Baptism and Christening Invitation Etiquette

Baptism is a beautiful religious ceremony marking the introduction of a child into the Church. Once distinct, baptism and christening (the bestowal of a Christian name that accompanies baptism) today usually refer to the same event. For those who are non-practicing members of a Christian church, an alternative religious ceremony can be arranged. Usually called a “naming ceremony”, it has become increasingly popular as a starting point for religious introduction. A child can then choose to have an adult baptism later on in life.

Most parents schedule their baby’s baptism or christening closely after birth, typically within the first six months. Invitations should be sent out at least three to four weeks prior to the date, earlier if the baptism or christening coincides with a busy holiday season such as Christmas.

A baptism or christening is both a private and public ceremony. It is private because the main participants are family members. It is public because the ceremony is performed before the church’s congregation usually during a scheduled Sunday service. As such, invitations are sent to close relatives and friends as well as church members close to the family. Parents typically extend the invitation to their child’s baptism or christening. However, godparents may sometimes be bestowed this honor.

The format of baptism invitations or christening invitations are similar to that of other invitations. Worded formally or informally, the invitation may open with a bible verse or an invitation line (“You are invited to join us for the christening of …”). The date, time, and location of the ceremony are then presented.

An invitation with a formal composition is shown below, followed by the same invite with an informal composition. You should not feel restricted to these wordings or formats. See our wording ideas for additional verses.

Mr. and Mrs. John Quincy Smith
requests the honor of your presence
at the baptism of their daughter
Patricia
Sunday, the nineteenth of July
at eleven o’clock
Saint Paul Cathedral
Huntington, New York

Please join us for the baptism of
Patricia
July 19th
at 11:00
St. Paul Cathedral
Huntington, NY

Avoid abbreviating words and numbers if you’d like to project a more formal tone – this applies to the month, day, and time as well. The year can normally be omitted since invitations are not sent more than a few weeks before the event. The location includes the name of the church and, if necessary, an address. How much of the address to include depends on where your guests will be coming from. Show the city and state if you expect faraway guests. The zip code is commonly excluded. When many of your guests are unfamiliar with the location, maps and directions can be printed on the back side (or front side if there is room) of informal invites. They can also be included as inserts on more formal invitations. When maps and directions are provided there is no need to include the address in the main body of the invitation.

It is customary, but not required, to follow the baptism or christening with an informal reception at the church itself, where members of the baptismal party usually bring a cake to serve to fellow church members. If a reception is scheduled, it should be noted on the bottom of the invitation card (e.g., “Reception to follow”). For a reception held at a different location than the ceremony, indicate the time of the event and location (e.g., “Reception to follow at home”). If you need to know how many will be attending, especially if the reception is held at a home, an R.S.V.P. line (e.g., “Please respond”) may be included at the bottom of the card.

A general rule of thumb for guests and godparents is to wear “Sunday best” attire. The baby is dressed in a white robe and cap. If you believe your guests may be unaware of the appropriate dress code, you may include a gentle reminder at the bottom of the baptism or christening invite (e.g., “Church Attire”).

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