7 simple steps to help plan your child's Christening
1. Pick your child's Godparents
Godparents are usually chosen from close family and friends. This used to be because godparents would take responsibility for the child if their parents met an untimely end. However, in modern times arrangements for guardianship are legal agreements and do not fall onto the godparents unless they enter a binding contract – something you might want to reassure them about!
Nowadays, godparents still perform an important role in the child's life, not through guardianship, but with a higher value placed on Christianity and helping their Godchild learn the ways of the Church and the Christian faith.
When you are deciding who would make good Godparents to your child consider who will be there for your child consistently, who will love and support them and most importantly, who will help them learn about their faith.
2. Choose the Church that will mean the most to your child
A lot of people will choose to have their child christened in their parish Church as this is traditional and means that their child's place of worship is close to where they live.
By holding the christening in your parish church your child will be surrounded by the people and congregation in your local area, which some find a comforting thought and enjoy the prospect of their child being surrounded by loving people.
However, the local church is not right for everyone and some choose to have their child christened in a different church that has a lot of meaning to them, such as the church where they were married or christened.
To hold a Christening in a Church that is not in your parish you must first contact the Vicar in the church you would prefer, as the final decision is up to him, yet if there is a sentimental meaning behind your decision, most will allow it.
3. Consider who to invite to the Christening
It's important to think about who you want at your child's Christening but to also be realistic about how many people the Church can fit and what your budget is for the reception party.
Most Christenings take place during a Sunday service which often means the usual parishioners will be present during the service. It's important to factor this in when inviting your own guests as the last thing you want is for people to feel unwelcome at the ceremony that is welcoming your child to the Christian faith.
When you understand the number you are dealing with then it is time to invite your guests. Make sure that you send out your invites well in advance and include a simple RSVP system that will help you keep track of how many people will be coming.
4. Make sure the Christening party is what you want
A lot of parents feel pressure to arrange a large reception party after their child's Christening in order to celebrate the day. However, unless this is truly what you want for your child then you should ignore the pressure and make it something you will enjoy.
Large parties with a hundred family and friends can be lovely, but small events or a simple afternoon tea can be just as enjoyable and, if the weather is good, presents a great opportunity for any children to play outside.
If you are going for a large party then it is important to try and book in advance, especially if you're planning your child's christening during 'wedding season' (late May-September) as bigger venues might book up rather quickly.
It's also worth considering what, if any, food you are feeding your guests. Will it be a morning Christening followed by tea and cakes, a proper 'afternoon tea', a buffet, or a sit-down meal? You will need to let people know in the invites the details of the reception so make sure you have worked this out well in advance.
5. Select your child's Christening Gown or outfit
It is traditional for babies to wear Christening gowns when they are welcomed into the Christian Church however, if you think this is not the right choice for you child, you are free to choose whatever clothing you deem appropriate for the occasion.
Whether you chose a traditional or modern style of outfit for your child to be Christened in it is important to remember that babies grow quickly. While you can be very proactive about certain elements, such as the Church and reception venue, it's best to leave buying your child's outfit until closer to the event as the last thing you want if for them to grow out of it!
It's also worth noting that, whatever time of year you chose to have your child Christened, Churches are usually quite cold buildings so under-layers or cardigans are often a good idea to keep you little one comfortable.
6. Decide if you want a photographer at the Christening
A Christening is a perfect occasion to take lots of photographs and document the day. Many family members and friends will take pictures as the day progresses so that parents have plenty of images to look back on and even keep safe in a special Christening photo album.
Some parents prefer to have a photographer attend their Child's Christening so that the responsibility of capturing the day doesn't solely fall on the guests, especially when they are enjoying or taking part in the Christening Ceremony.
It is up to you if you want a photographer at your child's christening as they can often come with a price-tag that is not so welcoming. A lot of times it's nice to enjoy the photos taken by your guests as you get to see the day from their point of view after the ceremony has finished.
7. Determine if you are buying gifts for Godparents
Many people like to give personalised godparent gifts as a small token of appreciation to the friends or family members that are promising to help their child for life.
It's important to think about whether you are going to buy your child's godparents gifts – the last thing you want to appear is thoughtless.
If budgets are tight then something small like a personalised candle can often make a lovely gift to remind them that their god child should '...Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God.'