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Customs and Traditions

How to pick a new last name

So my fiance and I have started discussing last names, and neither of us are hugely attached to our last names, but him, being the guy wanted me to take his. I'm hesitant to take his last name simply because it's pronounced differently than it looks. I absolutely want us to have the same last name, but there's no need for us to keep either of ours. So now we're looking at taking an entirely new name, but we don't know where to start. We want something simple, strong and meaningful, but not too obvious. I was thinking something to do with the earth.
Where do we start? Any suggestions would be very helpful. Thank you.
Dana

Re: How to pick a new last name

  • Has he talked to his family about this?  I have heard a lot of brides talk about going down this road and that families can really end up resenting the bride and groom afterwards.  I'm not sure that I would be willing to deal with that when I simply didn't like the pronunciation of his last name.

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  • I think you should take your husband's last name! You said you are not attached to your name, so why not just take his? It does have meaning because it is the last name he has had his whole life and now you will be married and putting your histories and futures together! Lots of names are hard to pronounce!
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  • Just to note, the more I think about this, the less I think it's fair that we are forced to take our husband's names, just because that's whats been done for hundreds of years. Why shouldn't he take my last name? We have talked this over together and have decided it makes the most sense to choose a new name together. Please, if you have any suggestions as how to start I would love to hear them, if you just want to tell me to conform, save your time and don't.
  • I've read that some couples choose to do this and what the couple did that I read about was they took the brides last name and the grooms last name and shuffled the letters around and used the letters from the two last names to make up a new one.

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  • We were also thinking about taking a new last name together.  We did what the previous poster suggested, trying to take parts of our current last names and combining them to make a new one.  The problem is, most of them end up sounding kinda silly.  I don't know what we'll end up doing, but I agree with you that it doesn't seem right for the bride to have to change her name but not the groom.  You are both starting a new life together, so why not both go through the process of changing your names to start that new life?
  • Dana:  no need to get snotty.  You put a question out on an internet forum,  and then live with the replies.  You don't get to dictate what people can and can't answer.  The poster was giving you her opinion on the last name thing. It's what people do when you put your ideas out.  They answer.

    FWIW:  I've also heard that depending on where you live, it's harder for a guy to change his surname than it is for a woman.  Society is conditioned to the idea that women change their names.  Not so much for men.  Not that that's a reason NOT to change names.  Just suggesting that you investigate and find out what all it will take so that you're ready for it.

    In our family:  I changed my name.  My sister did not.  My SIL did not.  My poor dad gets so confused about who has what name.  He has two DD's and a DIL and not any of them have the same surname.  =)
    "Trix, it's what they/our parents wanted. Why so judgemental? And why is your wedding date over a year and a half ago? And why do you not have a groom's name? And why have you posted over 12,000 posts? And why do you always say mean things to brides?" palegirl146
  • I'm pretty sure that if you're not using one of your last names or hyphenating, you'll actually have to go before a judge to get your names changed.  It's not a hugely complicated process, but it's just one more hassle...
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_name-change-1?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4744d6db-f888-40e4-9090-70d43d76b955Post:734e7b4a-3a69-44cf-9b60-567b87535369">Re: How to pick a new last name</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm pretty sure that if you're not using one of your last names or hyphenating, you'll actually have to go before a judge to get your names changed.  It's not a hugely complicated process, but it's just one more hassle...
    Posted by aerinpegadrak[/QUOTE]

    This is true.

    Dana, I knew a guy whose parents changed their last name to Makepeace because they thought it sounded wonderful. And thus they started a new family name. Go for it!

    If you want something relating to earth, maybe check out some celtic or pagan websites and see what you find. Or start with a thesaurus and work from there. Or translate some earth-type words into other languages (perhaps if you have German heritage, look up the German word for earth, or land, or woods, etc).
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  • tldhtldh member
    2500 Comments
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_name-change-1?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:36Discussion:4744d6db-f888-40e4-9090-70d43d76b955Post:b3cef6ab-3bd1-4aa3-bb8a-b601622a275a">Re: How to pick a new last name</a>:
    [QUOTE]Just to note, the more I think about this, the less I think it's fair that we are forced to take our husband's names, just because that's whats been done for hundreds of years. Why shouldn't he take my last name? We have talked this over together and have decided it makes the most sense to choose a new name together. Please, if you have any suggestions as how to start I would love to hear them, if you just want to tell me to conform, save your time and don't.
    Posted by DanaTy[/QUOTE]

    Nobody's forcing you to do anything.

