Photo: Ryan Phillips Photography
It's becoming less and less common for women to change their last names when they get married. According to an analysis by The New York Times based on its wedding announcements, 16.2 percent of women kept their maiden names in 1990, while 29.5 percent did in 2014. You can chalk this up to a number of factors — not least among them a growing sense of equality among married partners — but that doesn't mean every independent woman is bent on keeping her last name. In fact, women have all sorts of reasons you may not have considered for keeping their names and for changing them.
Here, real women reveal their reasons for keeping or changing their names when they got married:
"I told my partner I would only change my name if he changed his, so we both picked a new name and changed it when we got married. We ended up taking his mother's maiden name." — Britni, 31
"I debated the idea of keeping/changing my name for an entire year before we got married, but in the end and despite lots of outside opinion, I chose to keep my last name. It was a name I was proud of. I had battled so many obstacles and celebrated so many achievements in life with my 'maiden name.' I wrote two children's books, built a business, grew into a confident adult, etc. The idea of changing my name felt like a complete disconnect from my identity. I didn't want to feel detached from the person I had spent so many years trying to become, the person I was so proud of. I didn't want to live a 'brand new life' or 'start fresh,' as some pro-changing friends tried to argue. My marriage was an opportunity to enhance the life I was already living, not a means to leave behind my old life and pretend it never existed." — Alyssa, 24
"I did change my last name, but regretted doing so almost immediately. My husband and I were together 10 years before we got married. We owned a home. We got married while on vacay without telling anyone. At the time, I didn't think twice about changing my name and for me, it was that literally nothing else was changing. There was nothing to mark that we'd gotten married. But I continue to work under my maiden name. But now, every time I have to deal with getting paid, I have to deal with using both names. It's just really been a pain and I wish I hadn't done it. I've been considering legally changing my name again so that my maiden name is my middle name and therefore less confusing all around." — Nicole, 34
"My name is part of who I am. It's a connection to my family. It's a nickname that I've been called for as long as I can remember. I've always loved it, and I really just didn't want to lose it. It wasn't some big feminist statement — I just liked what my name was and saw no reason to change. I don't think my commitment to my husband or my marriage has anything to do with what I call myself, nor do I think it makes us less of a unit to not have the same name." — Julianne, 30
"My birth last name was and is commonly mistaken for my first name — it's one of those that is both, but people associate it with a first or middle name more than a last name. I went through years of school and college being called 'lastname firstname' instead of 'firstname lastname.' Changing my last name was an easy way to get around that." — Kash, 35
"My wife and I hyphenated our last names because we each wanted to keep our family name and take on the other's to create a new name just for the two of us. We won't have any kids, so we weren't worried about passing down a hyphenated name for the next generation to worry about when they got married." — Mari, 36
"I wanted to continue using my maiden name professionally, but I also want to have kids and have my family unit share a last name. (My brother and I have different last names, and I always kind of hated that). So, I ultimately changed my legal middle and last names to Michelle [Maiden Name] [Married Name]. I use my maiden name professionally and my married name personally. My original middle name is still part of my identity, just not legally." — Michelle, 24
"Originally, when we got married eight years ago, I didn't change my last name. My husband wasn't thrilled. In fact, we had a fight at the clerk's office...apparently, it surprised him, where I had always assumed that I would keep my last name. I was established in my career. It was my identity and my family. Anyways, fast forward eight years, and I did take his name about a year ago. There's something about being married, closer, and more settled that made me want to reflect his name — but it's something we grew into, not something I knew I wanted right away." — Liz, 36
"I changed it more for the fact of having the same last name as my future children rather than my husband. Traveling with children is much easier when their last name matches their parents'. If traveling alone with children whose last name does not match yours, you sometimes have to provide a notarized letter that the child is in indeed yours." — Mollie, 31
Did you change your last name when you got married, or do you plan to? How did you decide? Sound off on Facebook!