What's In A Married Name?

The question of post marriage name changes can be a touchy one.

The social, professional, and political implications and ramifications of WHATEVER name choice you make are complicated and are only exacerbated by the many emotions tied to family names.

I'm not changing my name when Joel and I get married in June, and here's how that happened.

Objectively, I loathe the gender inequality that's been so entrenched in post-marriage name change in American culture (and others) where we all expect that in an opposite sex marriage the woman will take the man's name.
To me it feels too much like the old Coverture Laws that stripped women of their legal status as people.
When a woman married, she no longer had any individual rights- she couldn't own property, sign contracts, or retain wages from work she did, among other things.
When I think about how relatively recently those laws were changed, it makes my skin crawl.
While I genuinely adore the family I'm marrying into (and actually really like the way "Caroline Rice" sounds) I couldn't reconcile the idea of letting part of my identity be subsumed by my husband's- no matter how much I love him and the family his name represents. They have a great family name...it's just not my name.

**I want to be super clear at this point that I absolutely NEVER judge women who DO take their husband/partner's name after marriage- my mom did and as a result I have a last name that I love. Tons of women I respect and adore and admire have taken their husband's last name as their own for any number of reasons and I love it for them.
I'll be the first one to get you a gift monogrammed with your new initials.
You do you, girlfriend!
It just wasn't the right choice for me in this situation.**

The next logical step was to consider a hyphenated name.
Bright-Rice sounds (to me) like some kind of genetically modified type of grain designed to be a high yield crop. I also don't love how bulky a double barreled last name can be, and how a hyphen can complicate forms and documents. I also considered adding another last name and becoming Caroline Bright Rice or Caroline Rice Bright. Those still felt uncomfortable.

So the solution that I settled on that felt the most fair was to create a hybrid name that Joel and I could both switch to: Brice, or (MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE) Right.
The problem with this is that it didn't feel "right" to Joel.
The idea of making up a new last name felt absolutely bizarre to him.
We debated both taking an older family name from his family or from mine. We considered looking through genealogies to see if we might have a name that overlapped in our families somewhere. We literally spent MONTHS discussing options.

But wait, didn't we just consider both keeping our names the way they are?
Well, of course we did.

It's no secret that Joel and I want to build a family together after we're married (no matter how we assemble it) and I feel strongly that while our kids are minors, I wanted them to have the same last name that I do.
Countless situations in my life (school registrations, international travel, medical appointments) were simplified because I had the same last name as both of my parents, especially my mom, even after my parents divorced.
In official situations it's easier to get recognized as a family if you all have the same last name- that's how our culture is set up.
I also like the symbolism of being the XYZ Family. For us, marriage is about creating a new family unit, and it was really important to me that a last name reflect that unit status.
Like, REALLY important to me.

Now, in the middle of all of this, I started researching post-marriage name change laws for men in the United States.
In theory, men should have the same post marriage name change process as women if they want to switch things up after they get hitched.
Again, there's a big HOWEVER here.

I discovered that in a lot of states, men are treated unfairly under the law if they want to change their last name upon marriage. They often have to go through a prohibitively expensive court process to make that happen.
That's straight up gender discrimination, y'all.

California's Name Equality Act of 2007  made things fair in California,  but very few states have an equivalent, which blew my mind because solving this is SUCH a simple thing. You just add a spot for "Name after marriage" to a marriage license application, and then the marriage certificate is printed with the full (new) names of both of the spouses on it.
It could be Taylor Smith and Jamie Doe. Taylor Smith-Doe and Jamie Doe. Taylor Smith-Doe and Jamie Smith-Doe. Taylor Smoe and Jamie Smoe.

When I found out that Pennsylvania has no equivalent to California's law, I raced upstairs and told (yelled to) Joel "YOU MAY NOT END UP CHANGING YOUR NAME BUT I AM GOING TO FIX THIS AND MAKE IT FAIR".

