What's In a Name?

Juliet may have asked Romeo “What’s in a name?” in a futile effort to minimize the tension between the feuding Capulets and Montagues, but choosing a surname is one of the first critical decisions for a couple getting married. And because names are part of our identity and our lineage, the decision of whether to retain your maiden name or not can be a major one.

It is still most common for a bride to adopt her husband’s last name, as Sherry Thomas (née Alex) of Yonkers did. “I thought it would be a big deal transitioning, but it was fine.”

Melissa Mathew of Yonkers chose to retain both family names. “I am planning on being Melissa Mathew-Varghese. I want my past to be with me in the present and future.”

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Other brides, like Laura Kenyon of South Salem, plan to take on their husbands’ names socially, but retain their maiden names professionally. “As a writer, my name is my brand,” she says.

Another option is to do what my daughter, Samantha Friedman, a college freshman, is doing. Her boyfriend’s name is Andrew Friedman. While she is years away from marriage, having identical last names would certainly make her decision an easy one—though it could lead to a “comedy of errors” of its own!

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