First of all, if you’re reading this because you’re getting married soon (or considering it), congrats! Making the commitment to share your life with someone is super exciting… and nerve-wracking… and meaningful… and basically all the feelings. While wedding planning might seem like the obvious thing to focus on in preparation for the big day, there’s another question you should also consider. Will you be changing your name on social media after getting married? And if so, when?
For starters, this is a super personal choice that everyone has to make on their own terms. If you’re all in and ready to make the change, go for it! But don’t feel like you have to make the traditional choice if it doesn’t feel right. “I’ve seen women go both ways with this,” says Elise Darma, social media branding expert. She explains that it really depends on which name you feel most attached to as your personal brand moving forward. “For women who develop a professional name [before marriage] … there’s definitely value in maintaining that name, in maintaining that Instagram handle,” Darma assures. Even if you choose to make the shift in your personal life, don’t feel like you have to do so online.
For Tina Kolokathis, Deputy Editor of News & Entertainment at Elite Daily, finding a middle ground was key. “I always knew that I wanted to take my husband’s last name, but I have such a connection to my maiden name!” she explains. “I decided to keep my maiden name professionally since I have all my bylines with my maiden name, but I took my husband’s name legally.” For women who have built up a career using their maiden name, this can be a great solution. It keeps you recognizable in the professional world while still letting you celebrate your new name in a personal way. You’ll often see celebs doing this — such as Miley Cyrus (who is Miley Hemsworth legally) or Portia de Rossi (who is Portia DeGeneres legally).
You can also use both your maiden name and married name on social media if you choose. Kolokathis made this change after she filled out all the legal paperwork, which didn’t happen until about a month after her wedding. She still uses the same social handle, but she added her married name to her bio. “I wanted to include my new name, but not rid myself of who I was for 25 years,” she says. This choice allows a woman to stay visibly connected to all parts of her history.
One thing to note, regardless of what you choose, is that consistency across platforms is important for a strong personal brand. “Oftentimes when people change their handle, this is indication that they have a website of that same name,” Darma explains. For a woman who wants to switch to her married name, this decision could affect more than just Instagram. “She’s going to have to look at her whole personal brand online, and whether that handle change affects other areas, like her website, her LinkedIn profile, her Facebook page,” Darma says. You want to remain easy to find and recognize.
To avoid losing brand recognition with your followers if you make the switch, Darma suggests being clear upfront about the change. “I recommend educating your followers with several posts that introduce them to the fact that you just got married,” she says. Share photo updates to clue people in about your big news! This way, it’s obvious why you made the switch.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to whatever makes you feel most comfortable. Kolokathis emphasizes that you shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to keep your name if you’re attached to it. “It’s your name, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to get rid of it!,” she assures. Talk to your partner about why keeping your name is important to you. He or she should understand that your name is part of who you are, and changing it is a personal decision that only you can make. There are plenty of ways to honor your marriage that don’t involve changing your last name, and your commitment isn’t any “lesser” because you choose not to do this.
And if you do choose to switch to your married name, more power to you! Don’t worry too much about how this might affect your personal brand. As long as you make the switch with confidence and consistency, it’ll be a success. Live your best married life — cheers to your love!
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