It’s impossible to ever forget about the life-changing event (aka wedding) taking place for me very soon (especially when I am asked almost daily how the preparations are going). But every now and then, I have a sudden ‘Oh My Gosh!’ moment where it really hits me just how close and how real it all is. An example was the other day when a friend greeted me as ‘Miss Brotherton’ before playfully adding ‘but not for long’. Realising that she was right (yes, I will be changing my name once married), I suddenly felt as though I should be making the most of the short amount of time I have left to use my surname… like taking the opportunity to announce my full name each time I answer the phone at work or somehow savouring those moments when I have to write my signature.
I read somewhere that 82% of newlyweds change their name and that 20% of brides admit to feeling nervous about the name-changing process. I would have to say that I can relate. One reason is for the simple fact that I hate paperwork. Unfortunately, the numerous forms of identification and membership cards in my wallet don’t automatically change the instant that I become Mrs Toutounji. It seems that the list of people to inform of my new name and address might be considerable. There are of course the bigger ones like my drivers licence, passport, Medicare, ATO, bank accounts, health insurance, phone company, electoral roll, etc. but there are also many others like email addresses, business cards, club memberships and magazine subscriptions, not to mention my discount card at the local coffee shop! And then I won’t even begin to tell you how ridiculously unnatural and clumsy I have felt in my few attempts to practice my new signature. With all that effort, it’s no wonder some women decide not to change their name!
However, the main cause of any uneasiness ties in with the sense of personal identity and familiarity I have with the name ‘Jane Brotherton’. While my name is merely a grouping of letters arranged in a particular order, it is something that is very personal. It is what I use to represent myself to the world and it connects me to my family and my past. The idea of deviating from something which has served me well for my entire existence is a bit daunting. Even though the event leading to the changing of my name will be surrounded by so much excitement and joy, I won’t deny that I do feel a tinge of sadness knowing that the event will also mark the end of an era.
I cannot help but recall the moment in the film Father of the Bride when the father realises that his little girl has grown up and how things will be different from now on. No longer will he see her sitting at the breakfast table in her dressing gown and slippers. No longer will he see her each night when she comes home from work. And no longer will he be the man in her life who is her sole provider and protector. Ahhh bring out the tissues!
I am (perhaps overly) aware that when I walk out my front door on December 29, it will be for the last time as Jane Brotherton. And when I walk down the aisle and let go of my father’s arm, it will indicate the end of one era and the start of another. However, despite my attachment to my own surname, I believe that by taking on Bernard’s name, I am embracing the role that he will play in my life from now on. Furthermore, sharing a surname is a symbol of the new family that Bernard and I will form when we become husband and wife. This is indeed worth all the effort and something to be thankful for.
At the end of the day, I choose to look at change as an inevitable part of life – something which usually carries a certain element of discomfort, but which is always brimming with potential. I love the quote ‘if there was no change in the world, there would be no butterflies’. I see preparing for marriage as the period in my life where I am emerging from my cocoon. Without going through the uncomfortable process of moving out of home and changing my address, marital status and name, I would miss out on the opportunity to spread my wings and experience all the beautiful things that starting a new life with Bernard will undoubtedly bring.