What wedding traditions are worth keeping

Then what's your name after the wedding?

For the musician Sabrina Reheis-Rainer it was always clear: she would take her husband's name after the wedding. As the big day drew near, she had doubts. "My name is part of my identity for me," she said. And decided on a double name.

Couples are spoiled for choice at the registry office today: his name, her name, a double name - or both keep their own name. At least in theory. Because most still choose the traditional way: the woman takes the name of the man. In Germany, according to a study, three quarters of couples made this decision in 2018; there are no exact figures for Austria, but it should be similar.

Political dimension

But why do so many women give up their names? At a time when equality is much more advanced in other areas? "Because that's how it has always been done," says the German historian Uta C. Schmidt. Choosing a name is a personal decision that has to be right for both of you - and yet there is more to it than that. "It also has a political dimension," says Schmidt. Equality begins in the four walls. In the past, explains the political scientist Heike Mauer, the man in the family was the decision-maker, the woman was dependent on him. His last name made her one with him. Although this is out of date today, it still has some effects.

"A change of name is more reasonable for women," says a commentary on the German civil code from 1976. The reason: women are often in lower positions at work and are responsible for looking after children in any case. It was a similar story in Austria. It was not until the mid-1970s that the woman's name could be used as a family name. Since the changes to naming law in 1995 and 2013, there are more options. It has only been possible for both partners to have a double name for six years.

Against tradition

Even if the legal path is clear: Society does not yet seem quite ready for it. Couples who decide against tradition have difficulty in explaining. According to a US study, women who keep their names are considered self-centered. And their husbands are perceived as more unmanly because they could not assert themselves against the wife. The decision is often also a concern for the relatives. Popular questions: Why so complicated? Don't you want to show that you belong together? Do you not think of the children? Often the children are actually an argument for the couples. Many dread the idea that the family does not have a common name.

Despite all prophecies of doom, something seems to be moving. More and more women keep their names - for professional reasons or because they see it as part of their identity. "Keeping the family name is becoming more popular," says registrar Johann Fally. According to US studies, same-sex couples - who have the same rights in Austria when it comes to naming them - also opt for this variant.

The fact is: Couples are thinking more about what their name will be after the wedding. And if you can't come to an agreement, do it like Anna and Bernhard Schön (see below) - and looks for a new name. (Franziska Zoidl, Bernadette Redl, May 25, 2019)

Both kept their names: Olivia Päcklar and Christian Grüneis

Double name: Sabrina Reheis-Rainer and Martin Rainer

Her name: Katharina and Christian Scheuchenegger

Both kept their names: Max Mayerhofer and Philipp Kiessling

His name: Alexandra and Robert Hahnenkamp

New name: Anna and Bernhard Schön