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Category: Southern Etiquette

Found on everything from family Bibles to signet rings, handkerchiefs to dress labels, the monogram is perhaps the most beloved and widespread tradition in the South. Monogrammed pieces are passed down through generations as a reminder of those who vowed their love before us, and the rows of monograms on an heirloom are an amazing encouragement to a bride just starting out on the marriage journey. However, the etiquette of which monogram to use when and where in your wedding can be particularly tricky, so we thought we’d revisit this topic and share a bit of what we’ve learned over the years!

From Farris + Taylor‘s wedding (photographed by Kristyn Hogan)

First of all, let’s define maiden monogram and married/joint monogram. A maiden monogram features your first initial on the left, middle initial on the right, and initial of your maiden name slightly larger in the middle (for example, my full name is Lisa Janel Olson, so my maiden monogram is LOJ). A married, or joint, monogram features the initial of the wife’s first name on the left, the initial of the husband’s first name on the right, and the initial of the couple’s married surname slightly larger in the middle (for my fiancé, David Kirk, and I, our future married monogram is LKD). Most etiquette books now suggest the order we have here, but in the past, the husband’s first initial was placed on the left because it was believed that his first and surname initials should not be separated.

Before the wedding: For anything you’re going to wear, such as a monogrammed robe, dress patch, clutch, or bouquet wrap, use your maiden monogram. For wedding details that are used before you say “I do,” such as save the dates, invitations, and ceremony programs, you can use your first initials joined by an ampersand with the bride’s first initial listed first (for Dave and me, this would be L&D). In general, a married monogram should not be used before the couple is officially married.

Clockwise from top left: Marenda + Jonathan (Anna K), Cameron + Evan (Virgil Bunao), Alyson + Brian (Leigh Webber), Eddie + Jordan (Harwell Photography), Angelica + Colby (Jake Holt), Celie + Shane (Sweet Tea Photography)

During the wedding: We love the idea of debuting your married monogram at your reception! It would be perfectly appropriate illuminated on your dance floor, iced onto your wedding cake, calligraphed on menus, or printed on your favor bags, to name a few. As an added bonus, if you don’t include your wedding date, some leftover monogrammed items (like cocktail napkins!) can be used long after your wedding day in your newlywed home.

Clockwise from top left: Blair + Brian (Justin DeMutiis), April + Nick (Pasha Belman), Kristin + Kyle (Martha Manning), Sarah + Nick (Pure 7 Studios), Sarah + Gabe (Ashley Seawell), Emily + Cole (Sposa Bella), Sarah + Gabe (Ashley Seawell), Claire + Michael (Watson Studios)

After the wedding: The exception to avoiding your married monogram until after the wedding is when registering for monogrammed items, since you’ll be using your registry gifts once you are married. Many stores offer monogramming on anything from candlesticks to cutlery, and in turn, these pieces may become heirlooms for future generations to cherish as much as you do!

For even more information about monograms, take a look at this past post, complete with a handy monogram guide, and find lots more monogram inspiration on our Pinterest board. Of course, if there’s anything we missed, chime in in the comments section!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Bumby G reply

    I just love all the monogramming. Especially those purses. :)

  2. avatar Kat reply

    Love this post!!! Monograms & weddings go hand in hand :)

  3. avatar Mackenzie reply

    Love this post! I am thrilled to slap a monogram on anything that will stop moving long enough for me to do so. I do have a quick question, though. What are y’alls thoughts on a monogrammed aisle runner? Maiden monogram or married?

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Thanks, Mackenzie! That’s a tough one–we think the most appropriate option would be your first (or last) initials joined by an ampersand, or a 2-letter monogram as shown in this post: http://southernweddings.com/2012/09/19/monogram-etiquette-from-emma-j-design/ Hope that helps!

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Does a seemingly endless parade of etiquette issues follow behind your every wedding decision? You’re not alone, judging by the volume of befuddled emails we receive. We love to try and help out when we can, and so today, we’re offering our two cents on Meredith’s question! She writes:

A born-and-raised Southern girl, I love flipping through Southern Weddings even with no personal wedding plans in sight. I have a couple shower etiquette question. A bridesmaid and I are planning a couple cocktail party style shower for a bride and groom in Atlanta. Of course we are only inviting those who will also be invited to the wedding. My dilemma is, can we invite single friends to bring a guest if some of these friends are not invited with guest to the wedding? I’ve felt sort of “singled out” when previously invited to a couple shower solo, but now that the shoe is on the other foot, I realize the “couple” in “couple shower” primarily refers to the bride and groom. Thoughts?

Besides whether it’s okay to pair navy dresses with black tuxedos (spoiler alert: yes), plus ones might be the most common query we get. For weddings, the etiquette is clear: spouses, fiances/fiancees, and live-in partners of guests must be included, even if you don’t know them, but you get to decide if you want single, unattached guests to bring dates.

Of course, once you get into the realm of “best friend/dating for three years but not engaged” and “second cousin/engaged but I’ve never met him,” things don’t seem so cut and dry. Were you making the guest list decisions, Meredith, I’d encourage you to ignore the part of you that sees a budget trimming opportunity and indulge the part of you that wants to include as many plus ones as possible. After all, weddings are not a fun place to be single, and if you want people on the dance floor, it helps to give them a partner!

However, you are not in the bride and groom’s shoes, and those two lucky souls have already made the decisions for you about who does and does not get a plus one. For the sake of clarity, I think you need to stick to their list. I hate that that will mean some guests are dateless to the shower, but I just don’t see another good option.

