After a lifetime of being Miss X, a bride is faced with an identity crisis of sorts as she decided whether to hyphenate, become a Mrs or turn into something else entirely.The tradition of a woman relinquishing her name is one that harks back to a time when it was desirable to marry one’s daughter off to good husbands whereupon she became, primarily, his wife and mother of his children.
Nowadays, married women are quite useful in all sorts of ways—they vote, hold down jobs and even have their own social lives.
Legally, anyone who goes through the proper channels may call themselves whatever the hell they like—Exhibit A: Richard Branson’s nephew changed his moniker from Ned Abel Smith to Ned Rocknroll. [Side note: he’s now dating Kate Winslet—no word on whether she’d become Kate Rocknroll in the event of marriage.]
Getting married is the one time you can avoid the whole deed poll process and change your name fairly easily. Often the woman may legally become Mrs Husband but keep Miss Singleton for professional purposes (no need to reprint the business stationery!).
Women who don’t wish to relinquish their surname entirely may instead make it their middle name and take on the new last name—Pam Smilie becomes Pam Smilie Jones. Or the couple may choose to bring their names together in hyphenated bliss (the Smilie-Joneses).
It’s actually not unheard of for the man to do the sacrificing and to adopt the woman’s name or even for the couple to invent a new last name combining syllables from their old ones—hence, Miss Smilie and Mr Jones become Mr & Mrs Smines!
Then there are others, like recent newlywed Rosie, who elected to keep her own name—even though her groom was keen for her to take his name.
“We’d been together for nine years and had two kids before we married,” she says. “It might be a romantic notion if we married quickly, but we’d come so far without it. For me, it’s more an identity thing.”
Debate on the name issue continued until close to the ceremony—neither party was willing to change, nor did a hyphenated surname appeal. Ultimately, the status quo was maintained, although at the ceremony Rosie made a concession, allowing the celebrant to announce them as Mr & Mrs to the congregation.
Rosie concedes that having three surnames in the family (the children are hyphenated) could become an issue when the kids start school. “We may hyphenate as well for unofficial documents to avoid confusion,” she says. “But I like they both have our names and if they like, they can choose one or the other later on.”