Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love, by Many Other Names

Lately, it feels like every wedding element we feel we're warming up to, we have to question later.

One minute, we're completely, totally sure that this venue or that vendor has got to be the right one for us, but give us a few suggestions or a couple days of blog-stalking later and we're singin' a new tune. It's not enough that there are a million different ways to personalize your wedding day, it's also a matter of streaming it all together nicely and combating all of the many, many pop-up problems that can present themselves along the way...

(P.S. The Chicago Marathon is apparently taking place the exact same weekend as our wedding. We're in hotel-booking hell right now and if you're a guest and just now reading this, welcome to the seventh circle).

With all of the work to do and things to plan before the big day, I find myself focusing more and more on what happens after the vows have been said, the confetti has been cleared and the honeymoon has ended.

It goes without saying that the post-wedding parts of life are obviously more important anyways, but when you have a million different things to consider and you want your wedding be nice it can be hard not to get caught up in the details. There's a lot to think about to be sure, but the one really big detail that needs to be addressed is how you plan to be addressed when your little union goes legal.

I'm referring to the big name change (or, - in some cases - the big name unchanged, added-on or hypenated) and it can be quite the dilemma. Keep your name and face the possibly wrath of staunch traditionalism. Change it, and you have a whole new mess ahead. It's not a decision to take lightly and it couldn't be more personal, so what to do?

As a little girl, I would sometimes "play wedding" at my Grandma's house. My five-year-old self would drag my mom's old wedding dress out of the attic crawlspace and parade around my Grandma's house clutching her silk flower centerpiece like a ready-made bride bouquet. Fast-forward 15 years later, and my teenage self is fed-up with boys and other real-world bullshit. I proudly refer to myself a riot grrl (I think I even still have the old AOL screen name to prove it) and I hold the belief that while a boyfriend might be nice, marriage is nothing more than a prison sentence.

So, you know, I grew up. And while I still consider myself a feminist, I can definitely say that I don't see spending the rest of my life with JCakes as a prison sentence and my present-day outrage is more reserved for our government's inability to recognize every person's right to love and marriage. Problem is, there are a lot of pros and cons. So many, that there are dozens of forums voicing their own complaints and concerns (including over 13,214 comments on the subject of "Changing Your Name" in IndieBride's kvetch forums).

As my own rule, I vehemently oppose being called Mrs. HisFirstName HisLastName. Its the one title I have no tolerance for and if anyone sent mail addressed to us like that, it would probably just go straight to the trash without an obligatory opening. Aside from that, I can see the pros and cons pretty equally in all of the options, and there is a lot to think about. This article from Elegala sums it all up very nicely if you're looking for the full rundown...

In the meantime, here's where we are with all this:

The Maiden in the Middle
The Maiden Name in the middle was definitely my go-to idea on how to handle this business. I figured: hyphens are messy, we'd both rather not deal and it's a nice way to honor each other and recognize each other without one person or the other having to lose anything. On the other side, I really like my middle name and his is a family name (which he also really likes) so now what?

The Maiden Name as a Future Kid's Name
Works out fine for some people, but as two people who aren't fully diggin' names that require numerical add-ons, I can't imagine wanting to work in either one of our last names as a first or middle name for our future unborn children. Actually, we both really love our middle names and the family history there so much that figured if we decide to have kids, we can work "Decker" and "Annelie" into there somewhere. Still, this is a lot of pressure to put onto something that doesn't exist yet. What if we don't have kids, or we have one and it's so painful that the idea of two seems insane? Point is, it's nice to think ahead, but maybe banking on that is a bit intense for us.

"The Mullet" of Married Names
This is the idea where a maiden name as a professional name and the spouse's name is used socially. I feel you can really equate this to the mullet, with the whole "business in the front and party in the back" thing going on. It might work very well for celebrities or other very well-known people who can seemingly do whatever they want with their names and still be recognizable, but for people with less glamorous lifestyles it may just be more confusing.

The Married Name Mouth-full
Why not just tack another name on? Your parents gave you a middle name and you probably hardly use it, why not add another one on. Well, depending on your state, the add another middle name option may not be available to you, but even if it is, how long do you think it will take until your maiden name gets lost in the midst.

The Hyphen
Plan to have kids? If so, then adding a hyphen is definitely a one-time solution. Future sons and daughters finding the love of their lives to also be from a family of hyphens will have even more issues to tackle should then later wed. It's also a lot to tack on if you're both from families with really long last names. One more con? This combination can be pretty hilarious (ditto on the funny and the long name part if you go for the Maiden in the Middle or The Mullet options).

Make-Your-Own Names
Is there a part of your name or their name that you don't like? Well, just Frankenstein them into something semi-recognizable of the two or pick a new name altogether. It's fun, it's a compromise for both people and you'll get to ride on the whole "we're starting a new life chapter of our life thing" if that's what you want.

Honestly, I really like this idea, but I'm far too much of a traditionalist when it comes to family. I'd rather save the new name idea for when I get really famous or something. However, I will admit that JCakes and I considered making our last name Danger, just because Johnny Danger would be cool as hell and Candace Danger doesn't sound too bad either.

Keeping your Current Name
Yep, that is still an option. Among the mess of other ways you can express yourself, you can also just opt to go into the marriage the way you came into each-others lives - with the names you already have.

On the plus side, there is no real additional paperwork, no fees for name changing and no fuss over giving into one side or the other. If you don't really like your name, bonus.

On the other side, if there are plans to add in future family units (you know, have kids) then what? Everyone goes by one name and not the other? I would become the renegade maiden-name keeper of the family crew? Kinda sucks.

The Mr. Takes on the Ms.'s
This might be a grand idea for some people, but since my whole argument for not wanting to just take JCakes last name alone is that I feel it's representative of all "property" parts of marriage from long ago. If I feel close to my name and he feels close to his, why should I ask him to do something I wouldn't want to? Next!

Just Take His Name
While reading the Elegala article, (scroll up for the link I put up earlier) I noticed that last option seemed to be the least objective amongst the bunch. At least, it was the only one that included a statistic ("Take his name – and join the ranks of 90% of women getting married today...").

So if everyone else is doing it and it's easier, why-not? If I followed that logic I would also be having a $30K+ wedding and putting us into major debt along the way. Because, that's the way it goes when you follow the norm and the majority.

For the record, I agree. It certainly is among the easier options since it's been happening for a very long time. It also makes sense to not have to explain your relations to strangers or have to get into discussions when you're dealing with your kids (assuming you're going to have some someday). There certainly are pros, and I fully support the idea that you shouldn't NOT do it because you feel like you'll be perceived as dependent. However, it just doesn't seem like the right option for me.

Damn, I was kind of hoping at the end of this the right option might just pop out at me, but now I just have a headache...

Off to Craft Night!

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