What’s in a name?

posted on 18 November 2011 by The Tie The Knot Team
posted to Wedding Tips & Advice


Do you want to keep your maiden surname or take on that of your husband? Apparently the vast majority of women marrying today still adopt their husband’s last name. But there are a number of women who defy the traditional route to do it differently.

We look at why the so many women adopt their husband’s surname and then look at the other options available to you.

The pros and cons  of taking your husband’s name

  • The obvious pro here is that your relationship is blatantly clear – you both have the same name, and if and when the children come along, you are recognisable as a family unit
  • It can symbolise commitment to adopt your husband’s name
  • If you don’t like your own surname then taking on that of your husband’s is an obvious choice
  • The major con is all the documentation, time and effort involved in letting everyone know that your name has changed
  • You may feel a loss of identity taking on your husband’s name
  • You may just not like your husband’s surname (adding ‘Mullet’ to your name could jar just a little)
  • You may struggle with the emotional, social, political implications of changing your name
  • Professional reasons may necessitate your maintaining your maiden name; for instance you write under your maiden name, or you’re a well known doctor etc.

Other options available to you:

  • Hyphenation – this is where you both end up with a new double-barrel surname like Blythe-Smith. This can end up sounding a little snooty, and if your names don’t have a certain ring about them when combined it can just be too difficult on the tongue for people to pronounce
  • Doubling up – this is where a woman keeps her maiden name as her second name, whilst adopting her husband’s last name, without the hypen. But without the hyphen, most people are simply going to revert to calling you by your husband’s name
  • Duality – you keep your maiden name in your professional life, and use your husband’s name socially – fairly common practice amongst celebs
  • He takes yours – your husband can take on your surname, a distinct advantage when his name is difficult to pronounce and you have a cool surname

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What Do You Think?

  1. 3 Jul 2013
    Paul says

    Do you have any more information on what men need to do to change their surnames when getting married?
    My Fiancee and I are going for the hyphenated option but it’s very difficult to find out what paperwork is required to do this in South Africa. The priest who is marrying us said the marriage registration form only accounts for a woman to change her surname. Is the system still that archaic?
    Any advice would be appreciated, as there isn’t much online.

    • 4 Jul 2013
      The Tie The Knot Team says

      Hi Paul, unfortunately we don’t have any more info about this. It will probably be best to go straight to Home Affairs and check with them.