Brides: What’s in a Name?

Written by Claire Colvin

There’s quite a conversation happening on the “She Won’t Change her Last Name” article.  Passions run high on both sides, and it’s easy to see why.  There is always a long and emotional journey when it comes to naming a baby.  Why should it be any different when naming an adult?

I am pro-name changing if, and it’s a big IF, both parties are agreed that this is what they both want to do.  Tradition alone isn’t a good enough reason.  The act loses its beauty if it is forced.  It has to be a mutual decision.

What’s in a name?

Names carry strong emotions with them, and so they should.  Our name is the very first thing people learn about us.  It identifies us, it tells our story, it speaks of who we are.  CNN recently published a research study that suggests that names even have a direct impact on school and employment opportunities.

For some, it’s a no brainer. I know many women – smart, educated, modern, women – who happily change their name on their wedding day.  I think it can be a very beautiful symbol to include in a wedding.  But even if the answer is immediate and easy, I think the question should still be asked.

Going into a marriage with assumptions of “shoulds” and “but everyone does” is not the best foundation for a union.  If you’re thinking of changing your name, or asking your fiancé to change hers there should  be a discussion.

I have a unique experience with the whole “changing your name on your wedding day” thing.  My younger brother changed his.

He changed his name

I thought that I knew how I felt about name changing, but when my brother told me that he was going to change his name my first response was tears.  Those tears really surprised me.  I had always been pro-name changing but when the situation was flipped, my first emotion was a feeling of loss.  Dave would still be my brother, that wasn’t changing, but there was a feeling of separation, as if he was more loosely connected to the rest of us now.

Upon reflection, I realized that his new name did change things, but the not the things I was afraid of.

Dave and Janie wanted a name that represented both of them and the family they wanted to create together. It was important for them to not stick to assigned gender roles and they wanted that reflected in their name as well.  I remember Dave telling me, “Janie shouldn’t have to do all the work of changing her name just because she’s the girl.”   They decided to create a new name out of both of their existing last names and then both took the new name.

Dave also noted that when Janie married him she would become a Mrs. and people would instantly identify her as a married woman. He would still have been Mr. Colvin, same as before.  He wanted that instant identification as well. The more I talked to him, the more I saw how carefully they had talked about it, how sound their reasons were and how loving their intentions.

They got a lot of comments from friends and strangers telling them what they should or should not do, but they went ahead with it.  For them, it has been the perfect solution.  On their wedding day, when the pastor announced their new names the only tears I had were happy ones.

How do you feel about names? Did you, or would you, change yours on your wedding day?

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2 Responses to “Brides: What’s in a Name?”

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hi Jamie, The name change took care of that. Dave went from being Mr. Colvin to being Mr. New Last Name. People who knew him before he was married knew that something that had changed because his name was different.

  • Jamie Rose says:

    Dear Claire, I got so curious – did they come up with a solution for Janie becoming a Mrs and being identified as a married woman and your brother wanting that instant identification as well? Best Regards!

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