News and Commentary

‘It’s Fair’: Newlyweds Decide Last Name Via Coin Toss, Bride Wins
(Original Caption) 1/15/1958-Palos Verdes, CA- Actress Jayne Mansfield receives a kiss from her bridegroom Mickey Hargitay following their wedding ceremony at the Glass Wayfarer's Seaside Chapel. 100 close friends attended the sedate cermony.
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Keeping in line with the modern trend of democratizing tradition, two Florida newlyweds decided on whose surname the other would take through the simple flip of a coin; lo and behold, the bride won the day.

“Jeff Conley and Darcy Ward married at Wakulla Springs earlier this month, but when it came time to announce the pair’s official married last name, the couple let a coin toss decide their future,” reports Fox News. “At the altar, Conley and Ward flipped a coin engraved with each of their surnames. The coin landed on ‘Ward,’ officially deciding that the two would be known as Mr. Jeff Ward and Mrs. Darcy Ward henceforth.”

Speaking to The Palm Beach Post, Jeff Conley (now Jeff Ward) said that the whole affair was his idea — in the name of “fairness.”

“You could say I won. I was the one who received something new,” said Jeff. “It’s fair. I am a graduate student in economics at Florida State and I think about fairness.”

Darcy said the coin toss was “all the more confirmation” she’d chosen Mr. Right and appreciated that Jeff was willing to begin the marriage with an “equal partnership.”

“Being with someone who was willing to start the marriage from a creative and teamwork and fair place felt like a really good first step toward an equal partnership,” she told the outlet.

In fact, the couple, who met on the Tinder dating app, has been a making equality a central theme to their relationship going all the way to their engagement — during which they both proposed to each other. From the Post:

Jeff gathered his musician friends together at woodsy Lafayette Heritage Trail Park. They strummed on violins, playing the couple’s favorite song, The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” while they strolled onto the bridge, and he popped the question.

Darcy’s proposal was a bit more long-winded: She set up a scavenger hunt all around town, hiding eggs with silicone sport rings tucked inside for her weight-lifting groom, poems she wrote leading to the next spot and letters that eventually spelled out, “Will you marry me?”

And she still bent down on one knee — for official measure. Before she could formally ask, he said “Yes.”

Though the tradition of wives taking their husbands’ surnames has somewhat waned of late, current statistics show that its popularity has tremendous staying power. According to MarketWatch, just 6% of married couples have what some would describe as an “unconventional” surname.

“According to a 2009 analysis of 2004 government data, just 6% of married, native-born American women had an ‘unconventional’ last name, which includes keeping their maiden name, hyphenating their last name or taking on two last names,” reported the outlet. “There’s some indication this trend may be shifting; about 20% of women who married relatively recently kept their last names, according to a Google survey conducted by The New York Times. But the bulk of women marrying men still appear to be changing their names.”

“As a gender researcher, I’ve noticed that there is pretty strong adherence to gender roles within heterosexual relationships,” said Rachael Robnett, a psychology professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “In so many other domains of society we actually see people pushing against traditional gender roles.”