Readers, what do you think? Have you ever been in a similar situation? What do you think about plus ones in general — are you including them on your guest list? Do tell!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Maddison Dorminey reply

    As a single lady, yes, always give us the option, like the post says, who wants to dance alone or be the third wheel, or admit it, get asked to dance by the crazy person at the wedding. NO FUN! I have always heard 18 or older gets a separate invitation and a and guest.

  2. avatar Brittney reply

    Emily! I have an etiquette conundrum that I could really use your advice on! I think it’s actually something that a lot of brides face and I’d love to get your perspective about it :) How can I get my question to you?!

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Happy Monday, friends! I can’t think of anything better to start the week with than an etiquette query… but maybe that’s just me :) Regardless, I hope you’ll offer Molly your own two cents, especially if you’ve dealt with a similar situation!

Hi, Emily!

I have an etiquette question. My wedding was originally scheduled for the weekend of June 15, but due to several overlapping family issues, my fiance and I decided to postpone. We are all now in a much better place, and have rescheduled our wedding for September 8. Unfortunately, my original matron of honor, who lives overseas, will be extremely pregnant on our new date and will not be able to attend.

I’m planning to have her Skype in to the wedding, but I now don’t have a matron of honor — or at least one who will be present. Can I ask my girlfriend who is “next in line” to assume that role? And can I ask another friend to be a part of the bridal party now? Please help me on what the etiquette would be in this strange situation!

Thank you!
Molly

Eric Kelley via Southern Weddings

First, I have to say I’m so glad that things are going more smoothly for Molly and her family these days! Postponing or rescheduling a wedding is NOT fun, but I think it’s a much better course of action than going forward with something that doesn’t feel right, for whatever reason. Also, September is a great time to get married :)

As with most etiquette questions, I think the best answer depends on your circumstances. For your first question — can you ask the girlfriend who’s next in line to be your matron of honor — I would say yes IF 1) you don’t think it would hurt the original (pregnant) matron of honor’s feelings, and 2) you don’t think the “next in line” friend would be insulted to be asked. (I know that seems weird, since you’d be asking her something nice, but some people might be annoyed knowing they were the “second choice”!)

Your second question is easier, I think: absolutely! It’s totally up to you to add or subtract anyone from the bridal party at any time, so I think whether or not you ask another friend to be a part of your party as something separate from the issue of your original matron of honor dropping out.

Has anyone else had to reschedule, postpone, or substantially change their wedding, maybe because of an illness, deployment, or serious business crisis? I would love to hear, and especially would love to hear any advice y’all might have to offer! Maybe the way you spread the news to guests?

emily Written with love by Emily
4 Comments
  1. avatar Hannah From reply

    My husband and I were originally supposed to get married on July 5th of this year. A couple of days after I mailed out our Save The Dates, he calls me from Japan (where he is stationed) and said that he will be deployed during our wedding day and that we had to change it. That next weekend I came home from school and my sisters, my mother, and I made “change the date” cards – they matched our original colors and design, but were on a post card type of paper. We were able to change the date and got married a month earlier than planned, only losing one vendor in the process. It actually ended up working out better for everyone involved in the wedding (a couple of our groomsmen were military as well).

  2. avatar All in a Soiree reply

    I personally don’t know anyone who has had to reschedule there wedding, but in my personal opinion I think simply being honest and just letting them know things changed unexpectedly

  3. avatar Brittany Mayer reply

    My wonderful fiance officially proposed New Years Eve 2010. We had been together for about a year and a half. But the enitre time we were together we were in a long distance relationship, he was in D.C. and I was in N.C. in Winston-Salem. it was pretty hard but even with the 6 hour distance between us we still saw each other almost every other weekend! When we got engaged I wanted us living in the same city before we got married. Well, we started planning and had set the date and put down a few deposits, venue, photographer etc. and we realized that even thought he had come to live with me in my home town of Louisville Ky, we weren’t ready yet. I wanted to find a different career than what I studied in college and the job he had gotten in town wasn’t working out, so he went back to his job that took him away from me. It was a really difficult time, not only were we going back to a long distance relationship, but we were loosing our dream wedding. For me it felt really embaressing to have to tell everyone that we were postponing the wedding. I feared that everyone would think our marriage wasnt meant to be, but for the most part everyone was very understanding. We are so blessed that as of Christmas this past year we have both found jobs in the same city, and we have officially set a new date of May 10, 2014. I’m plumb tickled to death! It’s been a long wait, but it’s been worth it. And I have a few years of looking at SWMag under my belt now so its gonna be a great southern shindig!

  4. avatar Gracie reply

    My fiancé and I recently had to reschedule our wedding due to conflicts with school, work etc. Unfortunately it was AFTER we had sent out the save the dates (talk about embarrassing). After much deliberation and tears (on my part). We sent out cute little cards to all our guests that began with “don’t dust off those dancing shoes just yet!” And a little explanation of our postponement. It was so well received! Everyone mentioned how much they appreciated us being up front with them instead of trying to dance around the subject.
    As for the wedding itself, changing plans from a May wedding to a December wedding was no easy task! But after looking through all the plans I had set fort vintage garden party wedding, I realized that the vintage theme was something that fits for any season! Our florist was so helpful in picking out beautiful seasonal flowers that very much resembled my spring bouquet and center pieces. The bridesmaids unfortunately did have to buy a second dress, but the JCrew wedding shop was so helpful and I was able to find adorable dresses for $70 each (unheard of!).
    The moral of the story: don’t panick! It can be something that builds the excitement for your big day and helps you and your fiancé learn to prioritize (always a good skill for marriage). And what girl doesn’t love a little more time to plan her big day?!

