Polly welcomed a little girl in January -- a sister for Rafferty George "Raff/Raffi" & Lara Ottilie "Lulu" -- but they are still stuck on what to name her: Alice or Marnie?
I can see your predicament: you have two beautiful names to choose from, but both have different qualities that appeal. There's sweet classic Alice against spunky chic Marnie. I could easily write a page in praise of Alice as a choice and another for Marnie -- but that won't help at all in your plight. So, instead, I'll try to focus on the qualities you have mentioned.
I terms of popularity, both Alice and Marnie are on the rise, but Alice is by far more common statistically so it feels like Marnie wins this category.
Alice was #17 in 2016 in England and Wales. It returned to the top 100 once again at #83 in 1984 and rose sharply in popularity to #18 in 1994. From that point, Alice fell gradually each year until it reached #50 in 2009. However, its fortunes reversed and Alice has been rising ever since. Chances are that a royal baby named Alice will raise its profile further, but even if there is no little Princess Alice, it is still set to rise further.
Marnie was #147 in 2016 in England and Wales. It never saw much use above the top 500 up until 2012, after which it jumped 200 places from #493 to #293 in 2013. The following year it jumped further to #202. This means that Marnie's rise has been steep, but it is easier to make large jumps in rank the lower down the scale you go. Names in the top 50 are harder to shift and rank rises are smaller, even when they rise significantly in birth count. What this means is that, though Marnie may break into the top 100, it will take a few years.
It's also worth looking at where both names are most popular as regional statistics can effect how common a name will be perceived:
|N. East||N. West||Yorkshire||E. Midlands||W. Midlands||East||London||S. East||S. West||Wales|
I feel I should also point out that popularity is not what it once was. Fewer and fewer children are being given a top 20 name year on year. I have been teaching for a decade and never taught an Alice (but, then, I live in an area where it is among the least common, and most of the children I've taught were born when Alice was at it's nadir).
Alice is a sweet enduring classic which has been in use since the Middle Ages with many notable and royal namesakes. Marnie, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer as a name in comparison. It began in small use in the 19th century, but didn't get wider attention until the 1960s with Winston Graham's 1961 novel Marnie which Hitchcock made into a film in 1964.
So, in terms of stature, Alice is the heavyweight here.
But just because a name was uncommon before or relatively new, doesn't make it insubstantial. Ava is a modern staple which barely had any use before the turn of the 21s century. The same can be said for Poppy and Isla.
As for Marnie being nicknamey, your own experience will help here. As a Polly, do you feel that your name is too "young" and hasn't served you well in adulthood? I'm guessing the answer is no. There are so many once-nicknames-now-used-as-full-names out there now that they've almost lost their "nickname" status. Evie, Molly and Ellie are the lawyers, doctors and teachers of the future.
Matching the set:
Now, first of all, I should say first that I am a firm believer in every child having a name that their parents love and that they can one day love themselves, regardless of how well it fits their siblings' names. We're all individuals, and it saddens me when some younger siblings end up with a compromise name that their parents only find acceptable just because it fits in with the elder siblings.
That being said, style-wise, Marnie better fits the criteria of "being slightly unusual but not too obscure" which you loved so much about Rafferty and Lara. It also shares the quirky, upbeat and slightly preppy style.
Overall, I think Alice won one round there and Marnie two. It's a close call -- and either choice is a wonderful one -- but I think you can count my vote for Marnie.
Polly is very keen for readers' thoughts and input. Please vote in the poll below or comment with your opinions to lend a helping hand.