Destination Bride: Name Game

Our bride-to-be is faced with some tough decisions.

So far, we’ve talked about beaches and dresses and DIY projects. It’s been fun, no? Well, things are about to get real. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but I just have to bring this up. And if anyone is reading (Hello? Is this thing on?), I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section.

Here goes: I don’t want to change my name, and I don’t want to be given away. Both traditions make me really uncomfortable.

For starters, I’ve already changed my name once. When my parents got divorced, I tacked my mom’s maiden name, Kashino, onto my original name, Marisa McQuilken. That woman put a lot of work into making sure I became a contributing member of society, and I wanted to give her credit. Anyway, the Social Security Office and the DMV have sucked enough life out of me. I am not subjecting myself to that mess again.

More important, I personally consider my name to be an important part of my identity. I’m excited to share my life with Nate, but I don’t think compromising my individual identity has to be a part of that. It also strikes me as unfair that no one ever asks the guy to sacrifice his lunch hour (or hours) to the DMV or listen to annoying hold music while trying to find out how to change the name on his credit cards. I should add that Nate is fine with all of this. In fact, he never even asked if I’d consider taking his name, since he had assumed it wasn’t up for debate. It probably helps that his parents have been married for more than 30 years and his mom still uses her maiden name.

I’m not suggesting that women who decide to take their husband’s name are doing something wrong. For every reason I’ve given for keeping my name, I know there are equally valid arguments in favor of the name change. I’m all for personal choice, and I’m well aware that I’m in the minority on this one—although I was surprised to learn how much of a minority when I read this Wall Street Journal blog from May. I’m curious—how did all of you decide whether to keep or change your names?

The whole getting-walked-down-the-aisle business is a bit trickier. I’ve never felt bad about keeping my name, but, I admit, I periodically feel pangs of guilt for depriving my dad of this moment. Still, I just can’t ignore that the practice reflects a time when a woman was considered her father’s property until she was handed off to the next man. I mean, I get that my dad wouldn’t actually be pawning me off, along with ten head of cattle and some gold coins. But even the fact that the process is called “giving the bride away” makes me feel like I’d be a commodity. I did some Googling and discovered that the Swedes are on my side. I guess I can now forgive them for selling dressers in 18,000 pieces that are somehow meant to be assembled using only an Allen wrench.

I promise next time we will talk about invitations and photographers. But I thought maybe, just maybe, some of you might be struggling with these same issues, or at the very least that you’d have something to say about them. Anyway, like I said, next time, we’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.