Hi Duana,
Hoping you can point me in the right direction regarding this baby naming process.
I'm recently preggers with baby #1 (eee!), and am just starting to seriously look at names.  At this point my husband is very little help because he is going through a phase (oh Lord, please let it be a phase) where he isn't really considering serious options yet, ie- he currently thinks it would be awesome to name our children after movie characters (and while i love Lord of the Rings, i draw the line at naming my son Frodo).  :)

My question is just a generic one - how important is it to 'match' a first name with a last name?  Our last name is as bland as it gets (Smith), and i just wonder how unconventional our first name choices can be, without it sounding completely ridiculous. I know that ultimately, if we find something that we agree on and love, it just will be our baby's name, and we won't really care about the "rules"... but just as far as a starting point, should we not even consider things that are too unique and too far removed from the "Top 50" lists?
thanks! :)


Au contraire, my Smithian friend – prepare to have some fun.

You are actually in the complete opposite position than the one you think you are.   You’re right that Smith will necessarily ground anything that you want to put in front of it – but that means you can try almost anything in the front spot and live to tell the tale. Anastasia Smith works. Augustus Smith works. It’s when you try to be a little too down-home and folksy that the Smith can start to feel like an albatross.   Kate Smith. Ben Smith. You know what I mean? Those are forgettable.

If your last name was Pfeffenhopfer, I’d caution you the opposite way. Here would be the chance for Mae and Robert to have their due. But for you, truly the sky is the limit. In fact, if you name in the top 50, you’re doing your child a disservice, as not only is the first name common, the last name is too. You’re practically saying “don’t notice me!”

I know this concern can come to parents who have a name that screams a particular ethnicity, but Smith has been so vaunted as the everyname that you really can afford to go further with it. In this case it’s not about “matching” so much as it is about complementing, and even the names that might otherwise sound pretentious – Evangeline, Bartholomew, or Magdalena  - will be rooted in real life via the last name Smith. (Or Jones, or Bell, or Hughes, or Barnes, or any of the  one-syllable last  names that we tend to hear over and over for English speakers.)

You are hereby cautioned away from the Top 50, and toward the more eccentric choices that live in the depths of your heart.

Hope this helps!