How to Plan a Courthouse Wedding

by Kelsey Casselbury

Don't skip a special dress just because you're marrying at the courthouse.

Jorge Casais/Hemera/Getty Images

When it's time to marry, not everyone desires the pomp and circumstance of a formal wedding. Courthouse weddings are easy on the budget and light on the frills, but that doesn't mean they're any less special. Even if you're planning your courthouse wedding quickly, pay attention to a few details to ensure that your wedding is a day you'll never forget.

The Legal Details

The logistics behind a courthouse wedding vary based on your location. Double-check the details of how marriages are performed at the courthouse in your area at least a few weeks before you plan to wed. In Baltimore, Maryland, weddings are performed on a first-come, first-serve basis, but in Washington, D.C., the civil wedding calendar is booked at least two to three weeks in advance -- the details differ by geography. Also check if photography or videography is allowed, the number of guests the courthouse holds, as well as the cost and the documents needed to get a marriage license.

Send the Invites

If you plan to have guests, add a little flair to your courthouse wedding with a proper invitation. Even the least sentimental of brides might want a special memento from the day in the years to come. David Tutera tells "Glamour" magazine that evites are OK if they look suitable for a wedding -- rather than a Super Bowl party -- but mailed invitations are best, if time permits. Of course, some couples might choose a courthouse wedding specifically so it's just the bride and groom at the ceremony. In this case, break the news to your family and friends gently before the wedding, not after, to minimize hurt feelings and surprises.

Bring a Photographer

Even if you don't invite guests, hire a photographer for the day. While a professional can be pricey, it's one facet of the day worth investing in. If your budget simply doesn't allow for a pro, Tutera in "Glamour" recommends asking a guest with a professional-level camera and a little know-how to follow you around for the day and get some shorts. After your "I do's," head to a park, downtown or another picturesque backdrop to capture some special shots.

Don't Forget the Dress

Your wedding day calls for a special frock, even if it's not a traditional white gown. Kellee Khalil of Lover.ly on the Etsy Blog recommends a classic tea-length dress with a pair of fabulous shoes. Add a classic birdcage veil or fascinator for a bridal look without being cliche. While you can choose white, any color is suitable; it's your day, after all. If you're not comfortable in a dress, don a classic pant- or skirt-suit. Clutch a small bouquet of your favorite blooms to finish off the look.

Photo Credits

  • Jorge Casais/Hemera/Getty Images

About the Author

Kelsey Casselbury has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State-University Park. She has a long career in print and web media, including serving as a managing editor for a monthly nutrition magazine and food editor for a Maryland lifestyle publication. She also owns an Etsy shop selling custom invitations and prints.