Baby christening: baby dress and baby shoes

You’ve welcomed your baby into the world. Now it’s time to welcome them into your Christian faith. Your baby christening ceremony will prepare your child to take Christian sacrament, and it will serve as your baby dedication to God.

So many important things happen in the space of this short ceremony — from your baby’s baptism to their Christian naming ceremony to the recognition of their godparents. A baby christening carries a lot of big moments in the life of your little one, and it’s a big reason to celebrate. To help you with this important celebration, we’ve put together this guide to planning and hosting the event.

How to Plan a Baby Christening Step-by-Step

Each Christian denomination has slightly different christening traditions. If you’re a member of the Anglican church, your child’s ceremony will be different than if you’re a member of the Catholic church. For instance, “christening” and “baptism” are often used interchangeably, but some churches use the word “christening” for baptizing infants only. In either case, your steps for planning will be the same and will involve working closely with your clergy to plan your ceremony. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1: Select Your Child’s Godparents

Recognizing your child’s godparents — the people who will help your child navigate life and faith — is one of the most important elements of a christening ceremony. As such, before you plan your ceremony, be sure to choose godparents and confirm that they’re able to take on this responsibility.

Your child’s godmother and godfather should be people you trust to give your child advice. During the ceremony, they will promise to help your child turn toward Jesus Christ as a guide throughout life and turn away from all things that go against God.

The Church of England recommends families choose at least three godparents, two of the same sex as the child and one of the opposite sex. The Catholic church, on the other hand, only requires one godparent, although families often choose two.

Your church may also require that your baby’s godparents were christened and confirmed in that church. The exact requirements for godparents will depend on your Christian denomination, so if you’re not sure, ask your clergy leaders for guidance.

Step 2: Talk to Your Clergyman

Baby christening: small white church

Your priest, pastor, or vicar will be your best resource as you plan your baby christening. You can turn to them anytime you have questions about the ceremony.

Once you’ve chosen your baby’s godparents, you’re ready to sit down with your priest or pastor for more concrete planning. Your clergyman can tell you which dates the church is available for your ceremony. Typically, babies are christened between two and six months, but there isn’t a strict timeline. Even small children can still be christened, so don’t worry too much about getting an early date. Your young child can still be christened even if they’re not a newborn baby.

In addition to setting a date, your pastor will let you know what else they need from you. They will likely ask for the names of your child’s godparents, and they may ask if you want to choose a Bible verse about the sacrament of baptism. In some cases, you can ask a friend or family member to read a bible verse at the ceremony. In other cases, your priest or pastor will read it for you.

You may also be asked to choose a new Christian name for the naming ceremony. Some churches will christen your newborn baby with their legal name while others will ask you to choose a symbolic name based on a Christian saint or an angel that you would like your child to emulate. Again, this will depend on which Christian church you attend, and your priest or pastor can guide you through this part of the ceremony.

As part of the planning process, your priest or pastor may also ask you how many guests will attend. If lighting a candle in your child’s honor is part of the christening ceremony at your church, you may also need to choose which family member will light the candle.

Some churches will host your baby christening during Sunday mass while others will allow you to host it as a private event. And in some cases, your clergyman may even be willing to come to your home to perform the ceremony.

Step 3: Decide on Your Event Venue

Christening ceremonies usually take place in the church, but in some cases, you may be able to host the ceremony in your home or in a natural setting like a public park. After the ceremony, most parents host a small party to celebrate the special occasion.

Your church may have a community room where you can welcome your guests for food and non-alcoholic drinks after the ceremony. But you can also move the party to a different venue if you want to host a longer celebration or want to have a champagne toast.

You can ask guests to meet you at your home, a restaurant, or a public space for the second venue. Just make sure to include the addresses of both venues on your invitation with clear instructions on when to be at each location.

Step 4: Send Out Invitations

Floral Cross Invitation

Design: Lisa Travis

Once you’ve decided on your time and place, you’re ready to invite guests. Send out invitations with details on the special day, and if you’re inviting guests of a different religion, include a little extra information so they know what to expect.

You may want to mention the dress code at your church or link to an article explaining christening ceremonies and etiquette. Follow these tips for writing a baptism invitation, and you’re sure to get your wording right.

Greenvelope lets you choose from dozens of beautiful online christening invitations that you can send out to friends and loved ones in minutes. With digital invitations you can personalize the wording so even if you find an infant baptism invitation you love, you can update the wording to say “christening” instead of “baptism.”

Step 5: Plan Food and Drinks

For the second part of your celebration, you’ll invite friends and family members to your home for food and drinks. You don’t need to serve a full meal — finger food is a great way to feed a crowd.

If you host your post-christening celebration at your church, you likely won’t be able to serve alcohol, but tea and coffee make an excellent alternative. If you host at home, you can offer a mimosa bar, a pre-batched cocktail, or a variety of soft drinks.

Since christening ceremonies typically happen during the day, a brunch party is also a great way to celebrate if you want to offer a more extensive meal.

Step 6: Pick Out a Christening Outfit

During the christening, your baby will be the center of attention. In traditional congregations, you’ll dress your baby for the occasion with a dramatic christening gown.

A christening gown is a long white dress that often features tulle or lace details. It’s often paired with little white booties — although in many cases you won’t be able to see the booties because the dress goes long past the baby’s feet. Although it’s called a gown, this garment is appropriate for both baby girls and baby boys.

In less formal congregations, you can dress your baby however you’d like. White is a traditional color of dress for the ceremony, but many modern churches allow all types of garments. You can dress your baby girl in a pretty pink christening dress or put your baby boy in a simple romper.

In any case, we recommend having your baby wear a bib until right before you’re called up for the ceremony. This will help keep your baby’s christening outfit clean until the ceremony.

Step 7: Send Your Thanks

Verdant Cross Thank You Note

Design: Bonjour Berry

After the ceremony is over, take some time to thank your clergyman, church staff, and your guests. While most churches don’t expect anything in exchange for your child’s christening ceremony, it’s a good time to make a donation as a gesture of appreciation.

Send your clergyman a thank you card to let them know how much you appreciate their involvement in your baby’s christening. And if any guests gave you a christening gift, make sure to send them a thank you card as well, especially if they also gave you gifts at your baby shower or child’s birth.

Your Baby Is a Blessing

Your baby is a gift from God, and during the christening ceremony, you and your loved ones will promise to raise your little one with God in their heart. Start your child’s journey into their faith by planning a beautiful baby christening.

Once you’ve chosen the date for your baby’s christening ceremony, you’ll be ready to send out invitations. At Greenvelope, we’re here to help you plan all of life’s big moments with online invitations that you can personalize and send out to loved ones in minutes. Choose from hundreds of designs that reflect your faith and your family’s values.