So long story short, I did some things and now there's a bill being introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature to make post marriage name changes fair (and hopefully simple and inexpensive) for everyone regardless of their gender.

The bill won't become a law in time to solve this challenge for us, but it will make things easier for other couples down the road.

So what did we decide to do?
Well, Joel made a choice and I'm getting used to it.

Let me share part of the FAQs page from our wedding website with you:

Yes folks, it's true: Joel will be taking my last name after we get married. 

The most interesting part of this decision for me hasn't been the confused/skeptical reactions (and there have been some- mostly not in front of us, thank goodness) but rather how COMPLETELY WEIRD I actually feel about Joel becoming Joel Rice-Bright legally and Joel Bright socially.

I've been totally shocked by my own discomfort about it- and I'm DEEPLY uncomfortable with what that says about my own internalized misogyny/ the patriarchy.

The more time I spend with the idea of "Caroline and Joel Bright", the more I love it and respect Joel's unexpected decision. I love what it says about his beliefs, his priorities, and what he wants for our future- not to mention how attractive it is that he's that secure in his masculinity.
When a man makes a choice that's committed to moving equality forward in defiance of gender norms?
Oh yes PLEASE.

So that's where we are and what our plan is.
This is what works for us and is in ABSOLUTELY NO WAY any kind of judgement on the choices you might have made or will make someday.
People should be free to make whatever choices they want to- do what works for you!

I'm So Into It: March 12, 2019

The Ides of March are almost upon us, and here's what I'm digging this week: 

1. Rent the Runway Unlimited

Y'allllllllll. This has been a GAME CHANGER.

2019 is one of those years where EVERYONE I know is getting married/having a baby/turning 30... and that all adds up to a LOT of parties. A lot of parties where I need to look cute.
Since my usual fashion aesthetic runs more towards oversized flannel shirts and leggings these days, I knew I needed a little assist in the fashion arena.
Enter Unlimited.
I've been enthusiastic about RTR for years and years, but even so I was skeptical about trying out this "unlimited" concept for a monthly fee.
I've swapped shirts, pants, earrings, dresses, and bags in and out over the last month and it's been fantastic. One of the perks that I didn't fully realize was being able to purchase items you love at a steep discount... so now when you don't want to give something back, you can just buy it instead of pining after it forever!

Click this link for a Rent the Runway discount: https://rtr.app.link/e/j3LCMB6jTU

2. Jouer Long Wear Lip Cream

I wore this for our engagement photos and it was a gosh darned delight.

3. Sabbatical Beauty Asian Powerhouse Serum

I absolutely love the concept behind this skincare company- and I adore that they're local to Philly!
That said, for me the most important issue with skin care products is how well they work- and this serum is impressively effective. It's officially become a critical part of my daily routine.

4. iPad Pro + Apple Pencil

I'm starting work on a Master's Degree later this year (SURPRISE. Don't worry- more to come on THAT later.) and I've been considering the best way to take notes/ study/ turn in assignments when I'm on the road for work.
That led to research into paperless note taking, which led to watching a ton of YouTube videos, which led to me seriously considering buying a new iPad- something I hadn't done in about six years.
Then my girl Carly came out with this post  and I decided it was time to give it a shot.

I have been truly shocked by the way the Apple Pencil has transformed my iPad use for the better. I've been able to use various apps to get creative and make neat graphics- it's also allowed me to create designs that previously lived only in my head...and now I have an Etsy Store!

5. Metal straws

Look, we use too much plastic. It's a huge problem.
 One way of reducing my plastic use has involved switching from single use disposable plastic straws to metal reusable straws.
Two additional perks: these copper straws are pretty and I don't worry about weird chemicals when I'm drinking a hot beverage (i.e. coffee) through one of them.
That said, I want to voice my opposition to the broad banning of plastic straws.
I love sea turtles just as much as the next person, but there are some people who NEED to have plastic straws available.
The availability of plastics straws is an accessibility issue for many people with disabilities.
This video explains it far more thoroughly than I ever could: