There’s lots of decisions to be made when you are organising a christening – and the christening dress is an important one.
Different churches will have different expectations about the mode of christening dress for the baby. Many families dress their baby in a special white gown, a christening dress traditionally worn by either boys or girls.
The traditional christening dress is always white (or off-white) and is usually adorned with lace and intricate needlework. If it’s not already a dress that has been handed down through one parent’s family, it is often an expensive item that may become a family heirloom.
However these days, many parents will choose to use a mostly-white outfit that can be used again. A white all-in-one romper suit or white t-shirt and white pants for a little boy or a simple white dress for a little girl can be quite acceptable for a less-formal event.
One problem with spending lots of money on a christening dress for a small baby is that small babies are inherently messy creatures, and there is potential for dribble or worse, causing irreparable damage to the outfit.
While a lacy christening dress can be a thing of beauty, it can also be a thing of great discomfort for tiny babies more accustomed to soft stretchy fabrics than scratchy lace and harsh starched linen.
An intricately detailed white shawl can also be a beautiful accessory for a little baby that covers all manner of christening dress sins, and can be used for formal photographs, but removed so that baby can be as comfortable as possible for the duration of the christening event.
A christening is an important life event in many communities, similar in formality to a wedding or funeral. If you have been invited to attend a formal and perhaps quite traditional christening, then adopting a slightly conservative business wear would be the appropriate way to dress.
For example, a suit or dinner jacket, collared shirt (perhaps with tie), long pants and closed shoes for men, and for women, a dress or suit with sensible-length skirt, would be appropriate for both guests, parents and godparents to wear to a church ceremony.
If you have any concerns though, do check with the person that has invited you to the ceremony.
Because a christening is a serious religious sacrament, when you’re trying to make a decision about dress, it’s best to err on the conservative.
While it’s usually customary for hats to be removed before entering a church, a very small number of religions prefer that women cover their hair.
Bare shoulders are often frowned upon in church, so if it’s a hot day and you want to wear a sleeveless number, make sure you bring a jacket or formal cardigan to cover up any dress faux-pas.
Strappy sandals and extra-high heels are also a little inappropriate – and the ultimate christening dress sin is a too-short skirt; women’s hemlines should be close to the knee, if not below.
This article was written by Fran Molloy, www.ultraverse.com.au, journalist and mum of four