Law Should Require Bride To Take Groom's Name -- Really?

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Gay Men Tend to Keep Own Names

About half of the participants in his survey said they would approve of a man taking his wife's name, but others thought that was laughable.

Powell, who included this survey in his book, "Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definition of Family," also noted that gay couples -- at least men -- seemed to prefer keeping their given names.

Such is the case with Matt Thompson, a 31-year-old asset manager from Virginia. He and his fiance, Dan, are "unlikely" to change their names. "There is enough confusion to be recognized as a couple, let alone getting the rest of our social life on board with a name change."

But taking on a new name isn't always about identity, according to Michelle Almeyda-Wiedemuth, a Long Island wedding planner who owns Unforgettable Hamptons Events.

"Some women just don't like their husband's last name or they don't want to go though the hassle of changing all their documents," she said. "And some keep their name for financial reasons; their new husband may have bad credit and they don't want to be tied to that."

One Greek-American bride was so tired of telling people how to pronounce her name that she took her husband's.

"She said she was looking forward to her new five-letter last name and her first name fitting on the same line of her license," said Almeyda-Wiedemuth.

A second woman came from a dysfunctional family and thought a new name would mean a new beginning -- "like she had grown out a bad perm and was chopping off and discarding the ugly remains," she said. "The third was a foreigner, and she didn't want there to be any issues with her obtaining a green card."

As for Almeyda-Wiedemuth, who is 36, she hyphenated.

"Marriage is the union of two families," she said. "I am a product of the family that raised me and the family I choose to become a part of."

And sometimes, taking on a new name restores an old one.

Jenn Berman, a psychologist who hosts Sirius XM radio's "Love and Sex Show with Dr. Jenn," said she was thrilled to take her husband's name, because her own father had changed the family's name from Imberman to Mann.

"My father had a made-up family name, but his original name had been Berman," she said. "My mom used her maiden name personally and her married name professionally. I found it really complicated for me and I didn't want my kids to have the same confusion."

Berman gets calls from couples trying to decide what to do when they marry.

"It's something most women struggle with today," she said. "Identity is huge and this generation of women, especially those who have careers and are more educated, understand the history and what it means. They don't want to give it up."

Such was the case -- at least initially -- with Jordan von Trapp, a photojournalist from Moretown, Vt., who thought she would never take her husband's name.

"Throughout my life, whenever the topic would come up, I would answer with a 'no way,'" said von Trapp, 30.

"My father died when I was 11 and I grew up with my mother, step-father and my little sister," she said. "My mom never changed hers. My step-father and little sister shared a last name, so I grew up in a house with three different last names. It was confusing and it got a little stale having to explain to everyone."

But when she met her now-husband Dan, she realized, "Getting married is about the unbreakable bond of oneness."

"The only thing that really matters is the love between us," said von Trapp. "It is about joyously pledging our hearts and lives together forever ... A simple name change is an additional and relatively easy way to add to the expression of that emotion."

The couple's wedding ceremony, held on a mountaintop on the farm where they now make their home, was so special that von Trapp now promotes their property, Bliss Ridge, as a wedding venue.

Now, one year into marriage, she realizes, "The importance of carrying on my dad's name faded after all."

"It's just a name, a word," said von Trapp. "The importance of having the same name as my other half, no matter what it was, was paramount."

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