Not Charlotte – I’ll stick with that for at least a little bit longer (Nothing Good Rhymes With Petula would be a terrible name for a blog) – just my surname for now.
With the guest list a close, migraine inducing second, this has been the hardest decision on the marriage planning list. Yes, it was tricky choosing which heel would look most profound with my dress, and which flowers would best complement the venue’s exquisite wooden beams, but deciding how my post would be addressed for the rest of my life has been a little more taxing.
I have changed my mind more times than I do when looking at a restaurant menu. Sticking with Reeve is the equivalent of ordering a nice safe steak – familiar, medium rare, and only likely to cause problems if spelt with an ‘s’ on the end (I can no more stomach two steaks than I can being referred to as ‘Reeves’). Whereas changing to my new, married name is like selecting a Bouillabaisse. Sure, I know how to spell it (thanks to Google) but I’ve not grown up with it. Will I still look and feel like me when I’ve got it?
The only way to make this kind of decision is by listing the pros and cons of each option. To be Mrs B or not to be Mrs B – that is the question:
Reasons TO change
1. A post wedding project
The wedding is over, the honeymoon is complete, the gifts are all unwrapped and the cards are gathering dust – what the hell do I do with myself next? Bake a quiche and enjoy marital bliss? Take the Volvo I imagine will automatically appear on the drive as soon as we say ‘I do’ for a spin?
Changing my name will give me a nice meaty project to get my teeth into. I will have to ring everyone – the mortgage people, the council tax people, the trillion companies behind all the shop clubcards that prevent my purse from shutting… I’ll have a whale of a time. And I’m sure they’ll all want to hear how the wedding went too.
2. Bye bye school
When I was at school, I’d have liked some time off being Charlotte Reeve. She was deeply uncool (conjugating French verbs was one of her hobbies) and pleased if she just managed to get through the day without anyone laughing directly in her face.
So changing my name can be the final stage in shaking off my teenage years and rebranding as the new, super trendy, adult Charlotte, free to conjugate without judgment. Oui, elle peut.
3. They will never find me
Hey, people I grew up with! You know how you think it’s hilarious to find pictures from when we were kids with bad hair and ocean sized eyebrows, and upload them to Facebook and tag me in them? Well, if I change my name then you’re going to have to work a lot harder to find me, and I’ll have an excuse to just point blank deny that the fruit bowl-haircutted creature in the photo is me. If only they’d invent a ‘I hope your scanner explodes’ button…
Reasons NOT to change
While some people might call the process of changing your name a ‘project’, others would deem it an administrative nightmare. Changing my name means calling every mug with the keys to my money, my right to travel, and the ability to give me points in exchange for the use of my own shopping bag, and then waiting by the letter box in the hope that an avalanche of newly printed plastic arrives. For someone who hates being on hold as much as I do, sticking with Reeve would be a wise decision.
2. A comedy of errors
I have had some phenomenal variations of my surname over the years: ‘Charlotte Rave’, ‘Mr Charlotte Greeve’ and my most recent favourite ‘The Charlotte Reeve’ show that even the simplest name can send a mailing system wild. I have put so much energy into getting people to understand that my name is Reeve not Reed, Breathe or Steve that I’m not sure I can take another one on.
3. Sorry, are you talking to me?
Deciding to be referred to as Mrs is one thing, but remembering to answer to it is another. I can just imagine: My name will be shouted into the dentist waiting room, or over the tannoy at the supermarket ham counter, and I’ll be looking around gormlessly for its owner to come forward before catching a glimpse of my new Clubcard and realising it’s me. Remembering to respond when called will be just another thing to add to my ‘To do’ list.
It’s a tough one to call.
And I’ve really battled with it. The main reason I thought I’d stick with my maiden name is because I worried that changing wasn’t a very feminist thing to do. Surely we can just be called whatever we like and still be married? I could change my name to Forrest Gump and still be his wife ’til death do us part if I wanted, couldn’t I? (Though I fear getting through passport control could be a struggle.)
And that’s quite right. But, in my case, that is precisely why I am changing. Because I want to and, as a wise friend gently reminded me, feminism is about women deciding what happens to them so I won’t be kicked out of the club just yet.
And anyway, I think it’s worth changing, if only for the anecdotes I’ll gather during the process. If my experience as a Reeve is anything to go by, I’ve got some interesting post coming my way.