Name changing after wedding in different cultures

multicultural weddings

Lots of countries and cultures have different laws, requirements, traditions and expectations when it comes to changing your name after the wedding. And if you’re marrying somebody from another culture, it may be harder to make a decision about your name changing than you think.

But first, let’s see if you even want to change your name?!

These days a lot of women would consider keeping their maiden name, because they strongly believe it is part of their identity. They really love the name they’re born with, and don’t feel like just because they are the woman in the relationship, that they should be changing their name after the wedding.

Some other reasons you may want to keep your maiden name:

// You have a fear that your family name will die out, if you don’t pass it along to your children.

// You don’t want to go through all of that hassle of changing it on all of the documents and legal papers.

// Your maiden name is attached to your professional identity.

// It’s expensive.

// You don’t like his name (complicated to spell it and sign with it).

// Your fiance wants to have your name.

// You are in a same sex marriage.

Reasons you would want to take your husband’s family name:

// Traditions and cultural expectations are very important to you.

// You and your family just assume that you will take your husband’s name.

// You never thought otherwise.

That’s how it was for me, back 10 years ago. There weren’t many women and feminists speaking up about what our rights are, and that they don’t want to feel that they are owned by their husband. (Which is how it used to be long time ago.) But for me it was kinda obvious, that I’m getting married, so I’m taking my husband’s name. Especially because we will have the same name as a family. This was my personal decision, and it was something I didn’t really think about. Now days women have this great opportunity to make a decision about changing their name after the wedding if it’s right for them.

// Having the same surname makes it easier for the whole family to fill out documents, especially for traveling.

// You love your fiance’s name and can’t wait to finally own it.

// You don’t feel too attached to your maiden name.

Because you didn’t have a good relationship with your father, or maybe your parents changed their name, so it really doesn’t carry a family history to it.

// You want to start a fresh new life.

If you’ve been married before, or you’ve changed your name already, this can feel like your names are stages of your life, and they’re telling the history of your life.

But no matter why you would feel strongly about keeping your name, you have to respect and consider how your fiance feels about it. Some men would feel like you’re not fully committed to this relationship. Maybe his family is pressuring him a lot, because they have strong cultural traditions assigned to it.

Yes, it’s about your name, as a women. You feel the pressure to change your name, but it’s also affecting your partner, so you want to make sure that you two are starting this marriage in the right way. Where both of you feel appreciated and that your opinions and feelings are valued.

We are so lucky in today’s day and age, because we can basically change our name to anything we want. At least it’s like that here in the US.

// You can combine your name by putting the two surnames together as one.

// You can hyphenate. That’s when you put both of your family names by each other with a hyphens.

// You can just make up your own, something completely different or mixture of the two.

I heard that some people would shame other women for not taking their husband’s name. They say those wifes are probably not that committed to the marriage, and they don’t love their husband enough.

This is everybody’s personal decision! We really need to stop assuming and labeling people and thinking that just because somebody makes a different decision (for any reason), it would mean they’re not going to be a good wife, they don’t want to feel united with their husband, or that they don’t value their marriage.

No matter what you decide on, take the time to sit down with your partner, write down all of the possibilities that you can do with your names and make a pro/con list. Don’t rush to make this decision! Think about it for a couple of months, so when you’re getting married you two will feel really good about this decision. Regardless what other people are saying! Because it’s your name, you have to live with it for the rest of your life!

Let’s talk about name changing after the wedding in other countries!

Hungary – I’m going to start with my country, although I didn’t get married there, I’m aware of the laws and expectations.

Majority of women in Hungary still take their husband’s family name, although keeping their maiden name is becoming more and more popular, just like here in the USA. But it used to be that the wife would take her husband’s FULL name, not just the surname. At the end of his name she would attach a suffix “-né” to it, (neje, nője) which means “his wife” or “his woman”. For example if the husband’s name is Greg Smith, (also in Hungry we change the order of our name) so he is Smith Greg, and his wife’s name would be Smith Greg-né. Essentially the woman becomes an attachment to her husband. The little -né indicates that you are this man’s wife. But, like I said, most women these days don’t want to lose their name, and it’s also pretty difficult and complicated, especially in other countries and languages.

Greece, France, Italy, Nederlands, Belgium, Malaysia, Korea, Spain, Chile (and many other spanish speaking countries) – Women keep their maiden name after they get married and it’s completely normal.

Japan – Women are required by the law to change their names after marriage. (Unless they marry somebody from another country.)

I also see lot’s of names combined with hyphens (which is also the excepted tradition in Germany), which is what I did. My name now is Edit Denning, and in Hungary it would be Denning Edit. Since in America it is important to have a middle name, for me it was obvious that I would just put my maiden name in the middle. That way a can keep my maiden name, I can have a middle name and I can also take my husband’s name.

When I moved here and started my immigration process, it was very important for us to have all the paperwork ready for the green card! I think it would have been a red flag if I would have wanted to keep my maiden name after marrying my husband.

I also choose my maiden name for my photography business, Edit Vasadi Photography. I like that it gives me that back story and cultural identity of who I am and where I came from.

Speaking of family history! Did you know that now you can have your DNA tested to find out your ethnicity and family origin?! It’s a very cool opportunity that I haven’t done yet, but I’m really excited to find out more about my heritage.

Here are a couple of services I found:

Ancestry

Familytreedna

Myheritage (they have a Valentine’s day discount)

Great article to help you decide which test to take: Smarterhobby

Changing names for multicultural/intercultural couples

You probably feel overwhelmed from all the pressure coming from family expectations and your friends’ opinions. You may be marrying somebody from a country that does not change names. Or maybe you don’t want to, but your husband is from a culture where it’s expected.

Don’t start to read articles, watch videos, or try to get other people’s opinion about this. Just get into your own head, and think about what’s really important to you and how would you and your partner feel about this.

A couple of things to consider:

1, Look into your country’s laws and requirements when it comes to name changing after the wedding, so you don’t run into any issues when wanting to register your marriage, and to apply for documents (passport, immigration process..etc.)

2, If you live overseas and want to change your name from the other country, start at you local embassy by registering your marriage certificate.

3, What name will your kids have?  If you and your spouse have different names, whose name will your kids take?

// You can hyphenate both of your names, but that could end up being really long and complicated.

// I heard some couples would make up their own surname after having children, and changing it for the whole family.

// You may feel strongly about giving the opportunity to your kids to inherit and own a specific culture and ethnicity.

4, Is your name attached to you as your ethnicity, culture or faith and it’s very important for you?

5, By changing your name after the wedding are your going to be identified by this other culture, nationality or ethnicity that would give you difficulties and challenges later in life?

Unfortunately some people tend to quickly judge, make assumptions and stereotype us, just by seeing our name. So if this concerns you, discuss it with your partner.

Maybe taking you partner’s name is very important for their family heritage, so you’ll become part of this culture and traditions. You may feel like adopting this new culture as your own is a huge value in your life and you respect and appreciate this opportunity.


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