About 90% of brides today give up their maiden names after getting married, whether out of respect for tradition, a desire for cohesiveness or even to avoid having to explain family relationships, especially after children enter the picture. But there’s no doubt brides are opting to use their maiden names – as more than just a password hint for online accounts – these days. But bureaucratic and similarly pragmatic reasons can also sway women in the other direction. If such considerations seem thoroughly modern, they actually date back to the 1850s in America. Stone didn’t insist on using her maiden name immediately upon tying the knot, however, referring to herself as “Lucy Stone Blackwell” in her wedding announcements. Well, I did change my name (and on Facebook first, the real authority, or maybe just the one that didn't require a 2 hour wait).

I got to thinking about why I wasn’t feeling that bad and why it seemed so easy to take on this new identity. My first thought is, although I do love my former last name and the family I came from, my immediate family members all have different names. As more women postpone marriage until after their early 20s, many feel reluctant to give up the identities, both personal and professional, that their names represent.
Hyphenating has become a popular alternative, though many parents are reluctant to then saddle their children with clunky last names that bust out of application form boxes.
No word in the history books, though, about whether she chose a monogram or floral motif to adorn her paper stock. It was also a topic that my friends and I discussed together as each of us transformed from a bride to a wife.

But among the many items on a bride’s checklist is one decision that has lifelong implications (besides picking the lucky guy): whether to change her last name. Both bride and groom can keep their original names, but having to repeatedly explain “Yes, John Roberts is really my husband, even though I’m Emily Jones” can make a person crazy. My mom has the same last name as her parents and one brother, but my other two uncles have a separate last name.

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