I LOVE NAMING CEREMONIES and in fact, I have just been named The Celebrant Industry Awards National Celebrant of the Year for Namings. I was really surprised because I haven't done any for ages. I love weddings too and I think they're really important but if pushed I would have to say that I think Namings are even more important. In the UK very few people have them. They're not really 'a thing'. I'd like to change all that if that's ok with you. Meet Archer....I worked with her Mummies to create a ceremony very near to the Winter Solstice. It was full of meaning and I will tell you all about it one day. There were promises and rainbow flags, candles, messages, Christmas trees. It was ace.

Even within my own family Naming Ceremonies just don't really happen. We grew up with Christenings in our family and there is an ancient white christening robe somewhere which belonged to my Grandmother and which was worn by my Dad. Christening robes were passed down from generation to generation. In my community enormous 3 tier iced fruit cakes were made at weddings with the terrible assumption that one of the tiers will be needed for when, as if by magic, the baby comes. When babies were born in our family they were quickly put into that ancient robe, people gathered in the Church and we were baptised. For me, my sisters were recruited as God mothers. That was just 'what you did' , and the stale old fruitcake would put in an appearance at the same time. You may have heard the expression 'wetting the baby's head', which appears to relate to the ritual in Baptism of pouring water on a baby's head but more often euphemistically refers to getting blind drunk at the Pub. That is what it meant in our house anyway. I still have my Baptism picture and all the gifts I was given at it. I'm 49 and I've carried them through my life even though I'm not sentimental and I have discarded so much. It makes me feel that I was always loved. This tree was planted for Evelyn, one day we hope that she will sit beneath it's branches and know that she is loved.

I have recently been trying to find out why Naming Ceremonies are so often considered 'not really our thing' by so many people. I suggested to one niece that I offer to do a ceremony for her sister's baby and she responded with a huge "'noooooooo!' They'd hate it! I've no idea why to this day but I was a little offended.....what with being an award-winning celebrant an' all....did I mention that..? I don't know whether people associate these ceremonies, sometimes known as Baby Welcoming Ceremonies with American ideas like 'Baby Showers' or 'Gender-reveal' parties and see them as unnecessary extras or embarrassingly sentimental or something just that 'other people do'. I wonder whether they feel a proper Religious ceremony can't be replicated and so it is better to do without if you don't believe. I don't know but I'm on a mission to change their minds.

Meet Arya, it meant such a lot to her family that I did a ceremony for her sister Sienna a few years later. Arya's ceremony was the first paid ceremony I ever did! I remember embarrassing myself by asking if she was named after a singing phrase in an opera....but she was named after Game of Thrones! I was convinced they wouldn't book me after that! This ceremony took place in a local Bar called Fletcher's in Kings Heath.

A huge cultural shift has occurred around the rituals which would ordinarily be associated with birth and announcing a life in a community. My context is the UK and we are now a diverse, arguably largely secular country full of many different communities and cultures, some Religious, others not, some Culturally religious in identity but with no belief in anything particular. Most of us probably, if we are honest sit somewhere in the middle neither believing nor disbelieving but almost all of us understand the importance of our heritage. We also are acutely aware of the importance of Community and of belonging within one. We are forming new communities all the time, cross-cultural communities, families with diversely ranging heritage and spiritual tradition. That is the best thing, I love it and being a part of creating new Rites of Passage for this new contemporary context is one of the main satisfactions of my job. I believe that it is of vital importance to find new, compassionate and expansive ways of expressing time-honoured concepts.

This is Evelyn with her Mummy Janine. Her family planted a tree in her honour and have been watching the tree grow with her as she has grown. I have followed their journey since that warm sunny day with Fairy Godmother's in attendance, seen her start ballet classes and go to school. I love that side of my job; watching what happens next. Ceremonies are very much about the present moment and the specialness of that day but they are even more concerned with what happens next. Ceremonies sometimes involve Blessings, 'wishing well' and promises. They are also concerned with Values. Parents and communities make pledges to impart those values which they hold dear. Usually these feature Love, tolerance, compassion among others.

So how do we re-interpret the rituals around birth and welcoming new life for the 21st century in Britain? There are no cultures of which I am aware which do not value Birth and acknowledge it, none who do. not have some traditions around the welcoming of a new child into the world and their community. So what makes us think that now we know better and can simply do away with them? I don't think we should 'throw the baby out with the bathwater! And obviously the more excuses to eat cake the better. This you may have guessed was made for Florence.