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We all know bridal parties are famously large in the South, and with the effort to squeeze out as many honorary positions as possible often comes dual roles: choosing both a maid AND matron of honor to stand by your side on the big day. Karen wrote us with a question about this potentially sticky situation:

Hello ladies!

One of my best friends is getting married this summer. She has asked her cousin to be matron of honor and has asked me to be maid of honor, and let me know that I would be very busy helping with things for the wedding because of my title. However, so far she has not spoken to me about any of the usual things a maid of honor would handle, and instead has spoken to her cousin. For example, she mentioned a wedding shower, and then said that she needed to talk to her cousin about more details. That was the first I had heard about the shower, which is fine, but I just don’t want both her cousin and I planning the same things. Can a maid and matron of honor share duties, or not? Another concern is that I’m in school, and so don’t have a lot of money to pay for events or activities, but still want to help in any way I can. All advice will be greatly appreciated!!

Karen, you are in good company! I think many maids and matrons of honor are confused about their duties even when they’re the only one in the role. And the tricky thing is, while there are general guidelines, every bride is a bit different in terms of what she expects or would like her honor attendants to do, which is a recipe for hurt feelings on both sides. So that’s my first piece of advice: Sit your friend down (virtually, if necessary!) and let her know that you’re honored to have been asked and look forward to celebrating this special time with her. Let her know that you’re more than happy to assist in any way you can, but that to do so well you would love for her to elaborate on what, exactly, she expects from you, as well as what her matron of honor will be taking care of. Hopefully that will start moving everyone toward being on the same page! If she’s comfortable putting you in touch with her cousin, that could be a great next step toward you two working together instead of around each other.

I also completely understand not being as financially able; the best thing to do is to be up front with your friend if she asks or asks something of you that you’re not capable of. And remember, joyful, thoughtful emotional support (and sometimes your donated time and labor!) is more priceless to a bride than expensive trips and gifts.

Jessica Lorren

In the meantime, for all those facing a maid or matron of honor position without prior experience, here’s our general guideline to typical duties:

Be willing to help in whatever way possible with wedding planning. If you live nearby, this could mean helping to address invitations or assemble programs. If you don’t, you might offer to set up vendor appointments or research florists.
Lend an ear during the engagement. Even the most cheerful bride will likely need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on at some point before her wedding. Weddings can be stressful — do what you can to alleviate that stress.
Help the bride select bridesmaids’ attire. Listen to and, if necessary, help squash, unreasonable grumblings from bridesmaids about said attire.
Make sure a shower and/or bachelorette are addressed. Make sure you ask the bride her wishes for these events, and then execute to the best of your ability with ample assistance from bridesmaids.
Organize bridesmaids’ gifts to the bride (if you’re giving one) and organize the bridesmaids’ luncheon (if you’re holding one). Brides sometimes like to host the luncheon themselves as a thank you to their ‘maids, so check with her before making plans.
Go into the wedding day over-prepared. More than any of the other ‘maids, it’s your responsibility to make sure you are aware of the timeline for the day, the order everyone will be walking down the aisle, where you’re taking portraits, etc. This way, the bride won’t be the only one fielding questions on her wedding morning, which can be very stressful.
Take control of the bride’s cell phone on the wedding morning. Of course, you’ll want to consult with the bride before you attempt to commandeer her phone, but setting up a sort of electronic forcefield around her while she’s getting ready means that only the truly important calls will get through.
Hold the groom’s wedding ring and the bride’s bouquet during the ceremony. Reposition her train if necessary.
Witness the signing of the marriage certificate.
Run interference. Between the bride and bridesmaids, between the bride and her mother-in-law, maybe even between her and the mother of the bride. Learn to be gracious, but firm. The skills of a diplomat are essential to successfully fulfilling this role.
Anticipate the bride’s needs. Make sure she eats something so her blood sugar doesn’t bottom out. If she has mentioned little things (having a bottle of champagne in the dressing area, wanting a through-the-door convo with her groom before the wedding, wanting a moment alone with her new husband just following the ceremony) execute her wishes to the best of your ability.
Bustle her gown post-ceremony. If you live nearby, it could be helpful to attend the final fitting so you can learn the ropes — er, buttons and snaps — before the big day.
–- Help the bride change into her going-away clothes and take care of the bride’s wedding dress and accessories after the reception.

Anything to add, ladies? Have you ever been a co maid or matron of honor? How did it go?

emily Written with love by Emily
6 Comments
  1. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    One thing my sister (MOH) did that helped me SO much was come up with a list of bags to pack and help me pack them for the wedding day. We had a bag for getting ready (that included toiletries, makeup, etc) , a bag for the church (that included undergarments for dress, wedding shoes, lipstick, etc), a bag for the reception (change of clothes, change of shoes), and finally the honeymoon bag. She put herself in charge of making sure all the bags got transported to the proper location and that everything was there that I needed. It was SO helpful!

