Marriage and name changes

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a couple say “I do”, the woman takes her husband’s surname. but it doesn’t have to be that way! Ceremonize are here today to fill you in on the ins and outs of name changes.


Family name or preferred name?


There is a distinction to be made between these two terms, as they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Your family name is the name you have on your birth certificate, usually the name given to you by your mother and/or father. Your preferred name, however, is a name that you use in your day-to-day life, such as your married name. However, this name will never replace your family name as registered by civil law.

When you get married, you can choose to take your spouse’s name as your preferred name…or not! It is a traditional path that many brides take, but it’s certainly not obligatory. It’s totally your choice!


choose between your family name and your spouse's name
Wedding planner Paris : Ceremonize – Photographer : Marie Calfopoulos


Which name should I choose?


There are lots of options to choose from, whether you are a man or woman, a straight or gay couple. You may choose to take the surname of the person you are marrying. We say “person”, because you might wish to break with tradition and have the groom take the bride’s name! Although we don’t often see this happen it is always an option, though equally the bride can of course take the groom’s name.

If you want to keep your family name, you can always opt for a double-barrelled name combining your old and new titles. So if Miss X marries Mr Y, they become Mr and Mrs XY (or YX)!


What name should our children have?


It’s simple, parents can give their first child their father’s name, their mother’s name, or both, separated by a hyphen. But once you’ve chosen a name, you should stick with it for all future children.

In France, if your children were born before the 1st January 2005 they won’t have a double-barrelled name; except for in some rare cases, they will always bear their father’s name. You can still add in the mother’s family name but as a preferred name rather than a legal name, and as such it won’t feature on any official documents.


Gay marriage


We don’t call it “marriage for all” for nothing! Naming rules for gay couples are the same as those used for heterosexuals. The newlyweds can take one another’s names, or create a double-barrelled name. As far as adoption goes, the child will gain an adoptive name. As is the case for heterosexual couples, gay couples’ children can use one of their adoptive fathers’ or mothers’ names, or can combine and hyphenate them. When the adoption is a “simple” procedure (that is to say, a new family member adopting the child), the new parent’s name is added to the child’s existing family name. If both parents are adoptive, they must agree on which name to add to the child’s existing family name, as only one extra name can be listed.

What name should I choose for my wedding?
Wedding planner : Ceremonize – Photographer : Elena Usacheva


Have you got all that? We realise that it can seem a bit complicated, but it’s actually quite simple once you know the rules! Ceremonize is here to advise on all aspects of the marriage procedure, from decoration to administration!

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