While many people would like to celebrate the arrival of their new baby with family and friend, not everyone feels that a christening ceremony is the right choice for them. In fact, half the British population now identify themselves as non-religious.

How to plan a naming ceremony

If you do not follow a particular faith, or would like to leave it up to you child to decide upon their religion when they are older, a naming ceremony or naming day can be a great alterative for those who would still like to mark their child’s birth in a meaningful way.

What are naming ceremonies?

Naming ceremonies are non-religious (secular) celebrations. Rather than being held in churches, naming ceremonies can take place in a variety of venues suitable for a private gathering; this could be anything from your own home or a village hall, to a golf club or hotel function room.

Government-led civil naming ceremonies can be held at most of the venues approved for marriage or civil partnership ceremonies.

Are there any other naming ceremony organisations?

While a government-led naming ceremony is the most obvious option, organisations such as The British Humanist Association (BHA) can help families to arrange a unique ceremony based on your own preferences. Humanists believe that there is no higher power governing humanity and therefore seek happiness and fulfilment in this life by caring for themselves and helping others.

Private organisations such as Civil Ceremonies Ltd also offer a range of packages for those looking for a professional naming ceremony service.

When can I hold a naming ceremony?

Like christenings, naming ceremonies can be held at any stage of life, from a few days after birth to any time during adulthood. Some people choose a naming ceremony to coincide with another celebration such as a birthday or wedding, or they may opt to have a joint ceremony for siblings or cousins.

Can my child still have godparents?

Rather than godparents, those opting for a naming ceremony can choose to nominate any number of ‘supporting adults’ or ‘special friends’ instead. These adults will carry out similar duties to a godparent, but without the religious aspect.

Who conducts a naming ceremony?

Instead of a religious figure, naming ceremonies are typically led by an official celebrant who will guide you through the process and help you to plan the day. The celebrant will meet with you in a place of your choice to discuss your ideas for the day and will write a fully personalised ceremony in line with your preferences. The script for the day will later be presented to you as a memento of the occasion.

Since naming ceremonies have no legal standing, you are also free to conduct the ceremony yourself unofficiallly if you wish.

How much does a naming ceremony celebrant cost?

Civil naming ceremonies, like civil weddings, come with a fee. For instance, Essex County Council charge from £160 for a weekday ceremony in the Essex Register Office (Brentwood) to £280 for a ceremony on a Sunday in a licensed venue (remember you will also need to pay the venue fee). If you want to hold the ceremony somewhere that isn’t already licensed by the Council for civil marriages, you will be asked to pay a £30 inspection fee to determine the venue’s suitability.

Thurrock Council charge from £225 for a Saturday service in the Register Office to £325 for a Sunday service held at any approved premise.

The Humanist Association recommends that celebrants charge a fee of between £150 and £300, but the exact cost will depend on the distance they need to travel and how complex your ceremony is. You can usually find details about a celebrant’s fee on their website, but always double check when you make an initial enquiry. Find a humanist celebrant here.

Prices for a Civil Ceremonies Ltd start at £160. You can also opt to purchase a professional naming ceremony script without the services of a celebrant from £49.80.

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