What changes when the wedding is over and you're officially married? There's the ring on your finger, checking the "Mrs." box on official forms, changing your Facebook relationship status for the last time and, oh yes, your name.
I was that girl in high school who used to practice writing her potential married name in cursive in the margins of her notebooks. You know what I'm talking about: "Mrs. Elisa ____" surrounded by little doodled hearts, then feverishly scratching it out with a metallic Jellyroll pen when a new crush came along. To me this process was always a given, innate for a traditional heterosexual marriage. Girl meets boy. Girl marries boy. Girl gets a new last name. It was never anything that garnered a second thought. Even when Tim and I were starting to talk seriously about marriage I assumed that I would become a Herby.
One of my dearest friends got married a couple weeks ago in what was the most amazing wedding I have ever witnessed. She's since become my wedding and marriage guru, always giving me flawless advice and cluing me in to newlywed idiosyncrasies. Eventually the talk turned to marriage licenses. Of course it was one harmless, well-intentioned tip at the end of an e-mail that started this mess. It read, "Oh, and you'd better know what you want your name to be when you go in to apply, because you have to decide right then and there." Um, excuse me?
I don't know, okay! I don't know my name, cheery sticker! Go away and leave me alone.
All of a sudden I felt a
little lot panicked. "There's a deadline? I can't just change my name at my leisure whenever I feel like it and/or get around to it? But it's going to be the middle of winter and I just want to sit on my couch in sweatpants and change it in the spring once I've adjusted to the idea. No? I can't do that? Are you serious?" I had never even thought about keeping my given name (Becker), but now I can't stop thinking about it. Why?
- Autonomy. Personally, I don't think that marriage is two souls joining together or two people becoming one. Tim and I are two very different (yet eerily complimentary) individuals who are making a loving, informed choice to spend our lives together. Yes, we will have one marriage, but we remain two separate people. I don't think we have to share a last name to have a unified marriage. Can't we do that without changing my identity?
- Okay, fine, I'll admit it: There is a degree of feminism involved. No one expects Tim to become a Becker, but it's a "given" that I will become a Herby. That cultural assumption bothers me. Every once and a while it actually enrages me. I thought women stopped being property quiet some time ago. Besides, if I do decide to change my name will anyone ever call us "Mrs. and Mr. Elisa Herby"? I doubt it.
- My family rocks. I'm proud to be a Becker.
Beckers . . . we're everywhere! It's a solid name, as proven by this classy dessert cooler.
So why I am even debating this?
- Sharing a last name is an outward symbol of our marriage. I love the idea of our friends saying, "Let's see what the Herby's are up to tonight," or finding an invitation in the mail addressed to "The Herby Family." It makes us a united front. A declaration that we're partners and we're bonded together. I smile just thinking about it.
- I definitely want to share a last name with our kids when the time comes. Tim and I are kind of strange, so I'm sure we'll do plenty to confuse our kids in other ways. Let's keep the name game as simple as possible please.
- I love the Herby family. As far as in-laws go, I hit the jackpot. It would be an honor to be a part of the family.
I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do about this name-changing business. Maybe I'll hyphenate. Elisa Becker-Herby sounds good to me. I would get to keep the Becker, but also gain a Herby. Isn't that what marriage is all about in the first place?
Now, I mustache you a question Twin Cities brides. Are you changing your last name after the big day? Why or why not?
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