Goodbye Greer McDonald

BY GREER MCDONALD
Last updated 13:50 27/03/2012

After I get married, I am going to legally change my name to that of my new husband.

That's right. I'm going to change my name. Goodbye Greer McDonald. Name

The controversial topic of name changing is an area that has become increasingly fascinating to me as everyone feels the need to tell me why I should or shouldn't change my name.

I utterly respect that everyone's opinion on it is different and everyone has their reasons, but I thought I'd share mine with you.

 "You can't change your name because you are a journalist and your name is your brand."

Looking around the newsroom, married female journalists who have changed their by-lines (the name that appears under stories as a credit) are in the minority.

When quizzed, most say it is easier to keep the same byline as that's what readers know them by. Some like the fact they have a "work" name and a "private" name.

Some just didn't change it at all and stayed with their maiden name for reasons including they didn't like their husband's surname, they couldn't be arsed with all the paperwork and associated cost of changing name or just "coz".

My name is my brand. I own greermcdonald.co.nz, my Twitter handle is @GreerMcDonald, and I've dominated Google search results with my various internet guff under the name Greer McDonald. (I feel sorry for the other Greer McDonald who was up there on search results once upon a time...)

But all of that doesn't worry me one bit.  

Thanks to my parents, they blessed me with a rather unique first name so I like to think of the next stage of my life as a bit of a rebranding.  

Just like a business, it takes planning and promotion - but eventually it becomes the new norm.

Victoria Adams. Remember her? Nah, neither does Victoria Beckham*.

"Changing your name is anti-feminist and you are bowing to the man."

As a colleague pointed out to me, what is so feminist about holding on to a surname which in more times than not, is your father's name?

It's refusing one man's name for another man's, in most cases.

To me, a key cornerstone of feminism is the freedom to make decisions without repercussions.

I am so lucky I live in a society where I can make these decisions as an informed, educated and free woman.

I am choosing to change my name without a gun to my head or fear of reprisal - except for maybe from those who refuse to accept my decision for their own reasons which I do not share. And how fair is that?

"What about your side of the family? Won't they be upset you're 'losing' the name they gave you, their family name?"

In a word, no. I do not and have not ever associated with my McDonald family except for my Dad, brother and nephews who carry the McDonald name. Long story but I have no attachment to my surname unlike many other people I know. And I do understand if 'carrying on' a family name is important where a family say, for example, only had girls or what-have-you.

My name change will mean the end of "Can I have fries with that?" jokes and the taunting of a certain children's nursery rhyme, though.

But then of course that will just be replaced with a whole new repertoire of name-plays because let's face it; all names can be made into something.

"Why don't you hyphenate?"

And sound like a new smoothie on sale at That Family Restaurant? No thanks.

Also, I quite like this piece about what happens when a hyphen marries a hyphen? 

So to re-cap: I am changing my name (and, therefore my brand) because I want to have the same name as my husband-to-be. Name change

I'm not "bowing" to tradition but I fully realise and accept what I am doing is historically a very traditional thing to do.

I'm not being forced to do so and I just like the thought of starting our new family together under a solitary name. It's pretty much that simple.

It's a conscious decision I'm making. It's not a political move, or a statement against people "rebelling" against the norm. It's just plain old me making a plain old decision. 

There are so many options nowadays though. I read this interesting article in which the writer chose a pretty unconventional way of dealing with the name issue - including when kiddles arrived on the scene. Then there's this great piece about a guy who changed his name to his wife's.

And I know of some couples, including same-sex, who just make up brand new surnames to 'label' their new family. I really like that.

So come the end of the year, Greer Berry will be created. I know, if you say it out loud it's a bit "Grr Brr", lots of E's and R's. It looks funny written down and it's a bit sing-songy (Julia Gulia anyone?). But at least it's not Greer Greer (Greer's more common as a surname). Also, according to Google, there aren't too many Greer Berrys sifting around. Not to mention it's a much healthier food group to be associated with. Brill. 

What are your thoughts and experiences on changing surnames?

Follow Greer on Twitter or Weddings on Facebook. You can email Greer here.

 

*Future husband does like to remind me that he's not a famous footballer, also. But still.

117 comments
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Sarah-Rose   #1   02:01 pm Mar 27 2012

I love hearing about how people decide whether to change their name or not. Like your friend I recognised that I was changing one man's name for another but the choice was wholly mine. My husband would have supported any decision I chose, but did not want to change his surname.