    If you decide to take an entirely new name, be prepared from the fallout, esp. from his family.  Somebody posted this situation a few days ago and what she encountered was not pretty.
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  • Changing your last name to something entirely different probably will be more complicated but if you are willing to deal with that, then go for it!  You do not have to take your husband's last name, you do not have to hyphenate, you can be whoever you want to be.  Since this is not a "traditional" approach, some family members and society in general might wonder about this, but who cares.  It's YOUR name.
  • So to answer your original question-how to go about this- I would look into your heritage and your fiances heritage (as another person suggested) and see what stands out the most.  If people can pick out baby names based off of what they mean, why shouldnt you be able to pick a last name like that.  Or if you are close to a particular woman in your family, ask what her maiden name was and if they would mind if you took it. 
  • kristinanddankristinanddan member
    2500 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited June 2010
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_customs-traditions_name-change-1?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:36Discussion:4744d6db-f888-40e4-9090-70d43d76b955Post:734e7b4a-3a69-44cf-9b60-567b87535369">Re: How to pick a new last name</a>:
    [QUOTE]I'm pretty sure that if you're not using one of your last names or hyphenating, you'll actually have to go before a judge to get your names changed.  It's not a hugely complicated process, but it's just one more hassle...
    Posted by aerinpegadrak[/QUOTE]

    Strangely enough, in NY one of the name change options is to combine your two last names together:
    <h2> Surname Options</h2> <p> Every person has the right to adopt any name by which he or she wishes to be known simply by using that name consistently and without intent to defraud. A person's last name (surname) does not automatically change upon marriage, and neither party to the marriage is required to change his or her last name. The bride and groom need not take the same last name.</p> <p> One or both parties to a marriage may elect to change the surname by which he or she wishes to be known after the marriage by entering the new name in the appropriate space provided on the marriage license. The new name must consist of one of the following options:</p> <ul><li>the surname of the other spouse;</li><li>any former surname of either spouse;</li><li><strong>a name combining into a single surname all or a segment of the premarriage surname or any former surname of each spouse;</strong></li><li>a combination name separated by a hyphen, provided that each part of such combination surname is the premarriage surname, or any former surname, of each of the spouses.</li></ul>

    But you aren't allowed to use your maiden name as your middle name without doing a legal name change.
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  • redheadfsuredheadfsu member
    2500 Comments
    edited June 2010

    You can combine current names, research your family trees/heritage, combine any names from family trees/heritage, or just pick any name you want. Or is there a special place/thing that has meaning to both you & your FI?

    OP, it is completely 100% your decision (for you last name) & completely 100% your FI's decision (for his last name). However, your family & friends might get hurt/attitudes if you do anything nontraditional. People always forget the actual meaning/tradition of taking his last name (that the wife was his property). But remember, a name is personal for everyone involved- even those who have no say in the decision. So just try to approach this carefully for all involved.

    Every state is different. So, just look into the law in your state. You can start by calling the clerk of court and google the statute in your state. Plus call a lawyer. Usually there are standard forms/petitions the clerk has which can explain how simple the process is.

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  • Kristin, you can do that in California too, but you can also change your middle name (to any of those options). Combination, hyphenation, birth, current or former last name of either spouse. The mayor of LA is named Antonio Villaraigosa. His birth name was Villar and his (now ex) wife's birth name was Raigosa.
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  • BettyMae813 , why shouldn't he take her name then?  I am sorry, but answers like yours really bother me.  They could easily take her name and still be putting their "history and their future together." 
  • My fiance and I are considering him taking my last name, or choosing a "new" last name based on family history. I personally face a lot of resentment on the part of my family especially my grandmother who thinks that he should be able to pass on his name to any future sons.

    I don't think you should conform. If I were you I'd probably pick something that reflects your history as a couple, something based on locale maybe or heritage (for example my FI and I were considering his great grandmother's maiden name Foley since we're both Irish).
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  • Why not just keep your own names? Many women are keeping their own last names nowadays and this way neither of you have to go through the process of changing it.

    My older brother tried to change his name because he found out that my father spelled Jackson with a hyphen on his birth certificate. For months him and my father had to go to back and forth and they kept giving him different forms. He ended up hiring a lawyer to do it for him. It was a lot of time, money, and headache just to remove a hyphen.
  • My sister did this and at first I thought it was great and special and fine.  I thought if it was meaningful to them, then what did it matter.  However, now that I am older and time has passed.  I don't like the idea at all!  I have an aunt that is doing our family tree.  And, it made me realize that if generations from now, someone tried to do that, what trouble they would have because people just chose to not be a part of the family.  Secondly, it is kind of insulting that you would rather have the no ones name at all, rather than your own name or your husband's name.  My brother-in-law, has only one sister, so his sons are his parents' only grandchildren that could have carried on their last name, now have no ones name instead of their family's name.  And their family name will no longer carry on.  I don't agree with this idea at all.  I would really think about it before you do this!!!
  • At first I thought this idea was a little strange, but then fam6 made me take another look.  The whole thing about geneology.  My mother is doing her family's and has gone back over a 1000 years and the family names did not stay the same for all that time.  I'm not married yet so I still carry my father's family name.  Thing is that I am only the 3rd generation to be born with this name.  When my Great-Grandparents came to this country Immigration decided that their name could not be spelled in English and changed it.  While the American version is related to the Slovak verision I have heard stories of the  names being changed to something completely different.  Like people named "Small" because they were short.  Surnames didn't used to be carried down they were what you did for a living (people named Cooper made barrels) or who your dad was (MacBrian was the son of Brian) etc.  So if it works for you go for it, just keep the paper trail.  Smile
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