There’s something about a name, especially when it comes to whether or not a woman will change her last name after marriage. After the proposal and the wedding planning, comes the big decision of the name change. Engaged and newly married women will quickly find that changing a last name is a process – a time-consuming and sometimes, expensive one.

According to a Pew Research study, of women in opposite-sex marriages, 79% said they took their husband’s last name after they tied the knot. Meanwhile 14% kept their own last name, and 5% decided to hyphenate both names. 

Looking specifically at Black women, 9% of married Black women are likely to keep their last name. This is compared to 30% of Hispanic women and 10% of white women. Black women are also more likely to hyphenate their name with their spouses’ than white women. 

Why Women Keep Their Last Names

Family History and Connection

Tiktok user @rawritsimani2, aka Imani, believes that there is no wrong answer when it comes to changing your last name, and that every woman should do what is right for her.

She took to the platform to share her reasons for not changing her last name after marriage. The first reason she shared is that, along with her sister, she will be the last family member to carry the last name. 

“It meant a lot to not only me, but to my family, to keep the last name, since it’s essentially going away within our family,” Imani shared. 

21Ninety recently took an IG survey about why Black women do not change their last names. One IG user @keamonef said, “My family is super important to me, and I have no brothers, so I want to carry on my family name.”

Professional Success 

Career success is a driving factor for many women to keep their last name.

Imani agreed that a large past of keeping her name is that she is just getting established in her career. Imani shared that her colleagues and professional network know her as her first and last name, and it’s also on all of her degrees. 

“It’s something that I take pride in, and it’s something that I just did not want to change,” she said. 

Another TikTok user @tylerthemfcreat0r shared that as someone who is getting married at an older age and as a Black woman in STEM, where 9% of the workforce is Black, she will not be changing her last name. 

In response to the 21Ninety poll, IG user @acydrain shared, “I’ve already accomplished success in my career with my last name before I met him.”

A Sense of Identity

Another reason women might keep their last name is that they do not want to rebrand. Their first and last name is a part of who they are and deeply intertwined with their identity.

Imani shared that her last reason for keeping her last name boils down to a sense of identity.

She shared that, “My first and last name are so ingrained in my identity – my true identity to myself. 

Why Women Change Their Last Names 

There are many reasons why women decide to make a last name change. Many women who decide to change their names want to validate their relationship. They might also want to share the same last name as their children. 

On Reddit chat r/blackladies, a few users shared why they decided to change their last name. One user is a Black woman with roots in the South, culturally Christian (but not practicing), married to a white husband, and with a Master’s degree. She is not a fan of hyphens, and she changed her last name to her husband’s. 

“My biological father didn’t raise me so changing my name was a no brainer even at 30 years old,” she said. “I really like my husband’s name over mine, and our 2-year-old has his name too.”

Another Reddit user, who changed her last name to her husband’s, shared that while there was no pressure to change her last name, the process was tedious.

“It took me two years to do it,” she said. “I kept it for that long because it’s easier, and I literally had to change my passport, bank accounts, credit cards, utilities, health insurance, and I.D.