What is a naming ceremony

Naming ceremonies are starting to come into their own as an alternative to christenings. A way to mark your baby’s arrival without a religious ceremony. Find out if a naming ceremony is right for you and your baby.
Naming ceremonies are starting to come into their own as an alternative to christenings.

Find out if a naming ceremony is right for you and your baby.

What is a naming ceremony

A naming ceremony is a way to mark your baby’s arrival without a religious ceremony.

It offers you the chance to focus on your baby’s future development, welfare and happiness and for you to affirm that you will try to be the best parent you can.

There are no set rules or formats, it’s entirely up to you what direction the naming ceremony will take.

Why have a naming ceremony
For your family and friends, a naming ceremony is a way for them to declare that they would like to be involved in your baby’s life.

For adoptive children of any age, a naming ceremony is a great way of welcoming them into your life and binding your new family unit.

Naming ceremonies can also have particular importance if parents belong to different faiths, if they are unmarried or single parents, and if there are children from a previous marriage involved.
In New Zealand there are no legal requirements associated with a name giving ceremony. However under New Zealand law the birth of a child must still be registered on the Notification of Birth for Registration form which is available from your local office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

A name giving ceremony does not remove the requirement to register the birth of your child.

Who takes the naming ceremony?

Anyone you choose can lead the naming ceremony! A grandparent, close family member or friend or even yourself! Alternatively you can invite a professional celebrant to lead the proceedings.

Whoever you choose, their primary role is to ensure that your ceremony runs smoothly and that you have a memorable day.

Having a celebrant or someone else lead the event helps take some of the stress out of the day and helps you to concentrate on your baby and the ceremony itself.

What’s the format for a naming ceremony?

Again, it really is your choice! The format of the ceremony is down to what suits you best.

Here’s a suggested format for you to use or adapt.

Opening reading
  • Many parents decide to start their baby’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.
Formal naming & parents’ affirmation
  • The opening reading is often followed by the formal naming of your baby and spoken declarations or promises by both parents.
  • Many parents choose to make an affirmation between themselves, a commitment to always act in the best interests of their 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 is adopted or was conceived in special circumstances eg with the help of IVF, or if your baby has special needs or was born prematurely etc.
Supporting adults
  • The parental affirmation can be followed by the introduction of the 'supporting adults'. These are special friends or family members who have agreed to act as the non-religious equivalent of godparents or guardians.
  • It’s an important part of the ceremony where you introduce and acknowledge the supporting adults, as they in turn give their commitment to be part of your baby’s life.
  • Grandparents are also often recognised at this point in the naming ceremony.
Closing the ceremony
  • You may choose to end the ceremony with another reading, either by yourself or 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 baby's naming ceremony, what matters most is that you are happy and relaxed about the people you invite to attend, the words and tone of the event.

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