British Columbia

B.C. couple combine last names to create new legal married name

Rather than hyphenate or take each other's names, Kristine Gick and Jason Wagner, from Salmon Arm, B.C., have created a new last name for their life together: Wickner.

Rather than hyphenate or take the other's name, Kristine Gick and Jason Wagner are now known as the Wickners

Born Kristine Gick and Jason Wagner, this Salmon Arm couple mashed up their last names to create a brand new one: Wickner. (Jason Wagner/Facebook)

When you get married, you have a few options with respect to your last name. You can take your spouse's; you can hyphenate; and of course, you can keep it as is.

Or, you can mash your last names together to create an entirely new one.

Kristine Gick and Jason Wagner, from Salmon Arm, B.C., have done just that. Once the paperwork goes through, they'll officially be known as Kristine and Jason Wickner.

"We couldn't just take the other person's and move on like that," Jason said. "That wasn't a discussion we really even had.

We just realized that wasn't going to happen."

'A bit of a process'

Rather than hyphenate — or simply combine their last names into a "double-barrel" compound word as Kristine's mother had done — the couple combined the letters and sounds of their last names to form a new name altogether.

They settled on Wickner because it sounded to them the most like a real name — passing up some other combinations like Gagner or Wack.

"We're trying to do a service to our possible future children, not a disservice," said Kristine, laughing.

As a bonus, Kristine said, people will finally stop pronouncing the soft G in her last name wrong.

Unlike taking a spouse's name, the process for such a name change involves several steps — and fees — from various government agencies.

In addition to forms filed with B.C.'s Vital Statistics Agency, a name change also requires fingerprinting by the RCMP. For other things, like driver's licenses and passports, the issuing agencies each have different procedures that must be completed to reflect the change.

"It's been a bit of a process to get the paperwork in," Jason said.

A spokesperson for the Vital Statistics Agency says a "mashup" marriage name change isn't unheard of, but the agency doesn't track specific cases, so it's hard to know exactly how common it is.

Brand new start

The couple say the reaction to their name change has been mostly positive, particularly among friends and family. Jason said the only strong negative reactions have been from internet strangers.

"When it went on Facebook, people would comment," Jason said. "[But] I don't even know you, so it doesn't matter what you think."

Once the change goes through, Jason and Kristine's marriage licence will be changed to reflect their new names.

For Kristine, it's almost like being "reborn," with a whole new identity to forge. It also means "losing" her old identity — a daunting prospect, to be sure.

"The one thing that made me feel OK about it is that Jason and I were doing this together," Kristine said.

"He was going to experience the same sort of loss of identity and wiping the slate clean, and we were going to start together."

With files from CBC Radio One's Daybreak South.