We’ve talked about women keeping their last names, couples combining names, and giving children their mother’s name. But what about sharing the bride’s last name? Here we talked to three couples who did just that…
Phoebe and Jacob Rohn, Osnabrück, Germany
How did you two meet?
Phoebe: At a bar! Before heading out with my friend and her boyfriend, I was complaining about never meeting anyone. My friend’s boyfriend, Marvin, replied, ‘Phoebe, tonight is the night I’m finding you the perfect guy.’ Later, he went up to the bar, where Jacob was standing. He told him, ‘See that girl over there? If you buy her a gin and tonic, I’ll introduce you.’ Then they both came over to the dance floor, and Marvin said, ‘Phoebe, this is Jacob. He’s for you!’
Jacob: That night, I also went out with a friend, with no expectations. And suddenly this beautiful, amazing woman was standing in front of me.
How did you decide to share Phoebe’s last name?
Jacob: Phoebe’s antiques career is very connected to her name, Rohn. My work is independent of my name.
Phoebe: I was open to having a hyphenated name, but Jacob wasn’t.
Jacob: Looking ahead, I wanted to have one name with the family that Phoebe and I create. Sharing her last name feels right as we start this new chapter together.
Kit and Andrew Parker, Spokane, Washington
How did you two decide that Andrew would be taking Kit’s name
Andrew: My former last name was Stulz, which constantly got misspelled. We also felt very connected to Kit’s family, so it seemed like a good opportunity to go with Parker. And I liked the idea of our future kids doing a family tree in school, and then having that conversation about their dad taking their mom’s last name.
Kit: I wasn’t expecting it at all. But when we started talking about it, I was delighted. I think we all spend time reflecting on whether we are living our values, and this felt like an example of where we did that and didn’t just do the default norm.
What was your family and friends’s reactions?
Kit: My great-grandmother was one of the first people I told, and I expected her to feel strongly since she’s from a different generation. But she said, ‘Our ancestors have been mixing and matching names since the beginning.’ The rest of my family was so encouraging.
Andrew: My dad and I talked about it, and he was supportive. My mom was mostly surprised!
Kit: We got married in Anacortes, Washington, which is a pretty liberal area, our friends’ reactions were like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’ When we moved to Texas, the reaction was the polar opposite.
How was it polar opposite?
Kit: We assumed any negative response would be toward Andrew, because he’s the one who made an unconventional decision. But I got all the negative blowback. I had a co-worker in Texas who melted down after hearing our decision to stick with my last name. He got red in the face and was laughing maniacally, like, ‘You must wear the pants.’ I replied, ‘No, he decided to do it,’ but he said there was no way.
Andrew: Some co-workers were convinced that I was in witness protection. That felt like a more plausible reason for the name change!
You’ve now moved back to Washington, but it’s so eye-opening to see how much your experiences varied, based on where you lived.
Andrew: I think the mindset people had in Texas exists in many places, but maybe in a quieter way. I’m a 6′, 200-pound, fairly athletic guy. So, whenever there are moments when I can casually share that I took Kit’s last name, I always do. Because it changes perceptions.
How did you two make the last-name decision?
Aveena: Even when we were just dating, I asked Alissa, ‘How attached are you to your last name?’ I have a strong connection with mine. Mathew is a big name in South India, so I have a lot of pride for how it reflects my parents’ immigrant journey. While changing it was an option, of course, it would have been difficult for me to let it go.
Alissa: I didn’t feel super tied to mine. Plus, I have siblings who would carry on our family name if they got married.
Have you noticed any norms among your friends who are in the LGBTQ community?
Alissa: Many queer couples we know share their last names, while the straight couples we know often seem to keep theirs. I wonder if that’s a reflection of queer couples wanting their marriages to be seen as even more valid. You want to show that you are a family in every way.
I’d love to know: Would (or did) you change your last name? Would you ask your spouse to take yours? What about your kids? Please share below…
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