Reasons We Are Keeping Our Names

This has been controversial and I’m guessing will be a super hot topic as the day approaches – for me, a hundred times more than Nathan. It’s so regressive that nobody ever asks him if he’s changing his name, it has all been directed at me so far. It’s also kind of shocking how many people are completely shocked that I will be keeping mine, like it has never occurred to them as an earthly possibility. But that’s our decision, which is completely ours to make.

There are a bunch of reasons for what we are doing. Both of us are attached to our names, and they have been a part of our identities for a long time. I have an image in my head of what Johanna HisLastName looks like, and it’s just not me – it would feel wrong. There would also be the gigantic hassle of changing our name records all over the place, getting new passports and Medicare cards, etc. Then there is also the fact that we both have university degrees under our names, and I have writing published under mine.

My biggest objection though stems from something that I have already seen in practice, receiving mail for Mr and Mrs Nathan HisLastName, before we are even married. I cannot even describe how uncomfortable it made me feel. Like I’m a non-entity, not even deserving of even my own first name, completely erased. It’s just a little thing and I’m sure it’s just second nature for a lot of people, especially of a certain age, but it floored me how easily a name could make me feel so irrelevant, so unimportant, like Nathan’s accessory rather than a fully realized person in my own right who is entitled to a name of my own.

We debated the possibility of both of us hyphenating and gave it serious thought. For us, it was a case of… we’ll both do it, or we both won’t, but it wouldn’t be fair for one person to bend and the other person not to at all. We didn’t feel strongly enough about it, and in the end, why fix what isn’t broken? We will still ultimately be just as married with separate last names.

There have been a lot of objections thrown around though (some of which I’ve been confronted with, some I’ve heard from others), so I’ll answer a few.

It’s not even feminist for a woman to keep her maiden name, because it’s just her father’s name anyway…
It may be, but it’s not just my dad’s name – it’s my name. It’s what I was born with. I can’t control whose name my parents gave me, but I can say that I was given one name at birth and I’ve had it my whole life – how does this not belong to me? It may come from him originally, but so did his name from his dad – surely I can say that my name belongs to me just as much as it belongs to my dad.

If you don’t take your husband’s name, it’s like you are rejecting his family.
So, if he doesn’t take my name, is he rejecting my family too? Because it’s the exact same deal. Plus if I did change, by that logic how could I not feel like I was rejecting my own family? I like the fact that we will be forming a new primary family, but retaining our names as links to our families of origin. It would feel so lopsided and unfair to identify solely as members of just one side.

But it’s traditional. 
Lots of things are. Doesn’t mean they are for everybody.

It’s an insult to your husband to not take his name.
Then conversely, it’s an insult to me for him not to take my name (so many of these objections look so silly when you apply logic). Nathan is not insulted that I won’t take his last name because he respects that I am just as attached to my name as he is, and I’m super proud of him for being so mature about it. It’s so unattractive for a man to throw a tantrum about his wife not taking his name without ever considering that whatever he feels about the situation, she’s entitled to feel the exact same way about him not taking her name.

But how will everybody know you’re married / a family?
This one is kind of irrelevant, especially in this day and age of blended families all over the place where there could be three or four surnames among siblings that don’t match their parents either. There are lots of things that women can do to broadcast that they are married – a name, a ring, mentioning a ‘husband’, or just telling people. But even if you do none of these things, it doesn’t mean you are somehow less committed. Nathan and I will know we are married, and I’m sure that our nearest and dearest won’t magically forget that fact because we failed to have the same name.

But surely you’ll change it when you have children?
I’m sure my kids will know who their parents are regardless of our different last names. Besides, we already made plans for that long before ever getting engaged – to be revealed in due time!

Wedding Things

I’m having a moment.

This whole wedding planning thing is starting to feel like one long, drawn out freak out, a silent scream. Despite my history of dabbling in theatre, I have somehow grown into a person that hates being the centre of attention. Being a bride feels like being on stage, except I’m in a giant spotlight, and I’m probably naked. At my most paranoid, I imagine that it’s an opportunity for an audience to pick me apart and critique my every move. My more rational self remembers that we are having a small wedding with only our nearest and dearest, and none of them will be thinking anything but happy thoughts for us. But anxiety isn’t exactly a rational thing. The end is in sight though – less than three months to go.

So where are we so far? Nathan has a jacket but no pants, shirt or tie. I have a dress and Cinderella-worthy shoes, and still no consensus on accessories or jewelry. Dogs will be naked at this point; I still haven’t found ‘formal harnesses’ for them yet. We have picked bonbonniere, we have pretty much settled on the menu, we need to finalize the drinks menu. Bridesmaids are getting measured for dresses that I hope they all like. Accommodation is booked for us, my family, his family. Dog sitter is organized, photographer is partially organized. Invitations are ordered, and man, what a thrill it was to see the proofs! I have picked somewhere to get our hair done. I have made a start on a dinner playlist. I have ordered corsages and boutonnieres.

But there are a million other little things that haven’t even been thought of yet. We still haven’t chosen our rings. We’re still struggling to choose songs for the ceremony. I haven’t even thought of flowers. I still haven’t found ties for the groomsmen, dads and Nathan (and Rupert, of course). We have to write speeches and vows. I have to write a dog sitting guide with all their quirks, routines and commands. We need to figure out what sort of cake we will have. I need to buy/source/get together every single little thing that we have to take with us to Melbourne, everything we could possibly need for that weekend, and find a way of fitting it all in the car. It also occurred to me that I should probably get a manicure, which I have never done before.

