Pros and Cons: Changing Your Last Name

The perks and drawbacks of taking your spouse's last name after you tie the knot.

Pros and Cons: Changing Your Last Name

Photo: Marisa Holmes

Is bucking tradition becoming the new tradition? Modern brides and grooms have been forgoing customary wedding practices in favor of updated elements – whether for personalization reasons or otherwise.

One such tradition is the changing of a bride’s last name after her wedding day: many women are opting to keep their last names post-reception. Each woman has a personal reason behind this choice, but many brides are having difficulty deciding whether or not they’d like to take their spouse’s name or keep their family’s name.

To help make an informed decision, we’ve created a list of pros and cons regarding the process of changing your surname.


-  You’ll be better recognized as a cohesive unit on paper. In this case, it doesn’t necessarily make things easier for you, but it more simplifies things for outside parties. There won’t be any question as to your relation to one another when it comes to acquaintances and professionals – your connection to each other will be obvious and clear, and some couples have said that sharing a surname makes their marital bond feel stronger.

-  There’s no confusion concerning what name the kids will go by. If you plan on having children, sharing the same last name will simplify a small aspect of preparation. There is generally no disagreement involved, as they will be using the surname you both share. This will not only make things easier on you and your partner, but also on the child as they go through life – especially when registering for school. 


-  The process can be arduous. If the change is important to you, you’ll have to go through all of the necessary legalities involved – and many do not realize how many steps one must take. You’ll have to change your social security card, license, and bank account, along with other nuances. On top of wedding planning and your regular schedule, steps can easily be missed, and the last thing you want is to manage documents on your honeymoon.

-  You lose your connection to your family and background on paper. Both personally and professionally, you’ll be abdicating a part of yourself. This can be symbolic and a little difficult to deal with, especially if you’re very close to your family and bonded to the surname that you share. Additionally, your professional life will be affected – if connections at work know you by a certain nomenclature, you’re bound to deal with some confusion.

Other Options

-  Hyphenating. This is a popular alternative nowadays – one or both parties taking the two last names and combining them with a hyphen. For example, “Alex Doe” and “Jason Smith” become “Alex and Jason Doe-Smith.” This is a great way to be cohesive and inclusive – it combines the pros of both options.  

-  Combining. It is not as widely practiced, but some pairs have chosen to create an all-new surname by “mashing up” the originals – so, “Jane McCan” and “Casey DeBarber” become “Jane and Casey McBarber.” This decision can be unpopular with relatives, but it allows both parties to completely reinvent themselves as a new family.

Will you be taking your spouse's last name, keeping your own, or incorporating both to create a new surname? Let us know in the comments!

Opening photo by Laurie Bailey Photography