depending on if you are the person wearing 'mosquito net over the face' on that special and magical day of a lifetime, will probably mean some (strong) feelings about how you will sign your cheques "from this day forward"- and they will more than likely differ from your new mr wonderful's.
"hairy feminist with a sterling silver axe to grind over anyone who dares hold the door open for her" issues aside, the name changing (at least from my sample of double degreed 30 year olds with their own mortgages) is more closely linked to issues of identity- or loss, thereof. granted we are not 17, living in tiny villages in the 1800's (or parts of pennsylvania and utah in 2007) where the entire life goal is to get married, bake cakes, darn a few dozen children, make jam, and quilt a seasonal vegetable patch for canning during the hard winter freeze. instead we get an education, join the workforce, wear heels (ok, not me), wax (yeah, still not me), and practice yoga (over my dead and limp supine body), while balancing a non fat venti-o-latta in one hand and a hot pink razor phone in the other french manicured mitt. although that sounds more like an identity nightmare.
and get married. yes, there is just something about that darn "happily ever after" amphetamine of a mosquito net that draws our tremoring hands to the martha stewart wedding magazine racks at kroger.
"mrs" now has the dual role of separating and joining. a name is a statement about who you are (were) and where you are (were) from. "q" names with a lot of apostrophes connotate a different demographic to being named after a piece of fruit, or a saint. but these are chosen. the last name is given; it provides a 'once upon a time'.
so the adolescent cry of losing identity is a legitimate one. my last name denotes my heritage; where i'm from--which is particularly relevant because i'm still not really sure how to answer that question (except: "not australia"). it's a great conversation starter for the socially nascent. finally, several helpings of humiliation have been dished out to me over the years because of both my surname (thanks dad) and my first name (thanks mum) in case i married someone with a "boring" (one syllable and no w/x/y/z's) last name. i had to learn to spell it. i have endured it. now it is MY war wound. like the faded scar on my left knee, it has become part of me; who i am. or was at that time. no longer is there the same concrete identification with the family of origin (short genes, flat feet, myopia); my parent's daughter.
it is hard to get used to change; to try on a new way of being. of course i am undoubtedly practiced in the fine art of "adjusting to".