Name Changing Advice for LGBTQ+ Couples—Plus 3 Married Surname Options

Whether you stick with your own last names, make them match or pick something entirely new, the choice is yours.
by Jennifer Tzeses and Emily Platt

One of the many great things about marriage today is there really are no established rules—selecting a surname is completely up to you. "The lack of precedence for LGBTQ+ marriages means there are no 'tradition police' to say whose name to take," adds Mark O'Connell, a licensed clinical social worker and author of Modern Brides & Modern Grooms: A Guide to Planning Straight, Gay and Other Nontraditional Twenty-First Century Weddings. That being said, there are three common options for LGBTQ+ couples. Here's how to navigate the naming process.

Decisions, Decisions

So—how do you figure out the best name for your family? Careful consideration is a must. This is a big commitment and shouldn't be a rash decision. Think about your entire family. One partner may have a negative association with their family name. Another may have built a career on their moniker. "The point is to find a clear balance between individual and family identifications," O'Connell says.

Sticking with the Originals

Keeping your own individual surnames is a popular practice among LGBTQ+ couples. Many go this route as a way to show gender-neutral equality within the marriage, O'Connell notes. It's also the easiest option, legally speaking, since you'll avoid all that pesky name-change paperwork.

Matching Monikers

"Some couples prefer to have one last name for the sake of coherence and for recognition by the rest of the world," O'Connell says." It's also a good idea to have one common name if you have kids. This way, no matter where you are, you'll instantly be recognized as a family. Choosing which of your names to take can be as simple as going with the one you both like best.

Naming Anew

Here's the fun part: Since there are no guidelines, you can come up with an entirely different surname that both of you take. You might create something using the letters from your two names, pick a name that best represents your new family or, if you don't want to lose your original names, consider keeping both by putting a hyphen in between them.

Making the Change

If you decide to change your last name postwedding, some surname options are easier to execute than others. If one of you is taking the other's original last name or you're hyphenating your surnames, you can probably use your marriage certificate to legally change your title(s). However, generating a totally new surname typically requires court approval. Name change laws also vary state to state, making things even more situation specific. Skip the confusion and work with HitchSwitch to change your last name as seamlessly as possible. The service guides couples through the entire process, completing most of the paperwork for them and answering questions along the way, no matter which type of married surname(s) they choose.

For more married last name tips for LGBTQ+ couples, check out our complete 101, which weighs the pros and cons of different surname options, shares LGBTQ+ marriage name change stats and more.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.

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