Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Kari John-Jacob-Jingleheimer-Schmidt

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

As the Big Day approaches, I’m finding that everybody is interested in what name I’ll go by after the wedding. (Well, OK, not everybody.) Will I keep my maiden name? Take my husband-to-be’s?

The simple answer is that, like most women, I plan to take his name. As this article in Slate recently reported, the incidence of college-educated women in their 30s (like me) keeping their maiden names actually decreased between 1990 and 2000. It’s not a political statement; it’s just practical, particularly when kids are a possibility. In my experience, hyphenation also is becoming less common, as people have begun to anticipate the complications that will ensue when little John Doe-Schmo and Jane Smith-McGillicuddy grow up and decide to get married.

But the less simple answer is that I won’t throw myself into the change all at once. In social and legal settings, I plan to go by my new name immediately. But it will take a little longer to make the transition professionally. A large part of my job is based on relationships with a wide and heterogeneous network of people who know me by my current last name. Pulling the old switcheroo on them all at once would not be a good idea.

So for at least a year, I plan to use my maiden name as a middle name professionally, in hopes that the juxtaposition of the two surnames will help remind people of the new status quo. Sound like a plan?

Ask me in a few months how the name-changing thing went -- I've just printed out a set of how-to guidelines that is a bit intimidating. Apparently notifying Social Security takes care of you with the IRS, but just about every other agency, financial organization, or utility you deal with needs to be notified separately. Argh!


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