Standing up at a Christening and making a speech or toast can be a bit unnerving, but, with a little preparation, you will find that the speech will almost write itself and there is really little to fear.
Start by thanking everybody, on behalf of the parents, for attending the service and supporting your godchild and the family. Don’t forget to thank the vicar or priest – if you are planning ahead, ask for their name and make a note of it … it is easy for the vicar to be forgotten or taken for granted. At this stage, if caterers have been used for the party, now is probably the best time to thank them for providing such delicious food and for their service.
You are not only talking on behalf of the parent’s you are probably also representing the other godparents, so find out who they are. You may be a close friend of the family, but it is amazing how often friends you don’t know from the parents’ past or relatives you have never met are asked to be a fellow godparent, so do your homework. If you are able to contact them beforehand it may be worth asking if they want you to say anything on their behalf.
Talk about the mother and father and how lucky your godchild is to have such loving parents. You can pick out some of their qualities or remember stories from their first months of parenthood. Although you should really avoid a speech full of endless “thank yous”, now is probably the best time to ask everyone to show their appreciation for all the hard work they have put in to preparing such a great party. If you have time before the Christening, it may be worth asking the parents if there’s anything they want you to say … there may be a special relative or someone who has travelled a long way for the celebration who they would like you to mention. It is a family affair, so consider grandparents, brothers and sisters.
Finally you can talk about the reason everybody is there – your godchild. Talk about everyone’s hope for their future and the sort of person they are likely to become. You can mention any traits or idiosyncrasies you have noticed, the support you and the other godparents will provide, plus the positive attributes they may inherit from their parents. Keep it light, and present the future as a wonderful world of opportunity and experience rather than a challenge or threat. Avoid clichés …. although the line that your goddaughter “will be blessed if she ends up with the good looks of her mother and the intelligence of … her mother” , still seems to be appreciated.
It is traditional to end with a toast, asking everybody to raise their glasses. There are numerous possible toasts. Here are a few, ranging from the short and sweet, to the sweet and saccharin:
“Long Life & Happiness”
“Wealth, Health & Happiness”
“We wish Charlie good fortune, health and peace on his journey through life. May he find love and comfort when he is troubled, may he find true friendship as he grows and may he learn to be kind and considerate to everyone he meets over a long and happy life.”
“May the Lord cradle you in His hand, but never close His fist too tight.
May your pockets always be heavy and your heart always be light.”
“May you live as long as you want, and may you never want as long as you live.”
“Be loving with your family, selfless with your friends and generous to everyman.”
“For a head that will always be bright, a stomach that will always be full and a heart that will always be happy…”
When you do make the speech, avoid using sheets of closely written A4 and certainly don’t read it out, simply use a few index cards with just the bullet points of your speech as an aide memoir to guide you through. Above all, stick to the maxim “less is more” … keep it short and to the point.