Bride Rages When Macy Won’t Let Her Keep Her Surname

Colleen G. is getting married and so yet another beautiful Consumerist reader becomes immune to my lascivious advances forever. Congratulations, Colleen… you tramp! No, just kidding — really, our most hearty congratulations, even if you have gouged one of those stiletto heels I like to imagine you wear through my heart.

But after signing up with numerous companies’ wedding registry services, Colleen’s noticed a trend that irks her: they always assume she’s taking her husband’s name. She’s not. She equates the assumption that she will take her husband’s last name to be bordering on the misogynist.

Our bet is basically that it’s not a calculated slight, or even misogynistic… it’s just companies being lazy. I’m personally not entirely sure it’s worth getting pissed over — after all, the rampant accumulation of outlandishly priced material goods is the real point of a wedding registry. They can slap “Mr. and Mrs. Asshole” on the label as long as me and my bride get our swag, as far as I’m concerned. But then again, I’m a guy, and don’t have to deal with the petty misogynistic persecutions of a male-dominated society. And really — is it so hard for these companies to add a tick box to indicate that a bride is keeping her name on their forms?

Colleen’s great email is after the jump

You know what really grinds my gears, Consumerist? What grinds my gears is all the presumptions people make about you when you are getting married. Obviously there is the white dress and the minister and cake and all of that — none of which we are having. The biggest one is that the bride will change her last name.

Of course, 90% of women do change their names after getting hitched. I am not one of them. I don’t care if anyone else changes their name, in fact I think it is a sweet gesture, but it’s not for me.

There are a lot of reasons why I’m not changing my name. They range from the selfish (my partner’s last name in unpronounceable and unspellable) to the feminist (I do not automatically become his property), but it ultimately boils down to the answer that Steve gives people when they ask why I am not changing my name: “It’s her name.”

I have resigned myself to being defensive about the name change. I don’t have to say anything except, “It’s my name, and I don’t want to change it.” If pressed, I say, “Family isn’t defined by last name and neither is devotion.” There isn’t anything more to say, and I’m at peace with this decision.

So, dear Consumerist, we recently registered for wedding gifts. Two weeks ago, I got the first shower gift from one of our registries, Bed Bath and Beyond. It was addressed to “Colleen G. and Steve R.” Today I received the first shower gift from the other registry, at Marshall Field’s, which will soon be Macy’s, and it was addressed to “Colleen and Steve R.”

I’m pissed.

Not only are we not married yet, but the presumption that I am taking my partner’s name upon marriage is both wrong and a big leap for a company to take. Does Marshall Field’s/Macy’s as an institution not recognize that we have different last names? The shipping address is “Colleen G. and Steve R.” and so is the billing address. Apparently someone coded their database to automatically put the groom’s last name on the package. While I’m sure some brides are delighted to see their “new name” on a package full of kitchen implements, I’m not one of them.

This is lumped in with all those other wedding things that I find extremely offensive, like the Bedazzled tank top that says in pink script, “Future Mrs. Groom’s Name,” or the bouquet toss or, for fuck’s sake, the whole handover of the woman from her father to her husband at the altar. I have stopped being pissed about these things because it’s a losing battle. But this thing with the registry, it’s got to stop.

I wrote a letter to Marshall Field’s a few minutes ago. I didn’t threaten to un-register for gifts (which could cost them more than $4,000 in sure-fire, no-hassle sales), but I did mention that I was sad, confused and offended. I also asked them: What do they do with homosexual couples? Or couples who will combine their names after marriage? Or is everyone who registers there a white dress-wearing, garter-dancing, Best Day Of Her Life-ing girl?

If you follow the Bridal Industrial Complex’s rules, this is supposed to be My Day. So why are they not following my stupid fucking shipping instructions?

Any ideas, Consumerist? My gears are so ground by this, I have to go to the machine shop on Monday.

UPDATE: “Dearest Consumerist,

Thanks for posting my email! It excites me to no end, and by that I mean I linked to the article on my blog and all my internet friends will think I am famous.

Something I neglected to say, in my long-winded attempt at charming your pants off while expressing feminist rage while still being funny, is that while registering we gave Marshall Field’s specific shipping instructions — just my name, actually — that they overrode. Which is really why I wrote to you in the first place.

Yours in stilettos and Calphalon,
Colleen”

Comments

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    Yeah, um, i really, really don’t care. At least you can get married. Nobody’s got a check box for Mr. and Mr. anything. Companies are right to save space on their forms and their systems by assuming (90% of women change their name, it’s a safe bet) that women will change their name upon marriage. It’s part of the ceremony, part of the ritual. When they open that up so that any who wants to can marry whom they love, come back and complain about the forms not fitting your particular version of marriage.

