The Question All Brides Must Answer

This day is coming, Brides. I warn you—it’s coming.

Plan a huge Southern wedding including 68 cousins four times removed, go rustic chic spending thousands to say your vows in a splintery barn or elope to be married by an Elvis impersonator.

No matter what you do. This day is coming. There’s simply no avoiding it.

Anyone woman who has been married must answer the question.

Will you or won’t you?

My friend, Treva, asked me just the other day.

“Did you or didn’t you, Daryn? And how did you decide?”

The simple answer is, I did not.

And I’m good with that.

The question?

“Did you change your name when you got married?”

Old Brides

Interesting time of life to be asking the question, you say.

My friend, Treva and I—were old. Ancient, if you will, in first time bridey age.

It was 49 for me. 51 for her when she marries her dream man next month.

No need to score a victory for the feminists, as there actually was no big political statement in my decision not to change my name. Felt no need to burn my bra or shout to the world my choice.

But as long as Treva asked, I’ll let you in on my thinking.

My Thinking

I didn’t change my name simply because I didn’t want to.

Turns out my husband has a perfectly nice last name, because I know you were wondering that part.  A name you won’t see revealed in this column, because the poor guy already sees enough of his life splashed on this page. Such a good sport about it, too. Thanks, Honey.

Usually, I just refer to him here as, “Mr. SummerFest,” since we were introduced at a Summer Festival. I know. Huge points for originality on that one.

I do think Mr. SummerFest was surprised by my choice. It was one of the last things we discussed before we got married. And trust me, we discussed a lot. I’m thinking of that well worn book of 248 questions covering everything from religion to money to kids to family and more.

When we got through the list and I didn’t see a question about names, I told him, “Oh, by the way, I don’t want to change my name.”

My reasoning and conversation went something like this:

Me: After we get married are we going to start calling you, Bob? (Not even close to his real name.)

Him: No. That would be silly.

Me: Exactly. So, if we’re not going to start calling you something different, why would we start calling me something different?

And that pretty much was that.

He stays him and I stay me.

For us, it works.

No High Horse

That being said, if someone calls me, “Daryn SummerFest” or “Mrs. SummerFest, I do not get on my high horse and correct them. I think it’s sweet. I tend to refer to our family as The SummerFest Family. I do not need Kagan to get equal billing.

And yes, now I’ve adopted my daughter, I do like the idea of everyone having the same last name. Not enough to change mine, but I do like it.

That’s just imperfect me.

And You?

Would love to know how you figured this out, Dear Bridal Reader. Change your name? Hyphenate like Treva is thinking of doing?

I have plenty of friends who have kept their names professionally and changed it personally. On any given day they can be 4 different people.

Sounds exhausting to me, but works for them.

What about you? How did you face the challenge—Who will you be after you marry? Is there an option I’ve not considered.

Share your wisdom with me in comments below.

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.




  • Kathy

    I’m not changing my name the second time around. I’m so happy to be back to my maiden name after my divorce that I don’t want to give it up again. Plus, my fiancé’s late wife didn’t change her name when they married, so he has no expectation that I will. Besides, his sister has the same first name as me, so it would be very confusing if I took on their last name.

    It’s nice to have found my hand-over-heart guy. 🙂

  • Judy Cogan Zimmer

    I got married in 1971 and we didn’t even know that we had the option of keeping our name back then. For years it felt strange to be called Mrs X because, to me, that was my mother-in-law, not me. Now I use my maiden name as a middle name and that feels better.

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The Question All Brides Must Answer

by DarynKagan time to read: 3 min
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