Best of Both Worlds?

How to Know if Keeping Your Maiden Name at Work is Right for You

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The process of getting married comes with a million personal choices to be made along the way – do you want a big white dress or something more minimal? Do you want a DJ at your celebration or a live band? Do you want to keep your maiden name or embrace your married one? Each choice is personal and unique and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Even when it comes to something as momentous as what name you’ll be known by for the rest of your life, there are different options and choices to be made. And just like decisions about what kind of dress to buy, the choices you make about your name will also be influenced by your personal preferences and life experiences.

For some brides keeping their husband’s name and becoming a team in name and marriage is a straightforward decision. But for plenty of others it’s more complicated.

With the average age for brides continually rising, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll have built up a professional reputation, client base or network who know you by your maiden name, and you might be keen to maintain continuity professionally. If you’ve published anything, for example, changing your name will distance you from your previous work. But what if you also like the idea of having the same name as your partner and, potentially, children when you’re at home?

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An Impossible Quandary

It might sound like an impossible quandary, but the answer could be keeping one name professionally and another for your home-life. It’s not a solution that suits everyone – you’ll need to be able and willing to differentiate between your professional life and your married life, and that’s not always easy to do – but for some brides it’s the ideal choice.

Changing to your married name in your personal life and keeping your maiden name in your professional life is a perfectly legal and valid option when it comes to deciding on what you will be known as after marriage.

By keeping your maiden name professionally, you don’t have to worry about confusing clients or your professional network about your name change. There are no awkward, incorrect introductions at networking events, no need to change business cards and you’ll avoid the faff of informing all of your clients of your new name. You can keep the professional reputation you have built up without causing confusion. This option is particularly popular with Lawyers, Doctors and other professionals who opt to either keep their maiden name professionally or double-barrel, which is another option to consider.

If you think you have the right personality type to be able to differentiate between the two different names, then this could offer you the best of both worlds. You can be Miss “Maiden” in the office and Mrs “New” everywhere else. It is a very personal and symbolic way to honour both your life prior to marriage and your life as a married person.

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Who do I tell?

To do this, we recommend ring fencing all accounts and official bodies that purely relate to your professional life, where you would need to retain your maiden name. Things like your employer, Companies House, your company accountant, HMRC, your pension, work related benefits such as life or health insurance, any professional bodies you’re a member of. You should also earmark the bank account your wages are paid into. Once you have created this sphere to keep in your maiden name professionally you can concentrate on changing to your new name with the remaining companies and government bodies.

Updating formal identification documents such as your driving licence and passport is necessary for your new name. You should change at least one piece of formal ID - either your driving licence or your passport. You can opt to update both into your new name, if appropriate.

If you choose to change your passport to your married name, you can make an observation request in section 8 of your passport renewal application form to have it noted that you use your maiden name professionally. It’s worth noting, though, that you will not be able to travel in your ‘observed’ name as it is for identification and not border control purposes. It’s important to think about whether you should align your passport name (maiden or new) with your NHS record so that they align with any vaccination records that would be needed when you travel overseas – so consider whether it’s best to stick or twist on both of these based on your own circumstances.

With regards to your bank, you will need to have a longer-term view on this. If you have more than one account, keep one for your salary to be paid into. If you only have one account, you may want to consider opening a second, in your new name. This is particularly important for any new employment down the line as the name on your account needs to match the name on your employment record when a new salary (BACS) payment is being set up by an employer. This is a key consideration to weigh up when considering life with two distinct names.

There’s clearly a lot of things you need to think about if you decide you want one name at work and another in your personal life – who to notify, who not to notify etc - but it is achievable. And we’re here to make the seemingly complicated process a lot less overwhelming.

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Try it on for Size

Choosing to use two names, one professional and one personal, certainly isn’t the most straightforward route when it comes to admin, and it’s a particularly personal choice to have two distinct identities. For some, it’s the answer to maintaining their professional reputation whilst embracing married life. For others, it’s something they’d like to try for a while and see if it fits them personally.

You could always prepare for a full name change but initially only go ahead with the personal change. To do this, simply get all the forms you need to change your name fully and then put everything needed for a name change in your professional sphere in a safe place to be completed later if you decide further down the line that you’d rather just have one name across the board.

That way, if you find it too confusing having a distinction between your professional/personal name you can go ahead and change entirely. There is no time limit or official sequence in which to change your name, so if years down the line you decide that you want to change to your married name in all aspects of your life, you absolutely can. Or if you find the ‘best of both’ approach works for you, you’re all set!

Deciding what to be called in all areas of your life after your marriage is such a personal decision and only you can decide what works for your unique situation and personality type. But with the right information at your fingertips, you can feel confident in your decision.

And then you can get back to picking your other wedding preferences. So… traditional wedding breakfast or feasting platters??