  2. Diane Ensey says:

    Wow – I can only assume that she is in the middle of a full-fledged bride-to-be emotional storm. Shake it off, honey. It’s just not that important.

  3. Mary Marsala With Fries says:

    Yes, it’s a small complaint, but that doesn’t make it nonexistent or an unworthy point. Companies ARE being rude when they crassly assume things about their customers’ private lives, and people should keep complaining so they stop. If the checkboxes at Macy’s in some way assumed that the couple was white and Christian, would *that* be okay? And why don’t they do it? Because people complained. Women have been complaining a lot longer than gays, but in my opinion their relative gains are still pretty small.

    Or you could think about it this way: When the religio-moronic slice of the electorate finally loses its status as Minority Tyrant of Social Codes, and legislators are finally forced to listen to those who patiently insist that marriage, being a *civil* arrangement, must be available equally to every consenting adult, Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith won’t have to worry about any stupid traditions that the “bottom” should change his name, because us women will have shot it down already. You’re welcome.

  4. Erzengel says:

    Any ideas? i have one: Calm Down.
    You have the rigth to keep your name, you dont have to explain us why, as you said, its your name.
    But dear, you just said it, you belong to a very small-almost-exclusive club. You cant expect the world to rise and shine just for you, and just to your choices. Yes, the companies are wrong, but think again, they are not “institutions”, they are business, and as a business, they only care about what people want most.
    If only 5% of populations likes a certain kind of product, they stop selling it, because they want to reach the other 95%, its all about money.
    Of course, if they want your money, they MUST do things your way, now go and tell them just that, plain and simple, in black and white. They dont care about your feelings, or if its “your day”, they just want your money, so, make them work for it.
    But again, calm down, you are just getting married. May my best wishes go with you and Mr RightOne.
    Keep in mind, things like this are going to keep happening over the years, probably it will get better with time, but you have to calm down, and tell them exactly what you want for your money, plain and simple.

  5. LTS! says:

    There is a point to be had here. I mean seriously, what the fuck is wrong with companies these days? I realize that 99.9% of the population is male or female, but why can’t I check other? It’s completely biased and prejudiced against us aliens who are asexual.

    Perhaps those religio-moronic politicians will give way to the uber-intelligent politicians who decide that rather than address every potential aspect of a state sanctioned marriage it would be easier to simply stop recognizing it. This covers male-male, female-female, male-female, adult-child, human-animal, and all other scenarios that you might come up with. Wouldn’t that be nice?

  6. Transuranic says:

    Colleen is right to be annoyed. She’s having to answer the same dumb-ass question OVER and OVER from her friends and now from a company, and hey – it’s HER wedding and HER swag – why can’t they change those two lines of code to accommodate for what is by now a pretty normal practice? Because they’re lazy and it’s already been hard-coded.

    I once was told (by Verizon if I recall) that since I had moved apartments, I couldn’t keep my same email address. I paid install fees again and everything, but they insisted that an email address was inextricably tied to an account (and therefore a physical address.) Just couldn’t convince them to give me my same damn email… I wasn’t going to lose sweet marriage bounty because of it, though.

    Oh, and what do they do with gay couples? Best case, they snicker and make dumb jokes. (“Why do they call ‘em butt pirates? Because they do it in the ARRRRRRRRse!” – Yep, that’s original material, please credit me when [sensitively] repeating. Thanks folks, I’m here all week.)

  7. Elvisisdead says:

    Well, and frankly, if you don’t like the web form or how you’re being treated, then don’t go there. Why would you want to shop anywhere that irritates you that much?

    Regarding your political rant: The simple fact of the matter is that even though you don’t like someone else’s opinion, it doesn’t make it any less valid than your own. Whoever’s on the opposite side of an issue from you has just as strong of an opinion. It’s not productive for the process to sink to calling people morons or tyrants simply because they pull more weight. Not right for them to do it or for you to do it.

    The extreme ends of any standard distribution are going to be oddballs. That’s a given. However, standing on one far end and pointing at people on the other end and calling them morons or tyrants is just narrow.

  8. billhelm says:

    jeez… is this really a big deal?

    if she really wants to be anti-traditional wedding then maybe she can skip the gift registries too.

  9. AcidReign says:

    …..This sounds more like incompetence at several levels, rather than any deliberate injustice. Macy’s is currently pushing a renewed emphasis on service and customer-satisfaction. They’ve always been pretty decent in that area, while you buy their pricy merchandise.

    …..If you go to the bridal department at night, or on a weekend, you’ll get a rushed, low-seniority salesperson who probably won’t know how to fix the issue. My advice is to find the time to visit the store in the morning on an early weekday, and get the 20-year veteran [she has the clout to set her own hours!] who knows the system backwards and forwards, and who can actually help you.

