A secular baby welcoming ceremony jampacked with love and sweets

Guest post by Alexsis Moore
All photos by Alexsis Moore.

We recently had a beautiful day with family and friends who all gathered to help officially welcome our daughter Margot Miriam Moore into the world, our community and our family. It was an incredibly moving experience to see how many people Margot has looking out for her in this world.

We had hoped for a sunny spring day, but it turned out to be a snowy one instead. Spring was in the air, anyway, since we had asked that each guest bring a flower to add to Margot’s bouquet. We were blown away by the beautiful collection of blossoms people bestowed upon our little girl! I was especially touched that our dear friends, who were not able to make the trip down for the ceremony, had flowers delivered to our house.

During the ceremony our immediate family members got up and gave a little welcoming message to Margot.

Our fathers spoke about the incredible women for whom Margot is named. My father-in-law spoke about his mother, Miriam, who is 93 years old and still as strong-willed as ever living in Pennsylvania. She was not able to make the trip out to New York for the ceremony, but she was definitely there in spirit. My father spoke about his mother, Margarita (whose nickname was Margot). She passed away when I was a young girl, but my father gave a beautiful speech about how her spirit has been renewed in our little girl.

Our mothers and our siblings also stood up and read poems, gave promises to Margot and talked about what a special presence she is in all of our lives. Then, my husband Todd and I each gave vows to our daughter, promising her our love and devotion as we had promised it to each other two years ago.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have such an amazing circle of friends and family and it’s difficult for me to put into words how wonderful our day was yesterday. Margot did receive many beautiful flowers and some lovely gifts, but the most moving thing of all was the feeling of friendship and love that was in the air as our two families and different groups of friends all gathered together.

When Margot got a little overwhelmed, she and I excused ourselves upstairs for a little quiet cuddle time. As she was nursing, the sounds of everyone below talking and laughing lulled her to sleep and in that moment I felt so completely content.

Todd and I had spent a lot of time thinking about and planning for the ceremony and the celebration surrounding it, so it was very satisfying when it went off without a hitch. And we got so many heartfelt compliments from everyone about how nice everything was and how personal the ceremony was. We also got a lot of comments about how much they preferred it to a traditional baptism.

We left the day feeling very much like we did after leaving our wedding. We tend not to do things in the “traditional” ways, and often get a lot of funny looks from people when we describe what we have in mind. With Margot’s ceremony, and our wedding before it, we got some push back from people who thought what we had planned was weird, or just… had lots of questions like “um, what the heck is a welcome ceremony?” So, we feel especially pleased when those same people come up to us to say “That was so lovely!” or “This was the nicest wedding/baby ceremony I have ever been to!”

I know a few friends who are not religious and feel unsure about how they can celebrate milestones in their child’s life the way religious families do. It’s difficult when you attend baptisms for other people’s children and you feel that you or your child may have missed out on something just because you don’t wish to celebrate in a religious way. I would be so happy if someone out there in the world came across this account of our beautiful day celebrating our daughter, and was inspired to do something similar for their new, non-religious baby!

Comments on A secular baby welcoming ceremony jampacked with love and sweets

  1. Lovely article. Great to hear of others doing things differently. We incorporated a ‘baby naming/welcoming’ for our son (who had just turned 1) into our Humanist wedding ceremony last year and it was beautiful . We’re trying for no.2 at the minute and will definitely be doing something like your celebration once he/she arrives! Congratulations on a lovely day 🙂

  2. This is great. I have been thinking of doing something similar for our daughter. I was raised somewhat Catholic, and have many friends who have had their children baptized in the past few years and I think that is a great way to get friends and family together to celebrate a new human. But for me and my family, that seems like it wouldn’t be genuine and kind of a farce. We don’t go to church, we don’t have strong ties to any religion really, so why would we have a religious ceremony in a church? Yet, my dad still has some attachment to Catholicism and although no one has mentioned it to me, I think it would be nice for my family to take part in some sort of welcoming/blessing and to feel part of our new daughters life. I’m glad to see that it was such a successful and happy experience for you and am reminded that I should get to planning ours.

  3. I love this. I wish I could do something like this for our little one. When my older daughter was born, I was practicing LDS, and she had a traditional baby blessing (much like a christening) where she was given a name and a blessing. My mom made this beautiful traditional christening dress, and I knew my other babies (boys and girls!) would wear it too.

    Now 6 years later, I’m no longer LDS, and my new husband isn’t either. I have this dress, and the desire to have something official to welcome her here, but feel our families wouldn’t really support something like the party above.

    But maybe I just need to say screw it all and do it anyway. Yours is so beautiful and meaningful I feel very inspired. Hmmmm.

  4. I loved this post! What an absolutely perfect way to celebrate an arrival of a new baby. You can just feel all the love in these photos. We will be welcoming our second child into the World, sometime over the next 7 weeks and we did not have a crazy, boozy 100-person, co-ed Baby Shower like we did for the first one. I’ve been kicking around the idea of having a Naming/Welcoming Ceremony 6 weeks or so after her arrival. I’m going to share this post with my husband and family, so they understand that a Welcoming Ceremony isn’t just one of my “weird ideas.” Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. We’re planning to do something similar, but I’ve actually never been to a baptism, christening, or baby welcoming ceremony so I don’t really know where to start, or what age baby should be when we do it. Anyone have experiences to share?