  2. avatar Kate Collison reply

    As a bride with a middle-sized bridal party and multiple MOHs, I have been very lucky in that my special-est gals have simply agreed to get along wonderfully and share responsibilities. They deserve a lot of credit for their own behavior and decisions, especially taking this all on without knowing one another previously. I think they felt daunted at first, but really, it’s worked out so nicely, and they are now friends. I came to this decision because I am equally close with these women, but they don’t have exactly the same strengths and weaknesses. Where one may not feel as comfortable, the other steps in. I talked with them initially about what I hoped for in the planning process, what I expected of their roles, and asked if they had concerns about sharing duties. I make sure to be grateful to each for her lovely attention and help — communication has been SO key. My big day is coming up (June 8th) and I plan to ask each to help with one thing. One with the bustle, one with the veil, etc, so that my MOHs feel dutiful and helpful. I would advise brides to choose MOH’s wisely, however, because much of the success of this is choosing young ladies who are close to you, but who are also going to get along even under stress. Make sure to thank them well (as we always should, no?) and in your own, heartfelt way. I am a perpetual note-writer and I have written each gal individual thank you notes for EVERY STEP of their involvement – wedding dress shopping, planning and attending the bachelorette, attending and helping at my shower, for an active listening ear when wedding-stress hits… I think because my women have chosen to get along and I have made time in my process to genuinely tell and show them how happy I am makes our arrangement much brighter!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    I just got home from my very best friend’s wedding, that I was the maid of honor in, and this list is spot on! I took a lot of pride in my role and really wanted to make sure this day was perfect for the bride, and I think it was! I think the most important part is to just communicate with the bride as much as possible.

  4. avatar southern etiquette. | "Tide the Knot" reply

    [...] Alright ladies, in most situations there is a Maid of Honor or a Matron of Honor, and in many cases you will have both! The only difference, contrary to what some believe, is that the Maid of Honor is an unwed bridesmaid and the Matron of Honor is in fact married. Both of these titles are considered the “principal bridesmaids”, these ladies will be your go to girls for the duration of the day. Now, who does what? Let us break it down shall we. Both the Maid and Matron should be there for the Bride right from the get go, this is not a job for the lazy that’s for sure! She should be able to help with the wedding planning in whatever way possible. Lend an ear during the engagement, this is important for the Bride, considering she will be under a certain amount of stress during the process of planning. So grab that bottle of wine and help her exercise her demons!  Make sure that there is a bridal shower/bachelorette party in the plans. Organize the bridesmaids gifts, and the bridal luncheon. Take full control of the brides cell phone on the day of, that thing will be blowing up, and you don’t want it to stress the Bride out. Anticipate the Brides needs, and run interference between the Bride and others. These are only a few helpful hints, you can view a whole gaggle of  pointers on the Southern Weddings page @ http://southernweddings.com/2013/05/20/southern-etiquette-maid-and-matron-of-honor/. [...]

  5. avatar Winter Warmers – 10 Stylish Bride and Bridesmaids Cover Up Ideas | One Fab Day reply

    [...] Pink Bridesmaids Cardigan captured by Jessica Lorren via Southern Weddings [...]

  6. avatar Annemarie reply

    I need to fine out if a maid of honor is foe who not been married yet? Them what is the matron of honor who been married but still call be the maid of honor too? I need to fine out this? I’m getting married in April 2015 . We r going to Hawaii to get married too. Please help me out please. Thank you

    Annemarie

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Whether to take your husband’s name or not is not something we’re going to advise on today, thank goodness! Instead, our question comes from a reader who has already decided to take her fiancé’s name, but is unsure what to do about the rest of her moniker. Read on… we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Hello, Emily!

I am getting married next May, and while I have never questioned taking my fiancé’s name, I’m torn over what to do about my middle name.

I know tradition holds that a lady drops her middle name upon marriage and replaces it with her maiden name. I’m not usually one to go against tradition, but I’ve never liked the sound of my maiden name. However, I do really like my middle name (it’s a lot prettier than my last name, and it’s the name my dad gave me). How big of a faux pas would it be for me to keep my middle name and just drop my maiden name all together?

Thank you in advance for the advice!
M.G.

An excellent question! Growing up, I always thought it was so peculiar that my mom never had a middle name – she was Beth Bogart until she married my dad, at which point she became Beth Bogart Ayer. My grandmother specifically didn’t give her daughter a middle name even though her two sons had them, because she assumed my mom would just drop it when she married. I’m glad times have changed and that there’s more flexibility these days, especially since I love my middle name! In fact, I love my middle name so much that post-marriage I kept it and dropped my maiden name. That’s right, I’m Emily Armstrong Thomas (despite what my Twitter handle would lead you to believe…).

But back to the question: Though most ladies do choose to drop their middle name in favor of their maiden name when they marry, I wasn’t aware of a tradition that said it was incorrect to do the reverse* — I thought both were equally acceptable options. I double-checked with Emily Post to see whether she had anything to say on the subject, but I couldn’t find a definitive ruling either way. So, to answer M.G.’s question, I don’t think it would be a faux pas at all, and the only reason I would think twice about it would be if your family had strong feelings either way!

It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why I chose one over the other, but the best way I can summarize it is this: to me, it was obvious that “Ayer” would always be a part of my identity, because of my family and connections to people and places. “Armstrong” was something my parents had specifically chosen for me and only me, so to me, it seemed like a more innate part of who I am. It was a tough decision, though!

Ladies, I would love to hear: If you are taking or have taken your husband’s name, what did you do? Did you keep your middle name and drop your maiden name? Or vice versa? Did you keep both? Or, like my mom, did you never have a middle name? I would love to hear in the comments!

*After I wrote this post, Marissa chimed in with a little info of her own! She says: I’m not sure why, but in my experience it’s a very Southern tradition to keep your maiden name and drop your middle name. This was a topic for big discussion when I got married, as my entire in-law family was insistent that I keep my maiden name instead of my middle. Apparently it has to do with how names are passed down, and how to extend family names when couples did not have boys. If you go down old family trees (like BDK’s), maiden names were used not only as middle names for married women, but also as first and middle names for children to ensure the family names did not end. In the end, I legally kept my middle name (I felt my maiden name was a bit too German), but I now wish I’d done the reverse because I don’t ever use my middle name. However, no one knows that, because I go by my maiden name on everything, including my monograms!

