Thursday, April 12, 2012

[M.C.] The Last Name Project

In this new series co-hosted by from two to one and The Feminist Mystique, we will be profiling an array of individuals and couples about their last name decisions upon marriage or what they expect to choose if they marry. The goal is to explore how individuals make decisions about their last name, and to highlight the many possibilities. We will be posting profiles periodically and encourage you to stay connected via Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  If you would like to participate in this series, email Danielle at danielle [at] fromtwotoone [dot] com or Shannon at hill [dot] shannonp [at] gmail [dot] com. 

The following post is from M.C., who blogs over at Nate + M.C.

Growing up, I always worried about changing my last name when I married. It may seem like a strange worry for a young person to even think about, but I did. And it wasn’t for any type of social or professional reason; it was vanity actually. I loved my last name: Ferguson.

Ferguson is a common enough name that people know how to pronounce it and spell it. And it is unusual enough that there weren’t five other kids in my grade with the same last name. I even loved that it is toward the beginning of the alphabet (teachers love alphabetical order for some reason).

I would occasionally practice saying my first name with different last names and often felt like they came up short. This led to a decent amount of anxiety about taking on a less-than-stellar last name.

But it never really occurred to me that I wouldn’t take my husband’s last name.

Even when I was a little older and started dating guys who I might potentially share a last name with someday, I still never considered keeping my own last name. (Although, I did toy with the idea of keeping Ferguson for a pen name.)

So when I decided my husband was the one, I breathed a sigh of relief that my new last name would be Sommers. (It’s pronounced like the season.) It was definitely further down in the alphabet, but I loved the way it sounded. I’m even guilty of scribbling “Mrs. Nate Sommers” in my journal like a love struck teenage girl.  And you can bet that I snatched up my email address with my new last name the second I had an engagement ring on my finger (we all know how difficult it can be to get your domain name).

After being home less than a week from our honeymoon, my name had officially been changed on my social security card, license, and bank accounts without so much as a second thought.

Then a few months later, I was talking to another newlywed and she mentioned that she had kept her last name. I knew this was a fairly common practice, but I was interested in her reasons. After talking with her, I could see her side and I started to think about the options I had passed up—keeping my own last name, hyphenating our two names, my husband taking on my last name. Luckily, I didn’t regret my decision. Sure my husband could have changed his name just as easily as I had changed mine—and maybe that is where tradition comes in—but I was happy to take his name. Mostly because I was happy he gave it to me.

In the three years we have been married, I have thought about my decision to change my last name and how it was such an easy choice for me to make, even if it wasn’t conscious at the time. My reasoning was traditional: I wanted others to know that we belonged together; that we are a unit. My reasoning was sentimental: I wanted neighbors to pass by our house and say, “That’s where the Sommers live.” My reasoning was logical: I didn’t want it to be confusing when friends addressed invitations to us or when we had to decide what our children’s last names would be.

Some may find those reasons a little outdated and I can understand that. But for me, if I was willing to marry Nate, then why wouldn’t I want to share a name? Sharing a name represented sharing a life. I suppose I’m just grateful he had a good name to share.


  1. Well stated, M.C.! Even if the adoption of Nate's last name was automatic, your post shows that you still supported your reasoning apart from traditional justifications. This is a great series!

  2. Even though I spend my life spelling my married last name as opposed to easy "Ferguson"-- still glad I made the change too. You just say it so much better. Actually you say almost everything better:) Plus, you know how I've struggled with addressing the envelopes to the families with the man's last name, woman's last name and the childrens made-up last name-- never easy.

  3. Lovely! I too am glad that I took on my hubby's last name, although Sommers is a good last name and I have to admit, I was a little sad to let it go.

  4. Fun to read your thoughts on this. I love the name Sommers. Poor Hannah has come to expect that the first question I will ask her about each new guy she dates is "What's his last name?" It looks as if she may be getting a new name this fall. We actually had some fun this morning playing around with his last name. You'll have to quiz her about it...pretty funny:) Love you and am glad you're a Sommers.

  5. People should do what they want, it would never occur to me to ever change my name for anyone. So I guess I wouldn't - just seems old fashioned these days to me. But people again should do what they want to do. :)