10 Questions with Hannah Nielsen-Jones

WeddingRule Interviewed one of the most popular and highly sought-after wedding officiants in DC, Hannah Nielsen-Jones of River and Root Ceremonies. Washington DC based Hannah is the founder and owner of River and Root Ceremonies.

River and Root Ceremonies

Officiant - Hannah Nielsen-Jones

10 Questions with Hannah Nielsen-Jones

1. Introduction: What's your story?

Hi! My name is Hannah. I love working with people to create ceremonies of all kinds, but weddings are particularly special to me. I enjoyed getting to know you and your history as a couple, listening to what feels the most important to you about the ceremony, and crafting it all into words that flow easily and beautifully together.

2. What's your experience as a wedding officiant? How many weddings have your officiated?

I've been officiating weddings since 2015, all over DC, Maryland, and Virginia. I've also been lucky enough to officiate the weddings of friends in Utah (once!) and Florida (twice!) I generally avoid scheduling more than one ceremony in a day so that I can be fully focused and present for each one. I don't have an exact number of ceremonies I've officiated, but I've been fairly busy most summers since I began doing this work. I love learning about new venues and exploring the DC region via the fun and beautiful places I've been asked to officiate weddings.

3. How far in advance do couples need to secure your services?

Around four months ahead of the wedding date, or even earlier, although I do occasionally have last-minute availability (especially for elopements!) so it never hurts to get in touch! The process that I use with folks to create ceremonies does take a little time, and I like to finalize the ceremony text one month before the actual wedding, so I recommend people get in touch on the earlier side if they can.

4. How would you describe your officiant style?

My goals with the ceremony are twofold: to be a channel for all of the emotions and energy flowing from the gathering of loved ones towards the couple (to represent them, in some ways), and to hold a space of tranquillity and stillness for the people getting married to be able to be present with each other in the midst of what is often a very busy and overwhelming 24-72 hour period.

Many people believe that there are certain things you "must" say or do in order to get married, and I am here to tell you that is not the case. You do not have to say or do anything that feels incongruent or not reflective of who you are as a person or as a couple! You don't have to promise anything that you don't actually want to promise! (Enough with 'obey' - no thank you!)

I love working with couples who are thoughtful about what feels most important to them to include in a ceremony. For some, it's being witnessed while they share their vows to each other. For some, it's about that first kiss as a married couple at the end. For some, it's about a handfasting or another unity ritual. I would say that therefore my style is reflective of what each couple wants: skewing more formal for hotel weddings with large wedding parties, skewing more informal for backyard gatherings with immediate family and friends - but I always, always listen to the couple and what they want in terms of tone for the ceremony.

5. What are your fees for officiating a wedding?

My packages for Summer 2021 range from $275 to $850

6. What do you wear when you officiate a wedding?

A black trousersuit, or a black dress. If someone would like me to wear something else, I will consider it, but generally I want the focus to be on the people getting married rather than on what I am wearing.

7. How many pre-wedding sessions will the couple need to have with you?

It depends on how many edits we do to the ceremony. Generally we meet once (in person or virtually) before signing the contract, and then we may have three-five further conversations over the phone or via videoconference to finalize the ceremony.

8. Will you be able to create a personalized ceremony?

Yes. I only create personalized ceremonies. I am also happy to create personalized rituals within ceremonies.

9. Are you available to travel if needed?

Yes, please get in touch for more details about my travel policy.

10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?

I ask for a 50% deposit at the time of the contract signing, and the second 50% payable no later than the week of the wedding. If the wedding is cancelled before the first draft of the ceremony is written, I will refund the deposit. If it is cancelled after the first draft is written, I will not refund the deposit.

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WeddingRule Editor’s Choice 2020