An Eco Naming Ceremony at Evenley Wood Garden
I’ve been a celebrant for about 3 years now and specialise in naming ceremonies – these are wonderful events to celebrate the arrival of a new child into a family. We had naming ceremonies for both our girls and I found myself thinking what a gorgeous job it would be to create such meaningful moments for other families – and so here I am! Before launching Bluebell Naming Ceremonies, I worked in the sustainability sector for many years and wanted to combine these two passions, so in the spring of 2021, I brought together a fantastic team of eco-conscious suppliers to create an eco naming ceremony at Evenley Wood Garden.
If you like the idea of a low impact family event, here’s all the inspiration you need from our ‘Enchanted Wood’ shoot.
The Great Outdoors
Keep your energy impact down by hosting your event outdoors. Under the shade of an apple tree, at the top of a hill with views all around – naming ceremonies can be held wherever your imagination takes you (even your own back garden!). Our event was held at Evenley Wood Garden – the most beautiful woodland setting, tucked away in rural Northamptonshire.
Tipis are the perfect way to create a relaxed ceremony and reception space – deck out with trestle tables, benches and some local blooms and you’re sorted. Our tipis were supplied by the fabulous Forest Edge Tipis.
The joy of a celebrant led ceremony is that your celebration truly reflects your family’s unique story. There are no rules, so surrounded as we were, by beech trees and bluebells, we incorporated a flower ceremony into Jen and Ed’s celebration. Each member of the family added a flower to the vase, to symbolise togetherness and support. I cover Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, but for fellow celebrants in other counties check out the Outdoor Ceremonies celebrant directory.
Keep it local and minimise your food miles by choosing seasonal, locally sourced food wherever you can. Lots of people are reducing the amount of meat they eat, so veggie and vegan options will be much appreciated. Think about buffet or grazing style catering to minimise food preparation and waste. Also ask your venue what options there are for donating any leftover food (even if it’s as simple as providing some take-home boxes for guests at the end of the day). Our amazing vegan/vegetarian grazing platters came from Spread and our stunning vegan cake was supplied by Fannie-Anne’s.
Once again, local and seasonal are the watchwords. There are lots of small, independent cut flower growers springing up around the UK, so check out national listings like Flowers from the Farm for your nearest supplier. The quality and freshness will blow you away. Our beautiful floral installations were created by the super-talented Juliet Corston from Willow Green Flower Farm.
Up-cycled Baby Clothes
Special clothes don’t have to be new, just made with love and care. Clothes for our littlies came from Buttons for Beans. Cat makes all her kids-wear from pre-loved fabrics – the romper is made from some leftover corduroy and the little blue dress is made from an old duvet – genius!
DIY Styling and Decor
Keep styling simple with greenery from the garden and locally grown cut flowers (see local blooms). Hire in tableware and decorations where you can, rather than buying and recycling. Paper lanterns and solar fairy lights look beautiful hung among the trees for an outdoor ceremony. Our styling was from The Luxe Design Company and Fusion Events based in Berkshire. Fusion Events is the spark behind the Sustainable Wedding Alliance – head to their page for more advice, inspiration and eco-conscious suppliers.
There are some brilliant digital and eco conscious options for invitations and on-the-day stationery (orders of service, place cards and so on). Look out for recycled paper and board products, natural inks and plastic free packaging. Our woodland inspired stationery is from Laura Likes. It’s made from seeded paper which can be planted after the event – poppies from paper – who knew!
There are lots of options for sustainable baby gifts. The most obvious choice is a carbon-combatting sapling to plant in the garden at home. I also love the concept behind From Babies with Love, which uses its profits to help orphaned and abandoned children around the world. For our ‘Enchanted Wood’ ceremony, we chose pressed flower keepsakes from Pressed Meadow.
Capturing the Moment
Our beautiful photos and video were taken by Mark Lord Photography and Oojamaflick – both wonderfully versatile creatives based in Oxfordshire. To find a local photographer/videographer that’s right for your special day, look out for folks with experience of family shoots (AKA working with children and animals!).
Here’s a wonderful video containing highlights of the day by Oojamaflick – enjoy!
More About Naming Ceremonies
At the heart of every naming ceremony are the commitments that parents make to their children, but beyond these promises, families can choose to incorporate whatever elements feel right for them. Most families include readings, promises from guide parents (the equivalent of godparents) and often some kind of symbolic act, which creates a lovely moment of reflection. Inspiration can be taken from all sorts of cultures and traditions – this autumn I’ll be incorporating a red thread ceremony into a celebration for the first time, which is based on a Chinese belief that those destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread.
I feel incredibly privileged to share in a family’s personal story and take great care with every single script I write. This is especially true when the pathway to parenthood hasn’t been easy. Just recently I crafted a script for a little girl that was born unexpectedly and struggled to survive. It will be a unique and memorable day for everyone involved.
Naming ceremonies are a wonderful way to celebrate a special milestone, and as restrictions start to lift, families are also seeing them as an important way to reconnect, after the isolation of the last 18 months. Some new babies haven’t had the chance to meet their wider circle of friends and family, so what better way to introduce a new family member.
If your children are older, don’t worry – you haven’t missed out. Naming ceremonies for siblings are wonderful and unity ceremonies work really well for blended families and older children. It doesn’t matter how your family is formed, whether it’s through birth, blending, adoption, surrogacy or donor conception; whether you’re gay, straight or somewhere in between, your story is wonderful and unique and I’d be thrilled to help you tell it. You can contact me at Bluebell Naming Ceremonies.
To my lovely friends, Jen and Ed – the inspiration behind Not Just a Princess and our model family for the day. You and Leo the dog were absolute stars. xx.