Take his name? No! Why meshing is the mark of a modern marriage

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Meet the Marwoods, formerly known as Tom Ward and Laura Moorwood, who married each other on September 10 and merged their surnames - Christophe Bourgeois
Meet the Marwoods, formerly known as Tom Ward and Laura Moorwood, who married each other on September 10 and merged their surnames - Christophe Bourgeois

Double-barrelled surnames have long been the solution for many couples who do not want to give up the names they have had since birth.

For some, a surname can be the most lasting connection you can have to sometimes centuries of family history, and giving it up can be hard.

But in recent years “meshing”, or blending surnames, has become the new way for newlyweds to get around the thorny issue of “What do we call our family?”

Research shared with The Telegraph has found that there has been a substantial increase in the past two years in couples looking to combine their names into a new surname.

Despite some 80 per cent of people sticking to the “traditional” route of taking your spouse’s name, it is becoming less entrenched as the only choice facing women and their families, according to NameSwitch.

Meshing takes up seven times the proportion of enquiries that NameSwitch deals with compared with two years ago.

There are no set rules on how to do it, and it largely depends on what “sounds right” for couples.

There are no set rules on meshing. Just ask Dawn Porter, who added the ‘O’ from Chris O’Dowd, her husband, to her surname to call herself Dawn O’Porter - Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
There are no set rules on meshing. Just ask Dawn Porter, who added the ‘O’ from Chris O’Dowd, her husband, to her surname to call herself Dawn O’Porter - Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

For example, Dawn Porter, the TV personality and author, simply took the “O” from her husband, actor Chris O’Dowd’s name, to become Dawn O’Porter.

Others have taken a more substantial approach. Laura Wardwood, 28, told The Telegraph of how she decided to blend her maiden name of Moorwood and her husband Tom’s surname of Ward after they got married on September 10.

“I really resented the idea of having to take Tom’s name,” she said. “Tom really didn’t want to take my name, to give him up to him would have been a real loss of identity.

“It’s something that we can do together. We’re kind of starting your own clan, and luckily for us, it worked quite well.

“I didn’t want to be in the position where if we were to get divorced and we did have kids, and suddenly there’s a crisis of identity of ‘Oh, that name doesn’t belong to me anymore’.

“If the worst were to happen, it’s a name that belongs to both of us and a name that belongs to our kids.”

Daring to go against tradition

Cécile Mazuet, the founder and managing director of NameSwitch, said: “Perhaps the underlying reason is one of equality. Couples are more open minded or daring to go against tradition and do things their way.

“They are also more informed that there are choices out there and varying different combinations to embark on their new team name. And I suspect that they are being inspired by each other as friendship groups/age bands tend to get married in batches.

“Children are a big driver and consideration for name changing – the ’team’ name is a major consolation factor.

“Some women only embark on a name change many years after marriage due to the impending arrival of a newborn. Same goes for couples who choose to double barrel or ‘mesh’ further down the line in time for the arrival of a newborn.”

Laura Wardwood said blending her surname with Tom’s was like ‘starting your own clan’ - Christophe Bourgeois
Laura Wardwood said blending her surname with Tom’s was like ‘starting your own clan’ - Christophe Bourgeois

Double-barrelled names remain popular, and are steadily becoming increasingly so, according to experts. Data from NameSwitch shows that it takes up twice the percentage of cases than it did two years ago.

But further barreling remains extremely rare, with triple or quadruple surnames with the Deed Poll Office telling the Telegraph that they are “statistically negligible”.

Ms Mazuet said: “Triple or quadruple barreling is extremely rare in this country. They’re usually reserved for high society. We’ve had the odd triple barrel but never a quadruple.

“It is also not very practical if the surname is too long. It won’t fit onto a passport or drivers licence.”

Most marriages which involve a change of name are dealt with on the marriage certificate, such as a wife taking her husband’s name or both double-barrelling their name.

For meshing, and some double-barrelling, couples have to go through Deed Poll.

A spokesman for the Deed Poll Office said: “One very common thing is supposing the husband has got a double barrel name, and the wife has got a single-barreled name. They might decide to do a double-barreled name taking part of the husband’s name and part of the wife’s name.

“Often a wife has been previously married. So she’s already got a double-barreled name. She wants to get rid of her ex-husband’s part and keep her maiden name.”

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