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View the latest statement from LA7 leaders (8 March) - Support throughout the road to recovery

Naming ceremonies

A naming ceremony is a very special way of celebrating the birth of your child and welcoming the new arrival into the family and wider community.


Currently weddings and civil partnerships are only able to proceed in exceptional circumstances, for example, where one of those getting married or forming a civil partnership is seriously ill and not expected to recover or is due to undergo debilitating treatment or life changing surgery. These ceremonies are currently able to proceed with only 6 attendees.

From no earlier than 29 March 2021, weddings and civil partnerships will be able to proceed with 6 attendees, (provided the premise can accommodate this number, in a Covid-19 secure manner following social distancing guidelines, and are permitted to open).

From no earlier than 12 April 2021,weddings and civil partnerships will be able to proceed with 15 attendees, (provided the premise can accommodate this number, in a Covid-19 secure manner following social distancing guidelines, and are permitted to open).

From no earlier than 17 May 2021, weddings, civil partnerships, and receptions will be able to proceed with 30 attendees, (provided the premise can accommodate this number, in a Covid-19 secure manner following social distancing guidelines, and are permitted to open).

From no earlier than 21 June 2021, there will be no legal limits placed on any life events.

The government will announce, one week in advance of each of these dates whether restrictions will be eased as planned, as before changes can be made in line with this timetable, it is essential that the government criteria has been met.

Covid-19 safety measures which include, social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, will still be in place until further notice to ensure everyone's safety.

Please bear in mind these key steps are still under review and may still affect couples plans. We expect our phone lines to be very busy over the coming weeks so please bear with us. As always you can contact our ceremony team on 03000 266 000 or email

It's a unique occasion for everyone to feel involved as they pledge their love and support for your child's future development.

What happens at a naming ceremony?

Naming ceremonies can contain the following sections:

  • introduction and welcome
  • a reading
  • naming of the child (or children)
  • parent's promises
  • promises by supporting adults
  • closing words

There are many ways of ensuring that your child's ceremony is a unique and personal event. You may wish to consider including:

  • reasons for the names you have chosen for your child
  • hopes for the child's future
  • parents' vows to each other
  • grandparents' promises
  • absent guests
  • additional readings
  • presentation of a gift to the child

Who will conduct the ceremony?

An authorised celebrant will carry out the ceremony according to the choices you make. Celebrants are trained and experienced in conducting many different ceremonies so please ask their advice on anything you are unsure about. 

How long does the ceremony last?

A ceremony usually takes about 15 minutes but can last up to 30 minutes if more readings and options are included.

Is there a certificate?

During the ceremony a souvenir record is signed by parents, supporting adults and the celebrant.

Can other children be included at the same ceremony?

Older children, including adopted family members, can also be included in a naming ceremony.

Can other family members have their children named at the same ceremony?

Only children who belong to the same family unit can be included in a specific naming ceremony. Members of your extended family can arrange for a separate ceremony to take place at the same venue on the same day, but not at the same time.

Can a naming ceremony be held at the same time as a civil marriage ceremony?

Yes. A naming ceremony can be held after the marriage ceremony. Please contact us for advice.

Where can naming ceremonies be held?

In County Durham, there are a number of approved premises where naming ceremonies can take place. Ceremonies can also be held at Register Offices in Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland and Aykley Heads House (Durham). 

Who can arrange a naming ceremony?

The child's parents or anyone else who has parental responsibility or legal guardianship of the child can make arrangements for a naming ceremony. Parents can be married or unmarried. Please note, you must produce the birth certificate(s) when booking the ceremony.

Do naming ceremonies have legal status?

Naming ceremonies have no legal status but are of a celebratory nature. Parents usually choose to arrange one as a public gesture of the love and commitment they have for their child. Unlike a birth certificate, which is a mandatory legal document, the record of the ceremony cannot be used as proof of identification. Neither is the ceremony legally binding on those who take part in it.

Do naming ceremonies have a religious content?

Naming ceremonies are entirely non-religious.

Who should I contact to arrange a naming ceremony?

Information about naming ceremonies is available from Register Offices in County Durham.

Fees for naming ceremonies

When you book you will need to pay a non-refundable booking fee of £40 in addition to the ceremony fees. Any changes to your booking will result in an additional £40 payment.

 Aykley Heads House Durham;
Cockton House Bishop Auckland;
or Galgate Barnard Castle
Licenced Venue
Monday to Thursday£240£265
Sunday/Bank Holiday£325£360
Contact us
Register Office - Aykley Heads House
03000 266 000
Our address is:
  • Aykley Heads
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5TS

Register Office - Bishop Auckland
03000 266 000
Our address is:
  • Cockton House
  • 35 Cockton Hill Road
  • Bishop Auckland
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DL14 6HS
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