Men Changing Their Last Names to Their Wives'

Excited man, fireworks erupting behind him, laughs joyfully

People often assume name change after marriage is solely the bride's decision—will she take her husband's name or keep hers? But why not let the groom take his wife's name?

Well, attitudes and practices are changing.

In an unprecedented manner, men are embracing the practice of taking their wives' last names after marriage, exceeding any prior point in history.

Today, we shall break through the taboo and delve into the idea of a man taking his wife's name. We shall explore the reasons behind why he would make such a choice.

Breaking the mold

Misconceptions often plague men who adopt their wives' last names, suggesting they have a problem or fault. Yet today's men have valid reasons for making this choice.

Starting with a real world example…

Zoe Saldana, star of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, pointed out that, against her concerns, her husband, Marco Perego, adopted her last name "Saldana" upon marriage.

Obviously, a man taking his wife's last name is not typical and draws attention from traditionalists who consider it a violation against established social norms.

Society's opinions on men changing their names

When 1,000 American adults were polled about men taking their wives' last names after marriage, the results yielded diverse opinions, as shown in the following table:

Public opinion poll results on men taking their wives' last names.
Polls results chart of Americans' opinions on men taking wives' last names
Chart of U.S. opinions on men taking their wives' last names.

While the poll results showed low resistance to men changing their names, the lukewarm responses suggest a moderate public stance.

Younger poll respondents displayed greater acceptance. For instance, 16% of adults age 18 to 29 found it great, while no one 65 and older shared the sentiment.

So the trend line is positive.

Name change is easy… for the eligible

Convenience is a major perk of name change through marriage. The marriage certificate alone authorizes name change for most people. But most is not everyone.

While the marriage certificate offers a streamlined name change process for women, some state laws restrict men from taking this simple route.

Man standing on a bridge surrounded by burning wreckage
For men, name change via marriage can be a rough pilgrimage.

The limited adoption of men taking their wives' names after marriage may be attributed to legal hurdles and the arduous process of filing a court petition.

Yeah, I am not going to court!

Men often assume that changing their last name through marriage requires a court order, but that is not always the case. (Explained in a moment.)

Even those willing to go to court may find the expense and lengthy ordeal too onerous, especially since some states charge hundreds of dollars to file a petition.

Man waking up from nightmare
Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into with this name change?

Many people—men and women—will not even consider changing their names unless they can do it through marriage, on the cheap, using their marriage certificate.

And who could blame them?

Such inequity should not persist, yet it often does.

Are you allowed to take your wife's last name?

Uncertainty looms large: how do men know if their state even allows them to change their last names through marriage? Why this immovable gender imbalance?

Confused man in the night rain
Uncertainty of name change morphs from an idea to a goal.

Googling "can a man change his name after marriage in [state]" often returns results that are ambiguous or specific to adult name changes by court petition.

A man's nightmare scenario is to commit to a name change, file his paperwork, only to face rejection from the Social Security Administration and DMV.

Throw in a passport renewal, revision, or first-time application failure could wreck or delay honeymoon or travel plans.

So much hard work, wasted.

Does he welch and tell his spouse, "Well, I tried," or is he now obliged to file a court petition he sought to avoid, along with publishing his name change in the newspaper?

Man trapped waist-deep in rubble in a courtroom
Avoid getting stuck in court over a botched marital name change.

Newspaper publication is a potential unexpected privacy violation. Marriage name change is discreet, while a court-petitioned name change is a public event.

States that allow marriage name change for men

The following 17 states (covering 36.3% of the U.S. population) allow a man to change his last name to his wife's last name using their marriage certificate, without requiring a court order:

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Georgia
  4. Hawaii
  5. Iowa
  6. Kansas
  7. Louisiana
  8. Maryland
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Minnesota
  11. Nevada
  12. New Hampshire
  13. New York
  14. North Dakota
  15. Oklahoma
  16. Oregon
  17. South Dakota

The remaining 33 states and D.C. require men to get a separate court order to change their name. The marriage certificate becomes irrelevant in these cases.

Whether using a marriage certificate or court order, our online name change kit works for men and women who plan to undergo the name change process.

Support and commitment

One typical reason a man opts to take his wife's last name after marriage is to express support and commitment to the relationship.

