Will a name-change be a game-changer?

A 21st Century Bride-to-be asks herself if she’s ready.

As a very-almost married woman of 24, I have had my head firmly filled with planning and preparations for the big day for little over a year now. That being said, I think that I have fallen into the easy trap of focusing too closely on the event, and not enough on the fundamental change to my life that this marriage will be.

On a recent family holiday, I had been discussing the upcoming nuptials with my brother and sister-in-law, and the topic of me taking my other half’s surname came up. I had innocently been lamenting the amount of paperwork I was to expect after the highs of our honeymoon in order to change my name on every ID I had.

My Dad had been listening in, and promptly asked me if I would miss being ‘a Silcock’. I think my response threw him a little when I quickly responded with “Dad, as a girl I’ve always known that I would not be ‘a Silcock’ forever.”

My response had been automatic in a way, but it lead me to look at my own rationality closer. My fiancé and I met when we were at school together (so this marriage is not exactly a surprise to my parents), and even at the young age of 14 I remember asking myself if I could live with his surname as my own. Even before I had even seriously thought about our future together I was weighing up whether I would be able to live with his surname. Thinking it over, I envy a person’s certainty that their name will be theirs always, that they will always have a tie to their family, and carry on their family name for generations. It is a bizarre culture that we grow up in where as a young girl, I knew that I would probable not always be called Robin Silcock.

Before I started building a professional reputation for myself, I never thought much about the importance of my surname as a part of my identity. I identified much more strongly by my first name, and I think you naturally do when you are younger, as your friends know you by your first name, and only your teachers would use your surname. It is only once you start to try and differentiate yourself from the crowd, that you use your full name to mark your individuality.

In the working world…

Your professional occupation will ultimately inform your decision on whether to change your name, as often it can be quite damaging if you have any publications or licences in your existing name. When looking into how other people had approached the topic of changing their name, I stumbled upon a forum thread for medical professionals where several women were debating whether they would change their names after the wedding as they had several papers, academic works and published research under their current name.

So if a woman would like to take the name of her husband in her personal life, is it realistic to be able to continue using her original name for her professional work? I think the ultimate answer to that question will depend on your line of work, and the industry’s reliance on things such as online reputation and page rankings. Initially I was adamant that I would keep my maiden name for my professional work as Silcock is quite distinctive in an incredibly competitive industry such as tech. But I then began really analysing my ‘online reputation’ and I realised that in all honesty I have not made a large enough footprint to not be able to ‘pivot my personal brand’ to take on my fiancés surname.

I think that when I took an honest look at my reasons for wanting to maintain my maiden name alongside my new married name was so that I would have a way to keep hold of that part of my independence. A symbol of the person that I am as an individual, as Robin the professional, not Robin the wife.

And so…

As strange as it will feel using a different username for my online activity, I think it will be the real-life experiences of having a new surname, and a new title that will have the most impact. Mrs, instead of Miss. Milton instead of Silcock. But as with any change in life, you adapt, you develop and soon you will wonder why you questioned the change in the first place.

This is my first post to Medium and I am keen to know if you found this article helpful or interesting as it is entirely based on my personal experience.

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