Ten years ago, I met the man that I now plan to spend the rest of my life with and we are only days away from saying "I do." I have never been one for tradition and our wedding is truly displaying that. We are getting married on a farm with only a small number of people attending, during a month that is not typically popular for weddings. We have a very small bridal party, I am not wearing a veil, and we are not exchanging vows during our ceremony, but in private.
Lastly, I am keeping my last name.
I have only announced my decision to a selected few and have had a lot of different reactions. I have been met with people who encourage it, people who find breaking the norm to be too scary, and some who are surprised Joe is "letting" me keep my own name.
It surprised me how many people found it strange for me to want to keep the name I have carried around my entire life. I have indeed taken Joe's feelings about this into consideration, but, at the end of the day, it is my decision on what I do with my name.
The history of the last name exchange dates back to the time when women and children had to take their husband/father's name because, at that time, men owned their wives and children. It is a historic tradition I don't feel the need to follow.
To clarify, I do not disagree with women who change their last names when married. Just as it is my choice to want to keep mine, it is their choice to want to change theirs. Changing your name ensures that you have a clear, defined family name that your husband and your children, if you plan to have any, will all share.
There is also the other wonderful option of hyphenating. It is something Joe and I have also spoken about, but have yet to come to a final decision. Either way, there is no legal obligation to change your name when you marry. No matter what, you will still be husband and wife.
There are many reasons to keep your own last name as well. For me, it does not seem fair that I will lose ties to my family name, while my husband can keep his. I am the last generation that I know of to carry my surname. After my sister and I, our family name (through the bloodline of my grandparents) dies out. That is something I am not emotionally ready to let go of.
Besides the paperwork, published work, and career, my last name feels true to me and who I am. Taking on another last name does not feel right in my heart. There is also the established unfair reasoning: if men are not expected to change their names for marriage, then why are women?
While I do not think less of any woman who does take her husband's name, I personally just want to keep my own identity. I love my husband-to-be and I will refer to us as "Mr. and Mrs. MacGregor-Centineo." However, legally, I will still be me.