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The Great Last Name Debate

March 17, 2010

The other day our travel agent emailed Mr. Jelly to ask him what name to book my tickets under for our honeymoon.  She wanted to know whether I’d be keeping my maiden name or taking his, or hyphenating.  This is a question I’ve been thinking about for months, and I’ve had very mixed feelings about. In fact, this has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

I’m really attached to my last name. It’s short, unusual, and often-mispronounced, but I love it. I’ve never met anyone with the same last name (except on Facebook, but that doesn’t count). It’s recognizably Romanian (at least to other Romanians) and I love that I get to carry a bit of my culture with me in my name.

Mr. Jelly’s last name, on the other hand, is very American. Or British. Either way, it’s quite WASP-y. I guess I had always assumed I’d take my future husband’s last name but throughout the engagement I’ve had doubts about whether I want to.  I mean, I’ve had my last name for 26 years, why would I change it? Also, it would obscure my cultural heritage to have a WASP-y name. On the other hand, I do like the idea of having a unified family name. I like the solidarity and traditional aspect of it. I’m also a hopeless romantic.  At the same time, it bugs me that society says the woman should give up her name and take on her husband’s, while he doesn’t have to change anything. That just doesn’t seem fair to me.  So what other options are there?

Let me preface this by saying that I’m very lucky to have such an understanding fiance. Even though Mr. Jelly would love for me to take his name, he fully supports whatever I decide to do. With that said, here are my options:

MyFirst MyLast HisLast (the “Jennifer Love Hewitt”): This has been the top contender so far. I would take my last name as my middle name (since I don’t have a middle name to begin with) and take his last name.  I generally like this option, but I fear that no one would actually call me by my middle name. I would insist on it (a la Jennifer Love Hewitt), but I think it would bug me if people left it out.

MyFirst MyLast (the “status quo”): This would be an easy option. I think the downside of this would be that we wouldn’t share a family name. Then again, if my kids’ friends called me Mrs. HisLastName, I wouldn’t correct them. But professionally and legally, I’d keep my name.

MyFirst MyLast-HisLast (the “hyphenated”): This is an appealing option because unlike the Jennifer Love Hewitt, it would ensure that I would be called by both names. However, I hear that it’s a huge pain to have a hyphenated name and that computers mess it up all the time. And it would be 14 letters long. Additionally, we’re not sure whether we’d hyphenate our kids names, so it could mean that I’d have a different name than the rest of the family. Though not toooo different.

So those are the three options I am most considering. As of now, I’m leaning towards the Jennifer Love Hewitt or the hyphenated. What did you decide to do? How did you reach that decision?

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