Marriage

Are You Changing Your Last Name?

Before I got engaged, changing my last name wasn’t something I thought a lot about. I just assumed I’d take Conor’s last name and even ordered a makeup bag, pajamas, and a tote bag monogrammed with DMS. The whole monogram thing was fun while we were engaged.

Then I got married.

And I just couldn’t bring myself to give up a really important piece of who I am, even though it’s not always who I’ve been. After graduating high school, I legally changed my last name my maternal grandfather’s last name (Moss). Growing up, I went by my step-dad’s last name, but he and my mom divorced when I was in high school, and I didn’t feel right keeping it. My grandfather meant so much to me and my mom (his only child) changed her last name, so I’m the only Moss. Even though it’s only been my last name for a little less than half my life, it feels like such a big part of who I am.

With my daughter arriving in just a few months, this is something I’ve been thinking about recently. Should we have the same last name? Does it matter? Why/why not? Conor doesn’t seem to care (which I appreciate) and my friends seem pretty split, too. There’s obviously no right or wrong answer and maybe I’ll want to change it someday but for now, I’ve decided to keep Moss.

I’d love to know where you all stand. Would you or did you change your last name? Why? Why not? 

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  • I changed mine, as it was important to my husband and at the time it felt right. Your completely right when your engaged and newly married it seems fun and exciting but once you’ve done it there are days you feel like something is missing- a part of yourself is no longer there. Luckily I love the women in my husband’s family and for me having the three of us being a “Platt” wife feels right. In the future I hope to give my kids the McCarthy name as a middle name. You and Conor will come up with the right choice for your family! Thanks for sharing this Danielle!

  • I’ve struggled with the same thing for the last five years. I intended to make my maiden name my middle name (and drop my given middle), but the state I got married in did not allow me to do that through my marriage certificate, and I’d have to do a legal name change to do it (much more of a hassle).

    For now, I go by my “married” name socially and it’s what I use at my daughter’s daycare. We gave my daughter my last name as her middle, and intend to do the same for future kiddos.

    I know you are planning to use Rose (love) as a middle – but with Rose and Moss being so short and sweet, I think “Name Rose Moss S—-” would work great.

  • tough question, I’m on the group that dont believe in changing your name to your husband as you get married. Your name is you identity and have been a great part of your life. The beauty of current times is that you have the option you choose, choose if you want or noy to keep your last name and even choose what last name you will give to your children ( it can be a combination of both last name) the most important thing it what it feels good for you and connor
    http://www.lapecas.com

  • I did not change my name. Since I just got married, at 35, my last name felt as much a part of me as my first, and I am proud to have it, and to be my father’s daughter. If my husband and I have children, they will have my husband’s last name and not mine, and I am completely ok with that. I have non-married couple friends that have multiple children together, and the children all have the father’s last name and don’t share with the mother and they have never had any issues (aside from minor judgment from older generations in their families).

    1. Just curious – do you think you would have changed it had you gotten married in your 20s? I got married at 35, too, and think that’s a big part of it. I can’t see anyone judging me not having the same last name as my daughter, and I certainly won’t mind explaining why I kept it when she’s old enough to ask.

      1. I think that if I had married in my 20’s, I likely would have changed my name. Back then, it was still kind of ingrained in me that it was just what you did. My husband was actually married previously to his college sweetheart. When we were discussing marriage, he said that it was important to him when he was in his 20’s, but now that he’s gone through a divorce and is remarrying to a woman in her mid-30’s, his opinions on it have changed.

        I didn’t mention it originally, but another reason I’ve kept my name is because I’ve built a good, stable and successful career with it. While I’m not “known” in my industry, I accomplished everything with my last name.

        1. Exactly! I don’t think I would have changed it professionally, but didn’t know I wouldn’t want to change it personally, either. Conor didn’t care at all which makes it that much easier. If it meant a lot to him I’m sure it would have been a more difficult decision.

        2. This thread is interesting to me because I was just thinking why I changed my name with little thought…. and honestly, I think it was because I was 25. I didn’t really question it and think I would have thought more about it had I been older. So it was interesting to read your guys’ thoughts on this too!

