Deciding whether or not to change your name when you marry is a big decision. On the one hand, sharing the same name can reinforce the fact that you’re now joined as family, but on the other, giving up your maiden name can feel a bit like giving up part of your identity.
People can feel particularly disheartened at the idea of changing their name when they’ve worked so hard in their career to build up a professional reputation associated with their name. Plus, as the average age of marriage continues to creep up, the scenario is set to become more common rather than less, as people will have had more chance to build their careers before marriage, leaving more newlyweds than ever in a conundrum.
The good news is there’s a simple solution that might just work for those torn between keeping and changing their name: keeping the maiden name professionally and changing to the married name personally.
We think keeping both names for different parts of your life is a great way of embracing your new name and retaining the reputation that comes with your old one. Need convincing? We chatted to Cécile Mazuet, Founder & Managing Director of NameSwitch to find out why so many women are choosing this option and how it can be done. We also heard from a bride who kept her maiden name professionally - she explains how she made it work for her.
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Expert Tips on Keeping Your Maiden Name for Work
How Common is it For Women to Keep Their Maiden Names Professionally?
While it’s difficult to measure exactly how many are opting to keep hold of their maiden name in a professional capacity, Cécile is seeing a clear interest at NameSwitch: “Based on what we are seeing it’s about 10%. Although more express a desire or query whether they can and if so, how they can go about doing it.”
What Are the Advantages of Keeping My Maiden Name Professionally?
“As the average age of newlyweds has increased over the last few decades, to early 30s, women have undoubtably built a professional reputation with their maiden name," says Cécile. "Keeping their name provides continuity for their network and client base. It is particularly popular with doctors who opt to either keep their maiden name professionally or double-barrel to preserve heritage and linkage.”
What Do I Need to Consider Before Making the Decision?
There are plenty of factors to consider before deciding on your name going forwards, like we said, it’s a big decision as it’s so intrinsically tied with who you are. Cécile suggests starting off by considering the following and thinking long-term:
- Can your industry/colleagues/network/clients adapt to know you by your married name?
- How important is your maiden (brand) name to you and your line of work?
- What do you feel about your married name (vs your maiden name) and what influence does this have on your choices?
- Are you able to compartmentalise the two distinctive names personally and professionally? Or does the thought of that make you feel queasy?
How Can I Embrace My New Married Life and Name While Keeping My Maiden Name Professionally?
By choosing to be known in your personal life – arguably the most important part – by your new name, you’re choosing to embrace your married name and encourage those closest to you to know you by that name and let go of the old one. Think of it this way: many of us choose to put on a professional persona at work that contrasts with who we are at home with loved ones. Your professional name will simply be an extension of your professional persona.
“We call this the best of both: Ms Maiden in the week and Mrs New at the weekends. It is a highly personal and symbolic way to honour both,” says Cécile.
How Should I Approach the Idea of Keeping My Maiden Name Professionally with My Partner?
You’ll know best how to bring the topic up with your partner, but Cecile recommends mentioning it early on and including your partner in the decision-making process: “Discussing your name change options and preferences should be done well in advance of your wedding! It’s one of many things we recommend you do together, in a calm and uninterrupted way. Listen to and respect each other’s viewpoints.
"As with so many things wedding related, everyone will have an opinion – often in the in-laws. But this is your union and your life, and you need to feel comfortable about how you will be known as for the rest of your life."
Can I Change My Mind and Change My Name Completely Further Down the Line?
“Yes – and for anyone who is on the fence or unsure, we recommend you hold off on the professional part until the decision to stick or twist becomes clearer.
“If you use the NameSwitch service, we always recommend selecting all of the potential companies you wish to notify (including your professional sphere) and holding onto those letters/forms and instructions for potential use down the line – there is no time limit or official sequence in which you must change your name.”
How Do I Go About Keeping My Maiden Name Professionally?
“We recommend that you maintain your maiden name in all areas associated with your professional life: HR/Payroll or for self- employed workers, your company (Companies House) and accountant as well as associated bank pensions and any associated life/health cover, and don't forget HMRC!
“Updating Identification such as a driving licence or passport is necessary for your new name. You should change at least one piece of formal ID, either your driving licence or passport. If you choose to change your passport to your married name you can make an observation request in section 8 of your passport renewal application form to have it noted that you use your maiden name professionally, or vice versa. Please note however that you will not be able to travel in your ‘observed’ name - it is for identification and not border control purposes. Passport Guidance is provided in your NameSwitch instructions to enable you to do this.”
Where you draw the line between personal and professional worlds will ultimately be your decision. For example, if you often travel for work you may find keeping your maiden name on your passport easier. If you plan to have children in the future, you may decide that you would like the whole family to travel under one name and so choose to use your new name on your passport.
Case Study: Alicia Kept Her Maiden Name for her Career
Why Did You Decide to Keep Your Maiden Name Professionally and How Did Your Partner React to Your Decision?
I was 33 when I got married, and had spent most my adult life building up my career as an architect. It was important for me to keep my maiden name professionally as I have been known to clients and colleagues in the profession by that name for over ten years, and felt it was important to retain it as it's my professional identity. My husband was very supportive of this decision and completely understands the reasons why I chose this route.
Do You Find It Complicated Having a Different Name Professionally and Personally?
It was a bit challenging at first, as I kept forgetting which name went with what, but now I have all my personal life under my married name and at work it's all through my maiden name, so it's pretty simple. I feel lucky that I can be known as both, and it's working well.
What Advice Would You Give to Future Brides Thinking of Keeping Their Maiden Names Professionally?
I would say that if you feel any doubt or concerns about changing your name professionally, you shouldn't. Many women spend years building up a career and identity, so you shouldn't feel that you are letting your husband down if you prefer to keep your maiden name at work. Also, I think it's important to realise that it's not complicated, to be honest it's really the personal side and getting used to a new surname that's hardest, work is the easier part as nothing changes!
Find Out Out More About Changing Your Name
NameSwitch have compiled a smart database of hundreds of companies and government bodies, and all of the information needed for each one when changing your name. This means they're the best resource around when it comes to finding out who you need to inform of your name change and how. Using their service can save men and women approximately 14 hours when changing their names - leaving you more time to enjoy married life and look through those wedding photos!
All you need to do to get started is visit their website, fill in your details, and tick the boxes of every company that you need to inform about changing your name. NameSwitch then automatically generates all of the letters and forms you need to send off, together with a set of personalised instructions that they can send to you or you can print off at home.
You can get 10% off NameSwitch's service with the code JUSTHITCHED.