Colleen + Corey Wedding

A New Identity

Image by Abigail Seymour Photography

I have to tell you that on my wedding day, I wasn’t sure if I was going to change my last name.  I indicated to everyone that I would (note the hanger from which my gown hung), but I still had an inkling of doubt.  You see, I’ve always been a Bowker.  Losing my last name was taking away a little piece of my identity.  I consider myself to be an unwavering feminist and  I’ve always prided myself on being just as strong and smart as all of the boys around me.  So taking part in such an old tradition, from a time when the husband took all the legal rights for the couple, went a little bit against my sense of self.  Does it change who I am?  All the things in my life that I am so proud of are tied to a name that I won’t have anymore.  My engineering degrees, my articles in scientific journals, even my high school tennis awards.  I am a person who over thinks EVERYTHING so a decision with such life changing implications was scary.  So I waited.  And I thought.  And I started to see the other side of the decision.  The side where I would share one name with my husband and we could be our own little family.  Which still feels weird to say.  With our (very future) children.  A different name means losing a piece of my old identity, but it also means a new identity with a new beginning, and this was enough for me.  Something that seemed archaic and old-fashioned suddenly seemed romantic.  I have just started the name changing process, and although I am currently knee-deep in a list of things/places/websites where I need to change my name, I have no regrets.  What do you guys think?  Did you/would you keep your last name after marriage?


  1. Stephanie G

    Speaking as one of the women that have changed her name to Mrs. Geohagan, ( I have always felt that Mrs. Geohagan was my mother-in-law) I looked forward to changing my name. Most all of my legal papers are Stephanie Stratton Geohagan now. I feel a loss of my middle name Elizabeth. Perhaps this is because when I was in trouble I was called Elizabeth ( after my paternal great-grandmother). Nowdays women do a variety of things. I do think that taking the name of your husband makes you more one unit, which is the commitment of marriage anyway. Once you have children I think the famiily unit works better with one last name. The choice is always yours. Remember, even with a different last name you will always be a Bowker. That will naver change. I am still a Stratton and will always be. A little Dutch-German, English-Welch, Irish, and Native American. That’s what makes me, me and our children carries it on after us.

  2. Nicola

    I can totally relate!! I love my maiden name, Flowerdew, and had a really hard time when it came to making the decision to change it. I even jokingly (maybe was a bit serious in my mind) asked Dave if he would take my last name 🙂 I did decide to follow the tradition and so glad I did! I am honored to be a Mitchell, but kept Flowerdew as my middle name. I will always be a Flowerdew, but now I have extended my family to also include Mitchell. It is such a hard decision and you have to do what is right for you! Good luck xoxo

  3. Blair Scheepers

    Could not wait to get rid of “Kernoodle”… ;o) Plus, I loved becoming a Mrs.

  4. Mom

    Wow! This was an important
    decision. I am glad you kept the Bowker
    middle name.

  5. Lindsey Regan Thorne @ be pretty

    Love this post and it’s something to be a little lost about… I kept my last name as my middle name. I hope to someday carry on my middle name {once last name} to my little girls middle name! 🙂 xo

  6. Colleen

    Thank you all for your comments! I guess I didn’t make it clear in the post, but like Lindsey and Nicola, I am keeping my last name as my middle name.

  7. Jean Wilks

    Colleen you have made the right decision. You are such a wise and beautiful Lady and we love you. I have a Specialist Degree in business and one of the first things I learned was that a woman’s legal name is her given name, maiden name and married name. At first I did not want to accept that but later I have learned that is the way it should be on legal records. It is also good for the children to know where their “roots” are. I am proud of my own family name but I am also proud to share my husband’s name with my extended family.

  8. Sianneth

    Oh boy! Where do I start with this? I am going through the same struggle as a newlywed, and I will probably not make a final decision for a while as well.

    I myself have always been quite the feminist. Partly as a bit of rebellion because I do come from patriarchal Latin-American culture, but also because I have very strong and outspoken female role models in my family and my name is a big piece to that strong woman role!

    The other part to my dilemma, also having to do with my cultural background, is the fact that in Costa Rica, women DON’T legally change their names. It is nearly impossible to do so first of all and also it’s not entirely necessary because children have both paternal and maternal representation in their name. For instance:
    Jonny Jones Johnson & Susie Smith Stewart get married and have a child, Annie. Annie’s name would be –> Annie Jones Smith.

    All of that being said, I don’t live in Costa Rica anymore and I married an American.
    So what to do?!

    I always vowed that I was born a Sanchez and I would die a Sanchez. However, just like you the idea of being “Mrs. Nark”, as I was referred to countless times on my honeymoon, became sort of romantic. So I’m in a bit of a bind.
    If I change my name here, I can’t do it in Costa Rica, so will I be two people in two different parts of the world? Or can I reconcile those two people somehow.

    I have thought of the option of staying Sanchez legally and answering to Nark socially, but that still creates confusion. Thankfully my darling husband is putting no sort of pressure on me either way. But I still need to make a decision sooner rather than later, as people are already attaching the Nark to my name without having heard an official statement from my publicist.

  9. Sairy

    I’m not married or anything but professionally I have the same struggle for the future as you Colleen. Architect SANCHEZ is the one who worked her butt off in grad school. Not Architect ______ (fill in dudes name). It doesn’t seem fair to me that I’m the one who put the countless hours of work, not sleeping, stress, etc so another name gets the credit. We will see what the future holds and if my decision changes but for now I’m pretty set on always being Architect Sairy Sanchez!

  10. Danielle

    Well Siánneth, you are in a little pickle! I see the dilema for you and Sairy, I absolutely agree! However, with a name like Jenkins …. I personally cannot wait to get rid of it! I like the tradition of taking my future hubby’s last name and being connected in that way is a little romantic!