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Updated on Nov 18, 2019. Posted on Aug 3, 2018

I Took My Wife's Last Name, And It's One Of The Best Decisions I've Made

"Is that even legal?" —An actual adult person, asking if a man can take his wife's last name

Hi, my name is Andy Golder. You may know me as the guy who likes Game of Thrones way too much.

Andy Golder

But two years ago, my name wasn't Andy Golder. It was Andy Neuenschwander. I got married in 2016, and I took my wife's last name.

Leah Marie Photography

We had a lot of reasons for this decision, including but not limited to wanting to have the same last name, wanting my wife to keep the name she started her career with, and wanting to get rid of the 14-letter monstrosity I've dealt with since birth. After much deliberation and a detailed pro/con list, we decided that the best choice was for me to become a Golder.

Oh, and Neuenschwander is Swiss, by the way. Everybody asks.

Here's what I've learned in the first couple years of having a shiny new last name:

1. Some people don't know how to respond.

NBC

The first person we told about the decision for me to take my wife's name was actually a server at a restaurant. We were celebrating our engagement, and when she saw my credit card, she cracked a joke about how my wife must be dreading ending up with my crazy last name. When we told her that I was actually taking my wife's name, she laughed, thinking we were joking. Then she looked confused for a moment, and then went off to run the card.

2. People seem to think of it as a last resort.

Andy Golder / BuzzFeed

"I have friends who combined their last names and made a new one, have you guys thought of that?"

That was a common response we got, but why does a completely new, made-up name make more sense than one that already exists, and has a history and current familial ties? How is both of us losing our last names preferable to a man taking his wife's name?

Also, Neuengold sounds dumb, and Goldschwander sounds like a liqueur with gold flakes in it that I may or may not have thrown up in college.

3. Changing your name is hard!

Twitter: @GallagherWitt

You guys. Have you ever had to change your name? That shit is DIFFICULT. You have to go to the Social Security office AND the DMV, which are pretty much the two worst places in the world, especially if you live in a big city. And even after you've done that part and it's all legally changed, you then have to change your last name on everything you've ever signed up for. A lot of places require a certified copy of your marriage certificate, which cost money and require a notarized request. To this day, I still haven't gotten around to changing my PayPal.

4. Women usually love the idea...

Andy Golder / BuzzFeed

Overwhelmingly, women loved the idea when they heard that it was our plan. My wife's group text with her bridesmaids had a lot of heart emojis in it. My mother, who always kept her birth name, was of course in approval. A female friend of mine even gave me her incredibly helpful checklist of things she did after she took her husband's name, to make sure I didn't forget anything (spoiler: I still totally forgot a bunch of stuff).

5. But some men were weirded out by it.

Twitter: @yannigeee

Generally, men were supportive as well, but one friend of mine admitted that he "would never." When my wife informed her uncle of the change, he paused, then asked if a man taking his wife's last name was "even legal." It's...not identity theft? Hey, different generation I guess.

6. The system isn't really set up for men.

Andy Golder / BuzzFeed

It was ultimately just as easy for me to get my name changed as it would be for a woman, but there are little things that remind you how rare what you're doing really is. Take, for example, the most popular name-change service, which is "MissNowMrs.com." Listen, I'm not mad, and I'm sure it's a great service, but it's funny. Also, whatever happened to women who want to use Ms.?

You don't really realize how automatic the thinking is around name-changing until you do it. We hired a photobooth company for our wedding (natch) and they provided us with a really lovely scrapbook with everyone's photos at the end. One of the pages was adorned with the phrase, "He stole my heart, so I stole his last name!" Of course I don't fault the wonderful owners, they were amazing and the scrapbook was a surprise gift, but that tells you how "default" it is.

7. I feel like I have to explain myself a lot.

Andy Golder / BuzzFeed

Every time the name change comes up to some poor stranger working a customer service line (I still find random accounts that I forgot to change my name on from time to time), it feels like a simple "I got married" doesn't suffice. Instead, it turns into something like, "I got married and I had this monster of a last name haha so anyway I changed it because you know my wife likes her name and uh." None of this is necessary, but for some reason it comes out anyway. I'M PART OF THE PROBLEM, GUYS.

8. Lots of people probably still just assume my wife changed her name.

Andy Golder / BuzzFeed

My wife realized this shortly after we made the decision. "People are probably just going to think that you were always a Golder, and I took your name," she said. She's probably right. In a 2015 study, roughly 70 percent of women who married men took their husband's last name. About 20 percent kept their birth name, and 10 percent chose "a third option," which means everything from hyphenating to legally taking their husband's last name, but still using their birth name professionally. More recently, however, a 2017 UK study showed that one in ten recently married British men decided to take their wife's last name.

9. It was all totally worth it.

Leah Marie Photography

Having the same last name as my wife, a name that we both love, is well worth the hours spent at the DMV and the many, many forms I filled out. So whether you're keeping your name, changing it, combining it, or whatever else, do your thing. It'll be the perfect choice for you.