Now I know for sure that there aren’t many celebrants who can walk on stilts, or who if you wanted them to, could acrobatically flip and dance themselves down your wedding aisle, but wedding celebrant Hannah Osmond is DEFINITELY one celebrant who could do all of that and more!
With a background in contemporary dance, circus skills and spreading joy, since 2016 Hannah has been bringing all of her skills together into the wedding arena and rolling them up into one big ball of energy and enthusiasm, to help create amazing wedding ceremonies.
Based in West Sussex, UK, Hannah will lead your ceremony wherever you need her to, from East & West Sussex, London, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire and beyond.
Find out more about Hannah, this super smiley, Ru Paul’s Drag Race-loving, delightful wedding celebrant, right here… Oh and she has the best story ever about a dog as a ring bearer!
What has been the highlight of your wedding career so far?
There are so many it would be hard to choose just one, but some magic moments have included having pet dogs as ring-bearers, a ceremony in the midst of torrential rain in an ancient woodland, a wedding on the beach in Brighton (observed by hundreds of sunbathers!) and a private commitment ceremony in a pod on the London Eye.
What has being a wedding Celebrant taught you about life and people?
Since I work as a funeral Celebrant as well as offering naming ceremonies and wedding ceremonies, I am reminded each and every day about the fragility of life. This has given me a much stronger belief in the importance of not sweating the small stuff, of going after the things you feel passionate about and, most importantly, of making the best of time with the people you love.
It sounds so obvious – but working with families during periods of intense grief and helping them honour the life of their loved one through a funeral or ‘celebration of life’ event; really brings things into sharp focus. Being a wedding Celebrant gives me the perfect platform upon which to help people really enjoy some fabulous time with all of their favourite people in the world. It’s such a joyful time. I really think we should celebrate more and not be afraid to show our emotions. We can be a little erm….’British’ about it after all – stiff upper lip and all that! I’m sure my friends and family get really bored of me telling them how much I love them; but it feels important for me to do so. Seeing people come together and celebrate their love for one another is a very powerful thing. The intensity of emotion we can feel at big life events, such as weddings, is something I’d like to bottle, and then sprinkle around every so often.
What advice would you give to couples getting married now? What mistakes could they do with avoiding?
Ooh gosh, I’m not one for offering much advice. I mean I can tell you my thoughts on the best brand of oat milk for coffee, or that it’s good to mulch your borders every year, but I wouldn’t say I’m here to give marriage advice. The one piece of advice I like to use, whatever the circumstance, is to listen to your gut. If something feels right it usually is. I guess, I also always encourage my couples to free themselves from thinking about what they ‘ought’ to do or ‘should’ do when it comes to their wedding ceremony; and instead to start thinking about what they would ‘like’ to do and ‘could’ do.
What do you love about being a wedding Celebrant?
What aspect of your job as a wedding Celebrant gives you the most satisfaction?
For me it’s all about being part of the whole journey. I love seeing a couple all the way from start to end – beginning with that first initial planning meeting, to the arrival of their first ceremony draft landing in their inbox, to walking and talking everything through in the space during the rehearsal and then finally, bringing it alive for them on the day of their wedding. I’ve met some awesome people along the way; and am very lucky to have stayed in touch with some of my couples over the years, too. I love hearing what they’re up to; and knowing that their wedding ceremony was such a special moment in their lives makes me feel very happy and satisfied.
I’m also a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to writing the ceremony scripts. I love to use all the information I have gathered, weave a bit of ‘word-magic’ and come up with something that I hope will really blow my couple’s socks off. This is something that I really take my time with; and I will keep wrestling with it until I feel I’ve absolutely nailed it. Then there is the nerve-wracking wait whilst my couples read it and tell me what they think. For me it’s never ‘finished’ until my couple say so. I’ll keep working on tweaks and revisions until they are 100% happy with it. It’s a process I really enjoy.
What are your favourite types of wedding ceremonies?
Fun ones. Heartfelt ones. Ones that make you laugh and cry….sometimes even at the same time! I love wedding ceremonies that tell a story, make people feel involved and connected and leave everyone feeling that they’d had the privilege of being part of something really joyful and unique.
If you had to sum yourself up in three words, what would they be?
Hard-working, fun-loving, cat-mad (is that six?!)
What are your celebrant ninja skills? What are you awesomely good at when it comes to wedding ceremonies?
Resourcefulness. Now that’s a key Celebrant ninja skill; and something I definitely have by the bucket load. A good example would be the time that an absolutely gorgeous wedding couple of mine mislaid the sand ceremony kits they had purchased. This was one of those totally unique weddings in the heart of the Sussex countryside. The couple and their children, and all of their guests were staying on site for the whole weekend and were camping in bell tents. We were miles away from the nearest shops and when I arrived on the Saturday about an hour before the ceremony, they confessed that they had no idea where the sand ceremony kit had gone….it was somewhere in a box, in a tent, in a field… I scurried off to the owner of the local farmhouse to see whether I could raid her kitchen for substitutes. A few random glasses became the bottles for the individual sands and a larger glass became the central vessel that they would all be poured in to. The four different colour sands, which were to represent the four members of the family (mum, dad and the two kids) were replaced with pink Himalayan salt, white flour, golden caster sugar and porridge oats! Phew! Crisis averted! I also have big listening ears….and from the very first conversation I have with couples I am trying to pick up on cues about what kind of ceremony they would like. Even when they aren’t yet sure themselves, I am trying to understand as much as I can about them as people, so I can create something that fully represents who they are. Often-time guests will ask the couple whether I am a friend of theirs, as I seem to know them so well. That’s when I know I’ve got it right and done my job.
