Changing Your Last Name: How to Decide What's Right for You

Danielle Tate, Name Change Expert and CEO of, discusses your options.

i stole her heart so im stealing his last name sign
Photo Credit: ChicBridalBoutique/Etsy

Name change after marriage is a big decision. While most women anticipate getting married someday, very few of us give much thought to the concept of name change. If you do opt to change your name (and 88.6% of you will), the change is permanent unless you divorce or petition the U.S. court system for a legal name change order, which is about as fun as it sounds. It is wise to fully understand your feelings on name change, as well as your options before making the switch to Mrs.

When I got married, I gamely tossed my maiden name and took my husband’s. Now, nine years later, I wish that I would have researched my name change options a bit more before taking the name change plunge. So, here’s the scoop on married name change and the multitude of options available today. Please take a moment to read this article and make an informed decision; you’ll thank me later!

Option 1: Keep your maiden name

If your profession is closely tied to your name or if you are the last member of your family to carry your name, keeping your maiden name is a logical choice. It’s also the choice that results in zero paperwork!

Option 2: Hyphenate your name with your spouse’s

Most popular in the 1970s, hyphenation allows you to keep your maiden name while still adding your spouse's. It also makes it easy for colleagues, clients, and friends to follow you and your work post-marriage.

Option 3: Take two last names sans hyphen

This name change option allows you to have both surnames but use them interchangeably. You will need to sign all legal documents with both names, but you can introduce yourself with one last name, thus forgoing the mouthful that hyphenated last names can create.

Option 4: Take your maiden name as a middle name and your spouse’s last name

This is one of the most popular name change trends today, as women can take their spouse’s last name but still keep their maiden name. Maiden to middle name change holds even more appeal for women who were bestowed with horrible middle names! This can be done in all states except California (unless you list your maiden as your middle name on your marriage license), Ohio, New Jersey, and Washington. If you live in New York or Pennsylvania, you'll need to follow a specific order when filing your forms to achieve maiden to middle name change (get more info on

Option 5: Take your spouse’s last name

Many brides are ready to axe their maiden names completely and take their spouse’s last name. Reasons range from having unpronounceable maiden names to wanting their future children to have a last name towards the front of the alphabet.

Option 6: Create a blended last name with your spouse

This concept is very new on the name change scene — Mr. Goldberg and Miss Bernstein become Mr. and Mrs. Goldstein. *Please note that this option is only available to California couples, and they must write their blended last names on their marriage license.

Option 7: Have your spouse take your name

If you love your last name and your spouse doesn’t have major ties to his, consider having him take your maiden name as a new last name. Certain states — California, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Lousiana, Massachusetts, New York, and North Dakota — recognize a man's right to change his name on the basis of marriage.

Still unsure of the best name change option for you? Play the Married Name Game. This interactive quiz boasts a patent-pending algorithm, which was created by analyzing the name change choices made by the 200,000+ customers and the key influencers of their decisions. It weighs and factors in things like your age and education, along with your personal style, to suggest the name change option(s) most in keeping with your selections.