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“Nearly two years and one proposal later, I have no regrets about taking my wife’s name."

Recently hitched couples can appreciate even more than the rest of us just how many traditions there are when it comes to organising your big day. Will the bride wear white? Will you wed in a church? Will one of you be ‘given away’? But when it comes to love and marriage, is tradition alone a good enough reason for doing any of these things?

Two married couples explain to Mamamia their reasons for taking a different approach to the traditional act of saying ‘I do’, to a new surname.

Paediatric nurse, Amber, is happily married to general practitioner, Adam, and mum to 20-month-old Felix, with baby number two on the way. Amber and her son (and future bub-to-be) share a surname, but as she explains, it is not the same as her husband’s.

“Adam and I had a very traditional wedding; I wore a beautiful white dress, I had five bridesmaids and a sit-down meal followed by a party with our family and friends. We really enjoyed the celebratory aspect of being engaged and getting married, but like many other brides, I decided to keep my own surname of Sinclair.

Amber on her wedding day. Image: Supplied/Living Light Photography.

“Three years later when pregnant with Felix, Adam and I discussed what the baby’s surname would be. I questioned the general assumption that he would automatically take Adam’s and why in 2018 the man’s family name is still considered more important than the woman’s. We also took into account the practical fact that my surname is easier to pronounce and spell than Adam’s!”

“While Adam didn’t want to change his surname, he was not at all worried about having a different one to the rest of us. He is from a big extended family with plenty of male descendants to carry on the name, where as I am one of two daughters from a small family.”

During her pregnancy, Amber also spoke to her mum and dad about the impending surname decision to see how they felt.

Amber's son Felix also shares her surname, while her husband has kept his own last name. Image: Supplied.
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“I thought that if they were a bit weird about the whole idea, maybe we would change our minds, but they were actually really touched, which cemented our decision.”

Agency strategy director, Jamie Maple, felt that his decision to take his artist wife Sarah’s surname came down to three main reasons: making a feminist gesture, expressing his love for Sarah while questioning tradition, and just being a show-off.

Married in December 2014, the couple took a non-traditional approach to most aspects of the wedding with no flowers, cars, bridal party or ‘giving away’ of father to husband, rather they wanted the wedding to be a reflection of their values involving family and friends.

Jamie and Sarah married in December 2014. Image: Supplied.

“Nearly two years and one proposal later, I have no regrets about taking my wife’s name. My father has never been a big part of my life and therefore the desire to 'continue the family line' was never a consideration for me. If I had any hesitations, they were to do with saying goodbye to the name I shared with my mum and sister, while I skipped out and joined another tribe. But they supported the decision and understood what I wanted to do.”

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Talking to Mamamia, Jamie says that he felt his decision “always came from a positive place of wanting to join something”, his new family.

Jamie and Sarah have had varied but mostly positive responses to his non-traditional choice. He highlights one man’s response in particular who said he couldn’t believe Jamie ‘let it happen.’

“I find this assumption fascinating – the idea that in order to make this decision the man must have been coerced or be doing it against his will.

"I have no regrets about taking my wife’s name." Image: Supplied.

“I’m lucky that I had the option to choose and I know lots of people who made the choice to take a husband or partner’s name and it was the right choice for them. I am not judging anyone, I just think the tradition of it all is daft.”

Amber agrees that while it was the right choice for her family, she won’t be judging others’ decisions, or dishing out lectures to people who assume she has taken Adam’s name.

“It was not a grand gesture for me to break with tradition but it felt right for us. To be honest I haven’t even told many people so I still get mail from relatives addressed to what they wrongly assume is our married name.

“When Felix starts school, I am sure I will have to explain our decision to more people, but with more families choosing to do the same thing, I don’t really consider it to be a big deal.”

Did you break with tradition when you got married? Would you consider giving your children your surname over your partner’s name? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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