Congrats on doing the responsible thing, and starting off for 2 years on a smaller bike! The first "street" bike I rode was an XL350.
I obvously own a 919, so I would prefer that over the others. You can search this forum for a wealth of info on the 919 to help you make a decision. As far as the blandness... one thing about the 919 is that it serves a great platform, in its simplicity, from which you can mod it to your personal taste, and create the look you want to make it your own. The only thing you may not like, and this could be a big issue with your girl, is the "stink factor" associated with the exhaust. Just do a search here on "stink", "exhaust", and "mods", and I'm sure you'll find alot of threads that will help you out.
As far as the FZ-1, I love the previous generation bikes. That has always been a great bike, with a very strong following. But if Yamaha isn't backing up their customers with their current model, I'd look elsewhere also. As far as the Z1000 goes, I personally never really liked the styling. Somehow, to me, it just made it look too cheap and "plasticy".
With an $8k budget, you can get a used 919, and have alot of money left over for personal modifications (or accessorizing, as others may prefer to call it!).
Here's my 919
Here's a couple others:
From europe somewhere (Hornet):