Your guide to the perfect naming ceremonies in Oxfordshire

Proud parents Carl and Lisa Verlander are well placed to recommend the meaningfulness and charm of a naming ceremony for your child.

The couple from Marcham have just celebrated a fourth naming ceremony – this time for little Harper Willow.

The happy event took place at The Crown and Thistle in Abingdon and was organised through Oxfordshire County Council’s Registration Service.

The Registration Service oversees naming ceremonies throughout the year as one of its many duties (including Births, Deaths, Marriage & Civil Partnership Registrations and Ceremonies).

A special chapter about Naming Ceremonies is included in an updated version of The Oxfordshire Baby & Parenting Guide produced by the County Council.

The glossy guide contains a wealth of information for parents, including useful contact numbers and websites, and advice on everything from positive parenting and healthy babies to childcare options and safer sleeping.

It’s all part of the county council’s commitment to thriving people – we strive to give every child a good start in life and protect everyone from abuse and neglect.

Lisa, 38, and Carl, 35, took the decision to celebrate Harper Willow’s naming at six weeks, carrying on a tradition started with Lillimai, now 14, and followed with Maici, seven, and Chaice, six.

Ceremonies for Lillimai, Maici and Chaice were all held at Oxford Register Office, but having recently moved to Marcham, Lisa and Carl decided to switch venues to The Barn at The Crown and Thistle.

The Barn, complete with 17th century timber beams and stone walls, was decorated with banners, balloons, flowers and tea lights as 80 guests enjoyed the celebration.

Lisa said: “It was a lovely day. It was nice just to get our family and friends together and celebrate the arrival of a new baby.

“Naming ceremonies were always going to be the road that we went down. Neither of us are particularly religious and growing up it’s nice for the children to be able to choose if they want to adopt a particular faith. Whatever they want to be they can be.

“You have to make so many choices as parents but this is one you don’t have to take for them. Also, what’s the point in having them Christened if you don’t attend church?”

Personal touch

The ceremony was led by Oxfordshire County Council’s Deputy Registrar Celebrant, Sally Gardner.

Mentors, including Lisa, her three children and Carl’s dad gave readings. Guests then tucked into food and enjoyed a party before celebrations closed.

Sally said: “The Ceremony was very special as it was made very individual and personal after talking to the parents. They were able to put a lot of their own personal messages in.

“It’s a celebratory ceremony and it really is personal choice. There’s lots of flexibility and they were able to choose individual poems for the children and the grandfather to read.”

Sally said naming ceremonies appealed because they were non-religious.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t churchgoers so it doesn’t make sense to them to have a Christening. It’s nice to get everyone together, have a celebration for the baby and introduce him or her to the family.”

Baby & Parenting Guide

The guide is published about every 18 months and given to parents when they come to register a birth.

It features more than 25 chapters on a host of subjects ranging from breastfeeding to postnatal depression, playtime, speech and language development, and safety advice.

Head of Registration, Jacquie Bugeja, said: “It’s such a great publication. When you become a new parent you don’t suddenly get a manual on everything you’re supposed to do.

“Being a parent myself I didn’t always know where to turn to get the most up-to-date information, support and things happening in the area.

“This is a great opportunity to share valuable information with new parents where we can. There are so many services that support parents and young people and it’s great to have a publication where all these networks can be included.

“The guide has developed over the past four or five years. New parents need as much support as they can get and if we at the County Council can publish advice from people who work in those specialisms we think it’s a very worthwhile thing to be doing.

“Feedback from parents tells us that the publication is invaluable.”

A brilliant resource

Laura Edney, mother of Sidney, six, and Arthur, three, was given a copy of the Baby & Parenting Guide when she registered Arthur’s birth in the Witney Office.

Laura said “The guide has been a brilliant resource for me over the years and I have referred to it often. There is so much valuable information in it, and pointers of where to get more help, that I am sure I would not have found readily anywhere else.

“There are lots of interesting articles, and also ideas for days out and things to do with your child. I wish I had taken a copy when I had Sidney.” 

Food for thought

Despite becoming a mother for the fourth time, Lisa Verlander said there was still much to be learnt from the guide.

She said: “It’s a really great read. There’s plenty of information in there to give you real food for thought. If you’re new to the area it’s going to be really helpful. It’s got so much detail about different groups in it. It’s a really handy guide just to pick up.”

The Registration Service also offers glossy publications entitled Oxfordshire: The Place To Marry and The Oxfordshire Bereavement Guide.

To view the updated Oxfordshire Baby & Parenting Guide click here