Christening

Guide to a memorable baby christening

Baby christenings, like weddings, are steeped in tradition, symbolism and spirituality. Here are simple ways to add your family's own special flavor to the child's first rite.

Ceremony

Meet with the minister to discuss the required aspects of the ceremony and the personal touches you will add. Bring your baby so the minister and child are familiar with one another. This will make for a much more intimate experience.

If your family is a blend of traditions, honor each side with elements of both faith backgrounds in the ceremony. For example, one church may practice infant baptism, while another performs a prayer ceremony. Why not do both? Be sure to research the history of your church's traditions so that they are meaningful to you.

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Ask your parents, your siblings and / or the child's godparents to participate. Some options are providing music, reading a poem or scripture or offering a prayer blessing. You may also include the congregation by creating "christening favors." One idea is to create a bookmark to remind attendees to pray for your child as he or she grows. Your minister can help you select scripture to include.

Location

If you do not have a place of regular worship, spend some time visiting churches and other spiritual locations. Don't limit yourself to the indoors, but consider a family garden, farm or forest preserve. When you have made your decision, think about adding some personal touches to the space. Indoors, you can add fresh flowers to the altar table and line the front pews with bows to designate family seating. Outdoors, you may want to bring chairs for some guests or a tent in the event of hot sun.

If you will have a luncheon following the event, be sure to decorate with religious symbols to make it more meaningful. Remember that while the event is focused on your child, the ceremony itself is religious!

Gown

While white is the traditional choice for christening gowns, each culture has its own understanding of color. Research your own heritage and think what each color means to you. You may choose light blue to demonstrate purity or red accents to symbolize Christ's blood. Consider purchasing a tuxedo or dress that can be reused; there is no rule that says your christening outfit must be for one-time use!

Keepsake

You will want a special memento to remember this day by, especially if you have opted for non-heirloom clothing. Consider keepsakes that can be signed by guests, such as frames, books or a blanket. If you choose to have a signed blanket, embroider over each name so that it can be washed.

There are many other ways to add a personal touch to your child's christening experience; you may want to consult a bridal magazine and rework some ideas found inside to fit this occasion. The most important things are to keep the ceremony religious and to involve your own unique tastes and perspectives in the day.

By Judith Fetzer