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{Tony + me, at the Beverly Hills courthouse last week}

I’m writing this from the beach in Tahoe, while Tony and his childhood best friend Rob fall off paddle boards on the lake. When I’m done writing, I’m going home to make a dent in the imperial size champagne bottle Rob brought us. The rest of our friends and family are pouring in this week. And in a few days (6, to be exact), I get to marry my best friend here, in my favorite place in the world. I am in complete and utter bliss.

Before I got to this state of happiness, though, there was a lot to check off the list in L.A. Namely, getting our marriage license. So, you know, we can actually get married. But, in order to get it I learned, you first have to decide whether or not you’re changing your last name. And that decision was something I have struggled over for the entirety of our engagement.

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Let me first say this: I love the name Cavalero. It is attached to the person I love most in this world. Pasta is my favorite, and I want to live inside of The Talented Mr. Ripley, (only without the murder part). It would only make sense that I should have an Italian last name. But, I’ve been a Baria for almost 30 years. It’s my name. It’s who I am. Annie Baria. When I was a little kid (and, let’s be honest, to this day), when I’m upset about something my dad always says “You’re a Baria, and Barias are strong.” Just writing that made me a little weepy, and the idea of losing that identity makes me really anxious.

And, from a more practical standpoint, I’ve worked really hard in a really competitive industry for (a very few) people to know my name. I know this sounds silly, but I don’t want to be forgotten or, if I’m being melodramatic, lose my identity. This day in age, when Beyoncé and Taylor Swift rule the universe, it seems almost anti-feminist to change my name for a man. Like, in doing so, I’m assuming my “wife” role and prepping to cook dinner in heels and pop out babies.

But, when I really thought about it, that statement (and the implied judgement on women who choose to change their name) is the most anti-feminist thing I could do. And even Beyoncé, who declared girls run the world, went on the Mrs. Carter tour. Changing your name doesn’t have anything to do with your identity or professional prowess or independence, if you don’t let it.

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One of my best friends’ husband changed his middle name to her maiden name; it’s not hyphenated, they use his last name, but he did that as a show of love and understanding of her sacrifice for him. I pitched that hard but, for everyone who thinks Tony does whatever I want, he said no. And I’m respecting that.

So, it came down to me and my decision. And, at the end of the day, I am building a family with Tony. It was really important to him and I ultimately realized, it’s really important to me, too. I want to have the same name as my kids and my husband. I don’t want people to wonder if we’re divorced. I thought about keeping Baria professionally, but that just seems like a headache to me; I get annoyed enough when I have to debate whether to put Annie or Anne on a form. I called my parents to tell them my decision, prepared for them to be sad, or to grieve it the way I have or feel like they’re “losing me,” but it turned out that I was the only melodramatic one. My dad laughed and told me he thought that was a perfect decision, and that I’d always be a Baria no matter what my name is. And hearing that gave me the freedom to be excited about this next chapter as Annie Cavalero.

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So, come this Saturday, I will be a Cavalero. Mrs. Tony Cavalero. My initials will be ABC. Annie Cavalero… It has a nice ring to it. I can’t wait. (But I CAN wait to go to the DMV, and call all my credit card companies, and tell the vet the dogs’ new last name is Cavalero. Maybe I’ll put all that on Tony’s honey-do list instead…) In the meantime, I’ll do the best I can keeping up with the blog with our wedding and honeymoon happening over the coming weeks, but please follow me on Instagram to keep in touch and be a part of the fun. Thank you so much for all of your love and support in this happy time!

Did you change your last name, or do you want to when you get married? Why or why not?


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