Getting Married and Changing Your Name. No, the Other Name.

Jun 26th 2010

No topic in names has been more thoroughly examined and debated than whether a woman should change her name at marriage. But that conversation never seems to extend beyond the surname.

I recently encountered a woman who changed her entire name on her wedding day. She decided to take her husband's surname for a unified family identity, but then crafted herself a new first name at the same time. She built it out of pieces of her original first and last name for personal continuity, but took care to make it funkier and more eye-catching than the source material. (I don't want to invade this real individual's privacy, so let's pretend she was born "Joanne Starkey" and after marriage became "Joy-Star Farrar.")

It set me to wondering: why isn't this more common? Not necessarily the Lego-style creative name building, but simply the change of given name at marriage.

Even in this age of creative naming, adults rarely change their first names. Most of us are just too attached to them. At the age of 12 we may bristle at the names our parents chose, but by 25 we've usually grown into the names, or they to us. Yet a surprising number of people spend their whole lives hating their own names. Whenever the Name Lady writes a column relating to "namer's remorse" or strange names, she gets a flood of letters from adults -- many in their 60's, 70's and beyond -- who have never forgiven their parents for their terrible taste in names. But few seem to have given any consideration to a formal change.

Granted, changing your name is a hassle. So much paperwork! Depending on local laws, you may even face costly legal proceedings to make it official. Resistance from friends and family, including the parents who chose your original name, can be a factor too. And never underestimate the power of inertia. Plenty of people dream about a new name but never work up the urgency to make it a reality.

The one exception is at a change in marital status. Every state has a cheap and easy process for newlyweds to switch to a married surname. (For newlywed women, at least. The ease for men varies from state to state.) So a great many brides and a smattering of grooms do swap out surnames, then dive into a stack of  licenses, credit cards, subscriptions and contracts to make sure everybody is on the same page. When professional reputations are at stake, a little PR campaign for colleagues and clients might even be required. Some go through this process after a divorce as well.

In other words, these folks take on all of the trouble and inconvenience of a name change, just for the surname. Surely, some of them must rank among the chronic name sufferers. Why do so few take advantage of this prime opportunity to revisit their first names, too?

Did you consider it? Do you know anyone who did?

Comments

1
June 26, 2010 9:26 AM

I did work with a man who had changed his entire name to Perri 6. It caused much consternation (we worked on a newspaper and it looked particularly silly as a byline) and some hostility. He said it was a move towards a future where people had numbers instead of names.I just googled him. He's now Professor 6 at Nottingham Trent University.
It seemed to me then and now that to change your entire name indicated a very strong desire to put one's past behind one. To change the first name your parents gave you at the same time as shedding their surname seemes a bit aggressive to me. But then I didn't change my surname when I got married, and nor did most of my friends. Nowadays it seems much more usual to change your name.

2
By Guest (not verified)
June 26, 2010 9:38 AM

I changed my middle name at marriage, substituting my maiden name for the one given me at birth. I had to fight with the DMV to acknowledge the name change; they said that changing your LAST name on marriage could be accomplished with a small amount of paperwork, but changing your OTHER name(s) takes a deed poll and other complicated procedures. So even if I'd wanted to change first names at that point, it's not the case that doing it at the same time as my last name would have spared me any trouble and inconvenience.

3
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)
June 26, 2010 9:41 AM

I did this! Not the Joy-Star example. I took my husband's last name, kept my given first name and changed my middle name to reflect the nickname that everyone called me.

In other words, I became Amy Abigail Sandel, known as Abby, or A. Abigail Sandel.

But, because my (lawyer) husband realized that this would be unwieldy, he talked me through the process of legally changing my name a few weeks before my wedding day. Strictly speaking, I didn't take my husband's name. I changed mine to match his.

Almost eight years later, I still get mail to my old name. I had trouble with my daughter's birth certificate. And yes, the paperwork is a headache. But it's worth it to be called what you want to be called.