    • Bobbie-Sue, we have been to our fair share of baptisms/christenings/dedications, but we were kind of starting from scratch when we planned this ceremony for Margot since we’d never been to a secular ceremony of any kind!

      My favorite part of the ceremony was that Todd and I gave vows to our baby. It was so lovely to make those promises to her and I hope to revisit those promises over the next years as her mother.

      My advice would be to think about what is meaningful to you, your partner and your baby. Start there and go for it.

      That’s what was so cool about this whole thing. There was no script to follow!

  6. I love this! I would love to do a Baby Welcoming Party as opposed to a baby shower, if only for the sincere focus on a Brand-New-Human and not on the recieving and opening of countless gifts with everyone watching. And also because I’m shy, all eye will be on the kidlet and not on me! 🙂

    I would plan it when the baby is about six months. Yup, developmentally, that seems like a pretty good time to host a party in baby’s honor. By then it will be smiling, laughing, babbling, and just being oh-so-adorable!

    It’s great to see a lovely example of such on here. The the flower bouquet idea is fantastic.

  7. What a lovely ceremony and great post! We’re currently trying to make a baby and I’ve been thinking that I would love to do something like this for our future child. We’re both atheists, but come from Catholic families. I’m sure skipping the baptism will upset some family members (and that’s probably a whole other issue). I’m curious if you faced any resistance from family members?

    In our case, our families would have to fly in for the ceremony. I wonder how willing people would be to fly in for a ceremony that isn’t “real” (i.e., against the norm, non-religious)? You know what I mean? Anyone have thoughts?

    • We were in the same boat (the former Catholics boat, that is)…

      We did get some push back, but not nearly as much as we did when we were planning our non-religious/slightly-weird wedding. I think that having had a non-traditional wedding and leading fairly non-traditional lives has taken the edge off a bit! This time more of the resistance came from outside of our family. People actually said things like “Can’t we convince you to baptize her?” and “You guys didn’t join some kind of cult, did you??”

      In the face of those comments we just tried (REALLY HARD) to stay calm and to let the ceremony speak for itself. The same people who were really confused and put-off by the idea of not baptizing our child were the same people who commented after the ceremony about how lovely it was.

      I think that, as atheists, it’s important to show people that atheism does not equal amorality and this felt like a really positive way to show that. We love our baby and we want to protect her just as much as religious people do, we just put that power of protection into the hands of our friends and family instead of a divine being.

      As to the second question… yes… I did find that people did not take the ceremony as seriously as if we had been having a more traditional baptism. We did not have as many out-of-town guests as we may have if it had been “real”. The same thing happened when we had a small casual wedding. I would love to say that I am so empowered and confident and strong that it did not upset me… but that would be false. It does hurt.

      We just… went ahead with our plans in the face of resistance and willful absenteeism… and I guess I hope that all the people who missed it read this blog and see what a beautiful atheist event they missed out on!

      Good luck with your efforts, my friend! The world needs more cool atheist babies! 🙂

      • Thanks for expanding! You bring up so many great points. I would hope that our small, Vegas, God-free wedding would lead people to the conclusion that a christening is not in our future. But I know that’s not what will really happen.

        I hear you too about wanting to feel confident and empowered by choosing non-traditional celebrations… but it really isn’t so easy (at least not for me). Even if I’m being true to myself, I hate the idea that I’m upsetting a loved one with my choices.

        Thanks again for this post! You’ve given me a lot of great ideas and advice for future celebrations. 🙂

  8. What a totally friggin’ FABULOUS idea! I just know when we have kids that it’s going to be a big argument when it comes out that we’ll not be having a baptism, so I will have to keep this in mind, since it might mollify the pro-baptism family a bit. And it really is such a lovely idea!

  9. I love the idea of having everyone bring a flower to make a bouquet. I don’t usually get excited about flowers, but I do get excited about symbolism, and a guest participation bouquet is a great symbol of the community of people who love your baby and how each person contributes their little piece to create something bigger and more colorful.

    It would be a neat idea for a bridal bouquet, too.

  10. This is my baby sisters story and I couldn’t be prouder of her! To one of the moms who said she didn’t want a traditional baby shower, you guessed it, our Alexsis didn’t want one of those either! Instead we had everyone bring unwrapped gifts that we placed on a large baby blanket and then had a clothesline with all the adorable baby outfits she got hanging so that everyone could “ohhh” and “ahhh” at them. We also made a necklace for her with beads for her to take into the delivery room with her. Each guest at the shower picked out a bead and wrote their own words of wisdom or birthing story for Alexsis and that way when she was in the delivery room she had the love, strength and support of everyone that loved her with her. My sister and I are as different as night and day in a lot of aspects of our lives but one thing is for sure… I will always love and support her decisions as she does mine <3

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this article, my husband and I are adopting our daughter this year and I feel that it’s so important to do something to celebrate her joining our family and our lives. We aren’t religious and would feel hypocritical having a christening and making promises we don’t intend to keep, in a church, about raising her Christian. I also feel that she and us deserve to celebrate her arrival just as much as a religious family does! I was worried that people would think it was silly or wouldn’t get it but reading this has made me feel really excited out it!

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