When my mother got married (1965), the woman took the man's surname in the UK - that happened more or less 100% of the time - give or take the odd film star. When I got married in 1991, again it was more or less just what you did. By 1998, when Amanda and Derek got married I did hear the odd friend question 'are you going to change your name'? And now in 2008, I have several friends sporting different names from their husbands. Some kept their maiden names, some even kept their first married name though they are on their second marriage. I began to wonder what was changing. At first I wondered if it was simply a feminist thing but although I think that does come in to play, I believe hassle and, to a lesser degree, expense are the real reason fewer and fewer women are changing their names.
I decided to change back to my maiden name before I had Anna because I wanted her to be allowed Buchanan as a surname, rather than a meaningless middle name. Firstly that meant paying about £80 for deed poll documents (obviously this isn't an expense you incur if you change your name on marriage) but I then got the list of who all you had to inform of your name change: employer, tax office, HM land registry, electoral register, TV licensing office, Internet service provider, pension company, all your insurance companies, doctor, dentist, bank account, savings accounts, credit card accounts, council tax, anyone you hold a loan with, mortgage lender, DVLA, passport office, EHIC office, and many more - the list is endless! In my case, because I have kids I needed to add child benefit office, schools, etcetc.
After you have written to all 40 or more addresses providing documents to prove your change of name, obviously you can't do this simultaneously as many don't accept copies of documents but want to see your original marriage certificate, deed poll, or divorce certificate so the process drags on months. For 6 months you operate under two names - you have problems getting loans because one of your names doesn't have a credit rating and they aren't yet fully linked and so the hassles go on. Your credit card has one name, your passport another so Ryanair has a nervous breakdown when you turn up to board a weekend flight to Paris or wherever.
You also have personal eaccounts - like my blog, email and flickr are all under the surname Gautier. Sure I can create a new email address in 5 minutes but I then have to tell all 113 people in my contacts list about it, I use my email as my login for Blogger, Flickr, Amazon, Nisbets and 100 other online shops so I need to change all these too. I could create a new flickr and then spend a year moving over all 6000+ photos, I could create a new blog address and everyone would assume I'd just stopped blogging as nothing new would appear on the old one (hence the 3 things I have resigned myself to not changing are my email, flickr and blogger accounts).
The expense factor for me (over and above the deed poll) is the passport. I had a new Gautier one in 2005 which cost me £72, they simply bin it and ask you for another £72 for a Buchanan passport. And if Thomas and I marry when my divorce comes through this year then I need to pay another £72 for a Widmann passport if I change my name - £216 in passport in 3 years - madness.
In my mum's day you married young, before you had a dozen credit cards, a mortgage, a driving license etc. Changing your name was a minor 2 week hassle. Nowadays, I believe we are going to see a rapid increase in women not changing their name on marriage because of the major headache it causes. It will be interesting to see if we then introduce a centralised system as in Denmark where you only inform one address of a name change and they inform everyone else or if the trend continues.