I actually think this was once MORE common, before the advent of databases and computerized records and concerns that your health insurance/bank accounts/whatever would fail to reflect the change. I think we've become more tyrannical, forcing Mary Anne to record her legal names as Mary A., even though it just isn't her name.

4
June 26, 2010 11:07 AM

I have a nephew who changed his name in his sophomore or junior year of high school. He originally went by his middle name. He knew he wanted to join the military and wanted his middle to become his first name, knowing how it can be more difficult to get the military to recognize his middle name as the name he goes by. His parents gave him the option of switching his first and middle names or choosing a new middle name from a list of family names. He ended up choosing a new middle name with a history that he favored.

5
By MJ (not verified)
June 26, 2010 11:09 AM

A family in our church recently adopted an 18 year old out of foster care. She changed her entire name (new first name adoptive mother's surname-adopted father's surname) to reflect her new family, which I thought was wonderful.

6
By jlp76 (not verified)
June 26, 2010 11:19 AM

I have a middle name that is an important family name, so I ended up adding my maiden name as a second middle name (it only shows up on legal documents but it made me feel better about keeping it).

I have lots of friends who discarded their middle names and replaced them with their maiden names (but mostly those who didn't have special attachment to their middle names).

Oh, and I once worked with a man who created a last name out of his wife's maiden name and his surname. I think she was Kauffman and he was Schmidt, thus they became the Kauffmanschmidt family.

And I once met a girl whose parents both kept their surnames. The eldest daughter had her father's surname and her younger sister had her mom's.

Personally, I like the idea of giving children mom's maiden name in the middle name spot if the flow is alright.

7
June 26, 2010 11:32 AM

We've had the surname discussion here before. I took my dh's surname and had to file paperwork to do so but I don't remember fees involved. I did this after marriage. I never thought about NOT taking his name. I also never thought about changing my first name at that time. By then, I had become accustomed to "being me". It would have felt odd to be called something different after so many years. Changing my surname was enough to give me "a different name for a different life".

8
June 26, 2010 11:36 AM

On a genealogical note, my mn has a greater family connection for me than my maiden name. My maiden name will now unfortunately die out but I am okay with that.

9
June 26, 2010 11:47 AM

I had enough emotional trouble changing my last name :) But it seems like a reasonable move for those who don't like their name. Of course, adding a potentially emotional issue like changing your first name when you're already in a time of transition may not be the easiest thing either.

I will, however, point out that you don't need to legally change your name in order to be called something else. As long as you're not trying to defraud people, you can call yourself anything you like. I'm not sure if that applies to things like mortgages and driver's licenses, but most everyday uses don't have to be a hassle.

While I'm commenting anyway, I have a question for people. I named my daughter Tirzah. I'm fine with calling her by her full name, but various people keep wanting to find a nickname for her. (She's still a baby) Any suggestions? We can't call her T because my brother goes by T (he spells it Tee). My dad keeps calling her Tizzy, which isn't too bad but I'm not real thrilled with it either. There may not be any great nicknames, and I'm fine with that, but I thought I'd ask.

10
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)
June 26, 2010 11:57 AM

Ladyphlogiston, you're right - you don't have to change your name. But after years of being "A.B., call me Abby," it was a relief to have some link to Abby in my legal name.

And I think people should be called what they want to be called ... a simple courtesy that presents more problems than one might expect!

11
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)
June 26, 2010 11:58 AM

Ladyphlogiston, you're right - you don't have to change your name. But after years of being "A.B., call me Abby," it was a relief to have some link to Abby in my legal name.

And I think people should be called what they want to be called ... a simple courtesy that presents more problems than one might expect!

12
By LuLuZoo (not verified)
June 26, 2010 12:02 PM

I know a family that combined the two last names (though they were easier names to squish together) and became the Baxtermoore's.