It is also a symbolic gesture of solidarity and partnership, illustrating that their union is defined by mutual love and respect, not societal expectations.

This principle is predominant when the wife assumes the role of the primary provider in the household or holds greater influence within the family structure.

Egalitarian husbands

Various husbands adhere to the principle of equality: believing every person deserves equal rights and opportunities, such as a man taking his wife's last name after marriage.

Defiant modern man taking his wife's last name with pride
The defiant modern man taking his wife's last name with pride.

Driven by a fierce desire to challenge widespread cultural norms, egalitarian men often feel inspired to adopt their spouse's last name as righteous pushback.

Not shying away, they readily let the world know.

They aim to change societal tenets to align with their own beliefs by engaging in frank discussions with family and friends over their rationale.

Their advocacy plays a pivotal role in shaping opinions and empowering other men to adopt their wives' names without fearing ridicule.

Wife's last name sounds better

Certain husbands find their own last names unappealing in sight and sound. They have hidden motives for adopting their wives' names to rectify this lifelong flaw.

Man slumped in chair wearing a paper hat over his head
If your own name stinks, seize a vibrant change: take your wife's name!

However, in certain cases, neither the husband's last name nor wife's last name offers great appeal; husband's surname might be Hebrudery and the wife's Bruckenriguah.

Even combining both names into Hebrudery-Bruckenriguah might be deemed a substantial downgrade, as neither name offers much improvement.

Nevertheless, if the wife's last name sounds more pleasing and likeable, male spouses are considering adopting it while dropping their own. (If only out of self-interest.)

Choosing hyphenation as a middle ground

When a man contemplates taking his wife's name after marriage, he can preserve his own name by hyphenating names with his wife. She might even hyphenate as well.

Name change need not be a one-sided affair, where one person loses their identity while the other keeps everything. Hyphenation offers a balanced approach.

Family acceptance

The struggle for acceptance by in-laws is a common challenge faced by many couples entering marriage, often contributing to marital troubles.

Men who experience acceptance by their wives' families, being treated as essential and recognized, may assume a strong obligation to reciprocate such kindness.

Family laughing together in a café
With a welcoming wife's family, a man can adopt her name with comfort.

These men might hail from family backgrounds without distinct histories, or from troubled and turbulent families that they wish to leave behind and forget.

Adopting their wives' last names presents appealing opportunities to achieve a sense of renewal or separation while carving a fresh path.

When wife's name means more

Besides hailing from a remarkable family with an engaging ancestral history, there are men who choose to adopt their wife's last name if it holds significant meaning for her.

Especially if her name and professional identity are entwined, and more so for women-owned businesses whose last name is part of the company name and brand.

Woman wearing colorful hat in front of vibrant background
A woman's name may be integral to her brand and identity.

Men who find their own names bland, but discover their wives' last name as a topic of endless fascination, may welcome the idea of adopting hers.

This is especially true when it is not practical or expected for a wife to change her name because of business or personal reasons.

Man in mask surrounded by butterflies, symbolizing metamorphosis
Man embracing metamorphosis by taking his wife's name.

No one wants to lose an iconic name, especially those who achieved fame and widespread recognition, with a strong online presence through search or social media.

Such visibility enhances their personal image and business success. Such name exposure is difficult to rebuild after a name change.

Sometimes the loss of public awareness is irreparable.

This is not limited to artists and influencers, but to anyone across various professions who has established their reputation and name, be it a writer, public speaker, or entrepreneur.

This is true of any name change: person, product, or company.

Still, some men will adopt their wives' well-known last names, even if it means leaving behind their own obscure, strange, and less favorable surnames.

Great branding… for men

Brand identity is important. The more distinct the name, the easier it will be to brand. Consider the benefits of rarity when choosing a new name after marriage.

Man wearing colorful suit in front of multicolor background
A husband can partake in his wife's exciting, brandable name.

Should a man cling to his family name if he feels no connection to it, especially when a better option exists in his wife's name?

This holds especially true for men with common and unremarkable names that lack distinction, making them widespread across many families.

Amidst the abundant sea of Smiths, Browns, and Millers adorning the planet, would a single decrement tip the scales of world equilibrium? Of course not.

