The Bad Bride Diaries: What’s In A Name?

There are several stages of being engaged that make you consider murdering everybody around you. Or I did anyway. When I was first engaged, I found the initial stage very peculiar and often quite uncomfortable; something that I hadn’t expected. I was delighted to be engaged, of course, but as somebody who finds small talk a challenge at the best of times, the parade of well-wishers became quite daunting. It’s lovely to be congratulated, and I did get some entertainment from the ring reactions (mine is not a classic engagement ring and people either love it, or clearly think it’s awful and struggle to make polite face), but the bit I found made me want to scream was the sudden insistence on referring to me as ‘Mrs Whitney-To-Be’ or something of that kind. Cue awkward laughing from me and having to say that, actually, I’m not going to be a Whitney. Or Mrs, actually. At that point I hadn’t decided if I was keeping my name, or double-barrelling, but dropping Elsmere totally was never going to happen, and I’ve known from the start I’m going to keep using Ms.

Luckily, that phase fizzled out quickly and people managed to remember my name again. The name conversation kept happening though, and it’s been an odd experience. Once I settled on double-barrelling, people seemed satisfied with that answer to what my new name will be, but instead I found married women who had changed their names suddenly wanted to justify it to me, as though I would think them unfeminist for doing so. Names are very personal, and I honestly don’t care what other people choose to do. I just know my name and title were important to me and I wanted to keep them.

Because I am one of those people who loves to research everything, I had a quick google to see what you actually have to do in order to change your name after you get hitched. The answer was honestly baffling.

As a straight couple, if I was to become Mrs Whitney, that’s pretty easy. All I need to do is send off my marriage certificate to the relevant people (the DVLA, the bank, etc.) and that’s it. No legal wrangling required. But from there is where it gets weird. Any other route; going double-barrelled, both going double-barrelled, or Dave taking my name means paying to change names via Deed Poll. It’s mad. Why couldn’t Dave just send off our marriage certificate if he wanted to be an Elsmere? And why is just adding my husband’s name after mine a Deed Poll thing, but if I wanted to change to his name totally, that’s fine? The system is clearly pretty outdated, as more and more couples are opting to go down a different route and double-barrel or even blend their surnames. I think it’s time the system caught up and it was made easier to do that.

Top tip though, if like Dave and I, you’re both planning to double-barrel, the groom could change his name via Deed Poll before the wedding, and then the bride can just go down the marriage certificate route to change hers afterwards. That saves you paying for two Deed Polls.

For some sex couples, one partner can take the others names just by sending off the marriage certificate, but blending or double-barrelling is a Deed Poll task again.