Getting Hitched: Ideas on How To Make a Courthouse Wedding Special


Growing up, when you imagined that perfect day, you saw sparkles and tulle and love, not debt, family fights, and eight months of extensive planning.

So, you're all grown up now and you're thinking about courthouse-ing it but you don't want to lose the sentiment of a wedding. That's cool, and pretty darn smart of you. Read on for ideas to make your courthouse wedding the fairytale you always imagined.

Pin it Up!

The often overwhelming daydream that is Pinterest could be the very reason you've decided to forego the big to-do and courthouse it up, but Pinterest can also be a great place for courthouse wedding ideas and inspiration, from how you want to style your hair, to where to get your dream outfit.

Plus, you can create a secret board to keep all of your ideas organized in one place for easy, accessible reference for say, that moment where you're standing dumbstruck in front of the florist trying to describe your idea of a perfect bouquet.


When you forego a big wedding, you also forego obligatory wedding gifts. However, especially if it's your first marriage, there will be people who want to gift the newlyweds out of the sheer love and excitement in their hearts.

For those people, you should create a small registry of 15-20 non-frivolous items for them to choose from.

Create a Playlist

Just because you're court-housing it, doesn't mean you should miss out on the romanticism of music. Use your usual music-listening service (or check out a free service like Spotify) to make up a playlist of songs that are meaningful to you and your partner to enjoy wherever and whenever during your wedding day.

Hire a Photographer


This is probably the single most important piece of advice you will get when it comes to having a courthouse wedding. Take it from someone who made the mistake of not having a photographer at her courthouse nuptials--you will regret it.

Whether you hire a photographer to take a few portraits after the ceremony or to follow you around on your newlywed adventures for the rest of the day, this one little touch is the sole thing that will stick around as long as your marriage.

And while it may be tempting to ask one of your guests to just snap a few photos, it's not the same as having a professional eye to capture those candid moments.

Visit a U Pick


For a special outing, visit a u-pick the evening before or the morning of your nuptials and gather flowers and greens for a very personal bouquet and boutonniere. What's more romantic than frolicking in the fresh air?

Hire a Musician

Keep in mind that forfeiting a lavish ceremony, venue rentals, and catering opens up other options financially, for the things that will truly make your day of celebration intimate and unforgettable.

Consider hiring a violinist (or a very talented friend) to play for an hour in a private room at a swanky restaurant while you dine with your new in-laws post nuptials or a folk band to jam at your park picnic while you party it up alfresco with a dozen of your closest friends.

Embrace the Details


It's easy to write off the details of the day when you ditch the big show, but if there's any reason to have a courthouse wedding, it's to save time and money to put into the details of what's really important to you two -- the pricey top hat you spotted in the boutique downtown, flowers from a treasured friend's garden, a honeymoon suite at the swankiest hotel in the state, or an evening at home catered by your favorite pizza pub and cupcakery.

Say a Prayer

Sometimes a little spiritual pow-wow is just the thing to calm pre-wedding jitters and to bring loved ones together.

Gather your partner and those you've chosen to accompany you to the courthouse (or just the two of you!!) for a group prayer, extolling your gratitude for one another and asking for wisdom for the journey ahead.

Gift Your Guests

If you choose to have guests present at your civil ceremony, gift them something small but meaningful to commemorate the day, like a framed verse or quote that epitomizes the love between you and your partner.

Instead of just having them grab a gift as they go as with traditional wedding favors, you can present your gifts after the ceremony with a hug and a thank you for sharing your special day.


Print Marriage Announcements

The inevitable awfulness (and possibly the only true downfall to getting courthouse hitched) is the backlash from the uninvited.

Basically, everyone.

Soothe offended distant-relatives and curious friends with We Got Married! announcements.

Use a site like Minted or Tinyprints to create announcements that include a picture of you and your partner on your special day with the courthouse prominently in the background so as to say, "It's not just you--it's everyone!" Include important details like the when and where and a heartfelt note expressing their importance in your lives.

If you or your partner now have a new address, share that too (hey, as a return address will do) so recipients will feel all caught up on your big changes and appreciate that you shared your special news with them.

Paint Some Pottery

Either before or after the ceremony, make a stop at one of those paint-your-own-pottery places and pick out a piece that you can paint together and display and use everyday (like a cookie jar or a pair of salt and pepper shakers) as a sweet way to commemorate your special day.

Make sure to date it!

Visit Old Memories

Grab your photographer and head down to all your old haunts -- take pictures in front of restaurant where you had your first date, on the beach where you got engaged.

Spend Time With People You Love

While you're probably trying to keep the day as quiet and intimate as possible, remember the people who have and will continue to support you through your marriage by asking them to spend part of the day with you and your partner either at a simple picnic after the ceremony or at an all-out backyard dance reception later that evening.

Dine Somewhere Ridiculous

Catering a wedding receptions costs somewhere around $25 a plate.

Twenty-five dollars a plate. That's like, $100 per family that you invite.

So go ahead, spend $100 on plates the size of your palm and order two desserts each (so much tastier than dry, pasty wedding cake) while you bask in your newlywed bliss.

Hitch a Ride

Schedule a horse-drawn carriage to pick you and your partner up for a ride around town to celebrate after the ceremony. Classically romantic.


Bring it Home

If you get married during the wintertime or during the dog days of summer but still want to celebrate with your families afterward, liven up your home with fresh bouquets of flowers and snacks at-the-ready and invite everyone over post-ceremony to relax and enjoy each other's company.

Check out these classy courthouse weddings for inspiration!

Jennifer & Andrew's Courthouse Elopement on

Nina & Sean's Quirky Wedding on

Rebecca & Victor's Courthouse Wedding on

Eat at Mickey D's

No, but seriously. This is the beauty of court-housing it. Maybe you don't want to go to some foo-fooey bistro for dinner or, maybe you both just really love Big Macs.

That's cool.

Welcome to marriage, where the two of you shall create your own world inside this big, bad, scary one.


Comments 2 comments

angelaczmiel profile image

angelaczmiel 9 months ago from New York

Hiring a photographer to make a courthouse wedding special is really a great idea..this will make your wedding memorable.

Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin Gunsberg 2 months ago Author

Angela, I definitely wish I would have done that when I got married! I loved the experience of getting married at the courthouse and my husband and I had a really lovely day, I just wish I had proper photos to remember it by.

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