13
By Guest (not verified)
June 26, 2010 12:34 PM

I did this! Well, I changed my middle name - from one with a bad association, to something completely new. I had thought for many years about changing both of my given names, but never bothered to go through the trouble. When I got married it was simple. All I had to do was start using the new name!

14
By Tintin LaChance (not verified)
June 26, 2010 12:48 PM

Ladyphlogiston, how about Tiri, Izzy, Zuzu, Zizi, Zaza (one of my favourite books as a child was about a character named Zaza), Tez, Taz, Tee, Tirzi?

15
By maga
June 26, 2010 12:54 PM

I know someone who changed her name at divorce; she originally was going to just change back to her maiden name, but then the clerk asked her what she wanted to change it to. "What -- you mean I can have any name I want? Well then." She didn't change her given name, but since she now goes by her surname in more or less every context, the effect is pretty much the same.

16
By knp
June 26, 2010 1:05 PM

Haven't had a chance to read all the comments yet, but wanted to share a couple names of recent babies:

R.J. (Richard Joe)

Easton Jacob

17
By knwd (not verified)
June 26, 2010 1:43 PM

My husband & I got married in Hawaii, and when you get a marriage licence there, BOTH the bride and groom have the opportunity to change ANY of their names. Basically, the form has blanks for your current first, middle, and last names, and then it has blanks for your new first, middle, and last names. You can go in as John Edward Smith and Mary Ellen Jones and leave as Ethan Jonas Johnson and Isabelle Marie Richards, if that's what you want!

In my case, I simply chose to move my maiden name up as the second part of middle name. But my husband(-to-be) found this idea intriguing. As we were filling out the form, he said, "If I had known this was an option, I might have spent some time seriously thinking about a creative new name for myself!"

18
June 26, 2010 1:59 PM

I know someone who did this. She and her husband created a new surname when they got married, and she also changed her name from Lauren to L@ur@ina. (without the @ symbols, of course. Figured I'd clarify). I think her husband changed his first name too but I'm not sure.

When I got married, I really thought about creating a middle name for myself (I didn't grow up with a middle name and it always made me sad), but my parents preferred that I use my maiden name as my middle and it wasn't important enough to me to have a 'real' middle name to go against their wishes.

19
By Kjerste (not verified)
June 26, 2010 2:04 PM

I wanted to change my first name when I changed my surname, but I couldn't handle going through the whole legal name change process at the time--the last name you can just do at the DMV and SS with a simple form, and most places are pretty understanding of a last name change, but I think a first name change would have been more involved. I've always gone by my middle name, so I wanted to drop my first name (Jennifer--which my mom regrets naming me), make my middle name my first name, and take my maiden name as my middle name. I was told I could only change my last name with the standard forms--and I could change that to anything I wanted, a double name with my maiden and new names, any sort of combination of the two names, etc., but I couldn't touch the first two names just because I got married. If I were willing to go through the extra steps of changing it through the court, it would have been a good time to do it since I had to change all of my cards, passport, etc., but it just seemed like too much on top of everything else I needed to do at the time. In the end, my maiden name was dropped, and I still get called "Jennifer" by people who don't know me (Dr. office, credit card companies, etc.). I used to be able to put "J. Sarah" on a lot of things, but lately companies insist that I use my first name, so it probably would have been worth the effort to just get rid of Jennifer(though I had become fond of the "J."). I'll never have any of my children go by their middle name, that's for sure. It's been a real pain more than once.

20
By lia (not verified)
June 26, 2010 2:05 PM

I'm going to try and explain this in a non-sexist way... you guys let me know if I've succeeded.

So in certain parts of India, it used to be common custom for women to change their entire name when they got married - first, middle, and last... Last names were done to show your new family's acceptance of you as a daughter-in-law, middle names were changed to your husband's name to show your acceptance of him (middle names in India are usually your father's name while you grow up, not an "alternate given name"), and first names were changed to indicate your husband's acceptance of you - your husband picked your first name (with your approval), and it was a way of affectionately indicating you are now a new/different woman. Often times your mother-in-law would call you by a different name, and obviously childhood friends and siblings would continue to use your old name... The old name did not cause much of a problem because generally marriages occurred between two separate villages, so when the new bride moved in to her husband's home, she would be introduced with her new name.

