Being a Godparent at a
Naming Ceremony - What you need to know
Cram, Brisbane Marriage Celebrant
| Naming Ceremonies |
It is a great honour your friends have done you, because
being asked to be a godparent (aka as mentor, supporting
adult, guideparent, or guardian) is a significant
responsibility and signals that they really trust you to
look out for their child.
Many first-time godparents are hazy about what their
role is and what is expected of them during the Naming
Ceremony, or even what a Naming Ceremony is.
Hopefully, this post will answer all of your questions
and maybe a few you haven't thought of. But if it
doesn't, feel free to give me a
The most important thing is to be
authentic to yourself. There is no right and wrong
beyond doing what comes from the heart and is authentic
to you, to the child and to the family.
What is a Naming Ceremony?
Naming ceremonies are sometimes called secular
christenings, but their roots lie much further back in
the past, when a child was not accepted into the
community until the father had acknowledged the child by
naming it. Today, naming ceremonies celebrate the gift
of a “good name” and the honour and identity we bestow
upon babies when we acknowledge their coming into the
world, and make public their heritage and their
parentage. An important feature of a naming ceremony is
that it is a formal mechanism to appoint godparents
(defined in modern dictionaries as someone who acts as a
godparent or is a sponsor or protector), and to express
the commitment of parents, godparents, and others who
surround the child to nurture, nourish, and support the
The ceremony itself performs a very important social
function, but your appointment as godparents is neither
legal nor binding (but then, neither is a christening).
It does not replace the parents' legal obligation to
register the child's birth with Births, Deaths, and
Marriages in the state where the child was born, and
appointment of godparents does not make them legal
guardians of the child.
While a naming ceremony is usually secular, it can
include some religious content. A naming ceremony may
also be held before or after a religious christening or
baptism to joyfully welcome the child into the family
and into the world, and honour other significant adults,
such as grandparents, who will have important roles in
the nurturing and supporting the child, but who are not
generally acknowledged during a religious christening.
What is the Role of a
The first obligation of the godparent is to support the
parents of the godchild in nurturing the child and
acting as a positive role model for the child. It is a
socially and emotionally significant role. Godparents
contribute to the child's development by encouraging
integrity, honesty, fairness, and values to guide the
child through life’s journey.
Your friends will have chosen you because they are
confident that you
- can be trusted to maintain a long-term
relationship with the child
- will help guide and teach the child alongside the
- are patient with children
- can relate to the child in question, and
- will be an exemplary and positive role model
So your role will be all of the above.
Accepting the role of godparent does not mean that you
have to take full responsibility for the child in the
unfortunate event that the parents are no longer able to
do so because of death or other circumstance. The role
of godparent has no legal standing, however, should the
parents also choose to appoint you as the child’s
guardian, this should be discussed with you and with the
parents legal advisor, and will need to be documented in
the parents’ Wills.
How is being a Godparent at a
Naming different from being a Godparent at a
A Christian baptism/christening symbolises the moment
the child becomes a member of a particular denomination,
and parents and godparents pledge themselves to bring up
the child in a godly and upright way. A naming ceremony,
on the other hand, focuses on the relationship between
parents and child, on parenting, on a declaration of
commitment or intent towards the child, and on welcoming
the child into both family and and community. At a
naming ceremony godparents are witnesses to the naming
of the child. You will sign the Naming Certificate as a
witness. You will also make promises about supporting
the parents and nurturing, encouraging, and generally
just being there for the child when needed.
What will you be expected to
do in the ceremony?
At some point during the ceremony you will be invited to
move to the front to stand with the parents and the
child. The role and responsibilities of the Godparents
will be explained, you will be asked whether you accept
this responsibility . You will also be invited to make
promises to the child’s parents to support them in your
role as godparent, as well as promises to the child. And
you may be invited to participate in a ritual if the
parents have chosen to include one. This may involve
lighting candles or some other symbolic action.
Do you have to give the child
The main gift a godparent gives is the gift of self.
While acknowledging birthdays and other significant
days, including the naming day is nice, the greatest
gifts that a godparent can give a child are love, time
and attention, and your continuous presence as a
positive role model. During the ceremony, you can give a
symbolic gift, and of course, you can always give the
baby a significant gift to mark the occasion (and every
significant occasion from then on!). Or you could offer
to bring the cake. Traditionally, the parents
provide a celebratory cake which is cut at the party
after the ceremony. But this would be a very nice gift
for the godparents to bring. Of course, it is perfectly
acceptable for a godparent to give the naming ceremony
as a gift. I provide attractive gift certificates for
Is there a dress code?
What you (or for that matter) anyone else attending a
naming ceremony wears relates to the formality of the
occasion. As most naming ceremonies are held at home,
either indoors or in the garden, or in parks,
dress tends to be casual/smart casual. Of course, the
baby can be dressed formally in a Christening gown or
party clothes irrespective of what the guests are
Thanks for reading!