There is just so much. And this is meant to be a small, low key wedding, but there is still so, so much. I do not know how people plan gigantic weddings without completely losing their marbles, but I suppose that’s what wedding planners are for.

We’ll get through it. After all the stress, it might even be fun. It might even be one of the best days of my life so far.


How do you plan a multi-course meal, served sharing style, attended by a group of people that includes individuals who don’t eat seafood, don’t eat pork, probably won’t eat anything not cooked within an inch of its life? Raise the stakes and picture this meal happening at an modern Asian restaurant that serves a lot of seafood and raw food. And now add in a few diabetics, a few allergies, and one person who doesn’t eat: pasta, red meat, pork, seafood, mushrooms, spicy food, unusual food, or Asian food in general. How is it possible to navigate this kind of thing without giving up and going to Pizza Hut (although I’m sure there would still be something wrong with even that)? I feel like legitimate allergies should always be catered for, and after that, people are allowed to just not like one or two things each – that’s fine. I don’t like eggs or coffee, but have been known to consume both to be polite (and try not to gag on the egg) if people who didn’t know served them to me. But we have a wedding menu to plan, and I really don’t see a way through this other than gently planting the possibility that certain people might need to grab a baguette or something between the ceremony and the dinner. Is that too mean? Or is that the only way that we’re going to get through this? Is this one of those wedding things where somebody is going to be offended or have their nose out of joint, no matter what we do?

Less than six months to go. Very scary.

In a Previous Life

You might remember that I used to make felt flower bouquets for weddings. It was my own little business for a while, but in the end I gave it up – for something that was so labour intensive, there was never going to be a realistic price point that would equal a reasonable hourly rate. Plus it was just not competitive to be sourcing my materials from the US, considering the volatility of exchange rates. I loved it though, while it lasted, and I still have thousands of vintage buttons and huge stacks of wool felt. Here are some of the bouquets I created for brides:

pink and green 3531999307_6b191f0a70_o 3645776549_ec2356cf71_o 4071991162_f3784666e2_o

Now that I’m the one getting married, it has occurred to me that maybe I should make my own bouquet. I have the skills, why not? It would show off a talent that I have and save money, seeing as I already have most of the materials – I guess the main cost would be my time, which could easily run into hundreds of hours if I did all my flowers this way. But then it doesn’t seem like felt flower bouquets are a ‘thing’ anymore – are they still in fashion, or would it look hopelessly pre-2010? There used to be a really strong DIY or crafty movement on wedding blogs, but it seem to have almost completely disappeared in only a few years…  I don’t know. It would also be nice to have something I could keep forever. The other thing is that I love real flowers so much, it’s a really tough decision. Maybe I could have real flowers as decorations, but felt flowers for people to wear and hold – then it would be something they could keep as well? There is still time to decide though, and maybe even experiment with some different shapes and techniques. At this stage, I’m thinking: peachy pinks, raspberry, very pale mint, copper, navy, pearls and sparkles. If I get really ambitious and try to make bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages for my whole squad, that is a big project. I will really have to go hunting for vintage buttons and brooches. But I guess that’s what the summer will be for!

The Process

“So, how is all the wedding planning going?”

I do not know how to answer this question, and despite everything, I am somehow shocked every time it is thrown my way. Maybe because the first half of this year was such a washout, maybe because we haven’t actually had an engagement celebration yet – it just feels like I never got a time to relish, soak up and revel in my bride-to-be status. Or maybe I just don’t have the bride gene, who knows. Anyway, how is wedding planning going?

We have a date, at the very least. And we know that unless we throw in the towel and run away overseas, it will be here (not sure if ‘here’ indicates Melbourne or Geelong). We don’t have a venue or any vendors, we have only a vague idea of what the whole thing is going to be like. I get on pinterest, get overwhelmed, throw my hands up in the air and declare it to be ‘all too hard’ several times a week. The problem is that every idea I come across, I can see it – I can imagine myself in a giant bedazzled powderpuff-of-a-ballgown just as easily as a Mia Farrow-esque crochet shift dress. I can see a tiny gathering of just our parents and siblings at the registry office, but I can also see a huge fairy-lit affair of our entire extended families, dripping with flowers and champagne. I am surrounded by all these competing voices of what constitutes a wedding, of what/how it is supposed to be, but in the midst of the din, I don’t know what I want. All I can hear is what every single person in the world is telling me that I am supposed to want.

There are a few things we have settled on though. I have a very special cake topper hidden away, and I know what our wedding favours (bomboniere?) will be. We haven’t decided on whether we will have a bridal party, but if we do, we know who it will be (which is why we haven’t asked anybody yet). And I have drawn a line in the sand on a very important issue – there will be no white chair covers at my wedding, because I detest them (for me! other people are entitled to like them and use them, they are just not for me).

There are complications though. Things like old people and stairs, wheelchair-friendly parks, who will drive who and where will various groups get ready, the perils of inviting some cousins but not other cousins, plus ones or not for people who seem to change partners like changing their underwear, whether ‘but they invited me to theirs’ is a valid reason for letting a small wedding morph into a giant wedding, whether we should practice some austerity regarding this or whether I will look back in twenty years and wish that we had let ourselves be extravagant just once for such an important day.

So of course, I am procrastinating by directing my planning energies into honeymoon research instead. Less pressure. If I screw up, there will be other trips. It is less forgivable to screw up the planning of our wedding.

So, how is wedding planning going? Tiny things are in motion, but it’s not going, really. There is still time though. When the countdown switches over to less than a year, then I will start panicking.