What You Should Know About Hyphenating Last Names


Hyphenating last names can be a reasonable settlement of name change issue after marriage! Hyphenating your name with your spouse’s, despite its many concerns can be a solution to your dilemma of ‘whether-to-change-the-name-post-marriage-or-not’. Should you do it? Here's all you need to know.

Should I Have a Hyphenating Last Name?

Not long ago, it was a tradition that the bride was supposed to change her maiden name and replace it with her husband’s last name. It was in the beginning of the 19th century that an advocate of women’s rights changed her married name back to her own name; following which keeping one’s own last name after marriage gained more popularity.

As a moderate solution, the trend of hyphenating last names after marriage is a suitable compromise. This implies joining your last name and your groom’s last name with a hyphen. According to latest statistics, roughly 10% married women hyphenate their last names.  

Even after changing to a hyphenating last name, one may want to use either of the two names for the sake of convenience.


Hyphenating last name of a woman may put a stop to people’s judgments and assumptions towards her, but at the same time may impose unwanted implications. For example, some people may attribute the woman as ‘less-stringent version of a feminist by still clinging on to her family name’; yet some people may appreciate this practice as hyphenated name system demonstrates some kind of heritage preservation, for instance if the lady belongs to an elite class, she is retaining the status of her last name, or if both the partners have a family name to maintain, they may both take hyphenated names in order to show both their lineages. 

Make Sure to Make all Legal Changes

The process of name changing is not at all as hassle-free as shown. You would want to change your name on the marriage license, your national ID card, your bank accounts, credit cards, driving license, medical license and the list goes on and on…

Pros and Cons of Hyphenating Last Names

The bright side

Here are some pros of hyphenating last names:

  • The biggest perk is that you get to keep your own identity, which you are finding difficult to abandon completely. At the same time, adopting the last name of your husband reflects a mutual bond and partnership.

  • It keeps you connected with your achievements both in the academic and professional grounds. As your last name is a source of pride to you and your mentors, it may be hard for you to remove it entirely. In addition, it makes it easier for your colleagues, peers and friends to follow you and your work post-marriage.

  • If you get to keep a hyphenated name with your husband, your children would also have the same last name (hyphenated or not) and you maintain a sense of belongingness and connection with them.

  • By following the tradition, you keep people from raising fingers on you for being a radical by retaining your own name.

  • A hyphenated name is also a reflection of compromise which a woman has to make in one way or the other after marriage, and in this, both parties win. Nobody loses.

  • And not to say it, but considering the divorce statistics these days, you only have to remove the added name in such an unfortunate incidence.

The dark side

  • People may find it difficult to remember which name comes first, as it is a bit annoying.

  • Mistakes may be made on insurances or other important paperwork if the person in charge of writing ignores the hyphen or omit the first name of your hyphenated name considering it a middle name.

  • Some husbands are more of an orthodox nature and want their wife to follow the tradition by changing their last names. This may lead to a tough start if the woman is of a non-compromising nature.

  • Giving a hyphenated name to a child may create some confusion.

  • Hyphenated names may make the process of computing difficult. In some systems, the hyphen may disappear, creating a single name and in some instances, the name after the hyphen gets disappeared. In the similar way, some forums or official Proforma aren’t long enough for writing the full hyphenated name.

  • If it is long, it may be hard to spell and may cause annoyance especially when telling someone your name over the phone. This is especially true for making appointments for the doctor, hair dresser, or restaurant reservations.

Other Options/Choices Available

Besides hyphenating last names, there are a few other choices after marriage:

Retain your maiden name

This will save you from extra paperwork. This is a suitable option for those who are known by their name professionally, or are the last member of the family and want to carry the name, or have understanding husbands.


Keep two last names (without hyphen)

Keep your maiden name and add your husband’s last name and use them interchangeably. Now you have two sir names, so sign all the legal documents with those two last names and you can prefer to have others call you whichever name you like. 


Take your spouse’s last name

Follow the traditions, and keep your husband and in-laws happy.


Create a blended last name with your spouse

Consider it if that sounds good. A recent trend that is getting very popular in the couples living in California.


Have your spouse take your name

If your spouse doesn’t have any issues with it, and you don’t want to abandon your last name, make him take yours.


Use your maiden name as your middle name and take your husband's last name

Another good choice! This is especially true if you don't like how your maiden name sounds and also want to take your love's last name.