P.S. Have your own etiquette challenge? Feel free to email me!

emily Written with love by Emily
44 Comments
  1. avatar Kate Collison reply

    I love this discussion :) So unique! I am choosing to keep both (Katherine Ann Collison Halcrow)- but I will be using my middle name with my monogram (Katherine Ann Halcrow) will be KHA – and I’m a gal who monograms *everything*. I am partly keeping both because my maiden name is what ties me to my beloved father, but I was given the middle name “Ann” as a reference to my mother who is named Ann. I am referred to by my mother as “Katherine Ann” and so my middle name can become a part of my understood first name. Also, I personally don’t feel that I can choose between a “naming-connection”, if you will, to my father while sacrificing one with my mother… and yes, Emily, I feel strongly about the chosen name that my parents gave me… yet, just as strongly about my lineage ties to my Collison family. **An interesting thought – when one researches family trees online and in physical, tangible records, it can be helpful to know AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE about family members, including chosen middle, maiden and legal married names. So, for the love of tradition and heritage (my favorite bits!), there may be some modern upside to keeping both. :) Excellent discussion, SW! Love it.

  2. avatar Kat reply

    For me, this was a really tough decision. I always assumed I would drop my middle name & keep my maiden, just as my mother did, however that is not at all what I have decided to do! Come July 20th, I will become Katherine Ashley Schmoyer instead of Katherine Houston Schmoyer. As much as I value my family heritage, on that July day I will be yoking myself to a NEW family- I will be vowing to be his wife, bear his children and put him before anyone – including my parents. It’s a beautiful, biblical covenant and to me, dropping my maiden name entirely really showed the significance of that! Plus I have to say I agree with you, Emily, when you say that your first & middle names really signify who you are because they were chosen just for YOU. “Katherine” had been passed down for generations in my family & my mom chose “Ashley” because of her favorite character in Gone With The Wind- you can’t get much more southern than that :) I love this discussion though and am interested to read why others decided to do what they did!

  3. avatar Amie reply

    I have never heard of dropping your middle name to keep your maiden name, or changing your middle name to your maiden name. It must be a South thing, I’m from Canada. It makes sense to hold on to it. Here we either hyphenate, go by maiden name, or take his name, but keep your middle name. There are of course all kinds of in betweens. I am keeping my name, but won’t mind it if people call me Mrs. S instead of Mrs. M.

  4. avatar Jewel reply

    My mom kept her middle and maiden name, so she’s Waltina Wilhelmina Cuffee Edwards. And the weird thing is, she gave my two youngest sisters her maiden name as a middle name, so they each have four names. Currently, I have three. I’m not sure why she did this… Now that I’m getting married, I’ve considered dropping my middle name. But then I realized that I absolutely love my middle name (Wilhelmina, same as my mom’s). And I’m incredibly close to my immediate and extended family, and my parents had no girls. But then I also do respect the sweet tradition of taking on the name of your husband. Which is why in the end I decided, why should I have to choose? I love all my names and my soon-to-be last name! So come June 15 I’ll be Jewel Wilhelmina Edwards-Ashman. Yes, it’s a mouthful. And that’s exactly the point. I just love long names; it makes me feel really fancy :) I’ll probably encourage my kids to take the same route I did– consider tradition, but in the end choose whatever name makes them proud and happy!

    • avatar Derrika Wright reply

      Jewel: To Jewel and everyone else that kept their first, middle, and last names, how do you feel out legal documents. I guess I’m trying to figure out what my official middle name will be now. Is it both my middle and maiden? I am really tied to my middle name and don’t want to just drop my own heritage. I also feel that if I simply change my last name, it won’t look like I’m married. My middle name is Neekole by the way and I’m attached to it because its a bit unique and its the name my father gave me. It just don’t seem that on legal documents or applications there really is an option to keep your whole name and simply add your husband’s last name. Maybe I should just have a conversation with the people at the Social Security office when I go to fill out the application.

  5. avatar Laura Caroline reply

    I love this post! Even though I’m not married yet, I have always struggled with which name I will drop (or to keep both), since I will take my husband’s last name. I am so glad my parents chose to call me by my first and middle name – the meaning behind both names, especially my middle name is precious, since I was named after our alma mater! I’m leaning towards dropping my last name (especially for monogram purposes!) because of something my dad told me when I graduated: everyone always asked him if he was upset he never had a son to pass on the family name. He said he never thought twice about because he knew his daughter would make a name for her own. I know that’s a lot to live up to, and even though I love my family and my last name, I think I’ll keep my double name!