The practice still continues, especially in more rural areas. My grandmother had her name changed entirely, while my mother chose to change her middle and her last name when she married my father. (that might be due to culture clash rather than a sign of modernization - my mother is from a different part of India)

21
June 26, 2010 3:02 PM

lia-It doesn't sound sexist to me but very culturally different than many of us can probably relate to. It makes sense the way you've explained it though.

22
By Guest (not verified)
June 26, 2010 3:10 PM

i changed my name when i married from a very jewish 50's first name to an exotic first name that i had heard when i was on vacation in italy..

i thought how unusual and lovely is this name; and it will match my now new last name well..

angelina..

yes..and my last name is very similar to the other angelina..

now i go by lina..

23
June 26, 2010 3:35 PM

I've changed the spelling of my first name (added a U so people would quit calling me "Lair-uh," which didn't work, by the way, so I dropped it again), taken my stepfather's last name (he never legally adopted me), went back to my birth name with stepfather's name hyphenated... the California DMV never batted an eye or required any proof of my identity.

24
June 26, 2010 3:51 PM

Hey guys! Remember me? It feels like I haven't been here in forever. Just wanted to check in and say hey. And comment on this post in the few spare moments I have! I was legally born Rebekah, but grew up being called Rivka exclusively. My parents almost legally had my name changed when I was a kid because they hated that my passport, official school documents, etc. said Rebekah, not Rivka. When I got married they assumed I would legally change my name to Rivka but of course by that point I had moved away from the ultra-Orthodox community so I kept Rebekah and now am always Becky. My husband, however, is a different story. He was born as Eliyahu (a Hebrew form of Elijah), and grew up being called Eli (prn. like Ellie, not EE-lie). However, upon entering the "real world" he decided he wanted a more streamlined name to fit our new life outside the community we grew up in, so he chose Ethan, which is also Hebrew, but much more recognizable (and easier to spell/say) than Eliyahu. It was a hassle and I believe there were fees and legal proceedings involved but it was well worth it.

Hope everyone here is well :)

25
By Kat S. (not verified)
June 26, 2010 4:22 PM

I actually met a Joy-star a few months ago. She was not quite young enough to be the daughter of a hippie. I wonder if this was the result of her unusual name?

Either way, no one asked, but I do remember her having to repeat her name several times and several people in our group mistakenly continued to call her Joy.

*shrugs*

26
June 26, 2010 4:34 PM

lia- very interesting about Indian customs.

Brief distraction- if you could change your full name to absolutely *anything* what would it be?

I quite like the sound/ridiculousness of Augustine MacAwesome.

27
By Guest (not verified)
June 26, 2010 4:35 PM

I changed the spelling of my first name when I got married to reflect the way I had been spelling it since middle school. I changed it at the social security office with no problems. Then I went to change it on my driver's license and was told I was not allowed to do that unless I changed it on my birth certificate. So now social security and my work and school record have it spelled one way and my driver's license and my passport have a different spelling. I'm hoping this doesn't cause too many problems in the future, because I'm not willing to spend $200 to change it on my birth certificate.

28
June 26, 2010 4:45 PM

Abby: "And I think people should be called what they want to be called ... a simple courtesy that presents more problems than one might expect!"

No kidding! In college I had some transgendered friends, and this was my cardinal rule.

Tintin - thanks! Tiri is actually pretty cute, and Taz or Tez might work when she's a bit older.

29
By TamaraR (not verified)
June 26, 2010 5:24 PM

I had some schoolmates with extremely common first names for the time, who changed their names after graduation to much less common names that started with the same letter. (e.g., Jessica became Juniper, Michael became Monte, to make up a close example and leave them their privacy).

