Caroline Gerdes
January 28, 2016 9:50 am

If you’re from the South, like I am, there’s one thing you can count on at any shower — be that baby or bridal — and that is monogramming, which was probably done by hand, by someone you love. For this reason, expectant mothers who want to forgo the monogram, keep baby names under wraps and brides smile politely at stitches that replace the middle initial with the maiden. Luckily, all of the monogram pieces I received during my engagement were simply embossed with a “G,” which happens to be the surname initial for both my husband and me. Though we still have different last names, they are alliterative.

Yes, I decided to keep my name. I simply feel connected to my name. It is part of who I am. I am proud to be a Gerdes. I am proud every time I read it in a byline. And, my husband totally understands that — and so did his family. But changing your name is a personal choice. So, I honor and respect the women in my life who have made the decision to change, hyphenate or use both names when they married their partner. It’s important to know your options and to do what feels right for you — on whatever timeline you want. My mom, for example, waited until she had two children to change her name after many years of marriage. You do you.

For those of you who didn’t take your partner’s name, there are some situations that you have probably encountered over and over again. I haven’t been married all that long, but there are certain moments that seem to happen on loop regarding changing my name. Here are some real conversations that happen when you don’t take your husband’s name.

My husband gets called by my last name sometimes 

When I make a reservation or book a hotel room on my credit card, the host or front desk person, respectively, will call my husband Mr. Mylastname. And, since this isn’t a legally binding situation, we brush it off and my husband will just go along with being Mr. Mylastname — unless it becomes excessive/rude not to correct them.

When you don’t change your last name on Facebook, some people aren’t sure you’re married 

The photos are tagged and the relationship status is updated, but what’s the deal here? Your name didn’t change and your maiden name doesn’t appear in brackets below your name in much smaller text? People will get it eventually.

The mail situation will get a little bit jumbled

For me, personally, I don’t care if an invitation is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Husbandlastname, people are following an old format and doing the best they can to be polite. But, if there is one thing I learned from addressing my own wedding invitations, it’s ok to ask. I also learned that I have terrible penmanship …

People will ask you about your maiden name

Gerdes. No, this isn’t a both of our last names were Gerdes situation. It was Gerdes, but it still is too.

People will ask about your potential kids’ names

The kid talk, regardless of naming, can be awkward. It’s ok to share whatever you feel comfortable about sharing when it comes to hypothetical children and to not share what you don’t feel comfortable discussing — after all, hypothetical children are really no one’s business but yours and your hypothetical partner’s.

And most people? They’re just going to roll with it

These days, a lot of people aren’t going to care. Women have been keeping and hyphenating their name for decades now. And now that marriage is legal for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, the “rules” are evolving, too. Your name is your name, and you’re the only person who gets to decide whether you want to change. In my experience, people who ask the above questions are just curious about the choice, and many of them have made similar decisions themselves. It’s been refreshing that, for the most part, keeping my name has been no big deal.

(Image via Universal Pictures)

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