A Naming Ceremony is a wonderful way to bring your loved ones together, show off your new bundle of joy and make promises for your future together. They are also the perfect opportunity to appoint and name your child’s godparents.
Unlike a Christening, at a Naming Ceremony there are no restrictions and no prerequisites that your godparents need to fulfil (such as showing that they have been christened). That means you can choose anyone who holds a meaningful place in both yours and your child’s life, you can involve them as much or as little as you wish in the ceremony and you can get creative with their ‘official’ title.
What do we call godparents at a naming ceremony? There are no rules to say you can’t use the term Godparent as it’s so recognisable, but there are also many alternatives; these could be spiritual, unusual or classic… whatever holds a meaning for you!
As more families are opting to hold non-religious, personal Naming Ceremonies for their children – rather than taking the traditional route of a baptism or Christening – we are now seeing a vibrant range of names used for Godparents.
Some alternative names for Godparents include:
- Guide parent
- Honorary Auntie and Uncle
- Supporting adult
- Fairy-Ungodly Parent (yes – it’s a thing!)
Here we explore the role of a Godparent, different titles they can embrace and how they can play a part in your Naming Ceremony.
Do You Still Have Godparents in a Naming Ceremony?
The beauty of a Celebrant-led Naming Ceremony is that you can include as much or as little as you want. If appointing Godparents and welcoming them into your child’s life is an important step for you, then giving them a role in the Naming Ceremony is a brilliant idea.
The appointment of Guardians is also a popular addition. Just like Godparents, these might be family members or good friends of the couple, who are chosen to play a special role in the child’s future as they grow.
Can Siblings Be Godparents?
Yes! Appointing a sibling as a Godparent can be an incredibly beautiful, significant way to emphasise the idea of the Godparent always being a key part of the child’s life. While couples may break apart and friends can slip in and out of people’s lives, a sibling bond will always remain.
What Names Can We Use Other Than Godparent?
There are many alternatives to the term Godparent; if Guardian sounds too official or Mentor too strict, Sponsor might feel a bit like money is changing hands! A popular choice is the moniker Guide Parent or Guiding Parent.
A more spiritual approach could see parents nominating a child’s Guiding Star or Guardian Angel, and we all know plenty of Honorary Aunties and Uncles in extended families and friendship groups. Supporting Adult, Special Adult or even the rather sweet Friend-Parent, as coined by Agony Aunt Claire Rayner, are good choices too.
Some of the more unusual alternative Godparent names that Celebrants have come across in naming ceremonies are Sparent, Odd-Parent and even God-less-Parent. Or who likes the idea of being a Fairly Ungodly-Mother?
Do you have Godparents if you’re not religious?
There are no rules to say you can’t use the term Godparent, and you may choose to do so because it’s so recognisable! This is one of the many ways a Naming Ceremony differs from a religious christening; the choice is 100% your own.
Can You Make Someone a Godparent Without a christening?
Absolutely. While a Naming Ceremony is secular in its origin, it is entirely the personal choice of the parents as to whether any religious content, from any faith, is included at any point. This could include singing a hymn, reading a religious text, including a symbolic religious action or – as mentioned – appointing a Godparent.
What is The Role of Guide Parents?
The traditional role of a Guide Parent is to guide a child along its spiritual path.
But a child’s Guardian or Odd Parent plays a far more significant role: they take the form of a special adult in that child’s life who can offer support without being too deeply involved with the day-to-day tangles of parenting like the eating of vegetables or the completion of homework!
Guardians are primarily friends who share the same values as the parents, promising to provide sanctuary for the child in times of difficulty, as well as being a caring and loving influence to the wider family. Parents may appoint just a couple of key people, or as many half a dozen, creating a diverse team of friends, all with their own special skills and attributes, giving the child a “go-to-Guide-Parent” for most situations in their life!
Guardians may also be appointed as legal carers if anything should happen to the parents, however this is done separately in a legal office and is not the role of a Naming Ceremony.