I thought it was a good time to make that change, when you're already at a major turning-point and about to move into different social circles of unfamiliar people who won't be tripped up by trying to unlearn your earlier name.

30
By Bue
June 26, 2010 5:28 PM

I plan to take advantage of the name change process when I get married - I won't be changing my surname to my husband's but I will be switching to the more correct and intuitive spelling of my German last name (it's all to do with a missing umlaut in English). It's only one letter added but it makes a big difference in others' ability to pronounce it, plus it's more authentic and I just prefer the look of it.

Now that I think about it, I may consider dropping my second middle name at the same time! I never use it and I've never liked it, nor has my mother. She felt pressured into using it by my grandmother. Laura, this post has been a very useful little public service announcement! :)

31
June 26, 2010 5:45 PM

lady phlogiston-I also thought of a very unconventional nn for Tirzah. My thought was Teardrop. Now some may think this not good as it might signify a bad/sad time but I rather like to think of happy tears like at a birth or wedding or such. Then again Zaza might work better.

Awkward Turtle-I'm not sure what I would change my name to. We had this question pop up a bit ago with regard to psuedonyms because there are a few authors on this blog. I think I would have to keep some part of my real name to have a connection to my new name. I also remember when Laura brought up the question of "what name would you have if you were the opposite gender". In that case I had decided on Gregory.

32
By Sol's_mom (not verified)
June 26, 2010 6:06 PM

I've hated my first name my entire life. I would love to change it, but it seems impossible to have everyone to convert to calling me a new name. To make it worse, the given name I hate so much is Katrina, which is WAY too girly-sounding for me, and now is further tarnished by the hurricane which ruined so many lives. It's hard enough to make people call me the only nickname I feel any identity towards - Kat. I also wish that Kat wasn't a homophone for "cat". It's still rather uncommon to be called Kat. Strangers invariably give me an odd look when I tell them my name is Kat.

Regarding marriage, I did add my husband's last name to my own, but didn't drop my middle name which has family significance. So now I have four names, none of which I particularly like! I suppose this is part of why I stress so much about getting my kids' names right!

33
By Meg (not verified)
June 26, 2010 7:56 PM

I was given the name Ramona Marguerite but hated it from the time I was very little. Ramona was always shortened to Mona which was worse. In my professional life I started going by Meg, but found that new people I met kept trying to call me Ramona/Mona when they found out my given name. I finally changed it to Margaret Elizabeth (simplified version of Marguerite and a family name for middle) and couldn't be happier. The paper work was a hassle but it was SO worth it.

34
June 26, 2010 10:30 PM

I should point out that the status with marriage license name changes is limited to opposite-sex ones (and civil unions don't allow any of the name-change convenience either).

However, that said, in the US it is remarkably easy to change one's name via court order, which is what the spouse and I both did after our wedding. Granted, we live in a state where one doesn't have to take an ad out in the paper announcing the change for X weeks, but the process was amazingly swift and painless. The fee was around $80 and the courthouse even put both of us onto the same form so we only paid once. We did have to make a court date to swear that we were not changing our names for fraudulent purposes, but it was really straightforward - fill out form and write check, drop off and get court date, show up in court roughly a week later, get new names assigned.

I would encourage anyone living with name remorse (who hates their first name or their young child's name) not to dismiss the process as being too complicated, since it really is not! By far the most laborious part of the name change process is taking your official piece of paper (regardless of whether it is an opposite-sex marriage license or court order) and then using it to change your name EVERYWHERE your old name occurs.

I am really happy with our name change! (We both took one of our maiden names as middle name, and the other, more unusual one as a family last name... avoiding hyphenation which is unwieldy in our case.) Our son does not have the same middle name, because we felt that it was important to have a backup name in case our name choice was too obscure for him, and also, the Spouse always disliked how she had her mother's maiden name as middle name, rather than a first-name type name.

