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Should I have a christening or other event?
It can be tricky to know whether or not you should have an event for your new baby, and if so, what kind of event you should have. The most common religious celebrations are:
• Baptism - A baptism involves some amount of water, usually sprinkled or poured on the baby’s head, or with the baby partially immersed.
• Christening - A christening is another term for a baptism, but is a Catholic word not a Protestant one. The terms are often used interchangeably in Catholic churches, but are not usually interchangeable to Protestants.
• Dedication - A dedication does not involve any water-related rituals. Instead, the parents simply dedicate the child to God and promise to raise the child in the Christian faith. Dedications occur at many Baptist and Nondenominational churches.
• Naming Ceremony - A naming ceremony is similar to Christian or Catholic celebrations, but is found in some form in a variety of other religions including Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Wicca. Such a ceremony is held soon after birth to celebrate the child, name them, and welcome them to the community.
The disclaimer with all of this is that beliefs and definitions can vary significantly between denominations, churches and individuals, so always make sure to get clarification!
Your choice about such an event will depend largely on whether or not you are religious and whether or not your family is religious. Different denominations and beliefs have their own variations on the method and theology of these events, so consider calling local churches to ask their practices. Some churches will require attendance for a certain period of time before the baptism, or a promise of attendance going forward. They may require the parents or godparents to have been baptised too. Ask plenty of questions before you send out those baptism invitations!
These days many people also choose to go for non-religious baby celebrations or blessings, or decide to steer clear of such an event entirely. These are all perfectly acceptable options. Some non-religious people choose to christen or baptise their babies anyway to uphold family tradition or to appease relatives. Others like to hedge their bets, so to speak, by giving their children a religious connection despite their own beliefs.
CHRISTENING INVITATION ETIQUETTE
Who to invite?
Christening invitations are usually sent to immediate family and close friends, but you should always check with the church to find out how many people you are able to bring. Some will encourage you to have as many guests as you like, but others will ask that you keep the gathering small. So long as everyone attending will be respectful of the practices taking place, you should be fine.
If you’re unsure, consider inviting people to skip the church service and join you for a lunch or other gathering afterwards. This way you won’t swamp the church with hundreds of people, and your friends who aren’t religious can still come and celebrate the new baby.
If you’re having an after party, it’s polite to invite the priest and anyone else who helped with the christening, but use your discretion on whether or not this is appropriate.
When to send the invitations?
Make sure your guests receive their christening cards a month before the big day, to allow them time to plan ahead for the occasion. If family members will be travelling in from out of town, give them the heads up sooner so they can lock in their plans.
What are you inviting people to?
As we’ve already shown, the intricacies of christenings, baptisms, naming days, dedications, blessings or whatever else you decide to celebrate can be a minefield! Be sure to use the correct terminology on the invitation so that people know what they are attending. Baptism cards are not for dedications! Change the wording to avoid confusing people or being insensitive to important religious differences.
Make sure you let people know if there will be a reception, after party or other celebration, so they know exactly what they are being invited to and can plan accordingly.
STYLING YOUR CHRISTENING INVITES
The style of your christening invites ultimately comes down to your own taste and preferences, but there are some things you can consider to help you land on the perfect design.
What kind of event are you having?
This isn’t about baptism vs christening (although that might come into it), but more about the tone of the event in question. Is the church very strict or very liberal? Will the event be traditional or more casual? How seriously does the church take the sacrament? Is it the moment of the child’s salvation or just a celebratory welcome to the church body? These things will likely factor into your decisions about styling. The more formal and serious the event, the more conservative your invitation design should be.
What is the dress code for the christening?
A related consideration is the dress code of the event. Try to communicate this through the design and style of the invite as well as through words. If people should dress formally, dress your invitation up to match. Colours like white, silver and blue are common, along with tasteful religious iconography such as a cross, font or dove. If the event is going to be more laid-back and casual, rock the bright colours and statement images. You could also be humorous if the event is casual, using a slogan such as ‘splish splash I was taking a bath’ or something similar. If in doubt, however, always opt for the more conservative option, especially if you aren’t 100% confident of how your chosen church views the event. You do not want to disrespect an important church sacrament, so err on the side of caution. If you are hosting an alternative event, however, go for it!
Gold or silver foil stamp and blind letterpress are perfect for a very formal affair, while something fun and colourful is a good choice for a casual event. An alternative for any style of event is to use a photo of the baby as the focus of the invitation.
WORDING YOUR CHRISTENING INVITATION
A baptism invitation or christening invitation will usually include:
• The baby’s name
• The date of the event
• The time of the event
• The church name (or other venue name)
• The address of the church (or other venue)
• Names of godparents, if applicable and desired
• Dress code
• Details of the reception or after party, if applicable
• an RSVP date and phone number or email address
You can include more or less information as you see fit, or choose alternative ways to communicate the details. Since a christening isn’t on the same scale as a wedding, it’s usually not too difficult to let people know the dress code by word of mouth or with a quick phone call or email.
Formal wording example
You are invited to join us for the christening of
Matthew James Colbert
October 3, 2018, 2:00 pm
Wesley Church Melbourne
148 Lonsdale Street
An afternoon tea will follow.
Please RSVP by September 26
Casual wording example
Baby’s getting baptised!
Please join us for Eliza’s baptism
October 3, 2018, 11:00 am
33 Raleigh Street, Essendon
After-party at our place
66 Woodford Street, Hawthorn
RSVP to Kate by Sept. 27
Neat casual clothing
Alternative wording example
Help us celebrate the blessing that is
Milly Rose Maylor
A spiritual but non-traditional welcome
October 3, 2018, 12:30pm
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
Please bring something to share at our picnic feast
And a letter of loving wishes for Milly
RSVP by September 27
A baptism, christening, or alternative event is usually the first celebration in your baby’s life, before there is a birthday, anniversary or other important event or achievement. It is a joyous time, filled with hopes and dreams for the future, and a great opportunity to gather friends and family. However you choose to celebrate, it pays to do it in style and that all starts with a great invitation: one of the few elements of the day that will live on for decades in a memory box or photo album. Welcome to the world, baby!
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