Here's our issue: hyphenated last names. His last name is something along the lines of Addison, and my last name sounds like the words "whole" and "singer" put together. Our (future hypothetical) children will have the last name of either Addison-Wholesinger or Wholesinger-Addison. (Yes, we know it's a mouthful. It may not be perfect, but it's what makes the most sense to us. Plus, my husband has a hyphenated first name, so we're already comfortable with names that include punctuation.)
So my first question is, should we go with Addison-Wholesinger and Wholesinger-Addison? Unsurprisingly, we each like the sound of our own name first. But I'm not sure he knows why he likes his name first (other than the fact that it's his name first), while I truly believe that Wholesinger-Addison flows better -- something about the transition between -son and Whole- in Addison-Wholesinger seems choppy to me. Plus, I don't like combining a first name that ends in A with a last name that begins with A, so Wholesinger-Addison would leave us with more first name options, especially if we have a girl. What do you think? Is there anything else to consider that we're missing?
My second question is, what should we be focusing on when we draw up lists, given that our (future hypothetical) children are definitely going to have a loooooong last name, which they will most likely have to repeat and spell again and again (if my experience with Wholesinger is any measure)? We both prefer more uncommon names, but should we try to stick to the common and familiar just to give them a break? Also, would we be better off with short, one-syllable names to offset the length of the last name, or would longer first names create a better balance and flow with a long last name? FYI, some of the names that we like are Nieve (the only name we really both LOVE), Greer, Marie, Bea, and Pearl for a girl, or Ash/Ashe, Gray, Noel, or Zane for a boy, although we brainstormed those names when we were focusing on super short names, which we're now starting to reconsider, in part because it's *really* limiting.
Can't wait to hear your thoughts!
If I were you, I would go with custom for the surname: mother's name first, then father's. You CAN choose which order the names go in, but the protocol is Hers-His. This settles the argument AND gives your child an easier life, name-wise. If your husband gets hung up on wanting his own name first, you can remind him that in the patriarchal naming tradition, the name after the hyphen is in the "better slot." (Can you tell I am clenching my teeth to even pass along that information? But it might help you get the names the way you prefer them.)
And if I were you, I would go with the short and simple first name, yes. Six syllables and a punctuation mark is, as you say, a lot of last name and a lot of spelling and repeating. However, I'm saying only that it would be my own preference, and I LIKE common/simple names (I think Eve Wholesinger-Addison would be GORGEOUS), so it's not necessarily what I think YOU should do.
One good way to consider names is to think "Would _I_ want this name, MYSELF?" It's not a perfect system because of the way names sound different in each generation: just because I wouldn't want to have been named Juniper in the mid-'70s doesn't mean I wouldn't want it if I were born this year. But it can be a helpful exercise when you're trying to balance your own tastes with the fact that you're choosing something for another person. Or perhaps you could brainstorm lists without considering the surname, and then see if any of your favorite names have shorter or easier forms that would work better with the surname.
Speaking of brainstorming, I notice that you and your husband did not hyphenate your own surnames when you married, and a child-naming solution I've seen for such situations is to give all the girls the mother's surname and all the boys the father's surname. It's confusing, yes, but so are all the surname possibilities other than Standard Patriarchal (it is not often I get to use the word "patriarchal" twice before lunchtime!), and this one would let you use longer and more unusual first names. (I hope you will pardon me if you've considered all such solutions already and would prefer not to have more input on it---I realize you didn't ask for advice on this issue, but the possibility sprang to mind as I was considering the conundrum the long surname causes with your naming style. And it may be an idea that would interest someone else with a similar situation who was reading this post.)