Our handy little guide for planning a christening, from churches to cakes and of course finding that perfect outfit.
Why have a Christening?
There are many different reasons people have their children Christened. The main reason being to welcome your child into the Church congregation. If you have been brought up as a Christian, having your child christened will be something that will be very important to you so you can share your religious beliefs and values with your children. You may also want to use the occasion to get the family together for a celebration. Everyone loves a family get together and what better reason than to celebrate the birth of your child? Another reason some people have a christening is due to their local school’s acceptance of children who have been christened so a child who has been christened could have a better chance than one who has not.
Christening or naming day?
A christening and a naming day are similar in many ways. The difference being that a naming ceremony has no religious commitment. There is no mention of God and no Christian promises are made. Some people prefer a naming ceremony as a baby couldn’t possibly understand Christian beliefs and therefore have the chance to decide for themselves later on in life.
For a naming ceremony you would need to get in contact with a celebrant who would officially name your child. You can find these in a celebrant directory and they would help you to arrange the necessary details. You still also need to choose guide parents. People usually choose close friends and family who will be supportive later in life but unlike with a church ceremony you can be a little more flexible in how many you would like to have.
Planning a church Christening
The first step when planning your christening is to contact your local vicar. Most of the service is arranged by the church but there will be a lot of important questions for you. Most churches include a Christening as part of the main Sunday morning service, however some churches may give you the option of a special service which could be held on a different day and is dedicated purely to your special event. Whichever day you decide I would suggest checking with the God parents before you confirm to ensure they can make that day. You may be asked about your own beliefs and whether you have been christened.
Each church has their own conditions, for example, some require you to be regular attendees of the church whereas some only ask you attend a few services beforehand. You will be asked if there are any hymns and readings you would like and about God parents.
You would expect a christening service to last approximately 20-30 minutes, add this on to the standard Sunday church service it may be worth taking some things to keep small children entertained. Some ideas are colouring books, small toys (quiet ones!) or some churches even allow children to play in a side room if they have one. This would be worth checking when you speak to the vicar.
This is the probably the hardest decision you will have to make! God parents should be chosen with a lot of thought. The obvious decision is close friends and family. You need to think of supportive people who would be there to help no matter what.
The traditional way to choose God parents is firstly decided by the sex of your child. For girls you would have 2 Godmothers and 1 Godfather. Boys would have 2 Godfathers and 1 Godmother. You may want more so this is something you should ask about when meeting with your vicar.
Considered one of the most important decisions to make and why shouldn’t it be? Your child is going to be the centre of attention, so they certainly need to look the part. Some families have a gown that they like to hand down. These are usually long traditional gowns that can be used for a girl or boy.
There are plenty of shops like HolyArt that sell christening outfits if you are looking for something a bit more modern. Girls can have a shorter style dress and boys may be more comfortable wearing a special romper like the ones found at this christening shop
One mistake a lot of people make is remembering that in the summer months, a church can still be cold so it is worth buying a shawl or cardigan to keep your child warm.
A reception isn’t a necessity after a Christening, but most people like to have one to celebrate more privately with friends and family. Thee reception can be however large or small you would like to sit your budget.
Ideally choose somewhere close to the church so people won’t have to travel far. It could be the church hall, a pub or if you wish your own home. You can keep the décor simple, a few balloons and banners would suffice or if you’re feeling adventurous you could even pick a theme for your day and match the décor.
For food and drink, most people opt for a buffet. You could hire a caterer to do this for you, or if this is out of your budget then making the food yourself is a cheaper option. Most people choose buffet food so they can prepare this before the Christening. Don’t be shy asking for help from friends and family, you’ll find some people love to help!
Cake – A cake can make a lovely centrepiece and can accompany your buffet as a dessert. There are plenty of cake makers advertising nowadays however this can get expensive. Again, ask friends and family for help, you may have a star baker in the family who would love to help.
Favours – Personally I think more suited to a wedding, but some people are choosing to buy favours to give to their guests. This could be something small as way of saying thank you to your guests or you could keep it more personal and buy them as a thank you gift for the god parents.
Photographer – It is a lovely idea to hire a professional photographer to capture special moments of your day. Make sure you ask to check their previous work and to tell them which pictures you would like them to take. If this isn’t an option due to expense, you can always just ask everyone to upload any photos they have taken onto a platform like facebook.
Guestbook – a guestbook is a lovely keepsake that you can show your child later in life. A simple search on ebay or amazon will leave you spoilt for choice or your local stationary shop will have a lovely keepsake book.
It is going to be a long day so I would highly recommend something to keep the kids entertained. This doesn’t have to be extravagant. My children are happy with a colouring book and some pens. Small toys are a good choice and you can bring these from home. If you are wanting that little bit more you could hire a bouncy castle or even a children’s entertainer.