  • I’m currently engaged and don’t plan to change my name. My parents are from a country where there’s no tradition of changing name upon marriage, so I grew up with parents with different last names and never found it odd. I admit to finding the idea that a family isn’t a family unless everyone shares the same last name pretty non-sensical (my mom was never any less my mom because we had different last names) but I fully support people’s right to choose whatever feels best for them. I also invested many years to get a PhD to become Dr. Soandso and additional years on top of that establishing my academic career with my given name. While people can and do change their last names all the time in academia, doing so doesn’t come without struggles when your work is so tied to your name.

    1. I’m with you. It’s such a personal decision and you just have to do what’s right for you. I guess I just never thought I’d become so attached to a last name that wasn’t always mine to begin with, but there’s family history behind it and it means a lot to me.

  • I had planned to make my last name my middle name and take my husband’s last name for my actual surname… but as it turns out, they don’t let you change your middle name in Canada – at least not in that respect. (It’s a big length process instead). So… I ended up just adding my husband’s last name to my own. I’m very attached to my own last name and I couldn’t handle the idea of losing it altogether. So my last name is double barrelled but my daughter (who was born last fall) just has my husband’s last name. I don’t think it will be a problem where I also have that name as part of my last name, but if it ends up being a problem (for school pick-up/travelling/etc) in the future, I may decide to drop my maiden name. We’ll see!

  • I got married in my 20’s and didn’t change my name. When I got pregnant years later names became a topic of discussion in regards to kiddos. My husband and I decided we’d chose our child’s first name and then see which last name sounded better. Turned out to be mine. So our first son has my last name, and then our second son has my husband’s. This totally works for our little family (and I’ve seen so many blended families out there that no one balks about kids having different names than their parents / guardians). But we encountered harsh criticism from his parents. That was a hard time, but we knew it was right for us. Just one of the many times of parenting you remember that you have to prioritize your nuclear family.
    Good luck! Whatever your decision is, it will be the right one for you!

  • I’d definitely change mine if I got married. Loved my Dad dearly, but have always looked forward to adopting my husband’s last name upon marriage. Of course, you could hyphenate, and if you feel so inclined, give your baby girl the middle name of “Moss” to honor your beloved grandfather.

  • Hi Danielle!
    I changed my last name 4 years into my marriage (I’ve been married for 8 years now) and I did it because we were moving to the US and having one last name was easier. My husband didn’t mind but I was a lawyer and using my 2 last names was a big deal. It was part of my identity and my career. I kept my maiden name as a middle name to honor my dad. And now that we’re planning to start a family, I think having the same last name makes it more about us and what’s coming.
    Lots of hugs!
    Bela
    (Lifewithbela.com)

  • Growing up I never thought that I would change my last name. I love my unique last name but once I met my husband and we got engaged I changed my mind. Although I could not part with my last name, I did hyphen it so I could share my last name with our kids.

  • I didn’t change my last name, and it’s going on 5 years of marriage. At first it was just because i had airplane tickets with my “old” last name for work travel and it would be a hassle to get my passport changed to a new name on short notice. But then I never ended up doing it when I did have the chance. On social occasions such as wedding invitations, we use his last name for ease which doesn’t bother me at all. But when I send out christmas cards or other invites, I leave our last names off entirely so everything just says “Diana & Garrett.” I spent the first 31 years of my life with my last name, and I quite like it. My husband doesn’t care at all because he says the name isn’t what defines our relationship. And it give me another reason to love him 🙂

  • Hi there! Love how you’re sharing your story so openly and honestly. Reading your posts + other comments is helpful to me as I prep to get married in October. Stand out advice for me is that you do what feels right to you! With regards to how having children introduces a new element to the decision making process, I would imagine that you’ll find clarity as soon as your little one arrives. For me, I think having a daughter would make me want to pass on my name to her – but my name is Whitehead so not as beautiful a gift as Moss ???? thanks again for sharing, and congrats to you whatever you decide is best for you and your growing fam! AC

  • I grew up in a split name household, and as a child I felt annoyed by the fact. I often got the questions “are your parents married?” “Is that your step mom?” Etc…

    Now as I grown woman, I get it and I respect the decision. With that said, after a year of marriage and a few months before delivering our child I decided to change my name. And I haven’t looked back (I was a Moss, too!). My middle name is now Moss, and we decided our next child will have the middle name Moss.

    🙂

  • I took my husband’s name when we got married, and I’m so glad I did. I probably like my maiden name more because my married name is pretty common, but I truly believe that when we got married, we became one – so for us, it was the natural choice. I’m so proud to share a name with him! But you’re 100% right, it’s a personal decision so no one else’s opinion really matters except yours and Conor’s. Moss is a pretty great last name.

