Now that the law in Australia allows same-sex couples to marry it will be interesting to see over time what most couples decide to do about surnames. In the next couple of posts I will also look at the options for same-sex couples changing names.
So, for both straight and same-sex couples the options are pretty much the same:
- One party changes their surname and adopts their partner's name as their own. The tradition of a bride taking her husband's surname dates back to a time when a woman was seen as her husband's "property" and while no one thinks that way any more the tradition has carried on. It's the same with the bride being "given away" by her father: she was once her father's "property" and after marriage she becomes the property of a new man. It's funny how the tradition of being "given away" has still persisted long after society has abandoned regarding women as property! That's another subject (which I covered in a couple earlier posts here and here) and it's something which is changing. I like to suggest creative ways for couples to recognise the influential people in their lives without anyone being "given away"! For example, in a wedding I performed yesterday the father of the bride walked his daughter down the aisle and then the bride's teenage son presented his mum and gave his blessing to the new family unit that she was creating with the new wonderful man in her life.
- Traditionally, it's the woman who adopts her husband's surname, but occassionally a man takes on his wife's name. It's a good opportunity to get rid of a name you've always hated!
- My gut-feeling is that hyphenated names are becoming more popular, although the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages doesn't actually collect any data about name-changes so it's only my feeling. It's a good way for both parties to acknowledge their heritage and that of their partner.
- A nice option is for the couple to decide on a brand new surname, something that would be meaningful for both of them. It could be a 'merged' name, for example, or the placename of where they met or fell in love, or the name of someone who was influential in both their lives, or a quality or attribute which is important to them.
- You don't have to change a thing. There are all sorts of reasons why someone would want to keep their name unchanged: for example, to retain your professional name, the name on your degrees, the name you are known by and to maintain the reputation you've taken years to build. There is no legal reason why you must change your name.
In my next post I talk about the legal requirements for changing your name.