab0-9b85-72c4fd2841b2">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean? : Honest mistake, then I gon't get mad. But why don't people ask, instead of assuming? I ask. I am sad that people in this day & age still assume that a woman takes his name. The assumption is what annoys me- that makes me mad.  Here is a link that sums it up - LINK . Now I don't yell if they call me by his last name. I might not even correct them (if I will never see them again) as it is kind of awkward. But the assumption is still sad and I don't understand why people don't ask.
    Posted by redheadfsu[/QUOTE]

    <div>This.  We've been married 9 years.  His family *still* calls me by his last name.  They've been corrected many, many times.  At this point I assume it's a total disregard of me and my views and essentially a slap in the face.</div>
  • My best friend hyphenated her last name legally, but she uses his last name in social situations. Even at work her students (she's a teacher, obviously) call her Mrs. HisLastName. I still call her by her maiden name alone sometimes just out of habit because she used to go by it when we were in high school!
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  • I plan on a bit of a mixture.

    I'm happy to use his name, but not so pushed to bother changing all my documents e.g. passport/bank cards etc when they aren't up for renewal. It's costly and a lot of hassle.

    I plan on using his last name, and when things like my passport come up for renewal sending in the marriage cert then to put the new name.

    Professionally, I work abroad so it needs to be the same as my passport/visas so I'll stick with my own name until I change the passport. Practically though, I go by my firstname anyway
  • Interesting discussion. Thank you for posing the question. I've been considering what to do as well, since by the time we marry, I'll have 15 adult years as Jen MaidenName. I don't have an issue with taking his name, but professionally I can't just drop my maiden name, because I'm known in statewide in my field by that name. Likely, I'll just have a second middle name...that I'll use professionally, but not socially or legally.


  • I've been considering hyphenating my name. I like my last name and my fiancé and I have very very similar first names. It seems like it would be easier to hyphenate or add his last name to the end but I read some posts that have said some women have had issues with hyphenation. Can anyone elaborate for me? Are these social issues or legal issues? And for anyone who has hyphenated, can you share whether you went through the process to legally change to your hyphenated name or just did it socially? Thanks in advance! Danni
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  • This discussion has brought up a lot of interesting alternatives, some I hadn't even thought of. 
    In my situation, I love my last name (even though everyone pronounces it wrong).  I don't have any professional attatchment to it, its just MY name. Also, if my uncle does not have a child (boy), my last name dies on this part of my family.  My fiance's last name is also always pronounced wrong. It sounds like a first name, but not spelt that way.  His dad comes from a big family and everyone in that area knows that last name and it is not usually a good thing.  I have given consideration to hyphenating and just keeping my last name, I even made the suggestion that by fiance change his last name to mine (he hates his) but that would be complicated I think.  Then I thought, why don't I put the names together without the hyphen?  Putting them together, it actually sounds like a real last name someone would have. It would be something along the lines of Debrewnic (not the actual spelling, pronunciation).

    Does anyone have any input for this kind of situation?
  • I think Joy has a great approach! The issue I have with changing my name legally is I have all of my professional credentials in my maiden name, I am proud of my accomplishments! I do not have a problem being called Mrs. I just prefer to keep my anme professioanlly
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_taking-his-name-socially-this-actually-mean?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:0c965eed-79d8-46cc-afc3-a50a5ff228d9Post:a6a28f8e-9451-4dc5-8097-10e6e0441c24">Re: "Taking his name socially" -- what does this actually mean?</a>:
    [QUOTE]Thank you for the clarification. Also, if anyone has personal experience with this approach -- does it cause a lot of added hassle or increased need for explanations, or is it fairly easy?
    Posted by Mark&Steph[/QUOTE]

    There are no explanations needed.  Many people assumed I changed my name when I got married (I did not).  Basically, you'll get Christmas cards and other personal mail addressed to Mr. & Mrs. X.  If you give your child(ren) your husband's last name, that will increase the chances that your child's friends and their parents will refer to you as Mrs. Husband's last name. It certainly was not a hassle for me.  Because I did not choose to take my husband's name socially, I introduced myself with my last name, followed by "John Smith's wife" for "Ted Smith's mother." No big deal.
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