  • Such a big question! I’m not engaged or married (or even in a relationship hah!) but I’ve struggled with this too. I completely support everyone’s decision to do what is right for them, but I can’t help but find the idea of taking your husband’s name antiquated. If I do get married, I don’t want to give up my last name or my middle name – I’m attached to them both! I agree, though, that the decision can seem easy, one way or the other, when you get married, but having kids adds another layer to the decision making process. I’m curious if anyone has had the experience of having her husband take her name?

    1. I knew of a couple who combined their last names into one new name. Which on one hand is a cool idea if you have names that could work. But on the other hand they may have divorced so I always wondered how you unravel that one and does your kid now have this third kind of random name that isn’t connected to anyone else. Or maybe it’s nice to have the combination to represent both families?

      Regardless, I’m guessing most people can’t do this and end up with a name they want to be called!

  • Love the story behind Moss. I’ve decided to replace my middle name with my last name and take Dave’s last name. I love my last name and that side of my family is so important to me. However, I recently decided I still am going to sign all my painting KAC. My middle name is Anne (same as my mother’s) and she’s the art teacher in my family so it just feels right to still honor her in that way. Love that we get to do whatever we want! Thanks for sharing babe.
    xx,
    Katherine

  • I did the same as below. My career was very much moving towards the top and everyone knew me by my last name, I had a really hard time changing it, especially since I am such a daddy’s girl and I love that connection between us however I also wanted my children and I to have that bond and you would be so surprised at how many times my daughter talks about family and having the same names, so I changed my middle to my maiden name and took my husbands last name. I always sign my full name (first middle and last) that way all of who I am is included. It was a much easier transition career wise than I anticipated and I love that all of my children and I have the same last name. BTW I didn’t change my last name for at least a year after our wedding.

  • I took my husband’s last name but kept my maiden name as my legal middle name. My dad passed away when I was young, so I’ll always keep my maiden name as a rememberance of him. My husband’s name is actually a made up name from when he immigrated to this country and his mom deemed their Ukrainian last name too hard to pronounce for Americans. So my mother-in-law took an americanized spelling of her own maiden name, and my husband took that name as well. When we got married, we contemplated taking his grandparents’ last name, because he was very close to them. But in the end, we kept his “American” name and went on being the Ukrainian, Italian-Polish American family that our names will never fully capture. I decided my grandmother was right – a name doesn’t define you, it identifies you to others. But if a name doesn’t identify you, or represent something you want to be identified with, then change it. If a new name identifies you better, great! But it doesn’t that to be the defining thing about you.

  • Moss would make a cool name for a baby boy, should a son be in your future someday. I know people who have used the mother’s maiden name as a first name for their child, if it is able to work as a first name. I think Danielle Moss has such a lovely ring to it & the significance of why you chose it for yourself is so meaningful.

  • I kept my name. I just couldn’t change it. I love my (difficult to announce) name! I got married at 27 and I have invested in this name professionally and personally. I couldn’t give it up. I also wasn’t too keen on all the paperwork and/or changing all my gov clearances. My husband is supportive but his family is a little iffy about it. Our kids will go by my husband’s last name and since it’s becoming more and more common, the issue of schools/pickup etc. is less of an issue. Maybe eventually I will hyphenate but for now, I am sticking with my maiden name. The only time it is frustrating is when someone writes me a check and spells my first name wrong and my husband’s last name so it looks like I am cashing a fraudulent check.

  • I got married in my early 20’s and changed my name without really thinking about it–I was young and from a conservative area of the south and that’s just what everyone did. But then I got divorced two years later and changed my name back to my family name. I’ve always thought that if I ever remarry then I wouldn’t change my name again, at least partly because it’s a HUGE pain (as you already know from your change to Moss). I have a friend who is currently debating the exact same issue for herself, and my advice was to wait on it–make sure it’s what you really want before changing your name. You can always change your mind later on (or not!).

  • I changed mine. I don’t have a great reason beyond I was 25 and just went with tradition. I do like being the Burke Family and having the same last name as my kids, but I also wasn’t too hung up on my maiden name. I do think it is an antiquated practice and the idea of giving up your father’s name for your husband’s bugs me so can see either side!

    I’ve had friends who have gone through divorces and struggled with changing it or not (they both went back to their maiden names, kind of reclaiming their identity). My gay friends ended up picking the more unique name. I don’t know any men who have changed their names but think that should become more of a thing!

