Name Change Game


So whenever I think about the name changing process, I always think of this episode of FRIENDS.

I was actually a late comer to watching this series, usually because I had a Ballet class or was coming home from one right at the same time every Thursday. So I started watching Friends in re-runs and got hooked. The final season of Friends was broadcast when I was studying abroad in France, and it was so funny to watch Friends dubbed over. The voices were so different. And of course the jokes weren’t quite the same. But when you’re an American in France, feeling a little homesick, you take what you can get.

A friend recently asked me about my take on changing my name. The simple answer? It’s a personal decision.

For me, I knew that when I got married, I couldn’t just drop my last name. It’s been a part of me and my identity forever, and something about just wiping my name slate clean and writing in a new one, just felt wrong. Mind you, this was long before I was ever engaged or even dating Cent.

When I worked in an office, I had three co-workers who were married in the span of a year and I watched them go through the process of changing their last names to their husband’s last name. I also had a co-worker who kept her maiden name, and she and her husband are married five years strong. To me, both of these options just seemed incomplete. I couldn’t wrap my head around “deleting” my last name – Ronquillo. (While people have trouble pronouncing it, it’s typically unique and get excited when I meet another person with my last name.) At the same time, I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable with just keeping my last name either.

So I’m doing what works for the both of us. I’m adding Cent’s last name. My maiden name gets upgraded to my middle name spot and add on his last name. No hyphen though. My last name barely fit on an SAT scantron, so imagine what it would be like for my name and his in one bitty box! While I kind of had to sell Cent on this idea, I gave him my reasoning, and it was all good. This is also what my mom did, so that’s probably where I got the idea. I’m thankful that she didn’t do the hyphen thing either. Otherwise, my maiden name would be 19 letters long! 20 characters if you include the hyphen!

Alright Internet, here’s another confession: I haven’t changed my name yet! (Although I did on Facebook, so that’s makes it real, right?)

I do have a legit reason for this. And a couple of other reasons. I won’t be changing my name until the new year because:

  • We have air travel plans for Christmas. Tickets are issued with my maiden name.
  • We were in process of buying a house and my maiden name was on the stack of paperwork.
  • I moved states and needed to figure out the requirements and process for Texas, and our marriage certificate was issued in CA.

But I will! Promise.

Here are some handy steps for changing your name in the state of Texas :

  1. Get two certified copies of your marriage certificate.
  2. Change Driver’s License at the DMV. Bring your previous license and marriage certificate.
  3. Change Social Security at the Social Security Administration office. Bring your new license and marriage certificate. (And bring a book.)
  4. After these, you can proceed to your passport (online here), bank accounts, credit cards, etc.

(Special thanks to my friend, Stephanie of Stephanie Michele Events for sharing this with me!)

Also, if you’re looking for a one-stop shop to get you through the name changing process, check out MissNowMrs.!

These days, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. It’s totally a personal decision that you should make with your fiance/spouse. Come to a decision you can both be comfortable and live with happily.

What’s your opinion about changing or keeping your last name?

Happy Wednesday!

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  • Reply Heidi R. 12.09.2009 at 2:21 pm

    My maiden name is VERY unique – in fact, every person in the US with the name is related to me by blood – so I’ve been eager to marry a man with a simple last name my entire life. It wasn’t until Chris and I actually started talking about marriage that I started to realize I would miss my last name – I was the only person with my name in the entire world and not a lot of people can say that. Chris felt very strongly about us having the same last name though and I really wanted the same so in the end I changed it and didn’t upgrade my maiden name to my middle name because I love my real middle name too much and my maiden name was 10 letters long and way too hard for people to pronounce. So, I’ve got a simple name that everyone knows how to say and it feels good. Part of me misses the uniqueness of my maiden name, but I’m happy to be a Ryder. :) I love that we live in a world where women have this option and it’s no longer expected that they will take their husband’s name no matter what, though. That makes me happy.

  • Reply Heidi R. 12.09.2009 at 2:22 pm

    man, sorry for the run-on sentences. also, here’s another can! 😉

  • Reply Karyn 12.09.2009 at 2:48 pm

    Another tip – I got my Texas DL (with maiden) before I got my new last name. They WILL take a new photo here even if you are just doing the married name thing. So be prepared, and at least run that errand first that day. =) I was unaware and I’ve been paying for it for 5 yrs. =)

  • Reply Rosaura 12.09.2009 at 4:02 pm

    i’m still ‘sandoval’ but gemma’s name is ‘krotz’, her daddy’s name. when she starts going to school i’ll probably change my name by adding his name too. :) that ‘friends’ clip was funny! :)

  • Reply Robin 12.09.2009 at 6:01 pm

    Great take Catie! Personally, I paid for MissnowMrs and was disappointed. I thought they were going to help more then they did. Really you are paying for a packet of paperwork and it is populated with your info. It was nice, but not as helpful as I had hoped!

    Also, you can still change your name and travel with tickets booked under your old name. I did this past week. Just had to show both my old and new driver’s licenses at security.

    And Social Security only took me 7 minutes – it was amazing!

    Clearly I decided to change my name. It was a hard decision cause I love my unique maiden name. Luckily my new name is just as unique. I even tried to convince Greg to change his – that didn’t work out well. In the end I decided to change it since we’ll probably have kids one day and I personally I liked growing up with parents who have the same last name. Like you said, its a personal decision.

  • Reply michelle cunningham 12.09.2009 at 6:45 pm

    catie, that’s typical of filipinos. they like to show what family origins a girl has… comes from their spanish days. the problem is the length of the name. i’m trying to sell curtis on taking on my last name for a change. he’s not down w it.

  • Reply Kathleen Joaquin Burkhalter 12.09.2009 at 8:17 pm

    I wonder if other women(I’m about to be 53) ever missed their original names. Look up Lucy Stone and read about the naming tradition in the US. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Vindication of Rights of Women. Read about suffrage. It is very enlightening.

    In the Philippines during the Spanish years, women kept their names as they did in Spain. Taking the husband’s name is a new tradition, and almost all Filipinos use their maiden names as middle names.

    My heritage is so diverse, that I cannot give up my mother’s family name,(Joaquin) because it encapsulates my Filipino story, nor my father’s name (Burkhalter). Both are MY names.

    I think women do not know what they are giving up when they give up their names.

    And that, dear niece, is my 2 cents.


    Auntie Kathleen

  • Reply Ashley 12.09.2009 at 8:18 pm

    I don’t want to change my last name ever…even for Timberlake.

  • Reply whitney elizabeth 12.10.2009 at 1:04 pm

    you’re so on the ball! i haven’t even changed my name yet and i’ve been married for a year and a half…whoops! thanks for letting me know how easy it is to do! oh, and I LOVE that friends episode!!!

  • Reply Tamara 12.15.2009 at 5:24 pm

    I had the same dilemma and have used my last name for business so it was a tough decision. I ended up making the same decision as you. Seems the most practical.

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