The Name Game

One couple turned a big decision into a friendly competition.

By: Lynne Shallcross

Six months before her July wedding, Kate Feldmeier began trying out her prospective new name. Kate Franz, she’d say to herself. Kate Franz.

She had been a Feldmeier for 29 years. Kate couldn’t wait to marry Nate Franz, who proposed during a trip to Paris, but Feldmeier was the only identity she’d ever known. As a literary coordinator at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in DC’s Columbia Heights, she was used to hearing students call her name all day.

“You grow a certain attachment to it,” she says.

So Kate and Nate, a teacher at E.L. Haynes, sat down to decide the fate of her birth name. They agreed that they wanted the same last name to make things easier when they had children. But Kate admitted she wasn’t fully ready to be a Franz—most of her married friends in Washington hadn’t even considered changing their given names.

“It’s really important to me that we have the same last name,” Nate said. “I’ll be Nate Feldmeier if you can beat me at kickball.”

Kate thought her fiancé was kidding—neither had played since elementary school—but soon they were planning a kickball game to decide whose last name would stick.

On the morning of the wedding, friends and family gathered at a baseball field in Cazenovia, New York, Kate’s hometown. Each guest received a welcome bag with a navy or white T-shirt. The two teams of 50 played one inning each, with every player getting up to the plate.

Guests knew what was at stake, which made for competitive play. Team Feldmeier, wearing navy, scored ten runs.

“The groom’s team had to beat ten to win,” Kate says.

Despite threats from Nate’s friends to throw the game so he would have to take his wife’s name—Kate says now that she probably would have taken Nate’s name either way—Team Franz scored 11 runs.

“I now pronounce you Nate and Kate Franz,” the minister said later that day. “But only by one run.”

 

This article was originally published in the January 2008 issue of The Washingtonian.