  6. avatar Sarah W. reply

    I loved the idea of dropping my middle name and putting my maiden name as my middle name–that’s what I did. It doesn’t seem to be all that common for women to do that anymore. I did it because I never used my middle name much. It’s totally not out of the ordinary to just drop your maiden name and replace it with your married name and still keep your middle name. To each his own, right? :-)

  7. avatar Rachel reply

    Such an interesting topic I’d never considered! My mother was always called by her middle name even when she was a baby because my grandmother and grandfather thought she’d be a boy! (this was the 60s) So she’s always been Lynne and they added on Charlotte as a first name since she turned out to be a girl! So obviously when she married she couldn’t drop her middle name. So she added on her new married name and has 4! When I got married though I legally dropped my middle name because I LOVE my maiden name but I really think it’s a matter of preference. It’s YOUR name and you have to live with it. I say do what you want. ^_^

  8. avatar Laura reply

    When I was younger, I thought it was the law that women kept their maiden name as their middle name when they married :) That’s what my mom, grandmothers and aunts had done. I loved my middle name, Cameron, which was my great-grandmother’s maiden name, but I knew that it meant a lot to my family (especially my Dad) that I keep my maiden name, so that’s what I decided to do. However, I hope to use Cameron for any future little ones. Fortunately for me, it works for boys or girls :)

  9. avatar Kristen Cox Leen reply

    I just got married two weeks ago, and I am in the middle of the long journey of changing my name! I am a true southern girl and didn’t think twice about dropping my middle name and keeping my maiden name as my middle name. My VERY southern grandmother was a little disappointed when I told her I am dropping my middle name, Louise, which is named after her! All the females on my mother’s side have the same middle name. I gave my grandmother comfort by promising to give my daughter the middle name of Louise to keep with family tradition. I just didn’t want to have four names! I think it’s best for family history and for keeping part of my identity as a Cox (especially since my father passed away 8 years ago) to keep my maiden name. Also, it’s a pet peeve of mine in the world of social media when my girl friends drop their maiden name and then I have no idea who they are on facebook! I am going to weigh in on the side of tradition here and say keep your maiden name.

  10. avatar Kelly Cummings reply

    My mom didn’t have a middle name either, for the same reason!

    I actually legally kept all of my names and added my husband’s last name (no hypehns, that’s my new last name) when I got married (and now my name reads like a law firm, since all of my names are also used as surnames, haha), but my middle name was my grandmother’s maiden name and I really hated the thought of losing it. I use my maiden name as my middle name for most forms though, and so my driver’s license is pretty much the only thing with all four. I’m sure all the girls with double names have a lot of trouble with the name change dilemma!

  11. avatar Jenny Lynn Weitz Amare-Cartwright reply

    This is fascinating! I am from Venezuela, but I have been living in the United States for almost 10 years. My parents gave me a first name, a middle name, and as it is customary in South America, I have two last names (the first one is my dad’s and the second one is my mom’s maiden name). I have always used all four for everything (my ID card, my passport, insurance cards, etc.) When I got married, I decided against dropping any of my names because I felt that if I dropped any of them, it was like dropping my entire family! I have no brothers or sisters, so if i had taken my husband’s name, my parents heritage would have stopped right there. However, informally (meaning not legally) I include my married name everywhere I can, so I often use five names… and yes, everyone makes fun of me all the time, and it is usually a great ice breaker when I hand out business cards. The fact is, that I am proud of all my names becuase all of them are very important for me (it goes back to my great grandparents, grandparents, parents and now my husband). My biggest concern now is, how am I going to name my children? Will they have my husbands’ last name or a combination of mine and his like it is done in South America, where I am from? Should I give them my maiden name as middle name instead? But which one, the first one or the second one? It is all very complicated, but very very exciting!

  12. avatar kelly reply

    i’ll be keeping my ‘maiden’ name, not changing my name at all :)

  13. avatar Christin reply

    I love this discussion! As an academic and a Southern woman, there was quite a bit of debate about whether I would take my husbands last name. To echo Kat, it was very important for me to take his name and start our own family also due to the fact that I am a child of divorce and my mom (whom I’m closest to) changed her last name when she re-married. I since I have two brothers, I chose to drop by maiden name because the family name would continue without me and because my first and middle name come from both grandmothers which is very important to me. In all I’m Christin Elizabeth Huggins and love it! I totally agree that one’s name should be a reflection of her identity and what makes you feel most comfortable, even if it breaks from tradition. :)

  14. avatar Julie reply

    I love this discussion! I am born and raised southern, although my parents are from the west. My mother dropped her maiden name. But, when all my friends started getting married around me, they were dropping their middle name. I really didn’t want to drop either name. I like my middle name and my maiden name is very unique and recognizable to folks from my hometown. So, I turned my maiden name into a second middle name. I can use them as I see fit. My younger sister dropped her maiden name. To each their own!

  15. avatar Carolyn reply

    This is really interesting! I was open to keeping either Maiden or Middle name. My dad recently told me he doesn’t care if I keep the maiden name, and we do have several males with the same name…but I feel weird leaving out the maiden name! Who knows what I will do…I’ll probably wait until the last minute to decide!

  16. avatar Mary reply

    I have always loved my middle name and thought I would just add my married name at the end of my full maiden name. But then I married someone who’s last name started with the same letter as mine. My maiden name was really unique to begin with so making an alliteration out of the whole thing seemed silly.

  17. avatar Jessica reply

    This is a very interesting topic. As a girl of the south I was always familiar with dropping your middle name, and the always present “double name” situations. I’ve decided to keep my maiden name for a reason i’m surprised i havent seen in any of the comments above! First, my middle name is seldom used, so I don’t have much of an attachment to it. Second, I’m an only child, and there’s nobody else to carry it on. Lastly, and most important to me, is that i’m known professionally as Jessica Hughes. In my industry, its important that you’re known when changing jobs, etc, so becoming just Jessica Bennett would really confuse people!

  18. avatar Karen reply

    I honestly didn’t really think about the issue too much. I knew I would take my husband’s name even if I didn’t really want to because my parents and grandparents would be horrified if I didn’t. They are old fashioned in that a southern lady ALWAYS takes her husband’s name. My husband and I didn’t really discuss it either. I guess he just assumed I would take his name. Looking back I wish I had made more of an issue with it because I wanted to keep my own name. I was 35 when I got married in 2005. I should have put my foot down.