Thus, a man might take his wife's last name to better brand himself, such as a pastry chef taking his wife's last name "Baker" to rebrand his business "Baker's Dozen and Co."

Men, are you ready for change?

In the end, men adopting their wives' last names (and vice versa) is purely a matter of personal choice. There is no definitive right or wrong.

If name change feels right to you, claim it with gusto. After all, who needs a good reason to defy convention when you can embrace what resonates with your phenomenal self?

What do you think? Should men take their wives' last names?

Our name change kit helps you change your name, either before or after marriage.

Start Your Name Change


  1. We live in KY but we will get married in TN. The groom is going to take the wife's name. Will the marriage documents be fine for his name change?

    • Hi Eva. Unfortunately, Kentucky is not a state that allows a husband to take his wife's name using their marriage certificate. They require a court order instead. And whether the marriage takes place in-state or out-of-state isn't a factor.

  2. So, if live on a state that does not allow name changes for men by marriage certificate but you marry in a state that permits name changes for men by marriage certificate, how does that work? Does it go by residency or state where you get the marriage certificate or something else?

    • Hi AP. Social security (federal level) would allow it, but the driver's license office (state level) would not. This inconsistency results in having to downgrade and comply with the least common denominator, which is the state-level DMV (or equivalent).

      And trying to deviate between the two wouldn't work. For instance, let's say the SSA processes your name change request to match the name on your marriage certificate as you prefer.

      When you follow-up with your driver's license, that latter office will discover a name mismatch when they electronically query the SSA database. They will not issue a driver's license printed with a name that disagrees with the current name on your SSA record.

      So, the DMV may neither deviate from the SSA, nor deviate from the constraints of what their state's statutes allow.

    • Hi Robert. In order for a man to take his wife's last name in Ohio, he would have to petition the Ohio probate court in his county of residence.

  3. In Oklahoma, can a man take his wife’s last name by JUST signing a marriage license and be legal and not have to go thru the court process to do so?

    • Hi Diana. Yes, in Oklahoma, either party to a marriage (husband or wife) may change their name after marriage using just the marriage certificate. There is no need to obtain a court order.

      In your stated scenario, the husband can take his wife's name by specifying it on the marriage license application.

      This allowance is documented in Oklahoma statutes, specifically Title 43 (marriage and family), Section 5 (application, fees, and issuance of license and certificate).

  4. My son changed his last name to his wife's last name because she didn't want to change hers and she wanted the baby to have her last name. It was important to my son that everyone have the same last name and his initials would be better. However, within 2 years SHE BECAME ABUSIVE, emotional, verbal, physical and financial abuse. He left and the wife will not allow him any access to his daughter. He considers changing his name again but as the article points out – it's expensive.

    • He considers changing his name again but as the article points out – it's expensive.

      If your son were to pursue a court-ordered name change, various states will allow the fee to be waived, in part or whole, for folks facing financial hardship. It is up to the judge and good cause must be demonstrated.

  5. I've been reading a lot of the comments and information that everyone has posted. I was just speaking to my fiance about who's taking his name.

    She wants me to take hers or hyphen because it sounds better. Also she just brought up the fact that she doesn't want the same last name as my mother because of the way they she treats her. There's a little more into that story because my mother has a lot of mental issues.

    I know that my fiance has had a rough childhood and has been treated a life. That would show my commitment to the relationship and hope will help to further restore her trust in people.

    The other thoughts are that I'm one of the three who still carrying my grandfather's last name. They were the ones who raised me so I feel like I would be disappointing them if I did. However I was born my mom was mad at my dad so she gave me her last name.

    If I were to take her name would there be any issues if we were married in Pennsylvania? Also if anybody else has any input please let me know. I like to weigh out all of my options first.

    • She wants me to take hers or hyphen because it sounds better.

      If you hyphenate, your last name may come first or last. Perhaps it appearing last is easier to transition to.

      If I were to take her name would there be any issues if we were married in Pennsylvania?

      Men must petition the Common Please Court to change their name to their wives' in Pennsylvania. You can't use your marriage certificate.

  6. I married in 1989, my wife did not want to take my name. I did not want her to keep her ex husbands name. So she legally changed her last name to her mothers maiden name. Once I retired, I decided to join her in her mothers maiden family name.

