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Naming ceremonies

Celebrate the birth of a child or welcome adopted children or stepchildren to your family.

Although traditional christenings or baptisms are still popular, many families wish to hold an alternative, non-religious ceremony.

Each ceremony is unique to you and your family. You will have the chance to work closely with a trained celebrant to select from the options available and tailor a ceremony that is special for you and your family. Every ceremony is different, so you can create something unique for your family to remember and treasure as your children grow.

Who can arrange a naming ceremony?

Any parent, legal guardian or person who has parental responsibility for the child/children may arrange a ceremony. Parents do not have to be married or in a civil partnership to do so.

What are they for?

Naming ceremonies give you the opportunity to:

  • celebrate the naming of the child or children
  • express commitment to the child. The parent or parents pledge their care and love to their child in front of family and friends
  • bring the child into the community. Relatives and guests meet and welcome the newest member of the family
  • appoint mentors or supporting adults - a bit like nominating godparents. Family and friends can promise their help and support to the child as he or she grows up within their community
  • give grandparents the opportunity to make promises to support the parents in the raising of their new grandchild.

What happens in a naming ceremony?

Each ceremony is divided into sections:

  • Introduction and welcome
  • Naming of the child or children
  • Parents' promises
  • Supporting adults or mentors' promises
  • Readings and music
  • Signing of celebratory certificate
  • Presentation of gifts
  • Presentation of certificate
  • Closing words.

You don't need to include every section in your ceremony. Each section can be as simple or as complex as you wish.

The length of ceremony depends on the type of ceremony and the different options you choose. We suggest that you allow 30-45 minutes for your ceremony.

Where can naming ceremonies be held?

We offer naming ceremonies in all our registration offices and at approved premises within the county. They may be celebrated on any day of the week except Christmas Day.

Ceremonies on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Boxing Day or New Year's Day will be subject to staffing availability.

If you would like to use a different venue, for example a village hall, or a marquee in the grounds of a hotel, this would need to be discussed beforehand and visited by a member of the Registration Service to ensure it is a suitable venue for the ceremony.

How much will the ceremony cost?

The fee will vary depending on the day and time that you choose. For a ceremony in approved premises, you will need to contact the specific venue of your choice regarding their availability and fees. Please note there will be a fee for us to send out a celebrant.

For further information, please contact the Registration Service.

Please note that Naming ceremonies are non-statutory and therefore the ceremony itself and the issue of any certificates carry no legal status.

Booking and paying for a ceremony

To book your ceremony please contact the Registration Service.

Full payment for all ceremony bookings will be taken at the time of booking. Please read Oxfordshire Registration Service ceremony booking terms and conditions (pdf format, 104Kb)

Cards we accept:

  • Visa credit
  • Visa debit
  • Visa electron
  • MasterCard
  • Mastercard Debit
  • Maestro

We do not accept American Express cards for payments.