The popularity of baptism ceremonies has plummeted in recent years, and the Church of England now performs baptisms for just 15% of children born in the UK.
In fact, around one third of all families in the UK don’t hold any formal welcoming ceremony for their child.
If you don’t want a christening but do want to mark your baby’s arrival in some way, maybe a Naming Ceremony is for you.
The beauty of a Naming Ceremony is that it is entirely up to you what form it will take. There are no legal requirements, stipulations or consequences for you or anyone else who is involved.
It is a chance to focus attention on your child’s future development, and for you to assert that you will try to be the best parent you can.
For your family and friends, it is a way for them to declare that they would like to be involved with in your child’s life to come.
For adoptive children of any age, a Naming Ceremony is a beautiful way of welcoming them into your life and binding the new family unit.
The naming part of the event is of course significant, but the most important aspect of a Naming Ceremony is that you are communicating your commitment to the child, their welfare and future happiness.
It can have particular importance if parents belong to different faiths, if they are unmarried or single parents, and if children from previous marriages are involved.
Who will lead the Naming Ceremony?
Anyone you choose! A grandparent, close family friend, godparent of your own or even yourself would be a good choice.
However, if you would find it more relaxing to invite an ‘expert’ to lead proceedings, you will need to find a professional Celebrant.
The Celebrant’s primary role is to ensure that your ceremony runs smoothly and that you have a memorable day.
Hiring the services of a Celebrant will cost you around £100-£160.
What form should the ceremony take?
Again: it’s your choice. Many parents decide to start their child’s naming ceremony with a reading by a family member or close friend. It might be a favourite piece of prose, a poem, or even something you’ve written yourself.
This could then be followed by the formal naming of your child, and spoken declarations or promises by both parents.
Many parents also choose to make an affirmation between themselves, maybe a commitment to always act in the best interests of the child. You might also choose to address the gathering, saying a sentence or two about how having a child has influenced your life.
This might be especially relevant if your child was conceived in special circumstances eg with the help of IVF, or if your child has special needs.
The parental affirmation is often followed by the introduction of Supporting Adults. These are special friends or family members who have agreed to act as the non-religious equivalent of godparents.
Grandparents are also often included at this point in the Naming Ceremony.
You may choose to end the ceremony with another reading – perhaps by the Celebrant – followed by a toast or a significant act such as planting a tree or burying a time-capsule.
Whatever form you choose for your Naming Ceremony, what matters most is that you are happy and relaxed about the people you invite to attend, the words and flavour of the event.
The beauty of holding such an occasion is that you can tailor it exactly to your needs and beliefs.
For more information about hiring the services of a professional celebrant, visit: Civil Ceremonies Ltd www.civilceremonies.co.uk
Read: Your Complete Guide to Naming Ceremonies, by Anne Barber (£8.95, GA Publishing)
Design your own naming ceremony invitations at Photobox.