With more parents opting for Baby Naming Ceremonies, Charlotte Tomlinson-White looks at this trend and finds out what it’s all about.
here isn’t a community in the world that doesn’t have its own way of marking the birth of a baby. Traditional ceremonies include Christenings, Baptisms, Namakarma Sanskars (Hinduism), Brit Milahs (Judaism) and Naam Karan (Sikhism) but more and more parents are turning to alternatives, and naming ceremonies come out on top.
What is a Baby Naming Ceremony?
A Baby Naming Ceremony provides the perfect opportunity to introduce your new addition to family and friends, as well as formally name them and explain your choice of name. It is also a time to make promises to your child to ensure his or her future happiness and wellbeing. They are purely celebratory and hold no legal bearing, providing a lovely alternative to the more traditional services that have long been cultural tradition.
Where did they come from?
Naming ceremonies have existed for hundreds of years, with each culture having its own take on the process. Name giving ceremonies (as celebrants carry them out today), however, are relatively new, and were launched in the 1970s. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, perhaps because of changing lifestyles and complicated family situations.
How are they different?
Baby Naming Ceremonies are different to other traditional services in many ways. Firstly, they are non-secular and therefore have no religious rules to follow. Unlike Christenings, they are not legally binding. Dissimilar to Church Blessings and Thanksgivings, which take place as part of a main Church service, a Naming Ceremony service stands alone, focusing on the relationship between the child, the parents and the wider family rather than welcoming the child into the religious faith. Contrasting to a Naam Karan, a Baby Naming Ceremony does not determine what name or middle name you give your child. Parents are not required to declare their faith and the child is not committed to a life in the Church as they would be after a Baptism. Baby Naming Ceremonies are not confined to a religious place of worship, it can be carried out anywhere, with those involved believing in differing faiths. Likewise it does not have to be conducted by a religious figure – a celebrant usually facilitates, but anyone can lead them. Contrasting to other faiths, including Judaism and Hinduism, where babies are named within a number of days after birth, a Baby Naming Ceremony can be carried out at any age. Baby Naming Ceremonies are often regarded as informal celebrations, transcending across the age and religion boundaries, encompassing all.
Appointing Significant Figures
Much like Godparents at traditional Christenings, you can appoint ‘Significant Figures’ at the ceremony. There is no limit to the amount of ‘figures’ you can have, again, it is entirely up to you. You can even choose what name is given to them, such as Role Model, Guide-Parents and even Odparents –playing on the term Godparent but removing the ‘g’ to signify the lack of religion involved – reflecting the position they will play in your child’s life and development. A good friend of mine’s little boy Rufus has a ‘Fairy Godmother’.
So what happens at a Baby Naming Ceremony?
There are no set rules or scripts but, as a guide, the format is usually a straightforward structure starting with an introduction and welcome to guests, followed by a reading before commitment of role models / mentors. This is then preceded by ‘Giving the Name’, another reading and the final declaration. The Ceremony concludes with the signing of the certificate. The ceremony can be as simple or as lavish as the family desire. Distinctive additions could include water, candles, flowers, petals, trees and even pebbles. Some families choose to exchange gifts during the ceremony. Personal touches of music, readings and poems can also be included. Some choose to involve grandparents in the ceremony, remember absent friends or family. Attendants can dress formally, smartly or just casual – there are no pre-determined rules.
What happens after the ceremony?
That is completely up to the family. How about a sumptuous three-course sit down meal? A tasty buffet or an elegant afternoon tea? Why not mark the occasion with a champagne toast, the release of some butterflies or the lighting of lanterns? There is no end to the possibilities but be sure to check with your venue if it is not your home!
To name or not to name?
So you may ask yourself is a Baby Naming Ceremony for you? Yes – if you do not have religious beliefs but still think it is important to hold a ceremony to welcome your child into the family and make a commitment to their wellbeing. Yes – if you have mixed religious beliefs and do not want to decide on one religion to welcome your child into. Yes – if you want a flexible ceremony that in no way inhibits your child from seeking a religion of their choosing in the future should they wish. ✿
Name: Cambridge Cottage Kew Gardens
Address: 26 West Park Road, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DA
Price: £1,500-£3,500 plus VAT
What they say:
This former royal residence is an ideal venue. For pre-dinner drinks the Drawing Room can accommodate up to 80 guests in a theatre style seated ceremony. The Gallery houses exhibits botanical art and can hold up to 100 guests. Both rooms open on to the Duke’s Garden and can cater for up to 150 people for a cocktail reception.
Name: The Lightbox
Address: Chobham Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 4AA
Contact: 01483 737809 or
Capacity: 20-100 standing reception
Price: £300 plus VAT
What they say:
Celebrate in a major cultural attraction and stunning example of modern architecture. Choose The Ambassador Room with its stunning views of Woking and the Basingstoke Canal, plus a
beautiful display of artwork from the
Name: Great Fosters
Address: Stroude Road, Egham,
Surrey, TW20 9UR
Contact: 01784 433822
Staring Price: £450
What they say:
Great Fosters is a fine example of Elizabethan architecture set amongst stunning formal gardens and parkland. Suited for celebrations of any size as it boasts a range of private rooms overlooking the grounds and the option of lunch or afternoon tea. A truly picturesque venue.
Name: The Conservatory at
Address: Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 1JE
Starting Price: £950 plus VAT
What they say:
Set within the secluded location of the Park’s historic Walled Garden, our luxury marquee is an ideal spot to host a drinks reception or take those all important photographs of this memorable event. Our aim is to make sure that the day runs seamlessly leaving you to relax and enjoy every minute of this very special occasion.
Name: Legoland Hotel
Address: Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4AY
Starting Price: £250 including VAT
What they say:
The Creator Suite is ideal with its own private lounge, bar area and choice of canapés or finger buffet lunch. Optional extras include entry to the park, costume character meet-and-greet, one hour in the sunken pirate ship water play area and a Lego gift.
Name: Loseley Park
Address: Guildford, Surrey,
Contact: 01483 405119 or
Price Range: £665-£1550
What they say:
Our 17th Century Tithe Barn is a
spectacular and spacious venue. A particularly intimate venue, yet one that can accommodate extensive numbers. Our resident caterers can provide all drinks and a range of refreshments.