Humanist naming ceremonies

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In England, namings conducted by Humanists UK celebrants continue to be legal and are allowed in venues and public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people. The legislation makes clear that ‘significant event gathering[s]… of no more than 30 persons’ can go ahead in all venues and public outdoor spaces except ‘private dwelling[s]’. Humanist celebrants are allowed to conduct ceremonies under this legislation as the definition of ‘significant event gathering’ is conditional on ‘according to their religion or belief’.

In Wales, on 20 July the Welsh Government changed the law to allow humanist naming ceremonies, provided that: no more than 30 people attend; social distancing is maintained; the ceremony is happening in a location that can be made Covid-secure (which includes it being a confined or enclosed space and having a risk assessment done); and that location is not on the list of locations that must remain closed. This means it is still not possible to hold humanist ceremonies in: restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, theatres, concert halls, museums and galleries, holiday/camping sites, hotels, and B&Bs. But it is possible in fields, parks, beaches, private gardens, community halls, town halls, stately homes, and private homes that are large enough to host such gatherings. If you are unsure about where you may hold your humanist wedding, then please talk to a celebrant. We are working with the Welsh Government to expand this range of venues.

In Northern Ireland, outdoor naming ceremonies are allowed to go ahead, subject to the organiser carrying out a risk assessment which meets the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 and takes all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. This means more than 15 people may attend a naming ceremony outdoors. Private homes are now subject to a restriction of 6 people attending, but other indoor venues will have differing maximum capacities subject to their own risk assessments.

Our celebrants remain available to support you to plan your naming ceremony.

Humanist naming ceremonies

A humanist naming ceremony is a way of celebrating and welcoming a new addition to your family. It  focuses on the child – or children – being named and the friends and family that surround them.

People choose to have a humanist naming ceremony because they want to bring family and friends together to celebrate one of life’s key milestones. They are ideal for families who want to mark the occasion in a way that isn’t religious.

A naming ceremony also provides the opportunity for those gathered to reflect the roles that key people will play in the life of the child.

Who are naming ceremonies for?

Naming ceremonies are perfect for newborns or toddlers and many are combined with a first birthday celebration. But they don’t have to be limited to young children. They can be held whenever you’re ready: there’s no rush!

For older children they can be seen or used as a rite of passage or a celebration of your child’s growing maturity. They can also be the perfect way to welcome adopted children or step-children of any age into a family.

Humanist Ceremonies celebrants also  conduct many ‘joint’ naming ceremonies for siblings. Sometimes families choose to combine wedding and naming ceremonies, which can be a wonderful option for couples who choose to marry after their children have been born, or where marriage represents the coming together of two families.

Where can you have a naming ceremony?

Naming ceremonies can be held wherever you want: at home, in the park, the garden, or your local village hall. They are becoming increasingly popular in a range of settings.

What happens at a humanist naming ceremony?

Each naming ceremony is unique. They might include music, singing, poems, readings, parental promises to their child, the appointment of ‘guideparents’, and perhaps a symbolic action such as planting a tree, signing a certificate, or writing in a wish book.

What does a humanist naming celebrant do?

Your celebrant will:

  • Get to know you and discuss what you would like to include in your ceremony
  • Listen to your ideas and share with you their experience and knowledge of other ceremonies
  • Write a unique ceremony just for you
  • Conduct the ceremony on the day
  • Give you a presentation copy of the final script.

What people say about humanist naming ceremonies

‘So many people said to me it was the best naming they had ever been to and everything went perfectly!’

‘We had lots of people express how much they enjoyed the ceremony. I don’t think many had been to a naming ceremony before, so weren’t sure what to expect, but they absolutely loved it, as did we!’

‘From our very first meeting through to the ceremony, we could not have asked for a more genuinely lovely person to help celebrate our daughter’s naming day. So many guests have commented on how lovely the ceremony was; how personal and inclusive and unique it was to our family.’

‘There were lots of tears, laughter, and joy! Everyone ‘got’ what we did and were very impressed. We were so lucky to share it all with all our friends and family.’

How much does a humanist naming ceremony cost?

Humanist Ceremonies™ makes recommendations for fees and suggests a band of £150 to £450 for naming ceremonies. (Prices vary according to the distance a celebrant needs to travel and the complexity and duration of the ceremony.) Many celebrants give an indication of their fees on their websites but do always check this with them when you enquire about their availability.

What next?

If you’d like to find out more about humanist naming ceremonies, you can download our namings leaflet or see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Humanists UK’s book, New Arrivals, includes lots of information and ideas on music and readings as well as sample ceremonies.

Find your local naming celebrant

You can look for celebrants who conduct naming ceremonies in your area.

Tell us about your ceremony

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve had a humanist naming ceremony and would like to share a photo and a tell us a bit about it for our naming blog. You can email us, tweet us, or contact us via Facebook.