What EVERY Bride Needs To Know BEFORE Choosing A Last Name

Planning a wedding is hard work, and often we don't spend time thinking about the reality of what happens when we're actually married.

One of the first things many brides think about is whether they should change their name after marriage — or keep the name they've had their entire lives. 

It seems anti-feminist, in a world of women's rights, to insist that a woman should lose her last name in marriage.

And yet, according to a study published in the journal Gender Issues, more than 70% of adults in the U.S. still believe that a woman should change her name when she marries!  

Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer, the author of this study and a professor of Sociology at Portland State University, concluded that what a woman chooses for her last name doesn't really change anyone's opinion of her — at least not in the eyes of her fellow women, or highly educated men.

So if that's true, why do so many people believe that a woman should take her new husband's name?

Is there a reason why a woman should bother to change her name?

Is there a reason why she shouldn't?

And more importantly, is taking on her husband's last name taking a step back for women's rights?

In our latest Experts video which you can see above, Senior VP of YourTango Experts Melanie Gorman asked a group of love and relationship Experts to share their best advice for a bride who is thinking about taking on her husband's name, and how this choice may affect her life, day-to-day, once she is married.

The responses from our team of Experts — Noreen EhrlichJohn Gray, and Katherin Scott — break down what you should consider, when deciding if you should keep your last name or take your husband's.

Some up-sides for taking your husband's name:

While it might seem like an antiquated custom, on the practical side, there is something to be said for taking his name and having the same last name as your children.

If the practical aspects don't appeal to you, and you don't want to do it for the symbolism of joining his family and his community, then perhaps think about his individuality.

Men are allowing themselves to bend over backwards for their wives (something that wasn't often done in decades past). The downside is that wives are starting to feel like they are controlling their husband's lives like a mother would, which does nothing to help your marriage, according to our Experts.

Taking on his name will go a long way to help him retain some of that "masculine" take-charge side that helps him to be the husband that you may need and want.

The benefits of keeping your maiden name:

There is nothing wrong with keeping your independence and your maiden name. In fact, it's becoming more acceptable for a woman to keep her own name than it ever has been before.

Depending on where you are in life, your name might already be established in your career field, and it might not be worth changing it — no matter how appealing the tradition may be. 

There is, however, a downside that you might not have thought about. Theoretically, Mrs. Johnson can easily enroll her children Sam and Hayley Johnson in school (to pick a situation at random), but Mrs.Thomas will have a harder time and, no doubt, have to prove she is the mother of her children. This point may become less relevant as time passes, at least with school. But airlines may continue to be a challenge when traveling with kids. 

Convenience is not a reason to take his name but it is something to take into consideration. 

If you're thinking of combining them together into a hyphenated name:

You might consider skipping this option, unless you have really easy last names like Smith and Barnes.

Ok, so they don't have to be that simple, but keep in mind if you have complicated names that you plan of smooshing into one long name, no one (and we mean NO ONE, not even your kids) will be able to spell it right away. Or pronounce it. And there's a good chance your kids might drop the hyphen and keep only one name.

If that's something you're all ok with then CONGRATS! You've found a solution for everyone.

If you don't like any of these options and don't know what to do:

Don't fret: there is another solution that might seem crazy, but if both you and your husband-to-be are game, it will solve all of your problems.

You choose a totally different name that you both like and BOTH of you change your names.

That's right — create your own family last name together.

After all, marriage is about compromise and nothing says compromise like neither of you keeping your last name and starting over new.

The question you need to ask yourself before making your decision is this: is it right for you?

The answer isn't the same for everyone, so make sure your choice is what works for you.

If you need help getting not taking things personally, finding your happiness, or are having troubles in any of your relationships, please visit the websites of our Experts and contact NoreenJohn, and Katherin directly. They’re here to help.