Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony

Are you planning a non religious naming ceremony?

As my boy and I are not religious, we would have felt hypocritical to have our sons Christened in a church.

That said, what do you do, when you would like to mark a child’s arrival in a significant way but want something more than a party? A naming day — or non religious Christening — is the perfect solution!

Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony

Naming ceremonies — unlike weddings — can be held wherever you like; at home, in the park, a garden, village hall etc.

You do not need to conduct a non religious naming ceremony on a licensed premises plus they can be performed, simply, by a family member or if you want to go down a more formal route, which we did, you can contact The British Humanist Association or the AOIC – The Association of Independent Civil Celebrants.

We chose the latter and I contacted three local celebrants in our area to find out about what they had to offer.

Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.


There was quite a disparity in the prices I was quoted — almost £100 from the cheapest to the most expensive — but in the end we didn’t go with the most cost effective option. Instead, we chose the person who we felt offered the best package for us and the one we felt most comfortable with.

Our celebrant came to the house for a face-to-face meeting; the other two didn’t offer this service but chose to conduct their dealings with us via phone and email.

The fact that we would get to meet our chosen celebrant before the naming day was fairly important to Dickie and me, which is why we finally decided on Peter Wyllie.

We discussed the kind of non religious ceremony we wanted; the tone and format of the day, whether we wanted readings or music etc…

Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

Style of ceremony

We expressed the importance of the actual ceremony to him, as although we wanted a happy, informal day, it was essential to Dickie and me that the ceremony itself conveyed the importance of why we were doing it.

To almost have the same solemnity of our marriage vows.

As I mentioned in my previous post about The Twinkles’ Naming Day, we had chosen to host the celebration at our friend’s home. Staverton Hall has a gorgeous double length drawing room, which was perfect for the ceremony. The reception was then held in a marquee in the garden.

Having the ceremony separate from the reception certainly gave more of a sense of occasion. We were able to seat around adults with children sitting on laps or the floor, which made it feel a little more informal.

Peter was a born entertainer and conducted the naming ceremony with ease. Explaining to our guests what the relevance of the day meant, he said that ‘In almost all cultures, in every country, humans hold ceremonies to mark the more important stages of life.’

He went on to say that we, as parents, will be dedicating our lives to the upbringing of our boys in a series of promises. And making these promises in front of our friends and family will help us to keep them.

Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.


Plus it was an opportunity to officially appoint our godparents — or in secular speak — ‘guideparents’ — other significant adults, who will look out for the boys and guide them on their journey through life. The grandpaperents and guideparents, also made promises to the babies.

Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

This was a lovely part of the ceremony.

Upon making our vows, Dickie and I — plus the boys’ grandparents and guideparents — were given a tea-light then we lit each one from a double wicked candle that represented the twins.

The 12 tea-lights were then placed around the candle in a beautiful circle of light.

It was lovely to be making these vows to these two precious little boys; surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.


When Dickie and I were married, we had a couple of readings. One of which was a passage on ‘Marriage’ from ‘The Prophet’ by Khalil Gibran.

It seemed fitting that one of the boy’s guidefathers — who had read at our wedding — did the same at the babies’ naming day.

He and his wife read another passage from ‘The Prophet’; this time on children.

Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony
Photo Credit: The Listed Home.

On Children — Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The Ceremony

The ceremony was pretty short — 15-20 minutes in total.

The content was personal and meaningful. There was no fire and brimstone or a lengthy sermon  about something unrelated; which invariably happens in a church based Christening. Strangely enough, most of our guests had never been to a secular ceremony of this kind before and everyone thought it was beautiful.

If you do not hold any religious beliefs, a naming day celebration is the perfect alternative to a Christening.

You can choose the venue, music, readings. And basically tailor the tone of the day to suit you and your family.

The only limit — cost aside — is your imagination!

Photo Credit: The Listed Home.
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Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.

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8 thoughts on “Planning a Non Religious Naming Ceremony”

  1. I had a naming ceremony for my oldest. We hired a piano bar, I stuck photos up around the walls, we had music, poetry, readings, promises etc. I even made little order of service booklets. We used a friend who does public speaking on a day basis, as our celebrant, and musician friends played music. It was all very professional and nice. I videoed the whole thing too. It’s lovely to look back on.

    We decided a few years later to have a christening too, when I was more comfortable with it. The naming ceremony was much more personal and unique. X

    • Thanks so much for commenting Emma — it’s lovely to hear about what you did for your naming ceremony! I so agree with you — having attended many Christenings, there are only a couple that stand out in my mind as being beautiful and unique. Most are either tacked onto the back of a regular Sunday service or are group Christenings for more than one child; usually from different families.

      A naming ceremony means that you really get to tailor the tone, wording and format to suit your family. It made me really proud to hear so many of our guests commenting that it was one of the most beautiful ‘Christenings’ they’d ever been to!! :)

  2. Fascinating to hear about a secular ceremony. We had a Christening for our twins despite not being particularly religious, and in my blog post about it – – I said that one of the reasons we did was that I didn’t think a baby naming ceremony carried as much gravitas (for want of a better word). This is because all of the baby naming ‘ceremonies’ I have ever been to have not actually been a ceremony at all, just a gathering at a house with no celebrant.

    Very interesting read! #MultipleMadness

    • Thanks Francesca! I do know exactly what you mean! Essentially our boy’s naming day held the same gravitas as a secular wedding. We were married in a civil ceremony and it seemed the perfect thing to do, for us to have the same kind of format, for the twins. I couldn’t have brought myself to have a religious Christening, just for the sake of it. It just wouldn’t have felt right!!

      It’s a shame that secular Christenings are not more widely advertised. I know lots of people, who we have since spoken to about ours, who wish they’d done the same for their children but weren’t aware that it was an option. Thanks so much for your comment! X

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