Introduction to Naming Ceremonies -Interview with a Anne from Bluebell Naming Ceremonies
I was lucky enough to interview the lovely Anne from Bluebell Naming Ceremonies who is an Oxfordshire family celebrant and offers Naming Ceremony planning and reading services to families across Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire & the Cotswolds. What are naming ceremonies? Find out in this blog post.
1. Hi Anne, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. To start things off, please introduce yourself and your business and tell me a little bit about your background.
Hi, my name is Anne O’Brien and I run Bluebell Naming Ceremonies. I’m a fully trained
celebrant, specialising in naming ceremonies. These are beautiful events to welcome a
new child into a family’s life; whether that’s through birth, adoption or the blending of two families. Most of early career was in sustainability, which I loved, but it’s been a great joy to switch paths completely and focus on something that I’ve wanted to do for years!
2. What started your passion about Naming Ceremonies and what inspired you to become a family celebrant?
Bluebell Naming Ceremonies is quite a new adventure for me, but something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. The idea first came to mind when we organised my
daughter’s naming ceremony. I thought what a privilege it would be to create and deliver such a wonderful celebration. If I’m really honest, I also thought that I could give the experience a big injection of individuality and bespoke content. Registrars do a fantastic job, but they have limited time and resources, so it’s a no-frills service. My aim is to create deeply personal celebrations that are full of warmth and joy.
3. What are the key differences between a Naming Ceremony and for example a
Christening? Can people have both?
Well, a naming ceremony is best described as the non-religious equivalent of a christening, so you would probably have one or the other. You can have religious content in a naming ceremony if you would like, but the main difference is that it’s written entirely for you and tells the unique story of your family. It’s incredibly personal, so you can write your own promises and choose any location and time (within reason!).
4. Who are Naming Ceremonies suitable for? Can they be held even for an older baby or child?
Naming ceremonies are traditionally associated with babies, but they’re actually suitable
for children of any age. They’re a wonderful opportunity to welcome a new birth child, or
can easily be adapted to create a welcoming ceremony for an adopted child or a unity
ceremony to celebrate the bonds between older children and blended families.
5. What is involved in naming ceremonies? How does the day usually go?
The ceremony itself is usually quite short (about 30 – 45 minutes), which often suits
families with young children. They can be held at any time of the day/evening and can
be structured to suit the seasons and the feel that you want to create. So if you’re planning an autumn ceremony, then candle light at dusk would be beautiful. If you have
an outdoor venue in mind, then how about a woodland setting on a warm summer’s day with picnic blankets and hampers for guests. There’s complete freedom to include the things that are meaningful and special to you.
6. Is there any particular structure that each ceremony follows, or can they be fully customised to reflect each family and their nature and dynamic?
Naming ceremonies usually include an opening, readings, promises from parents, grandparents and sponsors (the equivalent of god parents), symbolic acts and then closing words. Symbolic acts are special moments of reflection – perhaps lighting a candle or planting a tree for an outdoor celebration. Beyond this basic structure, you can have pretty much any content you like, from a good old sing along, to sailing paper boats down a stream. Each ceremony is unique and crafted entirely for your family, so if you have a mixture of backgrounds, you can take a little inspiration from both.
7. What are some of your favourite readings you would recommend for a naming ceremony?
My favourite reading is probably I wish for you one thing and that is love, by William
Byrd. We had this at both our daughters’ naming ceremonies. Since then though, I’ve
discovered lots more and especially like Ode on the whole duty of parents, by Frances
Cornford and a children’s book called Here we are, by Oliver Jeffers. If you’re brave enough there’s nothing more personal than reading something that you, a family member or a friend has written themselves. Take the plunge!
8. Are there any top tips you would suggest parents should consider when they’re starting to plan their naming ceremony?
I think the starting point should always be, how do you want this event to feel and what
do you want it to convey?. This will guide everything else, from venue choice to readings
and promises. It might be about just you, celebrating with your new baby and your nearest and dearest and recognising how much they’re loved. Or it might be a fabulous
excuse for a big, rowdy gathering of far flung friends and family. A chance to bring together the special people that have brought you to this day and that will carry you onwards in the future. Whatever you choose, it will be wonderful!
9. Could you share a story about your absolutely favourite naming ceremony you have held? What made it stand out and so special that it made it your favourite?
The things that stand out to me are often singular moments. One of my favourite memories is a reading made by the sponsor (god parent) of a little girl named Lyra. It was a poem written by her mum’s best friend. The surroundings were quite humble, but
the words were so unexpected and beautiful that it took our breath away. There was not
a dry eye in the house. It reminds me that it’s not about where you are, or what you’ve got, but who you’re with that really matters.
10. How can people get in touch with you if they need some help planning their naming ceremony?
Exclusive Lockdown Babies Giveaway
Myself and Anne are very excited to bring you an exclusive collaborative giveaway worth
To celebrate the things we've gained rather than lost during the Covid crisis, Anne and I are offering Oxfordshire mums with due dates in Dec 2020 and Jan 2021, the chance to win a newborn photoshoot and a naming ceremony written and delivered for your family.
How to enter? (1) Follow us both on Instagram (The Second Star Photography, Bluebell Naming Ceremonies)/Facebook (The Second Star Photography, Bluebell Naming Ceremonies) – feel free to tag friends with Dec/Jan due dates (2) Fill in the contact form at https://bluebellceremonies.co.uk/contact/ (3) Tell us your due date and describe your perfect naming ceremony under our facebook or instagram post.
Good luck mummies to be!