More and more couples are combining last names to form a unique last name. It’s a growing trend that will continue to grow in popularity for a long time.
Although you don’t have to change your name after your marriage, more than 80% of spouses end up with a new last name.
The traditional last name changes are still the majority, but a growing number of newlyweds are opting to create a new last name by combining last names to create a new name or creating an entirely new last name.
Every state has its own rules on what you can and can’t do regarding name changes after marriage.
In most states, you have the option to take your spouse’s last name, hyphenate your last name, use two last names without a hyphen, or move your maiden name to your middle name and take your spouse’s last name.
We think it’s important that you know all of the name change options before your big day.
What is a combined (or merged) last name?
A merged last name is a new last name created by combining your last name and your spouse’s last name.
For example, let’s say Sally Smith and Greg Hammer are getting married.
They could combine their names into Sally and Greg Hammersmith or Sally and Greg Smithhammer.
Most states require a court order to merge two last names.
Merging last names is a very unique option, especially if your merged last name sounds cool!
For fun, check out the Couple Name Generator to see what you can come up with!
What about creating a new name that’s not related to your current last names?
If combining last names doesn’t interest you, you have a few other options to consider.
One option is to change your last name to a surname in your family lineage – like your mother’s maiden name or your great-grandmothers’ last name.
Another option is to create an entirely new last name. Maybe you don’t like your last names and want to start fresh. To do so you’ll need to follow your state’s legal name change guidelines as well as get the new name approved in court.
As you can see, you have a lot of options to consider!
What are some reasons for combining last names (pros)?
- You get the opportunity to create a new identity that is special to you and your spouse.
- It’s a union with equal weight. When you merge two names you’re not taking someone else’s name, you’re establishing that you’re equal partners. You have the opportunity to honor both family names.
- Bucks the societal norms of taking your husband’s/wife’s/partner’s last name.
What are some reasons to not combine last names (cons)?
- It’ll likely require you to visit your county courthouse to petition for a court-ordered name change (bureaucratic process).
- Both spouses will have to go through a name change after marriage process.
- You may break or weaken a family tradition. You’ll likely hear about it from a few family members.
- If you already have children it may be difficult to change their birth name.
- You may experience some professional drawbacks if your last name is linked to your business.
What’s the process of combining last names?
- Decide on your last name before your wedding. It sounds trivial but there are a lot of couples who wait to discuss this until after their wedding! If you decide to go with a merged last name or create a new one, it’s very important to thoroughly consider all the pros and cons of your last name change.
- Determine if one spouse or both are going to forward with your last name change.
- Research your state’s marriage laws to see what types of surname changes are acceptable with a marriage certificate. If your state doesn’t allow you to create a new last name due to marriage, you will need to go through your county court system in order to legally change your last name.
- If your state’s marriage laws allow your desired last name, you must write your new last name on the marriage certificate. The marriage certificate serves as proof that your marriage occurred and documents what your new name will be.
- If your state’s marriage laws allow your new last name, you and your spouse will both need to obtain a name change via court order after your marriage. Most states require a court order if a spouse seeks a last name that is unrelated to either spouse’s current or former last names.
- Start the name change after marriage process. The first thing you’ll need to do is submit your marriage certificate or court order to the Social Security Administration to get a new Social Security card. From there you’ll need to update your driver’s license, passport (if applicable), vehicle title and registration, voter registration, and all your accounts (banks, credit cards, insurance, hotel rewards, frequent flyer programs, and more).
- Enjoy your new last name!
Will you choose to merge your last name?
Changing your last name is a big deal – whether it’s a traditional name change or if you are merging two names together. Be sure to do your homework to make sure you don’t have any setbacks.
At the end of the day, your last name is your choice so do what makes you and your spouse happy!
If you have any questions about merging last names feel free to contact our team of name change experts.
Image source: Anna Delores