Dear Duana,
We’re expecting second child in April (another girl!) and my husband and I, to no one’s surprise, cannot agree on any names. It’s a miracle we were able to agree on our first daughter’s name “Florence Amina”, we call her “Flo”.
What is making it so difficult this time is that Flo’s name has personal meaning behind it: “Florence” is our favourite destination from our honeymoon and “Amina” is after my late grandmother. As a biracial family, our intention was also to include some Indian heritage to her name and “Amina” does just that.
Baby #2 we are lost. I was set on naming baby “Ally” after my father who passed away this year but hubby thinks it’s too similar to his mom “Allison” and myself “Alysha”. He likes it more as a middle name. So in the end I find that all the first names we come up with are beautiful but I feel fall short because I have no personal connection to them or they don’t sound right with “Florence” or the middle name of “Ally”. We like the option of cute nicknames too. So far this is what we’ve got:
-          Emilia “Mimi” or “Emmy”
-          Victoria “Tori” but definitely not “Vicky”
I seem to like more old school, longer names whereas hubby is into gender neutral names like Rowan, Blake and Marley. Yet somehow we both like the two listed above but not totally in love yet.


Hahahah I mean. 

Obviously this letter was sent months ago, but I can’t help laughing at “my husband and I, to no one’s surprise, cannot agree on any names.” Maybe it’s because our current text thread is about to what degree people want to, um, escape their partners or family members even though they’re lucky to have them, or maybe just because it’s common knowledge that you’re going to disagree… look, whatever! Do I ask you to explain everything that makes YOU laugh, huh?

But let’s get down to business. The biggest issue that I can see is that you crave a personal connection to a name, which is something I can’t automatically impart… but let’s see what we can do here…

First of all, the fact that Ally has similarities to Allison, Alysha, AND your dad should be seen as a feature, not a bug! While I can see how your husband might think they were too close, you could also look at it as a Serendipity kind of situation, couldn’t you? 

That said, I think the way to get away from thinking that Ally (or Aliya or Aliana or etc) is just another version of your/your mother-in-law’s names is to choose one that contains that sound without it being the first syllable. So for example, you might go with Dahlia or Malia, or Natalie, or Catalina or Talia or Rosalie. All still get you a potential “Ally” nickname, without feeling like they’re a repeat of a repeat… 

As for the names you cite, they’re certainly more in line with Florence, but they do strike me as a lot more frilly and decorative than the relatively spare Florence. I like them both – particularly Mimi for Emilia – and, if you’ll permit me a sidebar for a second, I wonder whether it’s time for us all to come up with new nicknames for Victoria, since so many people feel the way you do about ‘Vicky’ these days; should we go with Ria, or Tia? Vico? Vera, even? 

If you want to move further afield to names that share more qualities with Florence, how about Dorothy, which gets you a million nicknames from Dot to Dory to Dodie, or go with the shorter Dora? Or you might like something like Winifred, which gets you a wealth of nicknames from Wynn to Freddie, or hey, how about Rosalind, which ends in a consonant sound and lets you have the ‘ali’ in there too? Josephine or Harriet?

I’m not sure the super-modern gender-neutral names your husband is thinking of necessarily have the same feeling as Florence, which definitely feels like it’s of another era, but if he likes that shorter feel, you could go with Mabel, or Hazel? Or maybe something that feels a bit 1930s but still fresh, like Delaney or Darcy or Kennedy?

Or go with something like Francesca or Georgina, so you have Flo and Frankie, or Flo and Georgie? Or if you want to go wild, go with Wilhelmina or Minerva, to be nicknamed Minnie, Penelope to get you to Penny, or – and frankly, I think this name is underused and underappreciated – the beauty of stand-alone Bonnie? 

I hope this helps you both come to a place of clarity and I can’t wait to find out what you choose! Let us know!