    My parents were both deceased, I disliked my last name, always complicated and misspelled. So I legally changed my last name to her mothers maiden name. We now share the same last name.

    Last of all, we divorced, yet I kept her name. Now we I e together again, same last names, which really helps when I take her to her doctor appointments. When we had different last names, at times we had to prove marriage. No longer.

    Just because of a last name. It was worth the change. I had to change my soc card, passport, drivers license, car titles, bank accounts, cost me about $500 in the end. No regrets.

  7. I think in this day and age with real ID and online profiles it's time we all just kept our own names on our birth certificates, whether we are male or female. Any children should inherit the father's surname and the mother's surname can be the child's middle. As a modern female, I don't need a man to change his name to mine to show his support for me, that would actually show me his insecurity. And he should be secure enough not to expect me to change my name to his.

    • Why would you want children to inherit father's surname? How his name is any important than the mother's? That is basically taking the problem to square one. I think its time kids to inherit mother's surname as the last name and father surname as middle name! I even think it should be the requirement the children to inherit mother last name by law and leave it as a choice for the couple to give father surname or not, if so it would only continue as a middle name. father mother order.

      If they wish to become a family under one name (he can take her name or new names are always welcome). How change of his name shows insecurity? And why should or would he be expecting of you to change names? Why do you think so? In a free world/free choice there would not be pre assumptions. I truly believe, a woman has the same right in placing her name on her own family as she wishes. It's time to do away with this stupidest "custom".

  8. Roles shouldn’t be fixed. As we know gender roles are binary and are social construct. And also both genders are capable of performing both roles. There are cultures where men do take the woman’s name upon marriage. Where the woman do take the family responsibility (financially).

    Cultures should change with time and certain things as should change with time. Why can’t we establish more peaceful society? when you know it looks a man to be weak? That is exactly you are doing to the woman’s position and an insult.

    Men and women maybe biologically different but ain’t one superior than the other. No one is born superior or inferior in nature eyes. This is all man made thing. ain’t this custom make to look male as leading and female as a secondary role. That to me is wired and on spot discrimination! A relationship should be about partnership not heirchy. This question should become gender neutral as gender roles are binary.

    Also female lead relationships should also be socially acceptable. That’s only when we will see more egalitarian society. Its 2021 and how much more we need to go for this name issue to become gender neutral socially?

  9. Sorry for my bluntness, but this just seems to be odd at best, and effeminate at worst. You are a man for a reason. I was trying to read some thoughts on this as the first Ive heard is my cousin doing this lately and quite frankly, trying to make sense of it. His wife wears "the pants" so the roles of man and woman are a bit reversed in that relationship anyway. Honestly trying to understand. I guess its just one of those things I never will.

  10. Wife and I have been married 12 years before we got married I told her I wanted to take her last name because she only had sisters and her name would die off. She was extremely hesitant on doing it so we took mine.

    I love my family but I feel closer to her family, but I also feel like my wife is in charge. We have considered going to the courts to do a legal name change but we will see.

  11. If I get married I am thinking about changing my last name to my wife's last name I live in Canada and it is getting more popular for man to change their last names o there wife's last name

  12. My fiance has 2 last names. When we get married we both want to change our last names to just one of his current last names. So my last name would change and he would just drop one. Is this possible?

  13. Colorado is specifically listed here as one of the states where husbands can take their wife's name, but I cannot find any other information on official Colorado websites which confirm or deny this.

    Can both my soon-to-be wife and I use our marriage certificate to change both of our last names to: my last name hyphen her last name?

  14. My husband and I got married and kept our names separate legally for now as it requires a lot of back and forth to legally change our names to our chosen combined last name.

    If my husband were to go through the process of the court, would I then be able to take his new last name without also going through the process myself?

    • Hi Brittany. You'd have to petition the court as well since your marriage certificate wouldn't reflect your husband's new name. Had he made the change before you were married, you'd be good to go.

  15. My son is taking his fiancés maiden name when they are married. We have found it to be very hurtful. His reasons are: “I have no extended family and she does.” “I have no connection to my name” “I don’t want to be Mr and Mrs (insert name).

