There is some financial cost to it as well, as traditionally they buy the baptismal garment, gown (I guess you have suit, not gown), baptismal cross, towels, etc.
In the past couple of generations, Greeks especially have turned prospective Godparenthood into practically a racket, with all the things a Godparent is "expected" to provide for the baptism. The "industry" foisting all this unnecessary frou-frou has a lot to answer for, taking advantage of the honest ignorance of folks who have not been properly informed of what is required. Interestingly, Russians, who are not known for doing things by halves, keep their baptisms simple, reverent and low-key.
The essentials are:
- a baptismal cross
- (if possible) an icon of the patron saint of the person being baptized, and/or a prayer book, Bible/New Testament, or other useful and edifying devotional item
- (for babies and children, not essential for adults) a new garment or outfit to be worn after the baptism. A new outfit for coming to church, and another for the party afterwards is NOT required, neither is a toy box, toys, additional jewelry, or a party the size and scale of a wedding. I'm not making this up! I've seen all of this and more in my time.
- Bomboniere (the trinkets and baubles given as mementos to guests, common amongst Greeks, but unheard-of among Russians and most other Slavs) are not necessary, but, if they "must" be part of the show, it is quite sufficient to have a tulle or organza bag or pouch containing three sugared almonds (symbolizing the Holy Trinity), with a small cross or icon attached. Many craft shops sell inexpensive ready-cut and hemmed circles of netting or other sheer fabric suitable for the purpose.
- A white towel if the church does not have its own. I've yet to come across a church that doesn't have its own towels, but some folks like the idea of a new towel to dry the baptised.
- a candle or candles which the Godparents hold during the ceremony, or, if an older child or adult, the person to be baptized holds. They do NOT need to be the six-foot monsters swathed in elaborate ribbons, a simple white table candle is quite sufficient, perhaps with a white ribbon bow. I've been to plenty of baptisms where the candles used were the thicker size sold at the church.
What you outlined for Slavic tradition was pretty much what I experienced.
Actually, now that I look at your list, all it was was the dress to be baptized, the garment worn afterward that she chose and in which I hope to be buried, the baptismal cross, and lots and lots of olive oil, which Russians it is said tend to scrimp on because it is harder to come by maybe, two candles with little pins of my patron saint with little ribbons on them. No books or anything else. Some people gave me little cards, or a little icon, but just small tokens, nothing grand.
It was beautiful.
But still, I did not realize there was financial cost at all like that. I don't remember any lunch or snacks or anything, but maybe we did. Probably not because it is such a long day, and with Pascha coming up. A gold baptismal cross by itself is not really cheap. I have seen the little pouches with almonds and a little icon card, or simple little baptismal pins with a little ribbon or something.
Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it, I only said it because sometimes in the US people are out of work or whatever, due to the economy, or they have limited means. There are ways to save on costs, like I borrowed the baptismal gown. National Geographic had an article about Orthodoxy in Russia, and had a photo of a woman being baptized in a bikini.
Anyway, the priest might, if the parish isn't too large, be familiar with people's overall situation, and would be the first person one should talk with before asking anyone. Make a list of people who you think might be appropriate, and ask him first. Then, approach the person and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring you to come in. (Not you, specifically LBK, but the general 'you').
I didn't know until a few weeks prior that I was to be baptized, so Tom, take heart, and keep praying. These are blessed days. May God preserve us. I'm so happy for you.