Ideas to Make a Courthouse Wedding Feel Special
When you imagine your perfect wedding day, you envision love, sweet memories, and the beginning of a lifetime with your favorite person - not debt, family fights, and months of intense planning.
If you're thinking about courthouse-ing it, check out these tips for saving money and your sanity when you tie the knot without losing the sentiment of a big to-do.
Pin it Up!
The often overwhelming daydream that is Pinterest could be the very reason you've decided to forego the big to-do in favor of a simple elopement. However, Pinterest can also be a great place for courthouse wedding ideas and inspiration, from how you want to style your hair, to where to shop for your dream dress.
Plus, you can create a secret board to keep all of your ideas organized in one place for easy, accessible reference for that moment where you're standing dumbstruck in front of the florist trying to describe your idea of a perfect bouquet.
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.
Hire a Photographer
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.
If hiring a professional photographer isn't in the budget, offer a friend with a creative eye $50 to spend an hour with you after the civil ceremony snapping photos of you and your love. Have her use your own SD card or iPhone so she can just hand it over afterward and you can enjoy a lifetime of lovely photos.
When you opt out of a traditional wedding you also let go of the tradition of obligatory wedding gifts. Still, there will be friends, family, and coworkers who'll want to gift the newlyweds out of sheer love and excitement for your new marriage.
For those people, you should create a small registry of 15-20 non-frivolous items (think kitchen staples, sheet sets, and towels) for them to choose from on an easy-to-navigate site like Amazon or Target.com
Create a Playlist
Just because you're courthouse-ing it, doesn't mean you should miss out on the dreamy Day Of music. Create a playlist of songs that are meaningful to you and your partner to enjoy wherever and whenever - from the front seat of your ancient Volvo to a tiny post-vow soiree - during your wedding day.
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 the day intimate and unforgettable.
Consider hiring a violinist or cellist to play for an hour in a private room at a swanky restaurant while you dine with your new in-laws or a folk band to jam at your park picnic while you party it up alfresco with a half 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, money, and energy to put into the details of what's 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.
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.
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, present your gifts after the ceremony with a hug and a thank you for sharing in your special day.
For a fun 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?
Print Marriage Announcements
The inevitable awfulness (and possibly the only true downfall to getting courthouse hitched) is the backlash from the uninvited.
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 wedding 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 (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.
Say a Prayer
A little spiritual distraction 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 for a group prayer. If praying isn't your thing, take a moment to say a few words extolling your gratitude for one another and asking for wisdom for the journey ahead.
Make Something Together
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 the day.
Make sure to date it!
Bring it Home
If you get married during the wintertime or during the dog days of summer but still want to celebrate with a handful of loved ones 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.
Dine Somewhere Ridiculous
Catering a wedding reception costs somewhere around $25 per guest.
That's like, $100 per family that you invite.
So go ahead, spend a hundred bucks 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.
Eat at Mickey D's
No, but seriously. This is the beauty of bucking tradition. Maybe you don't want to go to some foo-fooey bistro for dinner or, maybe you both just really love Big Macs.
Welcome to marriage, where you'll write the rules, forge news paths, and face the big, bad, unpredictable s.o.b. we call life - together.
Questions & Answers
Having court house wedding in a few days, is it ok to have a small gathering of friends and family in a couple of months to celebrate? Would it be proper?
I say go for it! I personally wish I had done this. Hosting a little reception would have made me feel like we'd done a better job meshing our families early on (although everyone still meshed, haha) and been a special alternative to an all-out wedding ceremony and expensive dinner reception.
© 2014 Kierstin Gunsberg