4/19 {Ask Liz} The Name Change Game Revisited

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Got a question for Liz? She’s taking a little break from dispensing her sage wedding wisdom this week, but she’ll be back on duty next week, so go to the contact page and let us know what’s up! In the mean-time, enjoy this “vintage” post from 2011!

This article originally appeared on The Broke-Ass Bride on May 20, 2011

It’s still the two of you together, whether you take his last name, or not. (Courtesy of Sun-Dance Photography)

So, my maiden name is “McNamee.” Try pronouncing that out loud. Yeah, I know, you can’t. Nobody can spell it, nobody can pronounce it, and I spent 30 years helping them, and wincing when they got wrong, anyway. Extra “A”s were prevalent. When The Boy and I got engaged, mostly I was thinking, yes, I will change my name to something people can at least spell. Cooper…smith. Easiest thing in the world, right? At our wedding, my father-in-law made a toast, warning me that no one was going to be able to pronounce my new last name, or spell it. After 30 years of living with an obscure Irish surname, I found that hilarious. And, just the other day? A sales lady called me Mrs. Cooperson. My mother-in-law, the other Mrs. Coopersmith, found that hilarious. The best laid plans…

As you can imagine, this comes up a lot in Wedding World. On a logistic level, it’s a pain in the butt, getting a new social security card so you can change everything else, and the myriad and byzantine-like processes for doing that, differing by state, of course. All I will say about that is this: When you go to get your marriage license, ask the clerk exactly what it is you need to do/have in order to change your name.

But we all know that it won’t be the reason you decide which way to go.

It’s funny, I had a first consultation a few days ago, and one of my standard questions is, “how did you meet?” The pause afterward was familiar, so I already knew the answer – they met on a matchmaking site.  It’s the same pause I hear after I ask a woman where she works, before she tells  me that she’s a stay at home Mom. And It’s the same pause I hear after I ask the bride if she’s changing her name. Like it’s a decision they made that I might judge them about. Or, most likely, that others have judged them about.

We can be so very hard on one another. Some women see keeping their last name as a matter of keeping their identity, that they are still the same person they were before he slipped on the ring. Cool. On the other hand, some women want to change their name so they can be easily recognized as a family unit.  Also cool.

For some, it’s easier to keep their last name because of their careers. Some woman change because they like the tradition.  Some women keep theirs because they don’t want to do the damn paperwork. All cool reasons, all valid because they’re your reasons. And the truth is, whatever it is that you decide to do, there’s going to be someone who disagrees with you. You would not believe some of the arguments I’ve been in the middle of about this.

Oy, so much static over a little card!

Having the wedding you want is just an extension of having the life you want too, whatever that looks like. Don’t be ashamed of your choice, but don’t judge other people on theirs, either.  Go easy, it’s rough out there.

So, why did you decide to change or not change your name? Gotten any flack for it? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to send me your questions for the column next week!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.