What’s your favourite symbolic ritual, and why?
As an unashamed tree-hugger and gardening geek, I always jump at the chance of any kind of tree-planting or seed sowing. If there are little ones involved in the ceremony then I know they will love taking part in a sand ceremony. A ring-warming is a really lovely way of involving all the wedding guests, however, and offers a chance for the wedding bands to be imbued with lots of good cheer and happy blessings before they are exchanged between the couple during their vows.
What would be a dream ceremony for you?
I did a sky-dive in New Zealand once and have always been keen to do another; so if there are any daredevil couples out there looking for a Celebrant, then please choose me! Or, keeping my feet more firmly on the ground, I massively enjoy anything that is outdoors or in unusual spaces – such as castle ruins, timber barns or even in cute little tucked away village halls. I’m not a fan of the big fancy venues with the conveyor belt bridal packages, and really enjoy weddings that have the personal touch. DIY weddings, with a lot of time, effort and love thrown in by family and friends, are certainly my favourite.
How would you say the wedding industry has changed in the last fifteen years?
I’m not sure many people – myself included – really knew what on earth a Celebrant was fifteen years ago. Now, I think people are realising they have the opportunity to take much more ownership over their wedding ceremony and are feeling encouraged and brave enough to let go of the constraints of tradition and expectation. As with the funerals I deliver, people are looking for something authentic and original, and don’t want to be fobbed off with an off-the-peg ceremony. And right bloody so! Choice, choice and more choice – this is the era of couples stepping outside the box and doing things their way, and a Celebrant is the perfect solution to helping them realise their ceremony ambitions.
What kind of couples do you enjoy working with?
Relaxed, laid-back couples who are all about creating a great vibe to celebrate their love for one another in front of the people they cherish most in the world. If a couple are more concerned about what colour chair ties they’re having or which wine best pairs with which course, they’re probably not ‘my couple’.
What do you think wedding ceremonies will look like in the near-future?
Every couple is unique and every couple’s idea of their perfect day is unique too. What suits one couple, may be the next couple’s idea of hell (!) so I’m sure weddings will continue to be of every size, shape and ‘flavour’ in the future. I’m just pleased that people are starting to have the confidence to strike out, let go of the wedding magazine ‘ideal’ and do something that more authentically reflects who they are – both as individuals and as a couple. And I’m so happy to be here to help my couples achieve exactly that.
Tell us about a funny/hair-raising/near-miss wedding experience that you’ve had as a Celebrant
Well they do say never work with children or animals….and there is an element of wisdom in that for sure. The second time a couple asked me if their beloved pet dog could be the ring bearer I was delighted as I am an enormous, soppy animal lover of epic proportions. ‘Niner’ – the Golden Retriever – behaved beautifully during our rehearsal. She came when called, trotted down the aisle (basically a gap between the hay bales at a stunning lake-side setting on a glorious summer day), sat when asked, allowed me to remove the pouch from her collar with the rings inside it and went off to sit next to a family member in the front row on cue.
On the day itself however, Niner had other ideas. Things started off as planned but when Niner got to the front, she swiftly side-stepped me and disappeared head-first under a bush. (We hadn’t appreciated she’d have stage fright once she was in front of 100 guests). Myself and the bride – in her drop-dead gorgeous dress – dove under the bush in pursuit to retrieve ‘said rings’. All the guests and groom could see were two backsides and quivering foliage as we wrestled with leaves, twigs and a disinterested 25kg dog. I loved her all the more for her total disregard for her starring role. Needless to say, once rings were finally exchanged, there was a big sigh of relief and a lot of laughter.
Can you share with us something nice that one of your couples have said about you.
“We have been overwhelmed with the positive comments from our family and friends about the personal feel to the ceremony, but also about you personally, and how amazingly you delivered it. Your warm, reassuring presence allowed us to relax and enjoy it so much more than we thought would be possible, as you know we were quite nervous about being ‘centre stage!’ I was asked by someone who you were, as they assumed you were a close family friend who we had known for years, which was exactly what we were after for our ceremony. Thank you for making the most important part of our day feel so absolutely magical, and certainly something we will never forget.” Sarah & Andy, August 2019
What are your favourite types of venues/spaces for weddings?
Anything that has a bit of soul. By that I mean a room or a space that has some sense of history and purpose. It probably isn’t something that was designed or made with weddings in mind necessarily. It’s probably light, bright and in (or with a view to) nature. There may be hale bales on the floor. There is probably at least one string or fairy lights. If there’s a chance we might be visited by a wandering pheasant or farm-animal during the ceremony, then great. If everything is up-tight, ‘matchy-matchy’ and shimmering in an ice-white glow of austerity and rigidity, then I’m probably heading for the door….
When you’re not busy being a Celebrant what do you love doing?
Hanging out with my cats, dogs and son. (Not necessarily in that order!) Watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Eating flapjack. Going for long muddy walks in the woods. Indulging my new passion for pottery. Getting out on a kayak or paddle board. Spending time with friends. Relaxing with a glass of red wine and a good book.
If you can picture Hannah leading your awesome wedding ceremony (of course you can!), then get in touch with her here.