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How Do We Announce Our New Surname?

My fiancé and I are considering choosing a different last name than either of our current surnames. How would we announce this at our wedding? Or should we? Do you have any advice for breaking the news to his parents?

–Engaged to Change

The occasion of marriage is a perfect time to really think through what you both want your surnames to be. It sounds like you are doing just that. I'm all for it! As you've noted, though, it brings up at least two tricky situations.

First, "breaking the news" to your fiancé's parents. I'd start by looking at it as "sharing" the news, rather than "breaking" it. You want to be positive, not defensive. Letting your fiancé take the lead (since they are his parents), present this as just one part of this exciting time in your lives. You are forming a new identity as a family.

Explain that creating a new name is part of that process for you, and you hope they'll be excited for you too. Are you choosing a surname that has some connection to their family—perhaps using part of your fiancé's original surname in the new name, or calling back to one of his ancestors in some other way? That may help his parents accept your decision more readily.

Second, breaking the news to everyone else. The approach you take may depend on what name you're choosing and why. If there's a story behind it, then consider sharing it as part of your announcement. For example, you might include a short paragraph about your surname choice in your wedding program or website, or on a placard at the reception.

And of course, if you're planning to be announced (as "the new Mr. and Mrs.") at your reception, you will want to share your new name then. It's up to you whether you'd like that to be a big surprise, or simply a confirmation of what you've already shared. One practical note: Announcing your new name in advance will prevent anyone from buying wrongly monogrammed gifts!


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February 29, 2016 3:21 PM
By Jenny (not verified)

Announce it early and often. Put an announcement in with the wedding invitations or many of the wedding checks will be to Mr. and Mrs. Him. Put it in big letters on the front of the wedding program. Have a big banner with the new name at the reception.

There will also be relatives who passive-aggressively "forget" or "didn't hear about that" or are "confused". Plaster the new name across everything and don't be shy about it. This way they'll have to choose between complaining about how often you keep telling them about the name and claiming that they didn't know about it.

As for his parents, I agree that he should take the lead in telling them. It should be presented matter-of-factly rather than as something they can have an opinion on. Just because they happened to have a son rather than a daughter doesn't mean his father has some sort of right to see his name passed down. I guess I find the idea particularly upsetting because I was just listening to a podcast today about all the Chinese baby girls who were aborted, killed, or given away because their parents wanted sons to pass down the family name. If it was men and women passed down their names equally (or changed them as you two are doing), parents wouldn't prefer boys over girls.

February 29, 2016 9:02 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

It may depend on your family how much pushback you get. My husband and I created a new family name and we did not get one single bit of passive aggressive behavior from either of our families. Then again, they're both pretty used to us being independent. So don't go into it dreading, just trust your own decision, enjoy confounding the traditionalists, and try to laugh off any unwelcome opinions and confusion. People who have a problem with what you do with YOUR name have a problem within themselves, not a problem with you.

That said, I would mention it publicly, before the wedding if you think there will be hurt feelings, to allow people to cope privately. But no need to keep it "secret". We were able to cash checks in either of our maiden/bachlor names after the wedding.

March 1, 2016 1:08 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with said comments, and would add that if you are going to plaster it then some who brood will see it just as rubbing it in, keep in mind... All well intentioned and well planned things always make someone unhappy. So yes, after it's addressed, don't dwell: It is for you and yours and it's your day!! 100%.

March 1, 2016 6:55 AM
By Jenny (not verified)

Yes, Anonymous 1:08, some may see it as "rubbing it in", but those are the same relatives (on both sides of the family) who would passive-aggressively claim to not know about or to have forgotten about the new name as they spent years maliciously addressing the bride as "Mrs. Husband'sFirstName Husband'sFormerLastName".

Announcing it well in advance and plastering it everywhere is a conscious choice, a decision to hear those mean girls (mostly old women actually) complain that they'd been told too often, because it will prevent them from claiming not to have heard at all.

March 1, 2016 7:00 AM
By Jenny (not verified)

I should add that my husband and I both hyphenated and we, unfortunately, did not go the plastering route. It never occurred to us that our decision wouldn't be respected. After a few years of personally notifying people and even sending out an announcement with our holiday cards, we realized that there were a few relatives on each side of the family who were determined to continue to address us as "Mr. and Mrs. Him HisFormerSurname".

This was a blessing in disguise, because they were the same relatives who'd been awful to us as children. We were able to use their disrespect of our new surname as a reason to cut them off. It's been a blissful decade since then of not having to socialize with mean people. They've never met our children and our children's lives are better for that.

March 1, 2016 2:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You don't say why you're considering changing your married name to something different, but it could be because of family history, a difficult-to-pronounce surname or simply because you fancy a chance to establish your own dynasty.

I went the conventional route and I'm officially Mrs HisName. However, unofficially, my former colleagues in my previous job decided that my married name was a real PITA to spell or pronounce (it's not, but then I live with it and they don't.) So they decided that I was Ms MySurname HisSurname. Now, it's a blessing because it gives wimps a get out, they don't have to admit their stupidity by pronouncing my married name wrongly. Plus, added bonus, my surname is actually also a family name of his, so the relative who shares the name is very positive towards me. I admire you for deciding to opt for a completely new name; that may well be difficult to sell to the older, perhaps more traditional, relations, but with luck, those who matter to you will understand your reasons. Good luck!

March 7, 2016 10:41 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

You do realize there is a lot more to female infanticide than just passing on the family name right? The concern is about the parents being cared for in their old age as well as having strong farmhands in the interim. I also don't think that passing down a name is such a huge reason for wanting boys in a family. Who knows I guess. Maybe there are a lot of people out there that are way more shallow than I give them credit for.

March 8, 2016 1:54 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)


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