When it came to our baby’s christening, we were adamant about one thing: money. No matter what, we said, this special family occasion will not leave us in debt, under pressure or worried about cash.
This practical (if somewhat tight) approach was borne of our very expensive and extravagant wedding a mere eight months before. We had learned a valuable lesson; no day out is worth two bank loans and a Solpadeine prescription for when the bills arrive.
So, with our own experience of working on a budget and my former career as a christening events coordinator (yes, that’s a real job) here are 10 tips that may help you plan your official baby day out:
1 Set a budget
Decide on what you can afford and try to stick to it. This will help you choose your venue and menu. The only thing you really have to pay for is the priest (usually €50). Everything else you spend is up to you.
2 Pick a venue that suits you
This could be the local hotel, a local restaurant, local bar, your own home, a family members’ home or function room. Food choices can include hot finger food, buffet, sit-down meal, making the food yourself or having caterers in. Often there is only a small difference between buffet price or sit-down meal.
3 Limit courses
Some venues will allow you to leave out a course, which when multiplied by your catering numbers can save a lot of money. Having just a main course is totally fine.
4 Make use of the cake
Serve your christening cake as a dessert course. Try not to get drawn in by designer cakes either – we priced some of the really cool iced cakes, but eventually ruled them out as they were way over budget. Your local bakery or venue should be able to provide a great cake within budget.
5 Look for packages
Many venues provide fully inclusive packages, which can save on other costs like cake or entertainment. Ask for extras – can you throw in a room for the night? Can you provide arrival tea and coffee? Don’t be afraid to bargain.
6 This is not a wedding
With one third of babies born outside of marriage, many christenings are the first formal occasion a couple may have organised. Try not to get drawn into extravagance and don’t be pressurised by family members. One friend tells the scary story of her mother-in-law inviting 100 extra guests to her christening. True story. Set your numbers and stick to it. Do not feel obliged to invite extended family along.
7 Don’t set the date too early
Some couples set the date before the baby is even born, but as a new Mum, you can’t really know how you will be feeling after the birth. Wait a few weeks and set a date you are comfortable with. If the baby is able to walk up the aisle, so be it.
8 Don’t be afraid to borrow
I was lucky our baby got to wear the christening gown I wore myself some 30 years ago. This was, of course, for sentimental rather than budget reasons, but it did save us a few quid. If you’d prefer something more up-to-date, check if friends or family have an outfit you can borrow or visit stores like TK Maxx or Mothercare, where baby clothes are often on sale.
9 The baby is not the only star
I felt a lot of pressure to look great. This wasn’t helped by my online dress delivery failing to arrive and having to rush out the day before the christening to panic buy. Think about having a back up dress (with a nice loose tummy area).
10 This spray tan tastes great
A lot of things change when you have a baby. If like me, you have been a bit lacking in the bodycare department, you may unwittingly head in for your spray tan and completely forget that you’re breastfeeding. What’s that on the child’s mouth in her christening photo… chocolate?? Why yeeessssssss.