Celebrating Life: Course Outline

This online course equips you to work closely with couples and families at some of the most important moments in their lives, and to create and conduct rich, vibrant and unique ceremonies for Weddings, Handfastings, Renewals of Vows, Namings and Welcomings. We will explore ways of drawing upon our experience of our own spiritual lives to create meaningful rituals for people in our wider communities, whatever their own beliefs and outlooks may be.

We’ll look at the structure, forms and dynamics of ceremonies, and how these can be adapted to suit different occasions. As well as offering you opportunities to develop your own listening, writing, and speaking skills, the course will equip you to work with families collaboratively, facilitating their input and engagement in a variety of ways. You’ll be supported to draw on family history and personal stories, and find ways to enable everyone present to feel welcome, included, and actively involved – creating ceremonies that feel, natural, powerful and just right for each family that you will serve in this uniquely privileged role.

Underpinning the whole course is an approach to celebrancy as service, in the context of nature based spiritual practices, and a focus on the creation of authentic ceremony.

Each session is followed by assignments to be completed in your own time. A certificate will be awarded to all students who complete and submit the six mandatory assignments.

About the Tutor
The course is led by River Jones, who joined OBOD in 2000 – a year after conducting her first Handfasting. Since training with the UK College of Celebrancy she has become a full time celebrant, and has conducted over 300 rites. Previously River worked in adult education, designing and managing outreach programmes and teaching creative writing, personal development and life history courses for the University of Sussex. River will share her knowledge, resources, and many examples of rituals drawn from her wide range of experience as a celebrant. To find out more about River’s Celebrancy work see www.celebrantforyourceremony.co.uk

About the Courses
No special software is required to access the course. The courses are delivered via six online lessons, which you can work through at your own pace. Course materials include video and audio presentations; downloadable documents, and many examples drawn from real-life ceremonies; resource lists; suggestions for your own research and a ceremony of completion. The course and all materials will remain accessible and free to review at any time.

These self-access sessions are supported by an interactive course platform where students can ask questions, participate in discussions, submit assignments and receive feedback on their work.

Lesson 1: The Foundations of Practice

We will begin by considering the nature and purpose of ritual and ceremony. You’ll be invited to examine your own experience as we identify the key features of good ceremony, and reflect on the importance of rites of passage for our times. You’ll be encouraged to draw upon your own spiritual practices to bring depth and vitality to your work as a celebrant; and your first assignment will support you in preparing to offer your services as a celebrant.

Lesson 2: An overview of celebrancy and ceremony

In our second session we’ll examine the key tasks of the celebrant, and you’ll be guided through the processes of working collaboratively with couples and families, from the first contact through to the day of the ceremony. You’ll be invited to reflect on the skills and qualities needed for the work of celebrancy, and on how to resource and prepare yourself for this work. We’ll also take an overview of the structure and dynamics of ceremony, illustrated by outlines and sample scripts for a range of occasions.

Lesson 3: Namings and Welcoming Ceremonies

This lesson will equip you to create original ceremonies of naming and welcoming for babies and children, including adoption ceremonies. We’ll explore ways of involving and empowering parents and those who are chosen to play a special role in the child’s life. We’ll also think about how to involve the wider family and community, and to celebrate family heritage and ancestry – and how to ensure that these occasions are enjoyable and engaging for the children at their heart. Your homework task will be an opportunity to begin honing your skills as you practice the preparatory work for a naming or welcoming ceremony.

Lesson 4: Marriage Rites

In this, the first of two lessons in focussing on the celebration of marriage, we’ll look at a variety of ancient and modern rites and rituals including handfasting, candle lighting, tree planting, ring blessing, wedding communion, and jumping the broomstick. We’ll explore ways of involving family and community in these ceremonies, and you’ll be encouraged to draw upon and contribute to a shared resource of poems and readings. This lesson’s homework is another opportunity to practice the work of celebrancy, especially your listening and writing skills.