    When I went to the Social Security office the lady never questioned me. She just added his name to the end so now I have 4 names; First, Middle (my middle name from birth and my maiden) and Last (his last name). It makes it difficult as so many software programs still take so few characters for a middle name so I have to pick and choose sometimes which middle name I take. Even my driver’s license would only take 1! Shocked me. Aren’t there a lot of people with more than 3 names or long middle names?

    Plus, I just don’t want to get rid of the middle name my parent’s gave me at birth. It’s too pretty.

  19. avatar Jenny reply

    I actually kept both my middle name and my maiden name – so now I technically have 2 middle names. I felt attached to both and just didn’t feel right about dropping either one so I just kept both. :)

  20. avatar Clair Ashburn reply

    I have an extra confusing response! I grew up with 2 middle names! For a total of 4 names. When I got married, I thought 5 names would be over the top :) So I dropped one of my middle names and added my maiden name as a middle name. I think logistically it’s nice to keep your maiden name in the middle (whether you add or replace) because if an old document has your maiden name, you can easily show that was you.

  21. avatar Pamela reply

    Hi, im glad somebody feels the same way I did two years ago. I dropped my maiden name and kept my middle name. I not only love my middle name but actually childhood friends known me by it. It’s part of my identity. Ill always be part of my family but dropping my middle made me feel if that part of me would just be gone. I’m glad my family understood and never questioned my decision :)

  22. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    My legal name is Sarah Madelynne Moulton (I dropped my maiden name). But I identify myself as Madelynne Miller Moulton because I have never gone by Sarah and Miller is part of who I am! And, I love alliteration!

  23. avatar Julie reply

    I kept my maiden name. Once you get married you are now in a family with your husband but I think keeping your maiden is a nice way to respect your parents and all they have done for you.

  24. avatar Taylor reply

    Well I have a similar issue. I have a first, middle, and last name. I will soon be getting engaged and I have always thought I would drop my first name, since I go by my middle name. Literally NO ONE calls me by my first name. So why do I need it, right?! But my mother is very hurt by the idea of me dropping my first name because she loves my first name. Our family is also only girls, so our last name will be gone when my sister and I get married and change our names, if we don’t take our last names as our married middle names.
    So my name is Christian Taylor Bishop
    Mom wants: Christian Taylor Deal (similar to what she did)
    I want: Taylor Bishop Deal ‘
    Thoughts anyone?

  25. avatar Emily Rachelle reply

    I’m just a teenager, but I love to read wedding blogs. I’m sure I’m not the only one! ;)

    Anyway, I’ve lived all over the place – South Dakota, New York, Georgia, and more than a couple foreign countries. I don’t know much about those countries’ traditions, but I’ve seen a pretty even balance between keeping the middle name and keeping the maiden name. My mom and most of my relatives, as well as most of the people I knew in New York, dropped the maiden name. As a kid I thought that was the norm. Then when we moved to Georgia I learned how common it is to drop the middle name.

    Personally, as the only girl in my family, I’m not all that attached to my maiden name. My middle name (Rachelle) is unique and beautiful and is actually a combination of my mother’s name (which my dad wanted to use) and Rachel, which my mom wanted. So, when I started blogging and writing, I used my middle name instead of my last, because (a) I like it better, and (b) I wanted to build name/brand recognition, but I also knew I’d be taking my husband’s last name when I got married. (Since then I’ve learned how common it is to just not change your name, but I never liked that idea anyway.)

  26. avatar Lakin Turner reply

    I’m from WV and I am getting married in August. My name is Lakin McKay Turner and when I get married I will drop my last name and add my new one so I will become Lakin McKay McCann. I chose to do that because it sounds fun! Plus my fiance has an “M” middle name as well so when kids come along we would like to keep in that way!

  27. avatar Sam reply

    My fiance and I just talked about this the other day! My middle name is Nell which has been passed down for hundreds of years, and my last name is Schweitzer, which doesn’t make a very pretty middle name, so I am definitely dropping my maiden name and keeping Nell as my middle name.

  28. avatar Meredith reply

    I will be getting married in October and I’ve never liked the idea of dropping either middle or last name. My middle name is a combination of my grandmothers middle names Louise and Ann I’m Luann, so it is very significant. I do have a brother so the last name will continue, but I’ve decided to keep my name and just add my new last name. I will identify legally and socially with the new last name, lucky for me both my middle and last names start with an L so keeping with the 3 initial monogram won’t cause me a headache over which to pick!

  29. avatar Emily reply

    I kept my maiden name and dropped the middle. Love the information in this post! This is something I wondered about 5 years ago and couldn’t figure out what to do, so last minute I dropped the middle.

  30. avatar Jen Kessler reply

    This is so interesting! I’ve never heard of it before and maybe that is because I live in Seattle. I love these kinds of traditions and I think that’s why I find this blog so delightful – it seems the south is rooted in deep tradition that makes me fantasize about living in a different time. :)

  31. avatar Lauren reply

    This is very interesting. I’m glad to know that I won’t be the only one dropping my maiden name in the future :). I’m way more attached to my middle name than my maiden name.

  32. avatar Katie reply

    My name is Mary Katherine, but I have always been called Katie by my family and friends. I couldn’t exactly drop the Katherine, as then no one would understand where the nickname derived from. I didn’t want to have four names, and I have been told that dropping your first and your last would be more complicated, and it seemed like it would be doubly confusing for people. The end result–I am dropping my maiden name and will keep my middle name. Depending on the maiden name, you can always give it to a son (or a daughter!) as a first or middle name if you are concerned about keeping your name alive in records–not to mention it results in a name that is unique and specific to your family!

