Andrew smiles at the camera as he holds Sébastien.

Our naming ceremony: Julie, Andrew and baby Sébastien

Julie and Andrew got married in 2018 at the beautiful Mansion House in Edinburgh Zoo so it made complete sense for them to return five years later to celebrate and welcome their baby son Sébastien.

The couple chose Humanist Society Scotland celebrant Lara Celini to conduct Sébastien’s naming ceremony. Lara, who married Julie and Andrew, was delighted to be part of another important celebration for them.

Tell us a little about Sébastien and your family

Sébastien is our first child, and the first boy on both sides of the family. He is a very happy and chill baby, always smiling and laughing. Sébastien is playful and loves when people interact with him. He loves music and to make noise banging his toys on every available surface. Sébastien is also very much into his food and gets upset when it’s all gone. All in all, it’s a real joy to watch him grow up. We feel very privileged to be his parents.

Why did you decide to have a humanist naming ceremony?

We chose a humanist wedding when we got married. Then when our son was born there was no question that we would have a humanist naming ceremony as it offered a meaningful ceremony without religion. We also loved that it was a deeply personal ceremony focused on us as a family and that we could include songs, readings, and symbolic gestures that meant something to us. It also reflected the values we believe in and want to impart to our son – humanist values such as kindness, tolerance and respect.

Where did you hold the naming ceremony and why?

The ceremony was held at the Mansion House, in Edinburgh Zoo. We are long-time members and have always loved to go there, especially now that we have a child. This is also where we got married, so the venue has a very special place in our lives. It’s now even more special!

Can you tell us a bit about Sébastien’s guideparents and why you chose them?

We chose two very special individuals to serve as guideparents – Julie’s brother and Sébastien’s uncle, and a close friend. We chose Julie’s brother because we felt it was important for Sébastien to have a connection to his French side, especially while growing up. Julie immediately thought of her brother, as he has a very nurturing and caring personality, which makes him a perfect mentor. We chose our friend Anna because we are close to her and her husband Scott, and we share similar values.  We know Anna will support Sébastien to become a kind, confident and open-minded individual. It was also important to us that Anna and Scott knew how grateful we are to have them in our lives, and how much we value their friendship. Entrusting them with this prominent role in our son’s life just felt right.

We know that children need role models who are not their parents, and we recognise that there will be times when we don’t have all the answers.  We would like Sébastien’s guideparents to be involved in his life. To be present for his big milestones and provide a safe space for him so that he feels loved, supported, and validated.

What was your favourite part of the ceremony?

The ceremony was all about Sébastien and his story so we loved all of it! Our favourite parts were the readings from the guideparents. We selected readings from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry. We also had a fingerprint tree, which made for a lovely keepsake from the day.

Sébastien really enjoyed his official naming and presenting gifts to his guideparents. He loved receiving his little koala bear from his awesome celebrant Lara, and more generally being the centre of the attention throughout.

Do you have any advice for others who are thinking of having a naming ceremony?

Our advice is do it, do it, do it! It’s such a wonderful way to celebrate the arrival of a child, in a way that is all about them. The ceremony is full of little anecdotes and stories that will have a real meaning to the child and their family. Ask your celebrant for ideas and options – songs, readings, gestures – you can do it all, you just need to ask! Don’t be afraid to change and amend things until you are 100% happy with the content and the flow of the ceremony. Your celebrant will do all they can to tailor the ceremony so that it is perfect for you.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

We highly recommend Lara as a celebrant. She was great when she married us, and great when she symbolically welcomed Sébastien into our family.

One of the great joys and honours of being a celebrant is when your wedding couples return to you to help welcome a child into their community of family and friends.

Sébastien’s ceremony was followed by a lovely celebratory afternoon tea, and the opportunity to explore the zoo. It was a great day filled with much love, laughter, and joy!

Lara Celini, Celebrant, Humanist Society Scotland
A small child's feet held in two sets of carers' hands, forming a love heart.

Naming Ceremonies

A naming ceremony is a popular way to mark a child’s arrival into your family, and a humanist ceremony lets you create a naming ceremony that is unique and personal.

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