I looked at the things I liked and disliked about both surnames (both very irish, both insults), made a pro/con list (one was easier to spell than the other), and went with the one that had the extra pro.

With a hyphenated first name there was no chance I was going to hyphenate my surname.

My sister and her husband both changed their names to a hyphenate after their marriage.

Me   #2   02:02 pm Mar 27 2012

I totally agree with everything you've said! I was also told that basically my name is my brand I'll have to re-brand myself. Such a load of rubbish because I have an unusual first name and if I was that wonderful, people would still know where I work. I see it more as an opportunity to call clients and let them know I changed my name and remind them that I'm here if they need work done. We're now going to be a family so I want us to have the same name. Changing my name won't change who I am, just the surname. Are you legally changing it by deed poll or with Internal Affairs whatever you do Greer? I was told to just start using the new name but am quite keen to make it official if it isn't too hard (I heard it was?).

Still waiting to change the name   #3   02:04 pm Mar 27 2012

Great post. I went through the same scenario when I got married over a year ago, and I've still barely started the name-changing process.

Once your married, the marriage certificate entitles you to use your husbands last name. So rather than legally changing your name - and loosing your right to your maiden name, just use your marriage certificate to get your new passport in your married name, or change/open a bank account in your married name.

A friend of mine who had worked at DIA told me that this is the case, and there's no need to legally change your name, your marriage certificate is the legal evidence allowing you to use your husbands last name.

Rachael   #4   02:06 pm Mar 27 2012

I have been married twice, divorced twice and changed my name both times to my husbands name and back to my maiden name and I have 2 beautiful daughters with each of their fathers names. The cost financially isn't that bad and you get to practice your new signiture on all those forms, just remember when you were in high school and you had a boyfriend and you always tried a new signature with his name to see how well it looked, this is just doing it for real. Good on you for being traditional. All the best for your big day

Cupcake   #5   02:07 pm Mar 27 2012

Changed my name for marriage #1 and was very excited to create a new identity as a wife. Left me a very hurt and damaged ex-wife, so refused to change my name for husband #2.

However at a wedding last weekend I was talking to another guest about the name changing, and went into my uusal rant about the cost, the inconvienance, not wanting to have a 3rd surname etc.

My husband piped up out of nowhere that me not changing my name made him a bit sad, and he felt like he was being unfairly punished for my ex being a douche. He'd never mentioned that before, never pressured me to change my name.

So yesterday I went straight to AA and order a new licence as Mrs Husband's Name. Because I'd rather change my name, than hurt the man who made me believe in love again.

AT   #6   02:10 pm Mar 27 2012

I changed my name. I never really considered not changing my name, at least partly because my old name was complicated to spell and most phone conversations which required my surname resulted in me spelling it out at least twice, with some letters phonetically explained "T for Thomas" and "M for Mother". My new surname is more common and easier to spell. We also changed jobs and moved to a new town shortly after our wedding so whilst for the first couple of months I had my maiden name in brackets after my email signature for when I was dealing with someone I'd previously known, it didn't last long and now everyone knows me by my married name.

Paula   #7   02:10 pm Mar 27 2012

I changed my name when I married my ex-husband, and changed it back to my maiden name when we separated. I have no regrets that I took his name and didn't consider it to be old fashioned at all. He didn't care if I changed my name or not and considered it to be my decision (one that I made on my way to the church). It's not important what other people think - it's your choice and your decision. Incidentally, my current partner and I will probably get married, but I won't change my name this time as his is really hard to pronounce and spell, whereas mine is nice and easy.

B   #8   02:11 pm Mar 27 2012

I dislike my last name immensly, but I wasnt to fond of my wifes last name either. Wish we had thought of taking a completely new family name when we got married. My wife wanted to take my last name though, it didnt really worry me either way so long as we both had the same last name.

changeasarus   #9   02:14 pm Mar 27 2012

I was stoked to change my last name from something unpronouncable and also well known in my home town to something easily spelt/pronounced but not really common. Its such a mega PITA though, having to get licences reissued etc - so be prepared to do running around and much showing of your marriage licence lol. However, on the other hand it does feel strange being called/known as another name after so long, but I like having the same name as my husband, and knowing that when our kids come along one day we will all have the same name.

Jen   #10   02:15 pm Mar 27 2012

I hyphenated my last name for various reasons and I've had friends who've done the same thing because they didn't want to lose their identity. However both hubby and my last names are extraordinarly Irish so whenever I tell someone my last name the general response is 'whoah...Irish much?!'


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