Changing my last name…Am I ready?

2015.07.09 Capones

This cross stitch I made sits on our mantle

Today I scheduled an appointment to get my marriage license at the Orange County Court House. Justin and I are getting married in California in less than 2 months, and shit is starting to get REAL.

They have a very convenient online form that allows you to schedule an appointment to either get your marriage license or to have a civil ceremony. It’s all very cold and formal. Then BAM! You get to the box that asks for your new last name, if you choose to change it…

Did you know that you change your last name when you apply for a marriage license?? I had no idea! I thought I would get married to Justin, then change my name a few months later when I need to renew my passport or something…But, no. Today, I had to make the decision if I was going to stay a “Goldberg” or become a “Capone”.

And, honestly, I was caught completely off guard.

Justin and I have talked about me changing my last name…Obviously this is something that he wants me to do, mostly for sentimental reasons (we want to be “The Capones”, to feel like a family, and for me to have the same name as our kids, etc). And I always thought that I didn’t really want to (mostly because of the added paperwork), but I would do it for him and because the sentimental reasons seem very valid. But now that I am ACTUALLY doing it, I wonder if it will make me any less me….I’ve been a Goldberg (a very strong Jewish name) my whole life, and now I’m going to be a Capone (an iconic Italian name with mafia-like connotations, but don’t worry his family are the nicest, least-mafia-like people ever). Yes, I want to be identifiable as part of a family with Justin (and Capone is a pretty dope name), but I am 0% Italian and I don’t feel Italian at all. But I have very strong ties to feeling Jewish, and that culture and that identity, and it will all be gone. Completely wiped away, so that all I’m left with is a “maiden name” when I fill out my taxes.

Am I ready for such a big change in the way I identify myself? And in the way I am presented to the rest of the world?

I’m still struggling with this. I feel like by changing my name I am giving up a huge part of my past and my family identity, and I feel like I’m losing something. But the more I think about it, what I’m gaining – a new married life with the man I love, the potential for a new family, and a brand new future – far outweighs what I’m losing. I’m giving up my past for my future, and I can accept that. It will just take some time to get used to.

January 2015 367


Justin just read my blog post, and he immediately texted me saying that he had no idea that I felt so strongly about changing my last name.

“I always thought you were joking or only semi-serious,” he typed.

(This is my fault because I tend to present things that make me uncomfortable as a joke so that it doesn’t come off as harsh.) And he reassured me that I really don’t have to change my name if I don’t want to (he’s a sweetheart).

Now, I have a whole new question…Do I change it or do I not?

On the one hand, I would do anything to make Justin happy, and the argument for building a new family together is a very good one. On the other hand, my mother never changed her last name, and it’s not like anyone ever mistook her for being a stranger instead of my mom. And there is the whole “self-identity” bit that I find very compelling.

I’m going to have to think long and hard about this one and update you later Readers. Stay tuned!


9 thoughts on “Changing my last name…Am I ready?

  1. not_unruley says:

    I totally understand. I felt like when I signed up to change my last name that a part of me was dying. But an even greater part of me felt that I finally belonged to the man of my dreams. We are finally ONE. and that’s such a nice, comforting feeling. Look forward to reading about your decision. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • instantlyjessi says:

      I LOVE the idea of being “one” with Justin, and I completely agree with you that it would be comforting…That’s a really compelling idea, and it’s making me lean towards changing it….I’ll let you know what I decide!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Andrea CH says:

    Hi! I’m just a random who found your blog through Blogging 101, but I can relate to the dilemma of changing your name when it involves heritage and identity.

    My deep roots are Italian, but my original last name is more of a Welsh/English type anyway, and my husband’s is Irish. We hyphenated, which I love, but I feel like the culture I grew up in is not at all conveyed by my last name.

    Feelings about this will always be a bit complicated. Keeping the name you grew up with, the name that made you “you,” is powerful, and more and more people are making that choice. Building a new identity also has its perks. Most importantly, it’s your choice, and your husband-to-be is supportive either way. (And this might sound silly, but technically you can always change it back!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • instantlyjessi says:

      Hi Andrea, I’m glad you relate! I never really thought about hyphenating my name (mostly because Goldberg-Capone sounds a little ridiculous), but maybe I should consider that as an option. Question for you…Did your husband also hyphenate his name, or were you the only that changed their name? I’m not sure what’s typical with hyphenating….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andrea CH says:

        I think it’s “typical” that only the wife hyphenates her name, as in, that is what people usually do. But in our case, both my husband and I hyphenated.

        At first I just thought I would take his name. Then as the wedding got closer, keeping my last name in some form started really mattering to be, but so did having a combined identity. I suggested it and he was cool with it. We both got a lot of meaning our of the new name, although it confuses people sometimes. 😉 I have a feeling more and more couples will be doing different things with their names so it will feel less and less out of place.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. aboyd85 says:

    Hey! I also found your blog through Blogging 101, and I have to say, this post really drew me in. My husband and I will have been married 3 years this October. My mindset around my last name is a little different than yours because I had changed my last name in high school when my step dad adopted me.

    The thing that popped in my head while reading this is a story after my adoption: My last name was changed part way through the school year, so one day my school papers had one name, and the next day I was writing a different name. The first assignment I turned into my English teacher with my new name came back to me with a note from her on it, which read, “You’re now you”. This sentiment hit me after I got married too. I will spend more of my life with my married last name than I will with my maiden last names, and I truly do feel more myself with my new last name. I didn’t lose anything about myself when I got married, but I gained so much, and I feel like my new name symbolizes that for me. I do have friends that kept their maiden names though and I think it’s totally awesome that they didn’t conform to social norms because they liked their last name.

    I’m excited for the update on what you decide! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • instantlyjessi says:

      Hello, and thank you so much for your comment! Your story really meant a lot to me, and it made me realize how much a new family name will symbolize for our life together. Justin and I read your comment together, and it made both of us very emotional. Now I think I am leaning towards changing my name so that we share our new identity. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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