As my fiancé, Ross, and I finish dinner last night, my future mother-in-law calls.
She asks, “Are you going to take our last name?”
“Yes,” I respond calmly.
A conversation ensues about the logistics of changing the name on our marriage license after our upcoming November wedding. Once we hang up, Ross says to me:
“A year ago, did you ever think you’d be having such a casual conversation with my Mom about taking our last name?”
“No,” I respond with a smile, since life’s surprises never cease to amaze me.
The ironic thing about the nonchalance of this conversation about changing my last name of 32 years and my family name of many more years, is that despite all of the mind-space, late nights, and early mornings thinking about the dress, the flowers, the cake, the ceremony, the moment I look down the aisle at my miraculous partner, and our first dance, one thing I didn’t expect to think about these past 7 months of wedding planning is identity. Here’s how identity has come into play:
I could have easily started this paragraph with Shakespeare’s, “What’s in a name?” As a Millennial with several social media profiles and as a marketer with a personal brand, a Last Name change (that I’m so excited and honored to take!) comes with questions about how these are impacted. “If I change my email address to include my new name, will I miss important emails?” I think to myself. “What about my broader network of relationships I’ve built up along my career who know me by name?” Of course, I’m still my good old self, like a company with the same products undergoing a new brand. If you’re looking to connect with me, you will find me. But, I can’t help but wonder how to take on a new well-respected name, what changing my name represents, and how to make my current and new family proud. It seems that keeping my current Last Name as my new Middle Name is the best, and often-implemented solution. And, hey, it most certainly will help with Search Engine Optimization too.
Two Identity Questions at Play:
As Ross and I have worked as a team to make wedding detail decisions, from the location, to the officiant, to the ceremony, and even the fun reception bells and whistles, I’ve had two identity questions on my mind:
1. Who am I? From minimizing our invitation suite to 1 invitation and 1 RSVP card to save paper, to choosing reusable signage at the wedding to reduce waste, to what to spend on/what to save on, and thank you gifts for our ultra-generous family and friends, I’ve spent many thoughts and minutes thinking about who I am at my core and how to retain that throughout the wedding and in our marriage.
2. Who are we as a couple? While we’re bringing our best selves to our life together, we’re also defining what that life will be like. We looked beyond just things on our gift registry to think about the kind of home and family life we are building together. We added donation options in lieu of gifts since we’re already so fortunate to have more than the basic necessities. We’ve brought both of our life experiences and family traditions together to make sure our wedding honors the generations who came before us and enabled us to get to a place of strength to build our own family and life together.
The Next Step
As Ross and I approach our wedding day with last minute decisions and details, we’re committing to staying true to ourselves, even as we evolve individually, and together. I’ll continue to challenge and honor my identity as I appreciate his and as we grow through life experiences. We are taking an aisle, or a path, forward together, keeping in mind that identity stems not only from our families and our names, but from ourselves and from what drives us to be better parts to our new whole.