Select a Church
Visit possible locations or congregations where you might want to hold the baptism.
Consider factors such as how the congregation’s style and beliefs fit in with yours, as well as if the size can accommodate the number of people you want to attend.
Find a church at least a few months in advance so you can get to know the congregation and it can get to know you.
For continuity in the future, it is a good idea to choose a local church. Not only will this be helpful logistically in the run up to the ceremony and on the day, this is also the church your children will get to know over the years – a welcoming, local second family.
Choosing the date
Make sure it doesn’t conflict with any other events or family occasions and give guests plenty of time to fit it in their diary.
Coordinate dates with loved ones if you absolutely want them to attend, especially godparents or sponsors.
The weekends around Easter are always popular, as are Summer weekends when the weather is warmer. Most people aim for a date when baby is between 6 and 12 months old.
Suggest several different dates to help ensure you get the church and clergy member you want for the baptism.
Booking the service
Once you’ve located at least one possible church in which to hold the baptism, schedule a meeting with the priest or minister. They can give you a better idea of any requirements the church may have for baptism or other traditions the congregation celebrates for baptisms.
Ask if there are any classes, examinations, or training you require before you can be baptised. For example, the Catholic Church requires education in the Catholic faith before being baptised as an adult.
Most parents choose relatives or family friends. It is best to choose godparents who you expect to stay in contact with your family long into the future, providing a supportive role model for your child.
A Godparent is someone who is making a life-long commitment to your child’s faith and emotional wellbeing. They are there to guide and mentor your child through their spiritual and religious journey.
In most cases, godparents provide spiritual support and nurturing to a child, while a sponsor can guide a child or an adult being baptised. However, in the Catholic Church, adults can also have one or two godparents. Many churches will require that a godparent or sponsor be baptised and active members of a church.
Ask the prospective godparents or sponsors if they are willing to act in this capacity. Respect the person’s decision if she chooses to not be a godparent or sponsor. Make several possible godparent or sponsor choices in case your first choice declines.
Tip: Do not book the church or print the invitations until you have checked whether the future Godparents are free on the day. That goes for any of the important people in your lives. You want this to be a special occasion so make sure everyone can come before you commit to a date.
The christening or baptism gown
You may like to dress your child in a traditional Christening gown, especially if it is a gown that’s been used by other family members in the past. In some families it is customary for the godmother to provide a gown or an item of clothing. There is however no obligation to use a gown and many parents choose something smart that the child is used to wearing.
Tip: Keep in mind that babies grow! A piece of clothing that fits when you start planning the Christening may be rather snug on the day.
Who to invite
Discuss the guest list with your spouse, the godparents, or anyone else taking part in the ceremony.
Decide how many people you want to attend, including if it is adult-only or something for children as well.
Make sure the number of guests you want to invite can fit into the church and any party venue.
Invitations should always include:
- The Date and the Time
- The Location of both the church and the party
- Directions and a Map
- Accommodation ideas for those travelling a distance
- RSVP address, telephone and email (include a date to have these in by)
- Dress Code (if you would like one)
Make sure to send out the invitations or information at least three to four weeks in advance of the baptism to ensure that people can put it on or rearrange their schedules.
Ask everybody to turn up at least 20 minutes before the service is due to begin. Yours may not be the only event at the church that day and the priest or minister will need to keep to schedule. The whole christening can take from 20 minutes to one hour.
Tip: Don’t forget to bring the baptism candle if required. It may also be wise to take a spare set of clothes in case of an accident.
Ask a guest or family member to take pictures on the day during key parts of the ceremony or engage a professional photographer. It's worth checking that the celebrants knows about this arrangement and is happy for pictures to be taken inside the church during the service.