What happens in a naming ceremony?

Celebrant

What is a naming ceremony?

Naming ceremonies and how to celebrate!

Following on from enquiries about how to host a naming ceremony, I thought I would share some ideas and answer some questions I get asked about performing and organising naming ceremonies.

Is a naming ceremony the same as a christening?

There is the traditional version of a ‘christening’ led by a Church Minister, usually taking place just after the main church service. This involves the child, parents and Godparents who stand to the front and say promises and the Minister may baptise the child with water and prayers. 

A naming ceremony has become more popular as some families do not wish to include the religious aspect as they may be a family of multi-faith, or simply they feel as they do not attend church posing the question of why they would want to hold their occasion in church. 

Some Churches are now offering ‘thanksgiving’ services like christenings but without the baptism. A naming ceremony has become more popular as some families do not wish to include the religious aspect as they may be a family of multi-faith, or simply they feel as they do not attend church posing the question of why they would want to hold their occasion in church. 

What is a naming ceremony and how does this differ from a christening?

Having an alternative way to celebrate is an ideal solution for many and is just as important a ceremony which can encompass a christening without the holy water! Importantly it can be delivered in a style that suits the family or occasion; for some this is a party atmosphere.

Where can I have a naming ceremony?

A Naming Ceremony is an opportunity for the whole family to celebrate the birth of their child (or children) and can be held anywhere. It could be entwined within a birthday party or held as a stand-alone event.

Examples include:

  • in your own home
  • in a village hall
  • on the beach
  • at a park
  • at a hotel
  • at the local golf club
  • at a community centre
  • there are no rules

Whilst it is possible to host your own naming ceremony, having a Celebrant or Humanist who has been trained and has skills to create family friendly occasions, will allow the family to relax knowing they are in a safe pair of hands, and importantly the occasion will be meaningful and memorable. 

Can you have godparents at a naming ceremony?

That’s up to you! A Celebrant can incorporate any (or multiple) religions, beliefs, or none at all within any ceremony. 

Some families choose to appoint ‘Guardians’ or 'Guide Parents'

Whilst it is possible to host your own naming ceremony, having a Celebrant or Humanist who has been trained and has skills to create family friendly occasions, will allow the family to relax knowing they are in a safe pair of hands, and importantly the occasion will be meaningful and memorable. 

Are Naming Ceremonies just for babies?

Whilst naming ceremonies are popular for babies welcoming their arrival, they are perfect for older children when parents want to wait until their child understands the event. For blended families coming together, having a naming ceremony is a great way to celebrate the two families becoming one. 

Alternatively, families adopting a child have chosen to have a naming ceremony, so that the joining members feel part of the family. This can give the entire family an occasion to welcome them into their home unit.

For those wanting to acknowledge a Transgender journey with their family and friends, a naming ceremony can be a great way to recognise their identify and a chance to celebrate.

It has been known to have a naming ceremony after a divorce, to support that adult into their new life ahead.

What happens in a naming ceremony?

Of course, anyone can hold these celebrations between themselves as family. 

My guide of things to consider include:- 

  • A welcome and explanation of why the naming ceremony is happening and also what’s about to take place
  • A reading or poem is usually incorporated
  • Appointment of Guide Parents or Guardians and their promises made to the child
  • Closing words

Are naming ceremonies legal?

Some families are concerned that a naming ceremony is not legal, however a christening is registered only as a religious record, so both are not legal in comparison to a birth certificate. In whatever way families choose to mark the occasion, it’s the intent and the celebration that brings the memories!

Why have a Celebrant-Led naming ceremony?

Celebrants are specialists who work with families, creating ceremonies to suit that their style.  

A Celebrant will not enforce any religion or any aspect of how you “should” hold a ceremony but will guide and give suggestions of what families can include. 

The Celebrant will spend time getting to know a family, discussing the reasons for the names, hopes for future, intentions pledged, absent family, gifts to the child, and of course officiate the ceremony to give an official presence as well as the giving of a Certificate to mark the occasion.

What types of naming ceremonies are there?

Some ideas of naming ceremonies that could be delivered by a Celebrant for either babies or children could include symbolic aspects such as:

  • Unit sand 
  • Hand-tying 
  • Giving of gifts
  • Blowing of bubbles
  • Rose petals
  • Planting of tree
  • Candle-lighting
  • Foot-printing
  • A time capsule to be filled, then opened in years to come

How do I book a Celebrant for my naming ceremony?

If you want to book a specialist Celebrant, I conduct ceremonies for families throughout Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Bristol, and across the UK so please get in touch if you would like to find out more details.    

For adult naming ceremonies I can hold these during the evening if more in line with the celebration!

Amanda-Louise Knight Ceremonies. I am affiliated with and trained at The Institute of Professional Celebrants. I conduct naming ceremonies for families in Somerset and surrounding counties.  For more information about the naming ceremonies I offer contact me on hello@alkcelebrant.co.uk or 07879 220 046.

Written by
Amanda-Louise Knight
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