Should you take your husband’s name?

Victoria Coren asks the big question


ELLE columnist Victoria Coren changed her name when she got married to Victoria Coren Mitchell. Is she wrong?

Victoria debates the personal and political implications of the decision in her December column.

Is it a betrayal of feminism? Of personal identity? Is it an archaic tradition that needs to be challenged? And is there a right or wrong thing to do?

A hot topic at ELLE HQ, we decided to canvas the team for their opinion. We’d love to hear what you think too. Tweet us @ELLEUK to tell us.


Phebe Hunnicutt, Digital Director
When I got married it honestly didn't even occur to me to change my name (I don't think it occurred to my husband either). Had either of us had a short last name I would have happily become a double barrel but as it stands, Hunnicutt-Glazebrook just felt excessive!

Georgia Collins, Deputy Beauty Editor
I’ve been married for 3 months and I'm excited to change my name because my husband and I are a little team and I think it shows a nice commitment to that way of thinking. I also know it means a lot to my husband which I love. I don't think it diminishes me as a person or a woman, in fact I think it's empowering to be able to choose what name I want to have. I also like the fact that I have the same surname as my daughter and that as a family, we are collectively known as something.

Annabel Brog, Editorial Project Director
I took my married name when I got pregnant but kept my maiden name professionally. I kind of wish now I'd kept to the original in all areas, and made our daughter’s name double-barreled. Largely because my brother and I are the last Brogs in the world (I think). But it was a hell of a chore to grow up with…

Natasha Pearlman, Deputy Editor
I never wanted to take my husband’s name. It has been confusing when I've been to weddings and realised that I've been put under my husband's surname. I don't mind – I just keep forgetting that some people simply follow convention. My personal reason for keeping it was because it's part of my identity, not just at work but at home – it's been who I am for over 30 years and I don't really want to change that or be subsumed by someone else's identity. It definitely caused debate amongst my friends, some of whom were outraged that I'll almost certainly have a different surname to my children.

Emma Sells, Fashion Features Writer
I have been with my boyfriend for 8 years but we're not planning to get married at any point so this is unlikely to be a decision that I have to make. However, I am very attached to my surname and it would feel very strange to change it to anything else – it's a part of my identity. But I would probably change my name were we to get hitched, primarily because our daughter has his surname (very much a joint decision) and it would make things much less complicated! I'm quite glad I don't have to choose though…

Claire Sibbick, Junior Sub-Editor
I'm proud of my name – I'm pretty sure I'm the only one with it, at least if social networks are anything to go by. It's been mine all my life, so why should I have to change it for a man? If I ever get married, I may need to make a compromise, but in an ideal world, I won't have to.

Amy Lawrenson, Senior Beauty Writer
If I get married I wouldn't change my name. On the subject my boyfriend James asked, 'Why does the woman take the man's name? It's sexist.’ The same goes for the 'tradition' of the bride being given away by the father to the future husband. If you have children then it becomes a question of do you all want to have the same name? But otherwise I don't see the need.

Christina Simone, Workflow Director
I kept my maiden name when I got married. My husband did recently asked me, though, if I would change my name when we have children. I don’t understand why or how changing my name to match his would make us feel more like a family — but will consider this if it is very important to him.

Suzanne Sykes, Creative Director
When I got married I didn't change my name, mainly because it didn't sound right with my first name. I did toy with the double-barreled thing but it sounded such a mouthful. There's a certain amount of administration involved in the name change so you would have to be fully on board with the idea to warrant the hassle. It was just something I felt I didn't need to do. My mum insists on sending any cards and letters with my married name on though.

Patricia Campbell, Commercial Editor
I decided to keep my name professionally, but change it privately. As a writer you trade on your name to an extent, so keeping my maiden name was an attempt to retain the sense of self that is bound up in my work. Sounds lofty, but I didn't marry until I was 31 – that's almost a decade after I began my career. I joke with my husband that the decision was all to do with maintaining good SEO, but in truth I quite like the way in which it compartmentalises work and play. I'm happy and proud to use my husband's name in every other aspect of my life, and yes, if we are lucky enough to have children, they will take his name, too. It's a very personal choice and I don't think women should be judged either way.

Fern Ross, Production Editor / Chief Sub Editor
I am not married, but my boyfriend Mark and I have been together for six years. He says he won't ask me to marry him unless I take his surname. It's Crabbie, so I really hope he's joking. On a more serious note, I have somewhat conflicting views, as on one hand I feel very attached to my name and it is a big part of who I am, especially being a journalist. However, if we were to have a family, I'd want us all to have the same name. I think that ultimately, I will change it, but it won't be an easy decision come the time.

Leisa Barnett, News and Social Media Editor
I'm getting married next year and I will take my husband's surname because I want to, not because I feel obliged to. But it’s actually the title ‘Mrs’ that bothers me. If I were a Mr, no one would know what my marital status was (and nor would they care, as they shouldn't), or whether my name was mine, his or anything in between. I resent having to make a statement whatever I choose to do.

Sophie Beresiner, ?Beauty Director
Having resisted for the first six months of marriage, I decided to give my husband a wife with his name for his birthday. This was after many discussions, arguments, my proffered compromise (‘Lets start our own name! It will make us a more secure family of just us’ and secretly an opportunity to introduce the alliteration I always wanted - 'Sophie Silver' has a nice ring to it). In the end I spent the requisite £20 online and changed it to my husbands name by deed poll. I got my editor to witness my certificate as an extra touch since I was never going to change it for my work byline. I got it framed, wrapped and excitedly presented it on his birthday. Of course by then he'd done a silent about-turn without my knowledge, persuading me that my family name meant a lot to him now too, and why should I change it just because that’s what society normalises? He's not 'abnormalised' enough to take my name himself just yet, but maybe one day. The good thing about deed poll is if the certificates aren't sent and logged with a bank or passport office, it's as if it never happened. So I'm still the same Beresiner in marriage as I was before, without compromising my relationship or my family values. Win win.
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