Naming ceremonies are warm and happy occasions, welcoming children to the world and celebrating their uniqueness. They can be conducted for children of all ages – babies to teenagers – and for more than one child. They can also be combined with wedding ceremonies, vow renewals or a more general ceremony, perhaps marking a new stage in the life of a family (i.e. having moved from one area to another).

Like wedding ceremonies they can be conducted anywhere – family gardens, hotels, village halls, rooms in pubs etc. They are usually family occasions and relatively small although sometimes there can be upto 70 or 80 guests, many of whom are usually children. Because they are child-centred they tend to be quite relaxed but there is still an air of formality and seriousness as the ‘godparents’ and parents make vows to the child/children.

There is no rule on what ‘godparents’ in a humanist ceremony should be called, or indeed how many there can be. Nameparents, guardians, guideparents or special friends have all been used though many parents prefer to stick to ‘godparents’ as most people know the word and what is expected of the role (though we do say that these ‘godparents’ will, of course, act in a non-religious capacity). Most parents choose to have three or four ‘godparents’ for their child but it’s not unusual to have more. I conducted one ceremony in which there were nine ‘godparents’ but this was something of an exception!

If someone contacts me about a naming ceremony I will usually send them some past examples of naming ceremonies that I have conducted, for them to read. This helps show them what is possible and prompts ideas.

At the meeting to discuss the ceremony we’ll talk about the reasons for the name, who they would like to be acknowledged in the ceremony (grandparents, supporters etc), and their wishes and hopes for the child as he/she grows up. The parents usually write their own vows – and most also say something in addition to the vows – as well as those of the ‘godparents’.

Though these ceremonies tend to be less formal than weddings they are just as emotional. It is after all not many times that we stop to think about what we want for our child and publicly dedicate ourselves to him/her. Saying all these things to a baby or young child, right at the beginning of his or her life is very touching and powerful.

There are many symbolic actions that can be performed during naming ceremonies such as handfasting (binding the hands of parents and child lightly together with ribbons), sandblending, gift giving, releasing balloons, writing messages of hope to the child, and lighting a candle. Some parents choose to do this as a concrete way of making a statement about their commitment to their child and also having a memento of the day to share at a future date with him/her.

I charge £400 for a naming ceremony. This covers the initial meeting to discuss the ceremony, writing/editing the ceremony and performing the ceremony on the naming day itself.

If you would like to talk more about naming ceremonies or humanism in general then please do contact me.