Deciding to keep your last name after getting married is a very personal decision. Years ago it was generally assumed wives would automatically take their husbands’ names after the wedding and, traditionally, most women did assume their husband's surname.

However, this practice has evolved and today it is not uncommon for women to keep their birth surname even after exchanging “I do’s” with their mates. For the most part, these days a woman maintaining her birth name is routinely accepted in society. 

Why Do Women Keep Their Own Names?

The answers will vary, but taking a look at some of the transformations that have taken place in society likely play a strong role in why women choose to keep their own surnames. For instance, back in the 1970s, there was a trend where women decided to keep their surnames for political reasons. In the 1980s and 1990s, another shift occurred and women were once again changing their names after marriage to that of their husbands.

Fast-forward to the now and keeping maiden names is again on the rise. According to reports, an estimated 30 percent of women keep their maiden name, 20 percent fully and 10 percent hyphenated their maiden and married names. Today, however, the shift is more about practical reasons, not political reasons. [1], [2]

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Years ago many women stayed at home to tend to their families, but today a good percentage of women work outside the home due to either lifestyle preference or financial need. Many women already have an established identity in their business circles and want to maintain how they are professionally known. Changing a last name would mean a lot of paperwork, and reacquainting everyone with a new last name. Some women do not mind doing this, but others feel they have worked hard in their careers and want to keep their professional life linked to their given name. Not to mention, they probably don't want the hassle of all that comes with making a change.

Other women prefer to keep their birth name for more personal reasons; they want to carry on their own identity. In this instance, it is more about keeping a sense of self and not losing themselves and their own sense of identity. While this may not make sense on the surface because, when a person gets married, the woman and man become a team. But the reasons are more inner, and it has nothing to do with their feelings for their husband.

Maintaining a given name keeps women who feel this way rooted in a strong sense of self-identity by keeping this particular link to their pasts. Some women who keep their names for this reason have been married previously and had already reverted to their maiden names, but this is not a given. There are women who simply just want to keep their original name even if this is their first marriage.

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Deciding What’s Right For You

There are some additional points to consider if you aren't sure whether or not to change your name after you get married:

Your fiance's feelings

If you are considering not assuming your husband's surname, it is a good idea to bring the idea up before your wedding day. Some men aren't keen on the idea of their wives keeping a different last name, while others are perfectly fine with it. If your mate isn't hot on the idea of you keeping your name and it isn't all that important to you, this is worth consideration. On the other hand, if maintaining your birth identity is important to you and you are sure of your decision, this is something the two of you will want to work out ahead of time so you don't have significant problems over it after you get married.


When women get married there is a mountain of paperwork to be done if assuming a husband's last name. Many women relish in the thought of taking their husband's last name and happily visit the different government agencies, credit card companies and banks, and their jobs to change their names. To others, the idea of standing in line, getting new pictures taken, and making several visits to human resources at their jobs isn't all that appealing. Some women would rather keep their maiden name professionally and legally rather than go through all the hassle of changing it.

Cultural and/or societal pressures

Even in this modern-day and age where sexism is starting to become a thing of the past, a stigma still exists that women should take their husband's name. Women who keep their own names sometimes run into societal pressures of having a different last name, especially when children are born and the wife has a last name from their entire family (unless the children's names are hyphenated too). These are other things to consider if you are thinking of not changing your name.

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Have It Both Ways

Some women get around this factor by keeping their birth names legally and professionally, but socially introduce themselves by their husband's last name. In many families this is a win-win situation, especially if the husband has misgivings about his wife not assuming his name; it is a good compromise.

Despite the fact many women keep their own surnames for either personal or professional reasons, whether or not women should keep their birth identities after getting married continues to be a social debate.

Perhaps these changes also have affected you and may be a part of the reason you are even considering keeping your own last name and not going on tradition and taking your husband's after you are married. There are pros and cons to each choice and, if you are getting married, the best way for you to decide is to weigh out the advantages and disadvantages to see which one is right for you.