  • i’m changing mine legally but am keeping both professionally. i’ve built my career on my own name and am 28 so i’m not interestedly in starting over. I wouldnt have even changed it if I cared about my name but I have no ties to my last name and don’t speak to a single family member with it so i’m fine with it’s letting to go personally and legally. plus my new last name is fine – if it was whack, I wouldn’t change it (sorry hubs and funny name havers haha!) if I were you, i’d make moss my legal middle name and just go by my full name! like a khloe kardashian odom type deal

  • I, too, never gave changing my name much thought until I got engaged. At that point, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Name recognition gave me a little leg up in my career, but more than anything I just couldn’t see myself as Leslie Hislastname. We were 25 and the possibility of me not changing my name hadn’t occurred to my fiancee. After multiple discussions and a few tears, I didn’t make the change with the caveat that I’d make a final decision when we had kids. Nine years later, we just had our first (we gave her my last name as a middle name), and my name will not be changing. Everyone in the house is at peace with this–though there are some, including my in-laws, who don’t recognize my name despite clearly knowing it didn’t change. Over time, I’ve learned to be ok with that as well…

  • Moss is a beautiful name (it just flows, I love it) and it’s amazing that it has a special meaning for you. If I were in your shoes, I’d keep it too. Personally, I’m way too attached to my last names (all three of them, since latinos tend to keep everyone’s last names) and have witnessed the pain it was for my mother to retire due to her name change. She got married at 35, just like you, and had me shortly after. Her professional life was already happening back then, and when retirement came around she had a hard time updating her name in previous work records. Funny thing is: my dad didn’t care, but mom really hated having such a common name.
    One of my high school teachers once said that the longer we wait to change our names (for whatever reason), the harder it gets, due to the increasing amount of things tied to them. Based on that, I really can’t see myself ever changing mine (oh, there’s also the fact that i’m almost 27 and still painfully single). Whatever you do, it’s up to you.

  • I use my husband’s last name on everything, but never legally changed my name to take his (Pierce)…partly out of “laziness” as the time, energy, and effort required is no small feat. My husband “jokes” with me on occasion about not changing it, but it doesn’t negate our marriage or bond, so I roll with it. My sister-in-law changed her maiden name to her middle name and took my brother’s last name, so that could always be an option. Either way, a matching last name to your husband and daughter will not define you as a parent. With divorce, re-marriage, and adoption more commonplace, many children’s last names do not match their birth parents. Do what feels right to you.

  • For me, it was going to come down to which name I liked better. Mine, while not that complicated, is always spelled wrong, so if I get married, I’ll choose at the time.

    I’ve had friends do 2 cool things. 1. On all professional items she’s kept her name the same, but legally, added her husbands name BEFORE her last name. (First name, middle name, husband’s last name, her last name). Not hyphenated, just all there. 2. (and this is too sweet) The traditional first anniversary gift is paper, so at the one year mark as a surprise to her husband she legally added his last name. She figured “it’s just on paper” and wasn’t a huge identity shift. She is a professional photographer and all her business and branding is remaining the same so she still feels very connected to her original name.

  • I feel that every woman should do what makes sense for them. I had my last name for 40+ years and love it, but getting married, it felt good to take my husband’s last name. I feel like my maiden name will always be a part of me in some ways:) This is a great discussion—reading different perspectives, especially when it comes to having kids!

  • I’m getting married this year, and I’ve decided to keep my maiden name as my middle name, but take my fiancè’s last name. I’m keeping my maiden as my middle bc as a writer, I wanted people to make the connection that it’s me when they hear my full name after I’m married. I think I’ve commented about loving marriage traditions before on here (ha!) But I stop to think of how many of my ancestors weren’t legally allowed to marry. When I take part in these traditions I feel like I honor them in someway. I also, personally love the idea of us all having the same name, but definitely respect women who chose to keep their maiden name as well! It’s all down to your personal preference.

  • I didn’t change my name and never planned on doing so. The history behind that tradition does not sit well with me and I was afraid of losing my identity. Even though we had dated for years, the second my (now) husband and I became engaged, everyone thought I was going to stop being me and turn into Mrs. Husband’s Name. Having different names does not mean you are any less of a family, and if you should want to change in the future, you can.

