03/16/2012 12:36 pm ET Updated May 14, 2012

What's In A Name? The Garter Brides Say Plenty

Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of "Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life," a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried-and-true advice on how to have the love and life you want.

When we interviewed hundreds of brides for our book "Love For Grown-ups," we discovered there are as many ways to handle changing your name as there are brides. Let's start with the three authors of the book. Patricia Ryan Lampl decided to continue using her maiden name (no hyphen), Ann's maiden name was Jacobs and now her married name is Jacobs and Tish ditched her long, hard-to-spell maiden name just as fast as she could!

Tish shared her story:

"On my 'Rap Sheet' in our book it lists my full legal name Patricia Annette Saumsiegle Rabe. Every time I see that I can hear my mother's voice from my childhood patiently spelling on the phone: 'Saumsiegle, that's "S" as in "sugar" a u "M" as in Mary, i e "S" as in "sugar"...' By then I was convinced whoever the hapless person was on the other end of the line was ready to hang up. I remember taking the SATs and putting the letters into boxes and running out of them somewhere halfway through Saumsiegle. The teacher just said 'Do the best you can...' When I bought my first apartment, the bank that held my mortgage wrote Patricia Annette Saumsie... on the address form and gave up after that.

"My mother named me Patricia, but they called me Tish right from the start. Fortunately, I loved it. That being said, I still had to tote around the long form of my name, Patricia Annette Saumsiegle whenever I had something formal to write. I found out that 'Annette' came from my great grandmother, which I thought was pretty cool, but put all together my name was just plain LONG.

"One day I decided to legally shorten my name to Tish Sommers. What I didn't realize was that Tish Sommers was the name of the co-founder of the National Older Women's League (N.O.W.). When she died on October 19, 1985, there was a big article about her in The New York Times. My friends and family panicked.

"Within hours family members were calling my mother, wondering how I could have died so SUDDENLY when I seemed to be doing so well!

"No one seemed to notice that THAT Tish Sommers was SEVENTY-ONE (but let's face it, no one ever really reads the fine print in obituaries).

"So, there I was, ready to ditch Saumsiegle forever, when I ran into an old friend from high school, John Rabe, and the rest is name history. Before long, we realized we were serious about each other and I looked forward to our wedding AND finally changing my name. I now use Tish Rabe and the reality is no one can pronounce our last name, Raybee, Rayb, Rahbe, Rowbee, you name it, but at least it's short."

So, when it comes to changing your name, do what's best for you and your spouse -- if you don't want to take his name, he can take yours or you can start over. What have you done about changing your names?

One of the Garter Brides fell in love with a man whose last name rhymed with "jerk" and he'd been teased about it all through school. They wanted to have kids and he didn't want them to go through that, so they changed their name to one from her side of the family.

Tish says, "I have always been impressed that my brothers' wives took on the name Saumsiegle when they got married, especially since they had simple maiden names to begin with. I love my husband, but if things had been reversed and Saumsiegle was HIS last name, I would have tried to talk him into changing it to something easier.

"I can still close my eyes and hear my mother saying, '"S" as in "sugar" a u "m" as in Mary, "s" as in "sugar."'"

Some things, you never forget.