Hannah Nielsen-Jones, Celebrant, River and Root Ceremonies
DC, MD, VA
When my husband and I decided began to plan our wedding, we knew that as Latinos, we wanted something bilingual. And while we do not practice a particular religion, we wanted something that was still spiritual. It was a lot to look for. Hannah was wonderful and very easy to work with. She was so generous with her time and with her willingness to go back and forth with us to tweak the ceremony. In the end, Hannah created a beautiful ceremony that flowed easily between Spanish and English and really reflected who we are and what we wanted. We got many, many compliments from family and friends (including those from more traditional backgrounds who had not seen this kind of ceremony before) about how beautiful it was and about how great she was. There aren't enough words with which I can say how blessed we feel to have had Hannah as the one to create and preside over one of the most important and special moments of our life. It marked a beautiful beginning to our new life together.
I travel free of charge anywhere within the DC line. I offer three custom wedding packages and each has an area beyond DC included in the package; travel can also be added to a package a la carte. Beyond one day’s driving distance, I negotiate travel fees on a case-by-case basis.
Please note that I am only accepting inquiries for in-person ceremonies between June 15 and September 18, 2022 at the moment. I am happy to consult remotely on ceremonies scheduled outside of Summer 2022, but I cannot officiate. Thank you for understanding.
I offer elopement and short-notice wedding packages starting at $325 - I love working on these sweet, intimate ceremonies. I also offer special pricing for morning weddings and Sunday-Thursday weddings.
Describe your business in 1-3 short sentences.
As a Life-Cycle Celebrant, I work to co-create original, evocative wedding ceremonies with couples. Metaphorically speaking, I am an alchemist: I combine your story, ideas, and the elements you wish to include with my academic training and practical background in ritual theory and event production, to create and lead a ceremony that is wholly authentic to you.
I’m also fluent in Spanish and enjoy working in both English and Spanish.
Additionally, I offer ceremony consulting on an hourly basis for couples who may have a friend or loved one in mind to lead their ceremony, but are interested in some professional advice, ideas, research, or oversight.
Why do you want to work with APW couples?
APW couples value meaning, adventure, and authenticity over the illusory WIC ideal. They want to show up truthfully and joyfully on their wedding day as themselves, and feel grounded during this major life transition. They already relate to the wedding as a fundamental part of their journey in partnership (rather than a ‘pinnable pinnacle of perfection’).
I also think that the deeper work APW calls for couples to engage with as they plan their weddings and futures together encourages both thoughtfulness and consideration around what will be included in the ceremony, which makes the ceremony creation process really fun for me! Part of my training as a Celebrant includes working with couples who may identify as ‘spiritual, but not religious’ and are searching for ways to combine elements of family, cultural, or ancestral beliefs/traditions/customs with their own personal beliefs. I find that process of research, discernment, and eventual synergy really fascinating and enjoyable.
It’s a gift to be a part of a wedding ceremony where the vitality and momentum a couple feels as they begin the adventure of married life often ripple outward and saturate those attending with joy and hope. APW couples embody that spirit.
What is your artistic approach to weddings?
In you and your partner, we already have all we need to begin. Working with me ensures that your story will be told your way, with as many – or as few – bells and whistles as you would like.
We will work together to name and honor who and what you wish to be present in the space. You may have some specific themes, rituals, or questions in mind as we begin, or you may not – either way, we will create a ceremony that feels comfortable and meaningful to you and your partner. Together, we will identify any elements particularly resonant to you – serious, whimsical, or anything in between. I use those elements to catalyze a ceremony that honors you and your partner, and resonates with you as a full reflection of your story. We develop a detailed plan with facets both abstract and specific, with language truly reflective of you and your partner. Ultimately, we join together to acknowledge and celebrate the occasion, mindfully present in each moment.
What are your non-work-related hobbies?
- Reading (words, words, more words! All the words!)
- Long walks and watching the seasons change
- Travelling (over the past ten years I’ve lived in the UK, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Spain, and … Pittsburgh! before returning to my hometown of DC) I love exploring new places as well as returning to old haunts.
- In the colder months: hot chocolate and hot toddy drinking in front of the fireplace, in the warmer months: lemonade and beer drinking on the front porch.
- loving BTS
What's your favorite book?
It’s too tough to choose a favorite! – in the past year I’ve greatly enjoyed reading Hamnet, Kim JiYoung Born 1982, the Rivers of London series, and always lots and lots of poetry: Eve Ewing, Ross Gay, Danez Smith, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and others.
What's your favorite movie?
I have a weakness for horrible action movies of which The Hunt for Red October, xXx with Vin Diesel, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol are my top three.
If you could have a one minute dance party at your desk, what song would you pick?
Tu vida en la mía by Marc Anthony (cheesy I know, but so good)
Kelly B. & Alex K.
