Many women are choosing to keep their maiden name after they get married. There are advantages and disadvantages to both choices, and it is a very personal decision. The more traditional step is when a woman takes her new husband's last name after marriage; however, many couples are making other choices, such as hyphenating the names, or even the man taking his new wife's last name. All choices face judgment from other people, so it is always best to go with what your instincts are telling you, and not worry about what the rest of the world will say.
You may choose to take your new husband's name for a variety of reasons. Some women choose to take their husband's last name as a way to signify their new commitment to everyone they know. It may also be of great personal importance to some husbands, which may factor into the decision. Finally, it is slightly simpler for various legal purposes, such as medical insurance; also, if a couple chooses to have children, it may be confusing if half the family has one name while another half has a different name.
There are also many reasons to keep a maiden name. First, it is the name that you have been using for your entire life, and many women fear a loss of self or personal identity if they choose to take their husband's name. In addition, it is likely the name that you have been using in your career, and colleagues and other people in your field may know you as having that last name. This is a particular consideration for women who have been published or who are otherwise publicly well-known.
Another reason to keep your maiden name is for cultural or family purposes. Many women feel a strong attachment to their last names because it is a family name, or because it has a cultural significance to them. Indeed, taking the husband's name is not done at all in some cultures. You may want to keep your maiden name because it just sounds better with your first name than your new husband's last name; all of these are perfectly valid reasons.
Keep in mind that there are other options for merging last names. As mentioned, it is common practice for a woman to hyphenate her last name with her husband's. Some women choose to take their husband's last name, but use their maiden name for a middle name. Another option is to use your maiden name for a first name or middle name for one of your children. These options allow everyone in the family to have the same last name, while still keeping your original maiden name alive.