Lesson 5: Vows and Blessings

Our focus in this lesson will be on those at the centre of wedding and partnership ceremonies, as we think about how we as celebrants can support couples in preparing for marriages, renewals of vows and other relationship ceremonies. You’ll be guided through a range of resources and techniques, including tip sheets, vow-writing exercises and ceremonies, and working with solar and lunar cycles. We’ll also consider vow renewals, and ceremonies of separation; and in your homework task you will explore the art of blessing.

Lesson 6: Conducting ceremony, becoming a celebrant

In our final session we will reflect on the wider context of our work as celebrants, and on the art of conducting ceremony. You’ll be offered some practical guidance and suggestions as you consider your personal aims and aspirations, and you are invited to complete your journey through this course with a ceremony. Your final homework tasks will take the form of a brief review and an action plan for your future as a celebrant.


The course gives a good overview of the structure and process of celebrancy , along with great examples. It has also enhanced my confidence, and raised my awareness of my own personality as a celebrant.

A tremendously inspiring course, that helped me to deepen my experiences in celebrancy and develop new skills and good forms of organisation.

An excellent course for anyone looking to become a celebrant. This not just helped in performing the ceremonies but in planning and talking to clients as well.

You get a lot of course material, which is great. The homework is challenging and useful as you get a first impression how the celebrants work might be. I definitely recommend this course to others.

The experience and sensitivity of the tutor was a great combination for outstanding delivery of the course. Well balanced advice and constructive feedback with suggestions for working on our ideas further provided stretch targets for us all to work on as we grow as celebrants.

This course also has deepened my awareness of the importance of acknowledging the changes/transitions which occur throughout our lives and how ceremony/ritual allows time to reflect upon the old/new as we move forward. There is something deep within our psyche which needs to take the time to truly breathe, feel change, to let go of the old, to embrace the new and to honour ourselves and in doing so we honour our ancestral lineage past, present and future too. Thank you

You can work with the material at your own pace, and if you would like to be awarded a certificate you will need to complete and submit six assignments.

The School of Celebrancy is an accredited CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Provider.

Any questions? See the FAQs below or email [email protected]

Your Instructor

River Jones
River Jones

River Jones, joined OBOD in 2000 – a year after conducting her first Handfasting. Since training with the UK College of Celebrancy she has become a full time celebrant, and has conducted over 500 rites. Previously River worked in adult education, designing and managing outreach programmes and teaching creative writing, personal development and life history courses for the University of Sussex. River will share her knowledge, resources, and many examples of rituals drawn from her wide range of experience as a celebrant . To find out more about River’s Celebrancy work see www.celebrantforyourceremony.com

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
How much contact will I have with the tutor and other students?
All the course interaction happens on our accompanying learning platform at schoology.com. You will get personal feedback on each homework assignment you submit, and can message the course tutor with any questions you may have about the lessons and assignments. There are also discussion threads accompanying each lesson, providing a space for students to interact with one another and share inspiration, learning and resources.
Will these courses qualify me to act as a celebrant?
No formal qualification is required for you to act as a celebrant and conduct ceremonies such as funerals, handfastings, renewals of vows, and baby namings and ceremonial wedding blessings. It is only legally binding marriage services that must be conducted by an authorised person (e.g. Registrar or Minister of Religion). There is increasing demand worldwide for celebrant led weddings as more and more couples choose to celebrate their marriage with a bespoke ceremony held after (or sometimes before) a brief legal service. If you complete the School of Celebrancy courses, you will be sent a certificate and will be fully qualified in the sense that you will be equipped with all the skills and knowledge you will need in order to work as a celebrant, and offer a professional service.
On completion of the course, will I be registered anywhere for people to find my services?
If you are an OBOD member, you will be able to join the celebrant listings on the OBOD website at druidry.org The courses also include support and advice about publicising your services more widely.
Would I need insurance to practice as a celebrant?
Insurance may not necessarily be required, but may be advisable if you are offering your services professionally. In the UK cover can be provided by Blackfriars: www.blackfriarsgroup.com/funeral-celebrants-liability-insurance. We are not able to offer further advice regarding insurance as the provisions and requirements vary widely in different countries.

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