Spotted today while shopping: a very nice sales clerk with a nametag that said Morag! There's a name I didn't ever think I'd see outside of Harry Potter! Totally exciting!

35
By Eustace (again) (not verified)
June 27, 2010 1:12 AM

@Becky, glad to know your story. We're observant, but not ultra-orthodox, so I have lots of friends who changed their first names when they became more religious, to reflect their new status. My nephew was given a very non-Jewish first name despite being from an orthodox family and he dropped it in favor of his Hebrew middle name, which we all use now. And of course, there's the custom of adding a new first name when recovering from an illness.

I can't think of anybody who's done a first name change at marriage but I've also had friends change the nickname they go by, and have plenty of friends who have combinede orjointly hyphenated their last names, and one who just up and took his wife's name completely, more power to him. And I have a friend who changed his middle name to reflect his wife's maiden name.

@Laura, fwiw, a Jewish marriage contract is supposed to include not only the legal name but any name people commonly use for the bride or groom.

36
By Guest (not verified)
June 27, 2010 2:16 AM

I was born Myka Elisabeth Dunlaing, but have gone by Beth since middle school. When I was born, Myka was a very unusual name. This made it quite hard to decide what to do. I was to marry a Thomas James Smith, and we decided to hyphenate our names so I could keep my middle name and not be legally Myka Dunlaing Smith, and go by Beth. So now legally I am Dr. Myka Elisabeth Dunlaing-Smith. And now our children, including the son I adopted before we were married have a hyphenated last name. It is kind of a pain though.

37
June 27, 2010 2:53 AM

I didn't change my surname when I got married, partially because of the hassle of changing other IDs and things like that. Unfortunately, since the expectation was that I would change my name, it still caused some hassle (e.g. wedding gift checks made out to someone who doesn't exist).

I always thought changing one's first name was a little silly. I guess I found it pretentious or something. I have revised this view a little though and figure if people go through the trouble of changing their name, then it must be very important to them and I should respect that.

I agree with ladyphlogiston that with so much transition already in the air when getting married, changing first name as well probably doesn't cross many people's minds.

Like knwd, I was also married in Hawai'i and we also had no idea the groom would be able to change his name. (And fwiw, I grew up here and no one ever told me this!) Again, I guess people assume the woman will change her name and that's it. Allowing the groom to change his name does make it easier if both want to hyphenate or something like that. I assume that is harder in other states!

ladyphlogiston: I think you should use the Z in a NN. Maybe just Z? Or something using the -zah? T-zah?

38
June 27, 2010 4:15 AM

Actually, on second thought, I think the form in HI only allows bride and groom to change middle and last, but not first. So I guess it would be more of a hassle to change the first.

lia: Wow, very interesting! Men's names didn't change at all though? Is it (at least in part) because men stayed in their same village? So maybe the continuity was more important, or their identity was not seen as changing as much?

Guest (Lina): So do you regret changing your name?

Sol's Mom: I think Kat is a cool name! I think it is hip.

also, sidenote: on Facebook, saw that a friend of a friend has DAUGHTERS named Jaden and Caden.

Meg: How interesting! I have to admit I like Ramona Marguerite, although Mona not so much. I have always thought Meg was a cute name too though.

lucubatrix: Did not know that about same-sex and civil unions. I like hearing about how you handled your name blending too. I have friends who are leery of hyphenating because of the length of their names too. I'll have to pass your story on to them.

39
By Kerry (nli) (not verified)
June 27, 2010 4:15 AM

Regarding changing names when marrying or the equivalent:

My partner and I (same sex couple) decided it was important to have a family name. Had I married a man, I likely would not have changed my name. With a same sex household, however, I felt very strongly that we have one last name as a way to be recognized as a familial unit.