Ceremonies are all about transitioning from one state to another, from one part of life to another, from Old to New. Rituals. Rites of Passage, which is what these ceremonies are, acknowledge change and allow transition and encourage transformation. They are a vehicle for the acknowledgement of significant life events. They value how far we have come and they look forward towards the future. Ceremonies specifically about 'new life' are often employed with healing from the trauma of birth in mind. I have often done ceremonies for people who have been through terrible pregnancies, traumatic labour, prem births, long adoption processes and they want to put it behind them and move on. They want to celebrate surviving and also the joy of living. They want to leave the sadness and pain behind them. Naming days are 'a good excuse for a party'. Personally I think that's a good enough reason, but they are clearly sometimes about much, much more than that.

It occurred to me that the generation of people who are giving birth and naming their children are much younger than me and probably don't do what I do. Very few will have studied Theology and Religion or even find it that interesting. So as I was wondering to myself about the sad lack of Naming Ceremonies on the horizon I started wondering if people really just don't really know what they are, or what they are for.

I assume that when I say Naming Ceremony it means something to people, that they know what that is...but why should you? I don't know the first thing about being an Accountant or a Heart Surgeon so it really is a stupid assumption to make. I can, however, safely assume that you know exactly why the expression on this face matters..... This is the face of Archer's 'family' recognising someone who belongs to them, witnessing their existence. 'Family' can mean whatever we need it to mean, this person is welcoming this baby into their world and no one can tell me that isn't important.

So how do i explain A Naming Ceremony? How do I conjure the image of them. Usually if someone approaches me for one, it is because they have been to one somewhere else and liked them. Invariably they've never heard of one before they were invited to that one. So if you've never heard of a Naming Ceremony, don't like the idea of it, never fancied it, or simply have no idea what they are or what they are for I hope that this Blog post will help.

If I describe to you bunting and cakes, families making a 'lovely spread' of home made food. Setting a marquee up in the back garden, or hiring a local venue. Think of handwritten letters to be opened in the future, of paintings, community choirs, planting trees, adapting ancient blessings. All the people who love that baby all in one place dressed up in their favourite clothes shouting 'WELCOME TO THE WORLD' . If I describe these occasions I will be making a start. In itself a gathering like this is precious enough with photos to last a lifetime and a commitment to that child's welfare made public, but the deep meaning behind all this gorgeousness is profound. Naming Ceremonies are concerned with essential concepts which are vital to human flourishing. They focus upon ensuring a sense of legitimacy and belonging in that child. These ceremonies endeavour to instil human values and to celebrate love, new beginning, hope,

This is Evelyn's Fairy Godmother. She wrote a story especially for her Fairy God-daughter. She cried all the way through, and so did everyone else.... except Evelyn apparently.

During the past horrifying 18 months we have learned more than any other year about the precariousness of life. In the recent past in the UK many communities, though by no means. all, have been insulated from a real sense of peril in ways that other communities and other countries have not. This year we have all learned about the central importance of Community and of belonging to the whole human family. We have seen how interconnected we all are. We have a new need to celebrate the miracle of new birth and to make promises to our future generations about how we will be there for them. We have a responsibility to these babies and children and part of what Naming Ceremonies do is to declare that. It is the point at which people make a promise to Show Up. In the course of my working life as a Celebrant I have looked at the miracle of new life and seen the love people have for their babies and watched them plant trees for their newborns. I have heard them promise to teach their children about what matters in life and about relationships and love. Often they have survived terrible things. It is a hopeful thing to witness. What could be more valuable right now than giving hope to one another for the future ahead. What could matter more than declaring our good intention to protect new life?

Naming Ceremonies offer hope for the future and an affirmation of all that is good about being human. Declaring that we belong together no matter where we have come from or what we have been through and will try our best to create a community in which that little life can flourish and thrive.

Declaring that belong together no matter where we have come from or what we have been through and will try our best to create a community in which that little life can flourish and thrive

If you are interested in devising your own WELCOME for your very own child don't hesitate to get in touch. I'd love to be involved. Naming Ceremonies offer you a chance to introduce your child to all the people in their life who are going to love them. This is an important thing to do and you can have a party while you are at it. it is not the same as just a get together and I know I'm biased and I think you need a Celebrant there to make it that bit more about 'making an occasion of it'.

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Childhood Sweethearts, cage fighting and cats.

Chelsey and Isis turned up on my doorstep when I ran an Airbnb. They fell in love with my cats....not hard to see why IMHO!

