How to Make Your Courthouse Wedding Feel Special

Go for some iconic elements that'll make the day feel festive.

Bride in a Strapless Wedding Jumpsuit
Photo: Michelle Walker Photography

Couples get married at the courthouse (or city hall) for lots of reasons-limited funds, imminent military obligations, lack of interest in wedding hoopla, and so forth. But while it may not be as festive as a ballroom wedding that's taken a year to plan, there's no reason to treat a civil ceremony in a municipal building as less than exciting and momentous. After all, the goal is still the same: to get married! Here's how to set the event apart and make sure that it feels like the special day it is.


Wear white.

Nothing will make you feel more bridal than a white dress. It's the iconic symbol of weddings, no matter where the nuptials take place or if the hemline is long or short. Throw in a veil if you want-it's a bride's prerogative to dress as she wants on her wedding day!

Get flowers.

Fresh flowers add beauty and vitality to a ceremony, even one held at a courthouse, so be sure to carry a big bouquet of your favorite blooms and have the groom wear a boutonniere, like a classic white or red rose. Everyone else-the witness, your parents-should also have a floral element to their outfits; give corsages for the ladies and boutonnieres to the guys.

Hire a photographer.

Like your 16th birthday party or college graduation, this is a historic occasion and it should be documented. Get recommendations from recently married friends, look at the pros' websites, then call your favorites. Assuming yours is a weekday wedding, a photographer may be available at an affordable rate. If you don't have the budget for a pro, ask a friend with a good eye and equipment to be your lensman for the day. Whether you have a pro or amateur, you'll want some getting-ready photos, snaps of your arrival at the courthouse, and portraits of the two of you right after the I dos.

Have a reception.

Your closest loved ones who attended your wedding will want to celebrate your new union, so plan some kind of a special meal-it could be a table at a fancy restaurant or a simple barbecue at your house. The point is to let people give toasts, wish you well, and make the two of you feel special on your big day.

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