Our names did not lend themselves to hyphenation and, after discussion, we decided to take my last name as a family name. (This was mostly because my partner signs her name many times a day and my last name was significantly shorter.) We paid to have the name change done. Since then, our state has gotten Registered Domestic Partnerships which do (at least in our state) allow either party to change their name at no extra charge (not sure about whether you can change first and middle names at the same time).

On a side note:

My partner goes by a name that is not a typical nickname for her first or middle name. It is a (usually) male name that is a mashup of her first and middle name (along the lines of Evan for Emily Vanessa.) She has not officially changed to this nickname and tends to use initials when signing official documents (E.V. Lastname).

This begs the question, when would you be happy to go by a "nickname" versus when would you consider actually changing your formal name to what you actually are called? I get the sense from previous comments that this varies quite a bit person to person, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

40
By Guest (not verified)
June 27, 2010 10:15 AM

I considered this idea and have some regret at not have followed through on it. In my case, the new blended first name would be an established first name, Lorraine.

41
By Guest (not verified)
June 27, 2010 10:17 AM

I'm sorry, I meant "not having" in the post above, of course!

42
By Guest (not verified)
June 27, 2010 11:07 AM

I've always hated my name but have never been brave enough to change it. This post was the impetus i needed. Thanks Laura- I'm going to do it!

43
By Edith Bouvier Beale (not verified)
June 27, 2010 2:49 PM

I also wanted to add that, in Iowa, both members of a couple are allowed to change their names upon marriage, whether it is a straight or a gay/lesbian couple. Even before it legalized same-sex marriage, Iowa was also one of the few states--I think there are six or seven others--where men were allowed to change their (sometimes full name, sometimes just last) name at marriage without having to get a court order. Although, perhaps, as same-sex marriage becomes more wide-spread, that will become more common elsewhere, as well. Just for the sake of standardizing forms, I would think.

I think that, similarly, one of the wonderfully serendipitous side-effects of same-sex marriage is that it demonstrates how utterly arbitrary so many of our heterosexual "rules" actually are. For instance, the now largely outdated practice of referring to a married woman as "Mrs. Husband'sFirstname Husband'sLastname." My brother loves to joke about marrying a famous movie star and then insisting on being referred to by his fantasy-husband's first and last names, introducing himself as "Mr. Jake Gyllenhaal" or sending our resumes as "Mr. Jake Gyllenhaal" and then getting to explain to people that he's not actually the movie-star, he's MISTER the movie-star.

44
By Kanadiana (not verified)
June 27, 2010 3:09 PM

I didn't consider changing my other names when I married. The idea didn't occur to me. I like my names. Also, I'm not a big change person.... I think a change like that would be a bit traumatic for me! The surname was hard enough!!

On a side note- I bought a whole passel of books at a garage sale yesterday... the BEST one of the lot was written by Theo. LeSieg (another alias of Dr. Suess for the books he wrote but didn't illustrate) and the name was "Hooper Humperdink...? NOT HIM!" And it is sooo cute- written in the '70's and it's chock full of the names of all these people that this little boy is going to invite to his party- except not Hooper Humperdink....its very cute. I recommend it for all the NE's on here who are looking for something fun to read to their little ones.

45
June 27, 2010 4:25 PM

Kanadiana-Hooper Humperdink is a great one. We have that in our collection along with MANY others. My favorite (not by Dr Suess) name book is So Many Bunnies. It's an alphabet book where the mother rabbit has 26 children she is trying to pur to bed. It's fun to see the names 1 for each letter. AND it rhymes also with the places they are sleeping so that makes it even more tricky. *1 was Abel, he slept on the table*

46
By Kanadiana (not verified)
June 27, 2010 4:48 PM

zoerhanne- That sounds like a fun one. I'm going to check it out on amazon... :)

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By lia (not verified)
June 27, 2010 5:00 PM

RobynT: Yep, the men kept their name the same - part of it was probably because the wife always moved in with the husband's family, which meant that the husband was staying in his own village. I'm not sure about continuity, but I can tell you that land deeds and business papers were almost always under a male in the family (I don't know what the specific rules were with land ownership and women, only that this was common), so it might have caused trouble if they changed their names.