  33. avatar Meghan P. reply

    I have a unique situation with this, because my parents blessed me with two middle names! I have always loved having four names (except when monogramming), but find it hard to choose one middle name over the other. I decided a long time ago to do what my mother did, and use my maiden name in between my first & future husband’s last name. My middle names will still be very much a part of me regardless.

  34. avatar Monica Ford reply

    I never had a middle name, neither has my sister. My older brother has a middle name my grandfather chose for him and it’s incredibly Chinese (incidentally he got that side of our family’s looks). I’ve given thought to incorporating my mother’s maiden name (since I’m a little at odds with my heritage and the name Ford) but its a bit touchy since my father specifically gave us all his father’s surname after a divorce. Growing up I always wanted a middle name, but neither side of my family felt it important. Its not done with Chinese girls and when I asked my dad (who’s from Mississippi) he said that he wanted my maiden name to be my middle name. I never realised it was a southern tradition. If I were to adopt my mothers maiden name as my middle name, I’m not sure if I would drop it or just add my maiden name when I marry since to me they’re all last names. I suppose this is how people used to end up with a million middle names.

  35. avatar Christyne Parsons reply

    I hope I’m not too late to respond to this… I am from Shreveport, Louisiana and all of my family live in the south in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. I was never told either way by any of my family members which way to go with a name change. I was actually never spoken to about my name change at all so I’m not sure how strict of a Southern tradition it is…but I kept my middle name and lost my maiden name. I was Christyne Dalese Watson and then I became Christyne Dalese Parsons. I didn’t think Christyne Watson Parsons sounded nice or even looked like a proper name. It definitely looks like it should be hyphenated. … I just think Watson would be a lousy middle name. My parents created my middle name out of my dad’s middle name Dale and their best friend Lisa. So honestly, my middle name has more family meaning than even my last name did. I have a daughter, though, that I used my maternal grandmother’s maiden name as her middle name – so in a way – I am carrying on a maiden name tradition. Her name is Audrey Coco Parsons.

  36. avatar Lee Anne Jackson reply

    My entire family is from Mississippi, and it’s very important to keep your maiden name to them. In Texas, where I live, it’s 50/50. My name is Lee Anne Jackson, but I’ve always gone by my full name. I’m changing my first name to LeeAnne when I get married and will officially be Lee Anne Jackson Rogers. I can’t imagine losing any part of my name because it represents my entire life, both old and new. And it honors the first 32 years of my life with my parents. I think either way is fine, but it’s nice to be able to “hand” these names down each generation.

  37. avatar Reagan reply

    I am getting married in August, and I have decided to drop my middle name and keep my maiden name! I have a specific reason for this, however – my middle name is Mallory, which I just love so much. However, I barely get to use it and hardly associate it as part of my name (since it’s my middle name). So my fiancé and I have decided that if we are blessed with a daughter in the future, Mallory will be a part of her name! To me, that’s a much more excited thought than keeping the name to myself :)

  38. avatar Nicole reply

    I have chosen another option for my upcoming wedding, and subsequent name-change. My parents chose Rosa as my middle name–it was my grandmother’s name and I don’t want to part with it. In addition, there are no boys in my family, and so I would like to keep my last name as well. So, I am keeping both! It will be quite the mouthful, and a hand-cramper for sure! As for monograming, I will be moving my middle name to be a part of my first name (my legal first name will be Nicole Rosa) so my maiden name will be my middle initial of a monogram. What’s a girl to do!

  39. avatar DA reply

    I worked in an office along with an attractive married woman when one day, the flirty guy of the office asked what her maiden name was. You could hear a pin drop and also feel the heat of the death-ray stare she gave him.

    There is a clear, unwritten, interpersonal understanding that is tightly woven in with that kind of information.

    Why did he want that info? Why did she refuse to provide it?

    In my opinion, he wanted it to test her commitment (to get an ‘in’) and she refused giving it to prove her commitment (and/or to reject his interest).

    After experiencing that event, it seems sensible to drop the maiden name unless you are not fully committed to the lifelong relationship.

  40. avatar Ashley Jones reply

    I kept my middle name and put his last name at the end I am now Ashley Winnette Bennett

  41. avatar Audrey reply

    Emily, I felt the exact same as you. My middle name is a family name that my great uncle and great grandfather had – Leighton. I felt like I would always have Hale (maiden name) as a part of my identity. I could always say, “My maiden name is Hale.” But if I dropped Leighton, I would never mention that once was my middle name. There would be no reason to. However, if I had a filler middle name, such as Lee or Marie, I would probably have dropped my middle name and used my maiden name. I have never heard that it is Southern tradition to keep your maiden name, and I come from a long line of Southerners. But we are more like hillbillies than the “old money” south. So that may have something to do with it!

  42. avatar Emerald reply

    My friend – out of nowhere decided to use her married name as her middle name and her maiden name as her last name – she insists this is the correct way. I even mentioned that I suppose Jacqueline Kennedy was wrong! It still doesn’t sink in – the strange this is she has been married to a good friend for awhile and just recently decided to use this strange arrangement. Is this ever correct? She is not a professional – only worked in a factory.

  43. avatar Sue reply

    How would you monogram if you are a divorced mom? Would you drop your divorced name and go back to your maiden name? Example: Kayla Reese marries a man whose last name is Fletcher. But then divorces and marries a man whose last name is Lee. Would she be Kayla Reese Lee OR would she be Kayla Fletcher Lee?

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