  • I have been married for 9 months and ‘socially’ kept my maiden name as my middle name and added husband’s last name. Like you, I had items monogrammed to reflect this before we got married. I haven’t made it to the SS office yet to officially make the change because it seems like a big pain – I’ll get there one day. To honor my family when children come, we are considering all their middle names to be my maiden name.

  • I love this discussion. I am currently engaged, but I have decided to change my last name. Honestly, my biggest reason is because my middle name is my father’s mother’s name (grandmother on my dad’s side) so I feel I still have that part of my family with me. I dont know if my parents planned it thinking ‘our daughter might change her last name, let’s give her a middle name that is important in the family’, but it worked out great for me. I plan on continuing this new tradition of encorporating my mother’s and father’s names through my children’s first and middle names, so if they want to change their last name or not, they don’t have to feel they are leaving any parts of their family behind. I’ve always felt very connected to my grandmother and father because of this, and hope the future kiddos feel the same. I love your reasoning to keep yours, and excited to see what you do for your future little one!

  • I got married in June last year and was struggling with this also. Everyone around me seemed to think it was a no-brainer as all my friends would take their boyfriend’s last name. On the other hand my colleagues kept telling me not to change my name because it sounded nice. So either way I was going to disappoint someone. I was thinking about taking two names, even though I really do not like 2 last names, but that would have been a compromise because my name had an attachment for me due to my dad and granddad who I am really close with while my now-husbands last name..well, he was never close with his dad or that side of the family so it was not so emotional. It actually in the end came down to the fact that he already had 2 kids from previous relationship so he couldn’t change his name anymore (would have meant changing the kids names and that was a bit complicated) and the name law in my country also stated that when a child is born, he/she cannot have two last names..so if I would have taken 2 last names it still wouldn’t have been the same name as mine which was important to me. So in the end I just took the “easy way” out and took my husbands name. I am used to it now but honestly – I am not 100% sure it was the right decision. I still feel very much like as a super independent woman who has built up her own life maybe I have betrayed who I am somehow. Who knows if I would have been happy the other way around though..I think for us a good way would have been to both take his mothers maiden name but thats that then.

  • I struggled with this decision also. For the first two years, I kept my maiden name. When we decided to start the home-buying process together (we had previously been living in the condo I owned), I re-evaluated how to handle my last name and decided to take my husband’s last name. He never pressured me, which I appreciated. My maiden name is now my middle name. Although I changed it legally, I kept my maiden name professionally. I built up my professional relationships for 8 years as a certain name, and it was important to me to maintain that. To each their own, for sure!

  • When I got married, I dropped my maiden name completely. So my name is now first, middle, married. I had a rough, toxic, emotionally and verbally abusive relationship with my parents and I think even as a young newlywed in my early 20s, I knew the relationship would eventually completely disintegrate. I no longer have contact with my parents and my husband and I celebrate 15 years next week. I don’t regret taking his name one iota. He is my true family.

  • I just got married in November and decided to hyphenate my last name. My husband and I discussed it a lot, and initially I was going to move my last name to my middle name, and ask him to take my last name as his middle name too. He was on board, but ultimately I couldn’t give up my last name in full. Like you said, it was important to me to keep that part of me, but I recognized that I would really like to share a last name with our future children. We both agreed that giving our kids a hyphenated name would be difficult for them. I’m still in the “getting used to it” stage, and sometimes I wish I hadn’t changed it, but I think it’ll be worth it once we have kids.

  • I’m still not legally married, but keeping my last name is something really important to me! I’m even thinking to persuade my chosen one???? into changing his????or adding mine? It maybe sounds silly, but I’m also the last one in family, and even more important my parents and I are the last one who carries this last name in my home country.The thought of disappearing is just too sad, and I’m sure it would mean a world to my father????

  • I have a hyphenated last name because my maternal grandfather was an influential politician/judge/thought leader in Germany. My mom moved to the US when she was already an MD and kept her name. Growing up, I always hated having such a long name. But now that I’m 30 and single and becoming established in my own career, if I ever get married I would hate to give up my name! BUT – I wouldn’t want to take on a THIRD last name. Some people change their middle name to be their maiden name, so that’s always an option. I can tell you that growing up it was really irritating to look up our various memberships, etc. depending on if it was my mom or dad who had signed up. I wouldn’t advise the hyphenated name for a kid. Long story short, can you consider just changing your middle name? Hope this was somewhat insightful!