  10. One of the deciding factors behind my wife taking my last name was situations like this. As you said 90% of married women assume their husband’s last name, so for people to make that assumption about you is something you will encounter until death do you part…either take his last name or prepare for a lifetime of this sort of thing…

  11. any such name says:

    while i completely agree with colleen being irked by macy’s presumption, i’ve got to ask – colleen, why are you getting married? devotion is also not defined by marriage, either.

  12. Ben Popken says:

    Christian writes:

    “Hi -

    I just wanted to let you know that it’s not just wedding registries that companies fail to understand a woman’s right to change her name.

    My wife decided to keep her name too – for a number of reasons. One of which is that my LAST name is her brother’s FIRST name – and that would be completely incestuous and gross. Ew.

    At any rate, we’ve been married nine months so far, and we’ve noticed a lot of instances where companies don’t understand that she doesn’t have to change her last name – especially when we travel.

    - Airline’s computerized ticketing system always seats us apart. Granted, it’s probably to her benefit because I’m such a whiney little bitch when I fly – but whenever we ask to be seated next to each other, the gate attendant is usually stunned and doesn’t know why their system would seat married couples apart (usually accompanied by a “…I’ve never seen this happen to any other married couple…hmmmm.”)

    - Some hotels won’t let one of us sign statements, bills, or credit card receipts if it’s in the other’s name. If I’m at the hotel bar getting soused while my wife is at some conference, I want to be able to put the tab on our room bill – especially if it’s in her name.

    …and it goes on. Sometimes we feel like we should carry around wallet-sized copies of our marriage license because we run into this kind of thing enough.

    …just wanted to let you know.”

  13. Erzengel says:

    And you think this is a mess… wait untill u have kids… thenn is when the fun starts.

  14. Das Ubergeek says:

    First of all, we registered at Macy’s and I’m currently working on a time machine so I can go back and scream at myself, “DON’T DO IT YOU FOOL!” (amongst other things, there’s Macy’s East and Macy’s West and the inventory isn’t the same). Renewed customer service? I’ve never got anything but snobby service from Macy’s, East or West. I go to Bloomingdales when I need an anachronistic large-box shopping experience… the service is much better.

    Second, to the OP, you should probably at some point stop walking round with such a chip on your shoulder. I don’t see anywhere in your letter or your overblown political rant that you actually called them and asked them to fix it. Part of being a consumerist is actually striving to get your problem fixed, not just whining petulantly about how you’re not your husband’s property.

    Write to them. Call their head offices. Demand satisfaction… but do it calmly so you sound like a well-reasoned woman who knows what she wants and how to get it, rather than a hair-triggered hysterical freak.

    – Das Ubergeek, who took his wife’s name on certain things such as a Blockbuster membership

  15. gte910h says:

    Write them a leter if you want. Contact *them* somehow. If someone *asks* them to, they may very well support this feature.

    Besides, they didn’t put a lastname down for you at all. They could be attempting to dodge this bullet.

    The number of brides who think this is cool as can be and then go make them more money when they go to the registry and add stuff there completely outnumber militant women who get overly worked up about how a letter is addressed to you.

    There are women who are *very* forceful that they are Mrs, not Ms. I’m sure if they used the maiden name of the woman, they would get *many* more complaints.

    There is not a standard solution they can make do that will make everyone happy. They know you’re not property. You just need to be nice enough to them to get them to put in the feature request to their web team. Unless of course this is about you being self rightous….they can’t fix that.

    –Michael

  16. Drinker Nisti says:

    I totally understand Colleen’s frustrations. The whole wedding process has a way of beating down the moden post-feminist woman (whatever that means), even when the happy couple is doing thier darndest to keep it simple, throwing out as many misogynistic traditions as possible without upsetting Grandma, etc.

    Complaining to Macy’s is better than doing nothing– it’s really not that uncommon to keep your name. Simply asking a newly-married couple how they prefer to be addressed is not that difficult.

    I kept my name, and generally it hasn’t been an issue. Getting Macy’s to procure our iced tea spoons from our registry, however, was a far bigger pain in the ass.

  17. QuasiInformed says:

    The wife and I have been married for over 5 years and have recently added a child to the equation. The wife has kept her last name. It honestly has not be a problem. One reason it has worked, is that my wife does not get offended when someone assumes that her last name is mine. Everyone in the world does not need to be educated to the fact that all women do not expunge their birth name.

    I often am called my wife’s last name. I don’t bother correcting them, it does not bother me. If you are going against the grain, your choice to to fight everyone or become confident in your decision and let it roll.

  18. RandomHookup says:

    It’s official. The best Consumerist discussions involve piling on the original consumerist who complained in the first place. Posters be warned!!

  19. Timbojones says:

    I think when a couple gets married, they should pick a new shared surname. Bonus points for clever combination of the originals.

