When I got married in 2010 I was faced with the difficult decision of what to do about my surname. At the time I was rapidly climbing the career ladder within the finance industry and I worried that changing my surname could potentially damage my career. Equally I knew that I wanted to have children and I desperately wanted our family to share the same surname. So, what to do? Have a double barrelled surname? Just stick to tradition and take my husband’s surname? Use a different surname professionally? After much debate my husband actually took my surname. We became a family of four happy Angells! However, this was still seen as quite an unusual option to choose and caused quite a stir within our family.
According to a recent survey I conducted, over 20% of all women asked said that they would consider keeping their maiden name because they felt that it was a link to their identity and sense of self. 20% of the same group of women would also happily consider creating a completely different surname.
According to the UK Deed Poll Service, more than 800 British couples a year decide to blend their surnames and the majority of the couples taking this option are in their twenties or early thirties. In fact, because of this rise in popularity the UK Deed Poll Service had to create a new separate system to manage demand.
Keeping your own names can result in confusion when you have children: traditionally the child would take the fathers surname but that may inadvertently imply that those children ‘belong’ or are more closely connected to the father than the mother. Merging into your own unique surname can be the perfect solution to this.
Hyphenation is still a popular choice but it is seen as untenable long-term. If the couple have children who marry and then their children marry the surnames soon become far too long to be a practical option.
However, merging surnames or creating a completely new one is not without its problems. Creating a brand new surname may upset or offend your family. Completely changing both of your surnames can be seen as a rejection of your past and family tradition. It can also be seen as the ’end of the line’ of a family name especially if the couple marrying has no brothers or sisters to ‘continue the family name’.
As a Wedding Planner couples ask me for advice on a whole range of wedding and marriage related topics and the surname debate is very often brought up. Ultimately you must make a decision that is right for the both of you as a couple.
Keeping my surname was the right option for our family and gave me the inspiration to call my business Your Planning Angel. Yes, I still have to spell it over the phone and explain that it is pronounced Angel just with an extra ‘l’ not angle (honestly – I get that ALL the time!) but it’s part of my identity and part of who I am.
So, there you have it, merge, hyphenate, create. The options are there but what would you choose?