Newlywed Life

Why I Didn’t Change My Last Name When I Got Married

This is the story of why I didn’t change my last name when I got married. Can I be honest, y’all? It took me awhile to decide whether or not to publish this because I was afraid it might make others feel judged. Like that feeling you get when your friend who’s doing Whole30 starts talking about how sugar is the devil right after you’ve scarfed down 10 pieces of leftover Halloween candy. That’s not the point of this post. Every person should be able to decide what their name will be, free of judgment. The reason I’m writing this is because I hope it will at least make people think about something that we take for granted as a societal norm. I hope that if someone out there feels incredibly uncertain and torn about whether they want to change their name when they get married, they can get a firsthand perspective from someone who’s totally been there.

A little back story here: I deliberated over this decision for literally YEARS. I thought about it before getting engaged, while we were engaged, and even after I got married. That’s right, I didn’t make up mind about what the heck my last name was until nearly eight months after I got married. It was a touch decision, and there were lots of things to think through. In our culture, it is more or less assumed that a woman such as myself will take her husband’s last name at marriage (more on that below). I mean, I was totally one of those girls growing up who would “try on” my crush’s last name to see how it fit with my first name. I know many of you ladies out there did the same thing, so don’t be bashful.

I was so torn up over this decision, I tried to compromise at first. I thought I could sort of keep my name while also sort of changing it. It went something like this: I would not legally change it, and I would still be called by my original name (Laura Jasmine) at work, but it was okay if, in social settings, people referred to me as Laura Jasmine Saunders or Laura Saunders. This ambiguous name situation did not work for me. I often felt confused about how to introduce myself. I sometimes felt a little hateful when people would call me Laura Saunders, and I try to avoid feeling hateful as much as possible. A decision was finally reached.

So, here’s why I ultimately made the choice to not change my last name when I got married:

  1. It didn’t feel right. The biggest pull for me to keep my last name when I got married was that, on a gut instinct level, it just felt right….and Wes’s last name didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wes’s last name (Saunders), but I felt like an imposter trying to call myself by that name. I’m not Laura Saunders, I’m Laura Jasmine. This is who I’ve always been and it’s who I always will be. My core identity as a person did not change when I got married, and I still think of myself as the same old Laura Jasmine (albeit now with a sparkly band on my left hand and wordy legal document binding me to my smokin’ hot fella). I’m sure if I had signed my name as “Laura Saunders” and heard myself called that enough by others, I would have eventually grown used to it, but it just didn’t feel right. And I’m okay with that.
  2. I love my name. It’s true. I adore the name Laura Jasmine! I get compliments on how beautiful my name is everywhere I go. Nothing against Laura Saunders–that’s a fine name–but I don’t feel the same way about it as I feel about Laura Jasmine.
  3. It felt sexist. It’s not often talked about, but coverture is the reason why it became commonplace in English (and consequently, American) culture for women to assume their husband’s surname. Coverture refers to the legal doctrine whereby a man assumed his wife’s legal rights upon marriage. In other words, women essentially became the property of their husbands and had no rights, no legal voice, no standing under the law. While I realize that in American society today coverture (thankfully) does not exist and most women take their husband’s last name purely out of tradition rather than as a sign of deferred legal standing, it still just didn’t sit right with my feminist heart. Why would I want to carry a symbol of coverture around on the end of my name? What kind of message does this convey to others about gender equality?
  4. I understand why a couple would want to share the same last name, but….. I don’t think that necessarily means the woman should have to change hers. As mentioned in #3 above, coverture is no longer. So why should it always have to be the woman who changes her name? If you’re going to entertain the idea of sharing a last name (which I am totally on board with), then both people in the relationship need to be willing to consider a last name change. Yes, this means that opposite-sex couples should consider whether the man should take the woman’s last name in addition to whether the woman should consider taking the man’s last name.  Same-sex couples have also led the charge on combined or hyphenated last names, and I think these are great options as well. Wes and I discussed all of these things. Neither of us particularly loved the name Wes Jasmine over Wes Saunders. Jasmine-Saunders seemed lengthy and cumbersome, and Jasders and Saundmine….yeah, no explanation necessary there. Bottom line: there are many options when it comes to sharing a last name, and if your significant other (particularly if your significant other is a male) won’t even consider a discussion about changing their last name to yours, it’s time to question whether they really value you as an equal partner.
  5. I’m not buying the “I want to have the same last name as my kids” argument. Who says I won’t have the same last name as my kids if I don’t change my last name? Maybe the kids will take my last name instead of Wes’s. Shocker! Or maybe they’ll have a hyphenated last name. Regardless of what Wes and I decide to name our children if and when we have kids, the point is that there are, again, many possibilities. So can we stop assuming that the kids will take the man’s last name, already?

So there you have it. My thoughts on my name not-change. Again, everyone has their own reasons, and I respect that. I’m not trying to call anyone out. I do hope this might help other lovely ladies who are considering whether or not to take the name change plunge.

xoxo Laura

P.S. – If there are others out there with name change (or non-change) experiences that they want to share, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Wedding Anniversary Celebrations

Wes and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary yesterday. I can’t believe it! The past year (and especially this summer) has flown by, and all of a sudden we have graduated from being “newlyweds.” We made a pretty big deal out of celebrating this anniversary (we made it through some major milestones and trials this year!), and I am sharing so that others can steal ideas and maybe share some traditions of their own!