Do Godparents Get The Child If Parents Die?
No, and this is a common misconception around the role of a Godparent. There are no legal requirements of a Godparent, a Special Adult, a Fairy-Ungodly Parent or whatever you choose to name these important people in your child’s life.
Naming Ceremony Godparent Promises
Promises may be made by the Godparents during the Naming Ceremony. This could be in the form of them answering questions asked by the celebrant, or they could prepare their own personal vows. If they opt to write their own promises or meaningful readings, this can make a very special addition to the ceremony, as it immediately becomes even more personal to them.
Alternatively, you could choose for them to do a reading that means something to you, say a passage that is important to your family, sing a song or simply be there and reply to your celebrant when called upon to make commitments during the ceremony.
How Many Godparents Can You Have At a Naming Ceremony?
As many as you want!
With a celebrant, there are no restrictions at all and you can choose whomever you feel is best suited to be a positive mentor and offer love and guidance to your child as they grow. You will be surrounding your child with more loving role models to nurture them and have a positive impact on their life; and if that includes appointing ten different Godparents, then we think that’s a pretty beautiful gift.
Why Have a Naming Ceremony?
In recognition that many modern families aren’t at all religious, but would still like to have a meaningful celebration to welcome their new baby or child, the obvious choice is a naming ceremony. The best thing about holding a naming ceremony for your son or daughter is the breadth of choice and personalisation there is when it comes to its wording, content and symbolism.
The beauty of a Celebrant-led baby naming is that you are free to include anything you like, even a bible reading, prayer or blessing if that’s your choice. Humanist naming ceremonies Celebrants do not include religion in their ceremonies, however a family or friend may read a bible quote or such if you choose.
Most naming days are held when the baby reaches 6-9 months old or perhaps to coincide with his or her first birthday. It’s fun to name twins or siblings within a joint welcoming ceremony – and a very good excuse for a party, bubbly and plenty of cake!
What’s The History of a Naming Ceremony?
There have been secular end-of-life celebrations since the very first Humanist funerals in the 1890s, and The British Humanist Association (now known as Humanists UK) were the first to offer ‘new life celebrations’ to families as an alternative to the church.
However, the concept of civil ‘baby naming’ or ‘welcoming’ ceremonies was only introduced as recently as 1998 by the Registration Service in England and Wales, who offered these services primarily at Register offices or approved licensed venues.
There are now hundreds of professionally trained Celebrants across the UK who create and deliver personalised, family-focused tailored naming ceremonies for new parents. These naming days typically take place in family homes, village halls or hotels, allowing parents to not only celebrate the birth of their child but to introduce him or her to their wider family and friends.
How Do You Arrange a Naming Ceremony?
There are many things to consider when arranging your naming ceremony, includings its location, your guestlist, the readings, promises and any other creative – or spiritual – elements you want to weave into the day.
Of course, one of the biggest decisions will be who to choose as your child’s Guardian, and how they will (or will not!) be involved in the naming ceremony.
For more advice, why not read our blog on Organising a Naming Ceremony?
Is There a Typical Naming Ceremony Script?
There’s no typical baby naming or welcoming script, as all will be written from scratch. But as well as officially naming the child, a Celebrant will offer parents the opportunity to explain the reasons behind the child’s name, perhaps tell the story of the baby’s birth, as well as inviting relatives to make promises to him or her. Blowing bubbles or having a nursery rhyme sing along makes for a fun finale!
How a Celebrant Can Help You With a Naming Ceremony
The role of a celebrant is not only to write and craft the Naming Ceremony but to lead all proceedings on the day. It is their responsibility to create a meaningful, personalised ceremony that perfectly encapsulates you and your child’s life.
To find out more, read our full guide on Naming Ceremonies.
To find your perfect Celebrant, browse our worldwide Celebrant Directory.
Photographer Credit: Amber Varghese