A naming ceremony is a great way to include your own children in your wedding ceremony or to welcome a new arrival into the family; have a read of Lindsey and Matt’s inspiring naming day to officially mark the arrival of their little ‘tea-drinking’ man into the family.
Lindsey approached me to write and conduct their son’s naming ceremony at Wortley Hall in Sheffield. And what a privilege it was to meet such a loving, caring and supportive family and their close-knit group of friends.
We helped Lindsey and Matt find the words to express their love, hopes and aspirations for Max’s life ahead by listening to their stories, understanding who they were and what was important to them. Our ceremony marked and celebrated the first chapter of Max’s story, the first of many more chapters, adventures, achievements and milestones waiting to unfold.
It was clear from the outset that family, family history and friendships were very important to them both; and this became a key thread that ran throughout this very personal ceremony. It was their way of marking and celebrating the arrival of Max and welcoming him into the family; a way of providing an extended circle of support to help him through the highs and lows of life and “grow into a man that anyone would be proud of to know”.
So why did Lindsey chose to have a naming ceremony? :
“As we are not religious and nor are our friends and family. We did not feel that a traditional christening was right. We didn’t feel comfortable making promises to take him to church and teach him the ways of God,when we were simply not going to. We wanted to make promises to Max that were relevant to us and our philosophy on life, which is more about family, friends, fun and pushing yourself to achieve and experience life. With a large group of friends who have children, we have been to many christenings over the last few years and found most of them impersonal, irrelevant and formal. They also do two or three children at a time and we did not want that. There was never any question for us, we wanted more of a party atmosphere and room for children to play, so a naming service was the natural option.”
‘What’s in a name?’ some people might ask. Nearly all parents deliberate over what they should call their child, considering what it sounds like, what it might be shortened too, what the initials might spell; after all, it will stay with them for life. For Lindsey and Matt it went beyond this, the name had to have meaning and significance. His name had to be part of their family make up and heritage and was to serve as a reminder of all those family members who had gone before.
So they decided to include the surnames from both the maternal and paternal families, to make Max Burgess Blackwell Hible. Blackwell dated back to an ancestor, Francis Blackwell, who survived the Eyam plague of 1665; if he had not survived, Max and his maternal line would never have been.
Max, meaning the greatest, is not only the greatest gift to Lindsey and Matt; having spent just a relatively short time with all of them, we’re sure he’ll also be the greatest in all that he sets out to achieve in life.
Both Grandmas told wonderful, funny and moving stories of the people behind the names of their family members; personalities and stories that need be kept alive and live on in new generations.
Max was, as tea-drinker grandma Carole put it so well, “the latest in the line of life, bringing us to this event, in this year, in this place. He was made up of inherited genes that had managed to survive war, disease, famine and poverty. In a long line of coincidences, chance meetings and life changing events, it is a miracle that we are all actually here today!”
Having your first child is very special; it’s a time that changes everything and a moment in time that you cannot return to. In the ceremony Lindsey wanted to share the words she wrote to capture the feelings, hopes and aspirations she felt, as she lay gazing at Max from her pillow.
She has been kind enough to share an extract from the poem she wrote when Max was just 7 weeks old, entitled “Motherhood”. We’re sure it will strike a chord with all new mums out there!
“These moments are so precious,
they will be fleeting too.
For such a short time,
does life remain so new.
You’re settled and you’re swaddled
you’re resting those big blue eyes.
You wake just for a moment
and stretch towards the skies.
I wonder how to capture the scene
so wonderful and new.
A camera or video,
justice it would not do.
They could not capture the beauty
of our fresh-faced baby son.
They cannot hold your scent
or this feeling of being one.”
Both Lindsey and Matt have strong friendships that go back to their own childhoods; friends that they have shared many memories with over the years. It was lovely to see them being part of the ceremony too, making their own promises as guardians to Max. These are people that mean a great deal to both of them, who have made a lasting impression on their lives and who they hope, in turn, will also have on Max’s.
The wonderful tiered cake was made by Lindsey, her best friend and her mum; the colours of the decorations and flowers were taken from their own wedding ceremony three years ago, but with the addition of a soft blue to represent the new little person that has joined them. Their wedding ribbons were used to tie the keepsake script and certificate, adding the finishing touch to a beautiful memento of the celebration.
The pieces of music they chose to start the ceremony were lovely vintage versions of “Three little fishes” by Nat Gonella, “The run away train” by Vernon Dalhart and “Teddy Bears Picnic” by Val Rosing, which the children loved.
Max, took everything in his stride; he didn’t seem to mind being the centre of attention too much, but he had his favourite car so he was happy! He even joined in trying to sign his name on the certificates!
Lindsey and Matt wanted a relaxed atmosphere where the children could be themselves and enjoy the celebration too; and at the end of the ceremony each of them received a lovely gift from Max, much to their delight, with little games, stickers and other items to keep them entertained.
It was a real pleasure to be part of Max’s special day and join in the celebrations. Each ceremony we do is different, but always leaves a lasting memory and this one especially so.
I’ll leave you with Lindsey’s summary:
“As a bit of a control freak, I had strong idea’s about how I wanted the day to go and about the wording for the ceremony. Jan was really accommodating and encouraging with the wording I had written. I was pretty happy with my efforts but Jan was able to link all the different sections of the wording; she added some lovely bits in that I would not have thought of and jiggled the order around to give it a better flow. I was really pleased with the final script. Jan was happy to contribute as much or as little wording as I wanted and did not try and dictate or impose anything on us – it was a real consultative approach. It was a very personal service and it was nice to learn a little about Jan and her son during our communications. As someone who manages projects for a living I was delighted with how prompt and thorough Jan was in her responses and suggestions, with scripts and information going back and forth on a regular basis. Jan set clear deadlines for both herself and me and it was great that she delivered on time. If there was to be a slight delay, (of which there were virtually none), Jan would email or call and let me know. Max’s grandparents came to the pre-meet and Jan was very obliging with everyone talking over each other, drinking tea and asking questions. It was great for them to understand what the day was about and what would happen, as they had not idea what a naming day was.
On the day, Jan delivered just the right level of formal and relaxed; it was clear that she had really understood the feel we wanted for the day. It was a fantastic day At most christenings I have been to people stay for a polite drink after then leave – the last of our group left at 11pm! We closed the day by lighting a single sky lantern and sending up wishes for Max. Jan stayed for the buffet and mingled with friends and family, which was great. So many people commented on the day and the ceremony; they said how unique it had been and how they had never been to anything like it. They said how personal it was and how much they and their children had enjoyed it. The positive feedback really added to our enjoyment and pride in the day. For anyone considering a naming ceremony, don’t hesitate.”
We’d love to hear your own family story. Drop Jan a line firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our naming ceremonies.