Should you change your surname when married? Meet the people challenging tradition

Marriage is often viewed as the ultimate declaration of love.

But, beyond the pomp and ceremony of a wedding – it can also bring with it a lot of bureaucracy.

Endless email exchanges, phone calls, forms and of course, the small decision of either taking your partner’s name or rejecting tradition and keeping your own.

Or in the case of Alex Funnel and Samantha Daniels – rewriting tradition.

  • Alex Funnel and Samantha Daniels

Alex and Samantha have been together for seven years. Credit: ITV News

The London couple married in August 2018 and opted for a new, more nautical surname and chose the name of their boat, Portfelix.

Samantha told ITV News they always knew they would choose something different, saying: “We thought about changing our name to something our own quite early on”

She added: “We were playing with the idea of like changing, me changing my name to Alex's original name and maybe Alex changing his name to mine but it didn't really seem to stick.”

The couple have been together for seven years and living on their boat for the last three years.

Alex said: “It just felt really nice to call ourselves the name of our boat because it's something that we've done together which has been really great for us.”

The couple have lived on Portfelix for three years. Credit: ITV News

Both Alex and Samantha avoided tradition as they felt women are often expected to make the change.

Samantha said: “If you want to change your name to something else it's the same process, it's the same outcome, why can't you just write 'this is my new name' and then have it on your certificate or something if you get married?”

Their switch to a different surname was a joint decision to avoid unfairness.

She continued: “I guess changing our name is a mark of equality between us because we changed our name together and it was more where we're both from.”

However, the process of getting a new name officially changed was "a bit of hassle" for Samantha who is Australian.

Changing your name by deed poll in the UK cost only £15 but adding two lots of Samantha's passports to the list of things to change made it more difficult.

The couple and their cat will be joined by a baby Portfelix very soon. Credit: ITV News

The decision was made easier for Alex, who has been estranged from his father for years, and has not felt attached to his maiden name.

“It's quite nice to start our own family name,” he said.

And the family name will continue as they are expecting a little Portfelix later this year.

They revealed that they would be open to their child changing their name if they weren't happy with it.

“I guess we can have no argument with that, it may not feel like anything they feel particularly linked to, they may have a different reason to change their name and our name's for our family now.”

  • Joanna Lovell

Joanna with her two children. Credit: Joanna Lovell

With two small children together, Joanna Lovell adopted her ex's surname to stop people from asking “Can I just check you're their mum?” whenever she tried to take them on holiday.

“When you go somewhere with the same surname, you're never asked that question,” she told ITV News.

Believing that her son and daughter resemble their dad with their darker features made simple things like visiting the doctor's “an absolute nightmare” under her maiden name 'Hunter' a problem.

And she was relieved when her ex-partner didn't query her decision five years ago.

She said: “I didn't ask his permission because to me it's my children's name.”

Joanna Lovell's family on holiday in Florida. Credit: Joanna Lovell

Now Joanna's ex-partner has married she understands that not everyone agrees with her choice.

Joanna admitted: “Family members completely understand it, it's other people who find it strange.

“I think people think I'm clinging on to my ex, but it was just so that I had the same name as my children.”

The decision wasn't taken lightly as Joanna initially kept her maiden name for professional reasons.

“I was attached to my maiden name, Hunter was a really easy name to understand and it sounds good as a journalist”, she confessed.

“Losing it was very hard because of work.”

  • Dr Karen Anthony

Dr Karen Anthony has kept her maiden name. Credit: Dr Karen Anthony

Senior Lecturer at the University of Northampton Dr Karen Anthony still uses her maiden name to keep track of her achievements.

She told ITV News: “The complication I came across was that I've published work under my maiden name and it can be quite difficult to trace work to one person.

“Double barrelling your name doesn't solve the issue either.”

Psychologists at Cornell University have found that people are more than twice as likely to call male professionals by their surname than women, contributing to a gender bias in professions like Dr Anthony's.

With most of her female colleagues going down the same route, she didn't think twice about sticking with 'Anthony' at work.

Outside the office, however, she chooses to go by her husband's surname 'Holmes'.

Married for eight years and with two children, she felt strongly about her family keeping one name: “It's a personal choice, I'm quite traditional and I like the idea of the household having the same name.”

But, she believes there needs to be a culture change in the approach to women with titles.

“Quite often I find students have no problem with calling me 'Miss' not 'Doctor.'”

“I think there's a cultural aspect in some respect, there's an assumption,” she added.

  • Mike Jones

Mike got married in 2016 and it came with a surname change. Credit: Mike Jones

Mike Jones - formerly Paul-Smith - was less keen to keep his surname.

He became fed up with people mishearing the double barrelled mouthful, so when got married in 2016 he made the decision to ditch it.

“It was completely my decision to take my wife's surname which is 'Jones',” he told ITV News.

A recent report from the University of Nevada has revealed that men who take their wife's surname are seen as having less power in their relationship.

This wasn't an issue for Mike, who said: “I can't lie and say I took it purely for feminist reasons because I wanted to change my name anyway, but I don't feel emasculated as some people would think.”

The name change has received a positive response from friends and family. Credit: Mike Jones

He described the process of changing his passport and driver's license as surprisingly simple.

But to his shock, his bank of around six years struggled to accept that a man had a maiden name on their forms.

“Apart from that loads of people have said really nice things about it, everyone's been really positive,” he added.

The warm response from friends and family has meant that he doesn't plan to change it anytime soon.