Your child’s Naming Ceremony can be anything you want it to be. It can be held at home, in your garden, in a community centre, a hotel or anywhere else that grabs your imagination.
Naming Days are a great opportunity to get creative and make the special day truly unique, involving friends and family and making memories to be treasured forever. Once you have your venue secured and the date is fast approaching, what can you do to make the day as successful as possible?
If you are using a Celebrant to lead your Naming Ceremony then choosing the right one for you is so important. They will need to be the right fit for your family and they will be happy to have a chat with you over the phone or in person so you can get to know a little about them and make sure they are for you.
Once you are happy that you have made the right choice, your Celebrant will have lots of ideas to share, being led by your wishes throughout the process. Here are a few things that can be included to make your celebration extra special;
Most Naming Ceremonies will include a series of promises made by parents to the child and by Supporting Adults (Godparents/ Guide Adults).
Your Celebrant can suggest the promises for you or you might choose to write them yourself. About 4 or 5 promises is usual but you can have more or less depending on your preferences.
Some families like to include promises from Grandparents or older siblings too. This is a great way of getting your family involved and reinforces the feeling of support and love that others will bring to your child’s life.
Some parents like to use this as an opportunity to make promises to each other, promising support and celebrating the love that they share for their child and one another.
There are lots of lovely reading suitable for a Naming Ceremony. Your Celebrant will be happy to suggest some if necessary, or provide a book of poems for you to choose from to be incorporated into the ceremony.
Readings are another chance to involve family and friends. Perhaps a Grandparent or Supporting Adult might like to read at the ceremony and this is also another way to involve your older children or older cousins; maybe they could write their own poem to their new family member.
As with traditional Christenings, many families choose to have a celebration cake for the day.
Some married couples will keep aside the top tier of their wedding cake to be redecorated for the Naming Ceremony.
Others will ask a friend or family member to make the cake for the day or do it themselves if they love to bake.
Alternatively, it should be fairly easy to find a local bakery to do it for you. This can also take out some of the stress of all the organisation and you might just find some good deals!
For a cheaper option, why not buy a plain cake from a supermarket and decorate it yourselves?
NAMING DAY CERTIFICATE
Lots of families wish to have a certificate to remember the day and your Celebrant can provide you with this. It will be usually be signed by parents and Supporting Adults.
The certificate signing is the perfect time to incorporate some music into the ceremony. Perhaps a song which is important to you or one that reminds you of the love you have for your child would be appropriate? This is also a great time to have some group photographs taken to remember your day.
Of course there are the traditional ‘Christening’ style gifts that can be bought by friends and family for your little one, and some families coincide the day with a first birthday celebration.
For something a little different, why not ask family and friends to contribute something towards a time capsule for your child.
Incorporating a few simple toys or newspapers from the day can add to the feeling of personal history, maybe a few photographs from the celebration can be kept alongside these.
Lots of people choose to write a letter to be opened on an 18th birthday, safely kept by the family. A good idea is to keep all the items together in a small chest or decorated box ready for the future.
Often, families like to light a candle as a way of welcoming their child. This symbolic act can be carried out by parents, grandparents or older siblings (who will be safe using candles). Participants take a flame from a candle, which symbolises themselves, and together light the Unity Candle, symbolising the new life they are welcoming into the family.
This Unity Candle can be relit on birthdays or annually to remember the day. Quite often, families will choose a special candle with their child’s name engraved on it (available online), or decorate a shop bought candle themselves.
If you are holding your Naming Celebration in your garden, a lovely idea is to plant a tree in honour of your child. Over the years they can watch it grow as they do.
Tree planting is always something you can reserve for special family time when you get home later that day if you are holding the celebration elsewhere.
It is worth bearing in mind that smaller trees, or dwarf trees, are more easily relocated if you move house!
SPEECHES AND TOASTS
Towards the end of the ceremony, it is always nice to raise a glass to your child’s future. This also gives you a chance to give thank you gifts to Supporting Adults and other participants should you so wish.
Quite often, the Celebrant will hand over to a parent or family member who might like to say a few words and propose the all-important toast.
Above all, have fun! Naming Ceremonies can also be adapted to include welcoming step children, adopted children and other special family members.
Your Celebrant will be able to help you to realise your ideas and help you to plan a day that is absolutely perfect for your family.
©Ellie Lomas 2018
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Ellie is a professional Funeral, Wedding and Naming Celebrant based in Dorset.
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Photographs by @rachelizabethuk, @anneschwarzphoto, @jackaldridgeweddings and @duncanireland