Marriage is a funny thing. You start a new family as a combination of two already established families. You're creating something new, yet carrying with you all of the history that came before you. In the middle of planning all of the food, seating charts and music options, there was this one big decision that kept bothering us. After the big party was over, and our focus turns to the real reason for this wedding - our marriage - how would we define ourselves?
What would we use as our last name? Would we be keeping our names? Taking a new name? This is our opportunity to define our new family that we'll be creating on September 5th. There aren't many times in your life where you can define who you are or who you want to be so clearly, but this is definitely one of them.
Tom and I spent a lot of time researching options, reading articles people had written, talking to married couples and getting their advice. Not sure what we wanted to do, the first thing we did was write down all possible options:
- Neither of us change our last names. I stay Lowell and Tom stays Oppedisano.
- I change my last name to Oppedisano
- Tom changes his last name to Lowell
- We keep both names, either hyphenating or having two last names: Lowell-Oppedisano, Oppedisano-Lowell, Oppedisano Lowell, etc
- We find a way to combine our last names. Losano, Lowped, Lopped, Oppwell
- We pick a new last name. Either that means something to us or pick a family name from one of our family trees
- We use Tom's first name (Edward) that he doesn't use anyway and become the Edwards
For a while I was leaning towards option #1, and assumed that's where we'd end up. These were our names, we might as well keep them right? However, we realized it wasn't really making a decision so much as it was putting off a decision. It might solve things for now, but we'd have to make this decision all over again if/when we ever decided to have children. Which last name would they have? Lowell? Oppedisano? Neither of them felt right. I grew up with a different last name from my mom, and it never felt fair. Why didn't my mom get a claim on me? She was just as much my parent as my dad. We decided that whatever decision we ended with, we'd like to have one family name.
With that in mind, we looked at options #2 and #3. Certainly most people would be expecting that we do #2. However, neither of them felt right for us. Either one would require one of us to change the name that had been our identity for 30 years, while the other one wouldn't have to do anything. We decided that in addition to having one family name, we also wanted our decision to be an all or nothing thing. Either we both changed our names, or neither of us did.
For a while we considered option #4. It would give us one family name, and we'd both change our name to hyphenate it. Unfortunately, it would also leave us with a really long and clunky name that wouldn't fit on a MA license. Eventually we decided that we didn't like the length, how it sounded, or the feel of it. It still felt like two pieces, instead of one whole entity.
A few of you know that we tried to combine our names for a while, but we couldn't find something that sounded right to us. I also tried to convince Tom to become the Edwards for a while, but he decided that seemed too much like I was just taking his name, which he didn't want, and we needed something that was more a combination of both of us.
In the end we decided on a hybrid of #5 and #6. We decided that we wanted to start our family with a real mix of each of us. So we turned to our family trees and went looking for a branch that we felt attached to or wasn't currently represented in our extended cousins.
Although you'd never know it to look at him, Tom is a quarter Norwegian! Many Scandinavian countries created last names by adding 'son' or 'sen' to the end of the father's name. Looking at Tom's family tree on his mother's side, this is very obvious. Classon, Nelson, Elefson... so we decided we'd stick to the tradition and add a 'son' on the end of our name.
From my family tree, we picked Spear from my maternal grandmother's grandmother Lizzie Jane Spear.
Anyway, that was a long explanation for why on our wedding day, you will be there to celebrate our marriage and the creation of The Spearsons! Mr. and Mrs. Spearson. Caitlin and Tom Spearson. Caitlin Spearson, Tom Spearson. Just never call us Mr. and Mrs. Tom Spearson because that won't fly with us :)
We understand that it might take some getting used to, but so would Caitlin Oppedisano or Tom Lowell if we had gone down that path. We also get that this might not be the choice that you fully understand or would want for us, but please trust us that we've put a lot of thought into this, and that it's right for us. Eventually we'll just be the Spearsons and it will just fit. We appreciate your support!!