Hannah is an incredible soul, and my husband and I were so grateful to have her as a partner in our wedding process. When we changed our original wedding plan to include immediate family only in my husband's mom's backyard, we knew we wanted to honor the moment with more "ceremony" than just signing some paperwork together. Enter Hannah. Through a questionnaire that my partner and I both filled out, a few Zoom meetings, and one socially distance park hang, Hannah was able to craft the most beautiful, most "us" ceremony for our intimate backyard celebration. We worked with her to provide feedback on the drafts, and each time she came back to us with something even more beautiful than before! She is truly gifted. On the day of, she fell right into place as a member of our family in the backyard; my sister-in-law was holding her newborn, and Hannah helped apply bug spray to her legs when she was getting chowed on! All while wearing a mask and respecting everyone's social distance comfort levels. During the ceremony, she commanded presence, took her time, and engaged our small but mighty crowd. Everyone was in joyful tears throughout. We can't thank Hannah enough for helping us make the day feel special and connected, and honoring the transition together.
Wow! Working with Hannah for our wedding was an absolute joy from start to finish, and we cannot imagine anyone doing a better job for such a monumental occasion! Hannah took the time to meet with us -- even during a pandemic! -- to get to know us as a couple. She then constructed a ceremony script that brought us to tears every time we read it. It represented us as a couple perfectly! She graciously incorporated every detail that we wanted to include, and she helped us each write the most wonderful individual vows. She provided invaluable resources, advice, and a much-needed timeline which led to a magical main event for our wedding day! Hannah was super flexible, and she was so positive throughout the process. We could not be happier to have found someone that truly created a ceremony unique to us as a couple, and we hope to use her amazing other services in the near future :)
None at all!! Hannah is amazing!
Getting our ceremony right was by far the most important decision for our wedding. We feel truly blessed that Hannah was our celebrant. She approached our story as a couple with an open and eager heart. After a few initial conversations—including an in-person meet-up—we signed a contract for our wedding day. The process began with Hannah sending a questionnaire for each of us to complete. It was not a burden, nor did it feel like homework; it was truly one of the best parts of our wedding planning process. The result? Hannah had stories and insight into our relationship that she could use to create our ceremony. Hannah has a wonderful way with prose—both written and spoken—and the ceremony that she created for us honored our families, celebrated our love for each other, and created space for our guests to share in this love and community spirit on our wedding day. Hannah looked to us as collaborators in the ceremony creation—for things like a community vow—but we never felt that our ceremony was being forced into a form that was untrue to us as a couple. Our guests were left speechless upon learning that Hannah was no, not a dear friend, but rather a professional (and extremely gifted!) celebrant. We cannot recommend Hannah’s unique, wholehearted approach enough!
Jesse & Diana
We got married on May 4th 2019, and worked with Hannah for over 6 months to make sure our vows and ceremonial language was perfect for who we are and for what we wanted our marriage to represent. Throughout the process Hannah was nothing short of spectacular and supportive. She provided us with guiding language and ceremonial recommendations, but also flexible enough to allow improvisation. In fact, because we knew Hannah was bilingual and could handle a Spanish reading passage, we added one. We opted to trust her abilities, and she executed flawlessly. Hannah went above and beyond what was necessary but also talking with our friends to get a wholistic understanding of who we are as people. Hannah was always available to answer any questions we had, and we never once felt that she wasn't listening to us. In fact, Hannah is an active listener and she reflects that in her work. During our rehearsal, Hannah was able to efficiently guide our wedding party through the ceremony and answer any questions our guests had. On game day, Hannah was professional, punctual, and steady. It makes a world of difference when you believe in the abilities of your officiant to lead you through your marriage ceremony. We highly recommend Hannah for any and all marriages.
Tim and Emily
Hannah was absolutely fantastic. We could not have asked for a better experience with our officiant. She was patient, kind, and compassionate. She managed to capture 'us' in the ceremony so beautifully, and we are so very grateful for that. The responses from our guests were universally positive. If you're reading this and remain unsure about your officiant, stop what you're doing and choose Hannah! She's amazing!
Hannah was AMAZING. She was absolutely incredible throughout the entire process. We met with her two times before the Wedding Day and she was so pleasant and fun to be around. With just one interaction and answering a brief questionnaire she put together an amazing first draft of the Ceremony for us. We worked together to perfect the final script of the Ceremony (although she did much/most of the work). The final product and story she told sounded as if she'd known us for years, which was incredible. She also provided valuable feedback to us while writing our own vows. We got such positive feedback from our guests, including many praises for the Ceremony that Hannah led. Our wedding day was perfect, with huge props to Hannah for her style and eloquent speech. Our wedding was also bilingual and her Spanish is perfect! I'd recommend her 10 times out of 10! Frankly, the best value vendor at my wedding!
Hannah gently guided me through the process of planning and executing what ended up being the perfect ceremony for me and my partner. She helped me ditch the traditions that didn't serve us and embrace ones that did. She listened to every nuance and nerve that affected my assumptions about the day, reflected some things back to me for consideration, and helped with advice where it seemed I was getting tangled up. The care and love with which she approached the day, the confidentiality she kept knowing it was a secret ceremony, and the complete availability it seemed she had for me even amidst her many other clients is unmatched. If you're not sure if she's right for you, she is!
Hannah performed our wedding ceremony last week and she was amazing. We found her at the last minute and she was able to accommodate us on short notice and made our ceremony better than we ever imagined. She took a couple stories that we gave her and turned them into a personal and moving ceremony. AND she mixed in both Spanish and English so that it flowed beautifully. We loved it and we can't recommend her enough.