Naming Ceremonies

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

What is it?

If you decide that a religious ceremony or christening is not for you, then you may choose a naming ceremony to formally welcome your child into the world. Naming ceremonies are a fantastic way celebrate the arrival of a new baby with friends and family. Naming ceremonies can be held for children of any age, and are becoming popular for welcoming adopted or step-children into the family as well as for babies. There are two kinds of naming ceremony, the civil naming ceremony, and privately offered naming ceremonies, which both offer slightly different options depending on your needs.

The Civil Naming Ceremony

The civil naming ceremony is a government-led scheme to offer a non-religious option for naming new babies, much the same as a civil wedding ceremony. These civil naming ceremonies have now been adopted by most local authorities throughout England and Wales, and can be booked through your local Register Office. A civil naming ceremony must be held in a licensed premises and conducted by a celebrant who is usually the registrar for the district. Civil naming ceremonies can contain no religious content, much the same as a civil wedding ceremony. As part of your ceremony you can nominate any number of ‘Special Adults’ who play a role similar to that of the godparents in a christening. These chosen adults can also be known as Special Friends, Supporting Adults or Odd-Parents! You may also choose to make special mention of the child’s grandparents. Ceremonies vary from district to district, but the following is a basic outline of how a civil naming ceremony will proceed:

  • You can choose either a formal entrance with the parents and child entering after the guests are assembled, or informal with all guests assembled around the celebrant.
  • The celebrant welcomes the guests and introduces the special adults. The grandparents will also be welcomed if specifically included
  • The child is formally named
  • The parents, special adults and possibly grandparents make promises of commitment to the child
  • Next will follow some readings or poems (no religious content is permitted).
  • A signed record of the ceremony is presented as a memento

Other Naming Ceremonies

The second option is a naming ceremony offered by privately run businesses or organisations such as The British Humanist Society. These follow the same basic structure as the civil naming ceremony, and are often run in conjunction with the local authority, however as they are privately run they can take place anywhere and be officiated by anyone. You can also include religious content if you wish, making these types of ceremony ideal for families with mixed religious backgrounds. The British Humanist Society offer a service which is fully customisable and can be led by friends and family, or by a BHA approved celebrant. If you choose to use an approved celebrant, then the cost for the ceremony will be between £100-£155.

Private organisations can offer a script only service which provides the structure for you to customise, or a celebrant-led service. As an example, a typical script only service costs £55-100. Celebrant fees depend on the organisation but tend to range between £170-£300. If you opt to have the ceremony at home then it’s worth remembering that there could be additional fees to cover a visit from the celebrant for heath and safety reasons.

For more information please visit the BHA website

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