Although our society is becoming a lot less religious than previous generations, many parents still choose to have their child christened as a rite of passage to prepare them for their future and celebrate their arrival into the family.
As with any celebration, there’s plenty of planning involved, especially for such a big commitment. If you’re organising your child’s christening right now, there are several aspects you need to take into consideration to ensure everything goes smoothly. To help you out, we’ve put together this step by step guide which covers all the important areas you need to focus on in order to host the perfect day for your little one.
Booking the church
The first and most obvious step is booking the church and organising the blessing with the vicar. While some clergy are pretty relaxed about attendance, others will want the parents of the child to have attended church at least a few times before the day. As such, if you don’t go to church very regularly, it’s a good idea to attend a few services before you approach the vicar to ask about the christening.
Once the vicar has agreed to host the christening, there’s one important detail you’ll need to clarify. Some churches give the option to host a private ceremony, but others will expect the christening to go ahead as part of the regular Sunday service. Therefore, you need to find out if this will be the case as you may have your own preferences with regards to the exclusivity of your child’s christening.
Securing the date
Before you settle on a date, you need to make sure that all the most important guests are able to attend. This could mean your parents (the child’s grandparents), close friends and the soon-to-be godparents. Once you’ve made them aware of the date you’re planning to hold the christening, if everyone is available you can go ahead and OK this with the vicar. After all, there’s no point booking in a date and then finding out that only half your guests will be available.
Choosing the godparents
A big part of a christening is choosing the godparents. Their role will be to watch over your child and to help guide them through their faith. Traditionally, your child has three god parents, for girls they have two godmothers and a godfather, and for boys it’s the other way around. But ultimately that is up to your digression and personal preference. You can have more or less if that suits.
Many couples choose their close friends or relatives to be godparents as they’ll be playing such an important role in your child’s life. You may already have a good idea of who you’d like to take on this role, but if not then it’s vital that you put careful thought and consideration into your decision.
The final step to choosing your child’s godparents is checking that the people in question are actually happy to take on the role. It’s no use planning the christening with godparents in mind, only to find out that they’re not willing to take on that responsibility. Therefore it’s best to officially ask your chosen friends or family first. Most people will be delighted and excited to become godparents, they might even want to be involved in the planning of the big day.
Planning your child’s outfit
It’s customary that your child wears a christening gown for the service, so you’ll need to choose one you like. That said, don’t buy this month’s in advance as young children grow very fast! Instead, leave it until just a few weeks before the christening to buy the gown. You may even have a gown that has been passed down through your family. If this is the case, make sure your child is not going to be too big or small for the gown a few weeks in advance. This gives you time to have the gown tailored or to go out and buy a new one if you need to.
Organising the service
The service is perhaps the easiest part of your planning. You might want to run through everything with the vicar, but as a general rule these always follow the same format and the vicar will be in charge of most of this. Just be sure that you tell your guests to arrive with plenty of time so as not to hold up the service. There could be other christening or events after yours.
Throwing an after party
It’s customary to throw a reception after the christening, especially if some of your guests have travelled quite far to attend. This doesn’t have to be any sort of religious ceremony, it’s just a nice chance to continue the celebrations and catch up. But this will also take a bit of planning.
First you’ll need to choose a venue. This can either be held at your house, a family home or you could choose to hire a venue like the church hall. Once you’ve got your venue settled, you’ll need to arrange food. You might want to hire a catering service or provide the food yourself depending on the size of the guest list.
On the morning of the christening you might want to decorate the venue with balloons, streamers or banners. Especially if this is being held in an otherwise empty hall. If you’ve got lots of other children coming it’s a good idea to make sure there is plenty to keep them entertained. This could be a garden, toys, bouncy castle or you could even hire a children’s entertainer depending on your budget.
Giving and accepting gifts
As with most events, guests will probably assume that they need to bring a gift. If you’re happy with this arrangement then it’s best not to say anything and if you’re one of the guests or want to make a list then we’ve got you covered.
Finally, you may also wish to provide some gifts of your own, particularly to those how have been a big part of the day. For example, you might choose thank you gifts for the godparents. You might also want to buy some commemorative party favours for all the guests to keep as a momento of their day.