  1. Anniversary Photos: Yes, we have plenty of gorgeous engagement and wedding photos of the two of us already. But we thought the occasion at hand was special enough to warrant new pictures. Ideally, I’d love to have nice photos done each year so that we always have updated portraits in our house and on our Christmas cards. And, we got to include our recently adopted love pup, Rufus, which was extra special! Emma Emery Photography did an amazing job, no? One Year Anniversary Photo Session - Trés Belle Blog
  2. Dinner out: This one is pretty standard as far as anniversaries go, I know. It felt quite special though since we rarely eat out on week nights. After a long Monday at work, it was exciting to look forward to a night out on the town.
  3. Renewing our vows: Like the anniversary photos, this is something that I hope will be a yearly tradition for us. We are lucky that we live in the same city that we were married in, which made it fairly easy to swing by our ceremony location after dinner to recite our wedding vows. Unfortunately the chapel itself was locked, so we stood outside the big front doors and read our vows to each other. Hearing the pledge that we wrote together last summer was incredibly touching.
  4. Exchanging gifts: Wes and I don’t really buy each other extravagant gifts, but we still wanted to give each other a little something to celebrate the occasion. He scored a t-shirt featuring lyrics from our first dance song as well as tickets to an NC State basketball game (aka the only thing I could come up with for the traditional “paper” gift). I adore my gift, which was a wooden sign painted with the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. This verse is significant to us, as you will learn in number 7 below! Please excuse the poor lighting and mismatched furniture in the photo…we are in the process of moving 🙂1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Wooden Sign - Trés Belle Blog
  5. Watching our wedding video: Yet another yearly tradition in the making. We have the most incredible wedding video (shout out to Good Earth Films!), and it was really neat to relive the big day in sound and living color. I have said over and over again how quickly the past year has flown, but watching ourselves and our loved ones on film also made me pause and realize how much has changed over the course of a year!
  6. Eating the top tier of our wedding cake: The icing on the cake of our anniversary celebration was getting to eat the 1-year-old top tier of our wedding cake. Or rather, Wes ate the cake, and I had a few bites of frosting due to my recently developed gluten intolerance. The day before our anniversary, we took the cake out of the freezer, unwrapped it, and sat it in the fridge to thaw. Was it still delicious? I didn’t get to taste it in all of its glory, but Wes certainly seemed to enjoy it!
  7. A new verse: Yep, another yearly tradition (how am I going to remember all of these??). During premarital counseling, our pastor challenged Wes and I to choose a “theme” Bible verse for our first year of marriage. We decided we would focus on a different piece of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 each year for our first several years of marriage. Love was indeed patient this past year (we reflected on this on our drive to dinner!), and starting yesterday we moved on to the next part of the verse: the infamous “love is kind.”
  8. Anniversary trip: I guess it’s a stretch to call this an “anniversary” trip given that it is taking place nearly three months after our anniversary, but stretch we will. We are headed to Asheville for a long weekend, and I am beyond excited to FINALLY see the Biltmore (and it will be decorated for Christmas)!

So there you have it! Our one year anniversary celebrations in list form. I’d love to hear from y’all about favorite anniversary celebrations you’ve had or any traditions you keep each year. Comment or drop me a note!

And to my sweet Wes: Happy one year, hubs. I love you more and more each day.

xoxo Laura

Internet Roundup: Navigating Name Changes, Holidays, & Thank You Notes as Newlyweds

Today’s Internet roundup is all about what happens after the wedding. After all, a marriage is what the wedding is all about in the first place! Here’s what I’m loving lately:

1. The Newlywed’s Guide to Navigating the Holidays. Yup. This has been a challenge for me and Wes, simply because we love all of our family so much and wish we could be in 10 different places at once!

The Newlywed's Guide to Navigating the Holidays via Loverly - Wedding Belles Blog

via Loverly

2. Tips for Navigating the Holidays and In-Laws. Because this topic is important enough to read two different takes on it!

5 Tips for Holidays and In-Laws via mywedding - Wedding Belles Blog

via mywedding

3. Yours, Mine, Ours: Deciding Which Married Name Option Works for Your Relationship. Go ahead and talk about it NOW so you aren’t sitting around three months after your wedding still unsure about what the heck your name is…not pointing any fingers or anything…

Yours, Mine, Ours: Deciding Which Married Name Option Works for Your Relationship via mywedding - Wedding Belles Blog

via mywedding

4. 5 Wedding Thank You Note Tips. I’ve already shared my own thank you note tips, but I think these are worth a read, too! (Except don’t overthink tip #5…just go to TJ Maxx, buy some cute cards on sale, and call it a day).

5 Wedding Thank You Note Tips via mywedding - Wedding Belles Blog

via mywedding

Belles, what are you loving lately on the Internet? Share with me!

xoxo Laura