    He connects with her father because he works out and runs marathons. He hasn’t had the best of relationships with his own father in recent months, but for thirty year, that man has lived him unconditionally and worked hard.

    His siblings, along with the rest of the family, feel as though it’s a punch in the stomach. Heartbreaking to all of us. We don’t even want to go to the wedding with all the talk this has stirred up. Ugh! It’s one thing to keep both names or each keep your same name, but to eliminate your own name? From a parent’s perspective, it’s hurtful.

    • It’s one thing to keep both names or each keep your same name, but to eliminate your own name? From a parent’s perspective, it’s hurtful.

      Thanks for sharing your story. Have you considered talking to your son about how you feel about it? Perhaps he'd be willing to maintain both names if he knew what it meant to you and his siblings?

    • My step-son did the exact same thing. He himself did not come to us to tell us he was changing his name to his fiance's name. We had to find out through the grapevine. 2 months before the wedding we finally asked him about it. He told us by taking her last name, it was the least he could do to make her happy.

      When we spoke to her she told us that ever since she was a young girl, she knew that whoever she married was going to take her last name. She never wanted to be someone's "property". She would not even consider hyphenating or keeping her maiden name. And states that he and she had multiple conversations about the name change. And that if he felt strongly about it it wouldn't have mattered. But IMHO there was no decision for him to make. She had made that apparent from the beginning.

      This past Saturday, we (our family and name) were completely removed from the ceremony and we were not even acknowledged by either one of them.

      How sad…24 years being a part of a family and you can toss that away and identify yourself with a handful of people that have known you for 4 years. He was not man enough to tell his family about the name change and now wants to pretend that we are a crappy family so he doesn’t have to feel guilty about his decision.

      • Why doesn’t society think the same when it happens the opposite or to the woman? Yet I might think her own family members would be for it saying she should or she supposed to be the one. Even her own family members would carry sexist ideologies. And how institution of marriage and how it is defined is sexist. No one is born to get treated as a second class citizen. Making this gender neutral changes the attitudes and definitions attached to it..normalizing wife’s name and new names not only takes the discrimination out but it gives more options to be socially acceptable.

  16. Hello! Im planning to get married in a month and plan to change my last name adding in my future wifes. It will be Bobbio-Hertog. Would I also need to go to court for this?

    • Hi Gustavo. In most states you would have to go to court. Even though you could change your name with the SSA, you'll likely face resistance from the DMV. If you specify your specify your state I can provide something more definitive.

  17. Hi my name is fred and I'm getting married in October 12 2019 and I live in Pennsylvania k would like to take my wife's last name is their any way I can do that I looked and I cant find any thing for Pennsylvania I can fine for all the other states but that one please help thanks in advance.

  18. My wife and I were married in Hawaii and were able to both make names changes on the marriage certificate. She added a middle name as she never had one, and I took her last name (Which was a made up name by her dad when he immigrated to the US back in the 70s).

    When we got back to our home state, we only had to go to the SS office and the DMV with the certificate and the changes were made with no questions asked. No need for any court action or court fees at all. There are a few other states that allow this as well. Most require a court action for the man to change his name at marriage.

  19. I did so. It felt absolutely wonderful. I'm wired male submissive…not in a BDSM sense mind you. I would have promised to love, honor and obey her but she want sure her family was ready for that.

    No regrets whatsoever, 7 years in we're doing great.

    Jim Simpson

    • Thats great Jim! I did the same several years ago and I am proud of my decision. I feel like in my own little way I was demonstrating a maturity and sense of equality we need more of in this world. : )

  20. My husband and I just got married about a month ago. We haven't changed anything yet but we both want to have it where we both have 2 last names, in the same order. So my last name is McCarthy and his is Jenkins, so we would be FirstName MiddleName McCarthy Jenkins, no hyphen. We live in Texas. We want to put my last name first and his second. I don't forsee this being an issue for me, but will he be able to do it where he adds my last name first and then his follows second?

    • Hi Sean. I don't believe a space-separated last name change through marriage is an option in Texas.

  21. My son dislikes my husband, his biological father. He married his wife and gave their first son his wife's last name. He then added his wife's last name and became a hyphenated last name (his wife's last name before his). I was very upset when I found out. But since he is my son I just have to accept. I wonder men who took their wife's last name do when they get a divorce?

