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double naming ceremonies

Our main reason for coming to Europe for this extended time has been to spend time with our family and friends who live on this side of the planet. Like many other families and friends we have to travel greater distances to be near each other.  And for this reason, I am seeing more requests for double ceremonies while they have everyone gathered from far and wide: A wedding and a naming ceremony, two wedding ceremonies and of course, a double naming ceremony, where two families are involved, which is the focus of this article.
Double naming ceremonies are a pleasure and yet they can also be a handful.

The first thing to consider is what both families would like to happen. As the celebrant you may meet with the parents individually or together. Either way you will need to ask what each family wants and hopes to achieve in the ceremony. Then you can map out the requests and see how you can create a ceremony where both children and their respective parents will receive a special focus. The ceremony has to be created without doubling up on too many stages and within a perfect timeframe to maintain the guests interest (especially the young ones!).

A usual order of service for a naming ceremony may present:

  1. A warm welcome to all family and friends, an explanation about a naming ceremony and why the parents have chosen to hold this celebration.
  2. An acknowledgement of parenting and family life.
  3. The honouring of family including the parents, the grandparents, siblings, possibly close cousins and other family members; friends and the larger community.
  4. Readings, stories and blessings,
  5. Naming and affirming the role of the godparents, mentors or guardians if these have been selected,
  6. Highlighting the guest of honour, the child’s personality and personal gifts.
  7. The blessing or marking the moment.
  8. The closing of the ceremony.

In the double naming ceremonies I have combined all of the above elements except for stages 5 to 7 where I invite one family and child to be the main focus while the other family is seated, and then afterwards, invite the second child and family to come forward and have the first family seated. For stage 8 I request both families to be standing to close the ceremony, acknowledging the honoured children individually and then both families as a whole.

For all of the double ceremonies I have conducted there have been a lot more young children present than for a single naming ceremony. If this is the case I find that an appropriate short children's story is a great choice as a ‘reading’. This will, of course, depend upon the age group of the children who are attending. Choose a book with good sized pictures so every child ... and, if possible, adult can see. (Unless you are a naturally talented story teller then you may not need the visual use of a book.) When I have done this the children were enraptured and the adults really enjoyed it too. To source suitable titles visit your local library (the librarians of the children's section may be able to help you) or possibly the parents you are working with may have a favourite children’s book they can recommend.

Before the ceremony starts I invite all of the children to sit at the front of the ceremonial area which also makes it easier for me to keep their attention throughout the ceremony. Take time before the ceremony starts to chat with the young ones, making friends and allies with them so they feel comfortable with you especially when you begin talking.

Also ensure the ceremony is not too long so you can hold everyone's attention. I complete the signing of the certificates for both families at the end of the ceremony.

Double naming ceremonies are a joy. Two children, two blessings.

For lots more ideas on the different stages of the naming ceremonies and beautiful suggestions for mementoes you may wish to read the relevant chapters in ‘Create Your Own Inspiring Naming Ceremony’.
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