Perspectives on Celebrancy 2 – River Jones and Desiree Overeem

heart petals, Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

Nearly five years ago the Order piloted our first training courses for celebrants, and in October 2017 we launched the online School of Celebrancy, where people all over the world can access them. During this time hundreds of students in over a dozen different countries have taken part in the two courses: “Serving the Living and the Dead”, which focuses on funerals; and “Celebrating Life”, on weddings, handfastings and naming ceremonies. One of this year’s graduates is Desiree Overeem in the Netherlands, who was inspired to create an e-book based on the vow writing exercises and ceremonies that course tutor River Jones shares in “Celebrating Life”. Desiree and River invite one another to reflect on their experience…


Desiree’s Questions to River

With your broad experience, I read over more than 400 ceremonies, what makes celebrancy still special for you?

That’s a great question, thanks! I think it will always be special, no matter how many ceremonies, because each and every one is such an important moment in the lives of the people it is for – and it’s such a special privilege to share those moments. What is the most memorable, special moment during a ceremony for you?

That’s easy – it’s always the parts I didn’t write! The vows in a marriage, parents’ special wishes for their children in a naming, funeral speeches by family members – all of these are so very moving and powerful to witness.

What is your vision of celebrancy for the future?

I think we live in a very exciting time for celebrancy. My vision is of a future where individuals, families and communities the world over are served by celebrants who support them to co-create the ceremonies that feel real and meaningful and just right for them, helping to reinforcing their connections with one another, with life, with love, with magic! You write such lovely vow exercises and blessings for the couples and families you work with. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Thank-you Desiree! I’m deeply inspired of course by the natural world, by traditional blessings, the work other poets and writers, by my studies in Druidry and nature based spiritualities and of course by the people I create ceremonies for!

What was it like for you to create the e-book ‘Inspiration from nature’?

Well, as an e-book it’s really more your creation than mine! And it was lovely to work together with you to create a resource that I hope will be of real use and value in helping people to connect with the magic of the natural world as they prepare their vows, to find their way to the heart of what marriage means to them, and to create the most wonderful special moments in their own ceremonies!

River’s questions to Desiree

What has drawn you to the path of celebrancy?

During my coaching studies we worked a lot on personal development and by listening to my inner voice even more consciously, I was shown the path of ceremony, as if I had done it many times before – and I probably will. I’m really following my heart! It is a real privilege to be able to accompany people during their ceremony during those special moments of life, sometimes I can hardly believe I’m doing this, it’s so great!

What experience do you bring to this path from your previous working life?

As a former IT-service desk support manager and as a coach, I have learned to really listen to people; to hear, see and feel what someone truly means. This enables me to bring their wishes, love and deeper meaning into their ceremony.

What does your practice of Druidry bring to your work as a celebrant?

For me, Druidry and celebrancy go hand in hand; consciously dwelling on the moment, and taking the time to really connect. On a spiritual level, it brings the deeper connection with the people and the natural world, as well as awareness of the Spirit of Time and of Place. On a practical level; the annual festivals and personal rituals all contribute to my experience of ceremony.

What inspired you to create the e-book ‘Inspiration from Nature’?

The heartfelt vow writing exercises that you shared during the course Celebrating Life, River! The idea of bringing the love people have for each other together with the magic of nature, and the invitation to give words to their love – this lit a flame inside me and the creativity had already started to flow like a river during the course. Your beautiful words deserve a wider audience. framed with color and image so that many couples will be inspired!

Where are you heading now on your celebrant’s path?

My celebrant’s path is already clearly moving towards the more nature inspired ceremonies, especially handfasting. This summer, most wedding ceremonies booked have been cancelled due to the corona measures, I look forward to having a handfasting ceremony in the autumn. And hopefully next year I will come back to the School of Celebrancy to study “Serving the Living and the Dead”.

It is a great path to walk, assisting people during the most important moments of their lives. I feel very grateful!

The e-book ‘Inspiration from Nature’ is a free resource to support with writing vows for weddings and handfastings, and can be downloaded as a PDF at their websites: 

English version at River’s site:
Dutch version at Desiree’s


Learn more about Druidry and how to join the order

The practice of Druidry used to be confined to those who could learn from a Druid in person. But now you can take an experience-based course wherever you live, and when you enrol on this course, you join the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, and begin an adventure that thousands of people all over the world have taken. It works with the ideas and practices of Druidry in a thoroughly practical, yet also deeply spiritual way.