They fell in love with our cats, and I fell in love with them. They were so lovely to have as guests. I left out one of my cards and they decided there and then to book me when they booked their wedding. Isis is actually a Cage Fighter and they had come to watch a cage fight. But we got chatting about supermarkets selling ethical food called Unicorn Grocery in Manchester, which I still intend to visit one day. The conversations were wonderfully idiosyncratic. Organic cruelty free food and cage-fighting all in one breath. These two are childhood sweethearts. They even went to the school prom together. I have asked them to tell you their story and they happily agreed, so watch this space. In the meantime to whet your appetite they have shared these fantastic Engagement Shoot photos for you. They're so gorgeous and I happen to know that they have cat babies all of their own now.


I have been asking my couples to write up their Love Story for us so that we can enjoy it too. Here is Sarah and Kieran's Love Story, written by Sarah herself. Sarah and Kieran are one of my many online dating you can probably see from the first picture! From Sarah and Kieran I discovered the term 'Rainbow Baby' a baby born shortly after a miscarriage. To me at least Sarah and Kieran seem so young to have suffered so much loss and sadness but they are so inspiring with their positivity and desire to give so much back to the world. They are applying to become Foster Parents and looking forward to a new beginning. I loved hearing their story and I know you will too. Many of you will relate to their story. We are going to create a 'Family Ceremony' for this family. We are going to create a table centrepiece made from white 'angel feathers' and fill it with a candle each for each living child and each unborn child and incorporate it into their ceremony. A keepsake for life. Sarah and Kieran want the Full Works for this time round. As a Wedding celebrant I have come to realise that Wedding ceremonies mean so much more to people than 'The Dress".

Wedding ceremonies mean so much more to people than 'The Dress".

Sarah and Kieran opted for my Live Local Love Local Special rate. I can travel to their Birmingham venue on my Wedding Bicycle Daisy. Pictured here on an outing to Richard and Lucy's Wedding at The Edgbaston Hotel. I offer a discounted rate to couples getting married in local Brum Venues. It protects the environment, supports local businesses and keeps me fit all at the same time.

Sarah and Kieran's story really affected me. After all that they went through Covid struck and like everyone else their plans kept getting upended and the constant uncertainty, and the need to work 24/7, are hard to manage. They barely see each, other as one goes out to work, the other comes home.. Like many of us, their diaries were so full that they didn't have time to meet with me for a long time. But eventually we met in person, and I met their gorgeous children and heard all about it. We have sketched out a plan for a beautiful ceremony involving all the children. For Sarah and Kieran this ceremony is all about 'Moving on'.

For Sarah and Kieran this ceremony is all about 'Moving on'.

Here in Sarah's own words is Sarah and Kieran's Story

Thanks to Sarah for taking the time out from a busy schedule to share this with us.

It started in 2007 boy meets girl online not knowing they lived 9 doors apart

2012 they met again but she had something to share

Going through a divorce at the age of 22 and being a single mum was he the right person for me and my daughter Lilly?

This man waited years to be with the lady he longed for but to do that he would need to step up and become a step Dad.....the bond between him and Lilly was so strong he ignored the comments made about taking on someone else child.

I thought I married the first time as I knew what love was.....I divorced young and became a single Mummy to this incredible little girl it was me and her against the world......I didn't think the boy who I met years before would even want to take me and my daughter on

Unfortunately in October 2014 life tested us when we nearly lost Lilly due to car crash we was told to expect bad news but she was a fighter and it brought us closer as a family and wanted to try for a baby with Kieran

Unfortunately bad news followed when I lost Kieran's first born child.......

Then straight from a miscarriage came our rainbow 🌈 baby daisy what a shock it was to us but an amazing blessing even though she kept us on our toes 4 weeks early and 9 days in ICU

After Daisy we lost 3 more babies and every time hurt even more why us. Why would this happen to us?

We married October 2016 he stole my heart so I stole his last name our wedding wasn't perfect and so many things went wrong leading up to our day but we kept going and one day we would renew our vows to have every Bride and Groom's perfect day

Then when times couldn't be more surprising this little lady joined our family in July 2019 6 weeks early and giving us a scare the whole pregnancy.

Kieran longed to make Lilly his official daughter and a battle of having to explain why the court granted the adoption.

Lilly felt so over the moon and that joy spread. Our family was perfect

Blessed with 3 beautiful girls we decided to end all heartache and now allow ourselves to lose any more so Kieran chose to undergo a procedure to ensure heartache could happen.

We are not normal and life throws things at us but love brings us together and we are renewing our vows to show strength and ensure memories are kept alive, close the door on all the bad things and take on the future ahead with what we have right now. No one will ever take away our pain of our babies but we can cherish the moments we create with our 3 children. Family is everything and sometimes someone walks into your life at the right and this man did he changed my life forever ❤

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