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Newly-weds’ name has a real ring to it

The newly-weds felt it was a suitable way of honouring the memory of Lara’s late mother

    Credit: Remain in Light photography
    Credit: Remain in Light photography

    When Luke Berman married Lara Smallman they decided to ditch tradition in the most personal way possible.

    The couple agreed their married name would not be Berman, nor Smallman, but Balsam.

    The newly-weds felt it was a suitable way of honouring the memory of Lara’s late mother, whose maiden name was Balsam.

    The couple, who attend New London Synagogue in St John’s Wood, north London, tied the knot in September.

    Mr Balsam explained: “Unlike most people I never assumed my wife would have to take my name. I’ve always been open to discussing what she wanted.

    “Taking on her mother’s name was a way of carrying her forward and that struck a chord with me.”

    The 31-year-old said it was important for his marriage to start on an equal footing and that included having a name they both wanted.

    “If people start out in a place that is not equal I don’t think it is a good foundation for the relationship. The name you have as husband and wife is the start of that.

    “I guess I’m a modern man, but for me it is about equality. Why assume Lara was going to have my name?”

    Mr Balsam said the “old school way of automatically taking the man’s name is something that is changing”.

    Ms Balsam, who does not want to be referred to as “Mrs”, said: “I think it has been a bit harder for Luke because banks and officials don’t expect the husband to be changing his name.”

    Mr Balsam said friends and family responded positively.

    “Some people sending wedding presents have just assumed she is ‘Mrs Berman,’ but on the whole people have been really open to it.”

    Ms Balsam, who is director of the Jewish Vegetarian Society, said her father was “really happy about it”.

    She added: “It feels like it is something Luke and I can build on. I’ve spoken to lots of women about doing it — they don’t really realise this is another option.”

    The couple’s wedding reception at Finsbury Town Hall was vegan.

    Ms Balsam explained: “Most people spend an eye-watering amount and have nothing but a party and a fun day for friends and family to show for it.

    “We wanted the money that we spent to have an impact beyond the entertainment.

    “So we grew all the centrepieces ourselves, which we gave away at the end, and all the food was vegan. We had loads of comments about the food from people who weren’t vegan. They were surprised and really liked it.”

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