But honestly, I think part of it is because in the old days, there were no passports or legal documents that required matching names... and even today, in India they are a little lax about things like that - i.e. it's more important that the community recognizes a woman as the wife of a man rather than her name matching the one on the marriage license.

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By Anna S (not verified)
June 27, 2010 6:30 PM

Changing your name in Denmark is really simple - you just fill out and submit an online form. The fee is ca. 70$ per person/family/marrying couple. Of course it would make sense to change both first and last name at the same time if you were planning to get married anyway, but the process is exactly the same.

A new name certificate and a new SS-card will automatically be sent to you. Banks, phone companies, schools/universities and other official institutions get name and address info via your SS-number, and once your new name has registered, the info will automatically be updated. Passports and DLs are still valid with the old name but you can renew them if you want - ca. $100 for a passport (which has to be renewed every 10 years anyway) and $20 for a DL.

I have changed my name twice: I was born "First1 First2 Last1 Last2" in which Last2 was my official surname (because you only get to have one) and Last1 was technically a middle name. When I turned 18 I deleted Last2 so that Last1 became my official surname. I did it because my older brothers had done the same and I wanted to have the same surname as them. (They had done it because Last2 was very common and they also had very common first names). I could also have switched the order to "Last2 Last1" but I was also happy to reduce the total number of names.

I have also made a (minor) adjustment to one of my first names. Since I'm not too comfortable giving out my full name, I'm going to describe it with a name-analogy: Suppose my name used to be Maria Therese - I was known as Maria in some circles and Therese in others, and I always had problems with people getting the -a/-e endings wrong, especially in writing. I'd be addressed as Maria Theresa, Marie Therese, Maria Therese or Marie Theresa almost randomly. I then decided to change the ending of the one name I used the least (and didn't particularly like). So I became Marie Therese instead of Maria Therese.

I don't think I would have made the last change if it hadn't been so easy (and free of charge back then). I saw it mainly as a "cosmetic change" at the time but I have since grown to like "Marie" a lot. And it did work the way it was supposed to, people never get "Marie Therese" wrong.

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By Sol's_mom (not verified)
June 27, 2010 8:05 PM

This leads to a question I've had. How do people who have two middle names from birth feel about this? I have two middle names by choice since I did not drop my last name when I added my husband's last name. However, I commonly only use my own last name as a middle name, and rarely use my given middle name. That is, I go by Mary Smith Jones rather than Mary Anna Jones when a middle name is requested on a form.

Does anyone have two given middle names from birth (i.e., Mary Anna Leslie Smith)? How do people feel about this? Excessive, cumbersome, or just more choices?

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By Guest (not verified)
June 27, 2010 8:38 PM

I would not consider changing my first name. While it's nothing I would ever choose, there's nothing wrong with it either. Also, People have been calling me by the name for over a quarter of a century and I'm pretty well accustomed to it. And finally, that kind of thing would never fly in my family or social circle. People would think I was attention seeking or bizarre--and honestly I would think the same if a sibling or friend changed an acceptable name just because they didn't like it. By acceptable I mean a standard given name or even one of the creative ones that are so fashionable now. I can see many of today's children wanting to change the spellings of their names to something phonetically sensible as adults, and wouldn't blame them for that. To me unacceptable would be (and I know this is pretty arbitrary) Lunatic or Chlamydia or even (and I know this is a personal thing) a very hippy-ish name like Moonbeam or Echo or Starlight. In contrast, Mildred and Gertrude, while not fashionable, are acceptable. There are some usable nicknames if nothing else Millie, Mid, Gert, Gertie. And very trendy names like Jennifer or Jessica are also acceptable names and can be modified with nicknames. But to each their own.