  20. Ben Popken says:

    Kate writes:

    “Colleen is obviously working hard to seperate herself from the nefarious wedding-industrial complex–a feat that deserves kudos, not jeers and insults–and I think she’s well within her rights to grouse about companies’ idiotic policies.

    Newsflash: It takes a man and/or woman of steel nerves to run the pre-wedding gauntlet without, at some juncture, losing your temper. The whole enterprise is designed to siphon money off of the happy couple, their families and everyone they know, and to do it with as little promise of customer satisfaction as humanly possible.

    I look forward to the day when a post on this topic ellicts either a brief round of cheers or crickets. Or when no such post is necessary, because we’ve all evolved past such questions.

    Kate Powers (

  21. OkiMike says:

    I like Timbojones suggestion above. However, a few points:

    1. Colleen was right to questions any vendor’s practices and point them to their error. I don’t think it’s a major deal, but it’s worth mentioning to them.

    2. I think a husband and wife should take one of the other’s surname. My friend here took his wife’s last name. My fiance wants to take mine. The point is, it makes you a unit and is a lot easier to manage paperwork when kids come along.

    3. If it doesn’t bother you to take your fiance’s last name, then it shouldn’t bother you when others assume that you have. You don’t hate the guy, so don’t take it out on his last name.

  22. mariser says:

    I am another of the 5%ers (really? I really think there are more than that), who kept her given last name upon marriage. correction: when we first married, I hyphenated our last names, “mariser mylastname-hislastname”. this was uniformly and thoroughly ignored by most folks and entities, who somehow read it as “mariser hislastname”. I figured if I was going to have a single last name, might as well be the one that I’d had the longest… 8-)

    I am not suited to comment on Colleen’s problem since we did not register anywhere; we went to the courthouse one morning with 2 witnesses and got married by a Justice of the Peace (highly recommended). I have, however, had many comical and frustrating, the highlight of which is undubitably, being told by a clerk (female) at the DMV when I went to renew my driver’s license and informed her I was dropping the post-hyphen section of my last name, that:
    1. she needed proof that my divorce was final.
    2. after being told there was no divorce, proceeded to tell me that I *couldn’t* make the change, because
    2a in [mystate], a woman *belongs* to her husband, thus,
    2b. I needed his permission to make the name change, or,
    2c. a court order stating my *new* name (which in fact, was to be my old name, i.e. “mariser myfirstname”

    after about 20 minutes of arguing, I left (sans driver’s license). later in the day a call to the County clerk resulted in apologies, an assurance of sensitivity training for the clerk, and getting my driver’s license renewed after hours, bu the County clerk himself.

    whoa, what a novel. one last thing, back to topic: in the update to the OP, Colleen writes

    “…is that while registering we gave Marshall Field’s specific shipping instructions – just my name, actually – that they overrode. Which is really why I wrote to you in the first place.”

    since Colleen DID specify the shipping instructions in her name only, I have to assume that Macy’s deliberately ignored or overrode her stated wishes. either incompetence or disrespect.

    mariser

  23. mariser says:

    I am another of the 5%ers (really? I really think there are more than that), who kept her given last name upon marriage. correction: when we first married, I hyphenated our last names, “mariser mylastname-hislastname”. this was uniformly and thoroughly ignored by most folks and entities, who somehow read it as “mariser hislastname”. I figured if I was going to have a single last name, might as well be the one that I’d had the longest… 8-)

    I am not suited to comment on Colleen’s problem since we did not register anywhere; we went to the courthouse one morning with 2 witnesses and got married by a Justice of the Peace (highly recommended). I have, however, had many comical and frustrating experiences, the highlight of which is undubitably, being told by a clerk (female) at the DMV when I went to renew my driver’s license and informed her I was dropping the post-hyphen section of my last name, that:
    1. she needed proof that my divorce was final.
    2. after being told there was no divorce, proceeded to tell me that I *couldn’t* make the change, because
    2a in [mystate], a woman *belongs* to her husband, thus,
    2b. I needed his permission to make the name change, or,
    2c. a court order stating my *new* name (which in fact, was to be my old name, i.e. “mariser myfirstname”

    after about 20 minutes of arguing, I left (sans driver’s license). later in the day a call to the County clerk resulted in apologies, an assurance of sensitivity training for the clerk, and getting my driver’s license renewed after hours, by the County clerk himself.

    whoa, what a novel. one last thing, back to topic: in the update to the OP, Colleen writes

    “…is that while registering we gave Marshall Field’s specific shipping instructions – just my name, actually – that they overrode. Which is really why I wrote to you in the first place.”

    since Colleen DID specify the shipping instructions in her name only, I have to assume that Macy’s deliberately ignored or overrode her stated wishes. either incompetence or disrespect.

    mariser

  24. mariser says:

    oopsy. sorry about the double post.