PEI

Just married: Are P.E.I. brides changing their last names?

Wedding season is getting underway on P.E.I. Whether under a tent, on the shore or in a church, most ceremonies end with an introduction of the couple, along the lines of, "Please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Smith!" But are Island brides still taking their spouse's last name?

'To us, sharing the same last name portrays that together we are one entity'

'When we have kids, we'll all have the same last name,' says bride Taylor O'Connor, who's getting married this September. (Sara Fraser/CBC)

Wedding season is getting underway on P.E.I. Whether under a tent, on the shore or in a church, most ceremonies end with an introduction of the couple, along the lines of: "Please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Smith!"

There's no way to know for sure whether most brides are taking their spouse's last name, but anecdotally it looks to be the case. 

Last year there were 815 weddings on P.E.I., and provincial officials say they have no way to track how many brides or grooms will change their names. 

Truthfully, I have been waiting to share the same last name as him since we first met!— Monique Perry, Tignish 

It's up to the couple whether to change their name, hyphenate, or mash it up in some way with their spouse's. Most don't bother to go through a formal name change under P.E.I. Vital Statistics, which costs $185 — instead, assuming their spouse's last name and changing it on their mortgage, driver's license and passports. 

"Most of the girls are changing their name, some will hyphenate," said Kelly Moorehead of the brides she's seen recently at her Charlottetown shop, Perfect Pear bridal wear.

'Still traditional'

"When we tie them up in dresses, we chat," she added.

"Most of them are just traditional. Usually people will live together, build a house and have kids, but they are still traditional — they still want that wedding and the name change."

Most brides she sees are between 25 and 30 years old.

Older brides are more likely to keep their name, or if it's the second time around — it's too much of a hassle to change it back, Moorehead said with a laugh.

'I have been waiting to share the same last name as him since we first met!' said Monique Perry of her husband Tyler. (Len Currie Photography )

'Our own little family'

Taylor O'Connor, 23, of Warren Grove, is getting married in September and plans to become Mrs. Wainwright.

It's a family tradition to take a husband's name, she said, wrinkling her nose and shaking her head when asked if she considers herself a feminist. 

"We're going to be our own little family come September," O'Connor said with satisfaction.

"When we have kids, we'll all have the same name." 

'One entity'

That sentiment is echoed by Monique Perry of Tignish, who wed her boyfriend of 10 years, Tyler Perry, in Mexico this past winter.

"Truthfully, I have been waiting to share the same last name as him since we first met!" said Perry. 

"To us, sharing the same last name portrays that together we are one entity, two people coming together as one to begin a new journey in our lives."

Waiting to switch

According to the online service I'm a Mrs., the number of Canadian brides who take their husbands' name is holding steady at 82 per cent. 

Ilona Berzins Batchelor's husband gave her the band with seven diamonds after she took his name - seven years after they married. (Submitted by Ilona Berzins Batchelor)

"A couple of things have been changing though," founder Jo-Anne Stayner said via email.

"We're seeing an increase in people waiting to change their name — it's shifting closer to the two-year mark post-wedding."

More brides are keeping their original surname professionally and assuming their partner's last name for their personal life, Stayner added. 

"The other trend is dropping their middle name, moving their maiden name to heir middle name and taking their husband's last name," said Stayner — a trend that is bigger in the U.S. than in Canada but quickly gaining traction. 

'Raises eyebrows'

Diana Lariviere and William Caw, a married couple who perform marriage ceremonies on P.E.I., don't have any data for P.E.I.

"When we meet with a couple to prepare the content of the marriage ceremony, we always ask, 'How would you like to be introduced at the end of the ceremony?' Which, of course, raises the question of name change," said Lariviere. 

"There is a wide variation of how people react," she said, adding when she asks if they would like to be introduced using the bride's surname, it "really raises eyebrows!"

Lariviere was born and raised in Quebec, where women are not legally allowed to take their husbands' last names.

Once the subject did come up, she said, and her husband "looked so spaniel-eyed, I relented and hyphenated — Lariviere-Caw."

She later dropped his name for business purposes, as she travelled often for worked and found herself booked in to hotels as Diana Lariviere – Canadian Auto Workers!

'I thought it was time'

CBC asked readers to weigh in via social media.

Ilona Berzins Batchelor replied on Facebook: "When I got married in 1986 I retained my maiden name. Changed it to his last name seven years later. It will be 30 years of marriage for us May 31."

When I asked her why she did it, Batchelor replied, "After seven years of marriage, a move to P.E.I. from Toronto, Ont., and then a move to a rural area of P.E.I. I thought it was time."

Her husband was so happy, she said, he bought her another ring to celebrate: seven diamonds in the ring signify the seven years before she took his name. 

What about feminism?

"I personally don't get why people change their names when they get married, but I wouldn't judge that decision as being bad feminism," quipped Ann Braithwaite, professor of diversity and social justice studies at UPEI.

'I personally don't get why people change their names when they get married,' says UPEI professor Ann Braithwaite. (UPEI photo)

"The changing of the name on the part of women alone obviously carries some deeper social meaning for them, for their partners, and often for their families and friends also — and on a larger social level, that's something to take a look at.

"I suspect it has to do with the ways in which love and commitment and ideas about the seriousness of marriage are overlaid onto men and women differently."

'I am traditional'

When asked about her own name, Kelly Moorehead said that when she wed 16 years ago, her father instructed her, "Once you get married, you're taking his name!"

And although she teased him that she might keep her name, she didn't. 

"I am traditional the way my parents were."

Moorehead believes Catholic women are more likely to take their husband's name, as are brides who marry in a church.

About half of the brides she meets take their husbands' names, estimates P.E.I. photographer Rachel Peters. (Rachel Peters Photography)

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