What to Expect at a Courthouse Wedding

Getting married at a courthouse can be an intimate and budget-friendly alternative to a traditional wedding ceremony. In this article, we will explore what to expect at a courthouse wedding. From planning and legal requirements to attire and photography, we’ll cover all the essential aspects of tying the knot at the courthouse.

A courthouse wedding is a simple and practical option for couples who want to skip the elaborate festivities and focus on the significance of their marriage. Many choose this option for its convenience, affordability, and the minimal stress it entails compared to planning a larger event.

In the following sections, we’ll delve into the necessary steps before the courthouse wedding, what the ceremony typically involves, legal requirements, suitable attire for the occasion, decor ideas, photography tips, and what couples can do after saying “I do” at the courthouse. Whether you’re considering a courthouse wedding or are simply curious about what it entails, this guide will provide you with valuable insights into this unique way of getting married.


When planning a courthouse wedding, there are several important steps to take before the big day. One of the most crucial tasks is obtaining a marriage license, which is required in order to legally marry. The process for obtaining a marriage license varies by location, so it’s essential to research the specific requirements in the area where you plan to have your courthouse wedding.

In general, obtaining a marriage license involves both partners appearing in person at a county clerk’s office and providing certain documents, such as proof of identity and age. There is usually a fee associated with obtaining a marriage license, and there may be waiting period between obtaining the license and getting married. It’s important to factor in these details when setting a date for your courthouse wedding.

Additionally, couples should consider whether they want to have any additional elements incorporated into their courthouse wedding ceremony, such as personalized vows or readings. Some courthouses may allow for these personalized touches, while others may follow a more standard procedure. Understanding the options available at your chosen courthouse can help you plan for what to expect at the ceremony.

Marriage License RequirementsAdditional Considerations
Proof of identity and ageResearch specific requirements in your location
Fee and waiting periodConsider any additional elements you want to include in the ceremony

The Ceremony

Once it is time for the ceremony, the couple and any witnesses will be escorted to the ceremony space. The officiant, who is often a judge or court clerk, will then proceed with the wedding vows and ring exchange. The wording of the vows may follow traditional religious or civil formats, but can also be personalized to reflect the couple’s own beliefs and values.

After the vows have been exchanged and rings placed on each other’s fingers, the officiant will declare that the couple is now married. This is often followed by a brief moment of celebration before signing of the marriage certificate takes place. It’s important to note that while courthouse weddings are efficient and straightforward, they still hold immense emotional significance for those involved.

Ceremony OverviewDetails
Check-in processCouples need to inform courthouse personnel of their arrival for their scheduled ceremony.
Vows and Ring ExchangeOfficiant leads couple in exchanging vows and rings.
Marriage DeclarationThe officiant formally declares that the couple is now married.

Legal Requirements

When it comes to getting married at a courthouse, there are certain legal requirements that must be met in order for the marriage to be valid. Understanding these legalities is crucial before going through with a courthouse wedding.

Witness Requirements

In most jurisdictions, you will need to have witnesses present at your courthouse wedding. The number of required witnesses may vary depending on the location, so it’s important to check with the courthouse ahead of time. Typically, you will need at least one or two witnesses who are over the age of 18 and are not direct relatives.

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Signing of the Marriage Certificate

After exchanging vows at the courthouse, the couple and their witnesses will need to sign the marriage certificate. This document serves as legal proof of marriage and is typically signed by all parties involved in the ceremony. It’s important to ensure that all required signatures are obtained in order for the marriage to be legally recognized.

For those considering a courthouse wedding, understanding these legal requirements is essential for a smooth and successful ceremony. By knowing what to expect in terms of witness requirements and signing of the marriage certificate, couples can prepare accordingly and ensure that all necessary steps are taken care of on their special day.


A courthouse wedding is a simple and intimate alternative to a traditional wedding ceremony. It offers a no-frills approach that emphasizes the commitment between two people without the added stress and expense of a larger event. When it comes to attire for a courthouse wedding, couples have the freedom to choose an outfit that strikes the right balance between casual and formal. Here’s what you need to know about what to wear for a courthouse wedding.

What to Wear

When deciding on attire for a courthouse wedding, consider opting for something that is both comfortable and special. For men, this might mean choosing a well-fitted suit in a more casual fabric such as linen or cotton, paired with a stylish shirt and dress shoes. Women may opt for a chic cocktail dress, jumpsuit, or even separates such as a skirt and blouse. Alternatively, both partners can choose classic separates like slacks and blazers or skirts and blouses.

Striking the Right Balance

The key to dressing for a courthouse wedding is striking the right balance between casual and formal. This means avoiding overly elaborate gowns or tuxedos while still looking polished and put-together. Some couples may also opt for more non-traditional attire choices, such as themed outfits or incorporating personal style elements into their ensemble.