    • I wonder men who took their wife's last name do when they get a divorce?

      Perhaps request the divorce judge restore their birth surname? Or maybe they'll just keep it as it's now a part of their identity.

    • My son has said he has no problem with us as his parents, other than we pushed him hard to accomplish all he has. Now he is grateful for success, but said some hate filled things along the way. My husband is a stepson, not adopted by his mother's new husband, although he has been well-loved and called "my son" by his step father always. My son married and decided to take his wife's last name. He did not tell us directly, we heard it when his terribly uncouth wife corrected my brother on calling her Mrs. Son's last name. "I would never be his last name." We have never treated her poorly, but is seems more we are being punished with further distance from our son. "Any children I have will be MY last name …"

      I would propose any man considering relinquishing his father's name at least have the conversation with your parents before acting on it. Not to change your mind, but to have an understanding beforehand on what it means to you. My son more or less told us there is no legacy to his father's name … why continue it. It was rather harsh after the fact.

      • A man that wonts to change his name to his wife's name does not need the approval of his parents not do they need to have a conversation with him about it. It's his choice. Why would it bother you so he's an adult it's his life it's his name.

        It makes no sense if you raise an independent man, then let him be independent and make his own choices simple as that and there's nothing wrong with him, taking her name if that's what he chooses to do.

        • My son just got married yesterday and his father and father's side walked out because he took the brides last name. You couldn't have said it any better.

          They are grown. A name doesn't make you love your child any less. You should love them even more they are on their way to their future with their wife and future family and if you disown them over a name then you are not only failing your son but your future grandchildren too.

    • My husband was married prior to me and had his ex-wife’s last name. They had four boys together. His ex -wife refused to take his last name when they married, because she wanted them to carry on her last name.

      They divorced. She went to live with a woman. He took back his old name, because he had ill feelings toward her. His boys have her name now. He has regular visitation with the boys, but I wonder how they feel that he took there his old name.

      To make things a little more complicated, he was married before her and had two girls (now grown) who have the last time he has now. His biological family is happy that he changed his name back.

  22. My soon to be wife last name is still that of late husband. When we get married can I take her married name or should we make it her maiden name since her husband did pass.

    • When we get married can I take her married name or should we make it her maiden name since her husband did pass.

      It depends. Which state are you in?

    • I am in the same situation, but will take my wife's last name, not her maiden name. We will do this simply because it is simpler (and it is a nice name).

  23. Men taking the maiden names of their spouses might be easy in western countries but in Middle Eastern and South Asian it is still a madman's idea. Because of the social stigma attached to it, men do not dare bring this matter in utter dark and alone moments.
    Women of rural population in Pakistan still address their husbands as "mera maalik" or "my owner".

  24. I have been married for over a year now and I combined my wife's last name with my last name and together we made a completly new last name we put her name first and it was really tough at first for my family to accept the decision…I live in Texas and found in the law books that a man can take what is called a sur name which is why this worked it was very simple and legal and costed a whole whopping eleven dollars to finalize.

  25. Can you pay to have the name changed if you live in a different state that doesn't allow it through marriage ? I'm getting married soon and my fiancee wants to take my last name because of bad memories following his family name but according to what I just read Tennessee is not a state that it is permitted .

    • Hi Christopher. That's a valid reason to undergo a name change. As far as the courts are concerned, as long as someone's not looking to evade debt or commit fraud when changing their name, most any reason is valid.

  26. I just changed my last name by adding my wifes maiden name. It was a way a showing completeness on my part, as she took my last name. We are one and our names match. I get a lot of weird reactions but I live in Oklahoma, so that is to be expected. I would not change what i did. It was a great choice.

    • How did you change it I live Oklahoma I'm getting married in October of this year? I want to take my wife's last name.

      • Hi Sherri. First, check if your state allows your husband to take part of your name through the marriage process. Next, check if the combination you're both seeking is allowed.

        And did your marriage license application have a spot for you or your spouse to cite a new name after marriage? If it did and one or both of you didn't choose your preferred name, you could have problems deviating from another name choice or changing your names altogether.

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