To add some personal touches to your attire, consider accessorizing with meaningful jewelry, boutonnieres, or even statement shoes. Keep in mind that since the setting is more relaxed, you can get creative with your accessories without worrying about adhering to strict formalities. Ultimately, what matters most is that you feel comfortable and confident in your chosen outfit for this special occasion.

Overall, what you wear at a courthouse wedding should reflect your personal style while still honoring the significance of the day. By balancing comfort with style, you can create a look that is perfect for celebrating your love in an intimate setting.


When it comes to courthouse weddings, the decor might not be as elaborate as what you would see at a traditional wedding venue. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add some personal touches to make the space feel more special. Here are some typical decor elements you might find at a courthouse wedding:

  • Simple floral arrangements: Many courthouse weddings feature understated floral arrangements, such as small bouquets and boutonnieres. You can choose flowers that hold special meaning for you and your partner, or opt for seasonal blooms to add a touch of color to the space.
  • Candles or fairy lights: Adding some soft lighting can help create a warm and romantic atmosphere in the courthouse ceremony room. Consider using candles or fairy lights to add a cozy glow to the space.
  • Personalized signage: Welcome your guests with a personalized sign or chalkboard featuring your names, the date of your wedding, or a meaningful quote. This is an easy way to add a personalized touch to the decor.
  • Special mementos: Consider incorporating special mementos into your decor, such as framed photos of you and your partner, or items that hold sentimental value. These personal touches can help make the space feel more intimate and meaningful.

Personalizing the space for your courthouse wedding is all about adding small, thoughtful details that reflect your unique style and personalities as a couple. Whether it’s through simple floral arrangements, soft lighting, personalized signage, or meaningful mementos, there are plenty of ways to make the space feel uniquely yours on your special day.


Choosing the Right Photographer

When it comes to capturing your courthouse wedding, one of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the right photographer. Look for a professional who has experience with intimate ceremonies and understands how to work within the constraints of a courthouse setting. It’s also important to communicate your preferences and vision for the photos, whether you prefer candid shots or more traditional poses.

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Angles and Lighting

Due to the often small and simple nature of courthouse weddings, finding the best angles and lighting for photography is crucial. Work with your photographer to scout out the best spots within the courthouse for taking photos. Keep in mind natural light will likely be limited, so consider bringing additional lighting equipment if necessary. Be open to trying different angles and poses to capture unique and memorable moments during your ceremony.

Candid Moments

One of the advantages of a courthouse wedding is its intimacy, which lends itself well to capturing candid moments between you and your partner. Encourage your photographer to seek out these spontaneous interactions throughout the ceremony, as they can often result in some of the most heartfelt and authentic photographs from your special day.

Remember that while a courthouse wedding may not have all the grandeur of a traditional wedding venue, it offers its own charm and opportunities for beautiful photography. By carefully selecting a skilled photographer and working together to find the best angles, lighting, and candid moments, you can ensure that every significant moment is preserved in stunning photographs that you will cherish for years to come.

After the Ceremony

In conclusion, a courthouse wedding can be a wonderful and intimate way to start your married life together. It offers simplicity, convenience, and cost-effectiveness for couples who want a no-frills approach to tying the knot. As you plan for your courthouse wedding, remember to take care of all necessary paperwork in advance, including obtaining a marriage license and understanding the legal requirements for your specific location.

Following the ceremony, you may choose to celebrate in various ways. Some couples opt for a small gathering with close family and friends at a nearby restaurant or at home. Others may plan a larger celebration at a later date, allowing them to focus solely on the ceremony at the courthouse. No matter what you choose, taking time to commemorate this special day with loved ones is an important part of the process.

After your courthouse wedding, consider planning a special post-ceremony activity for just the two of you. This could be anything from enjoying dinner together at your favorite restaurant to taking a walk in a nearby park.

Regardless of how you decide to celebrate after the ceremony, remember that what truly matters is the love and commitment you share as a couple. A courthouse wedding can be just as meaningful and memorable as any other type of wedding celebration – it’s all about what feels right for you as individuals and as partners.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Vows Are Said at a Courthouse Wedding?

The vows said at a courthouse wedding can vary depending on the couple’s preferences and the officiant’s guidance. Typically, they are simple declarations of commitment and love, often customized to reflect the couple’s unique relationship.

How Should I Dress for a Courthouse Wedding?

When dressing for a courthouse wedding, it is important to choose attire that is both respectful and appropriate for the occasion. For men, this could mean a suit or dress pants with a button-down shirt. Women may opt for a cocktail dress or well-tailored separates.

Do You Need an Appointment to Get Married at the Courthouse in Arizona?

In Arizona, it is generally advisable to make an appointment to get married at the courthouse. This helps ensure that everything goes smoothly and that there are no unexpected delays or issues on the day of the ceremony. It’s always best to check with the specific courthouse for their requirements and procedures.

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