How Does A Courthouse Wedding Work: How To Set It Up

To better understand how does a courthouse wedding work, you must know what type of wedding it is and what will be the marriage requirements to get married at a courthouse. We will also discuss the expenses to expect with courthouse weddings and if it’s possible to get married without a ceremony. 

Couples often have a courthouse wedding because it’s more affordable, fast, and suits non-religious people. But to make it even more special and sentimental, please read what to do after a courthouse wedding.  


What To Know On How Does A Courthouse Wedding Work

A courthouse wedding is a non-religious and legal ceremony presided over by a judge or a legal officiant, depending on the state where you’ll get married. It is also the term used interchangeably with the civil wedding, and the guide below will teach you how to set up a courthouse wedding if you’re interested. 


Accomplish the marriage legalities and requirements

Like other weddings, you must accomplish all the requirements for the courthouse wedding. However, the legalities and checklist of what you need for courthouse weddings will depend on where you’ll get married.

So first, check if you’ll need an appointment with the city hall. Then, know the documents and paperwork you’ll need for the courthouse wedding, such as the marriage license, IDs, and witnesses, to name a few. 

Discuss with your county officials what you’ll need to get a marriage license. Remember that it’ll only be valid for a certain period, so schedule the wedding day accordingly. 


Plan the courthouse wedding 

Like other weddings, the next step is planning your city hall wedding by what is allowed. For example, how many guests do you have at a courthouse wedding, or can you make your vows?

What about bringing a wedding photographer with you and what you’ll wear during the civil wedding ceremony? Since courthouse weddings are fast, expect limitations with what you can do and have during the marriage ceremony. 

You can read how many guests can attend a courthouse wedding to know who to invite. Then, have a reception or a separate celebration to have fun with more guests. 


Have the courthouse wedding

The final part on how a courthouse wedding house is the wedding itself. City hall weddings work quickly so that the ceremony will be shorter. 

The wedding vows and ring exchange at a traditional marriage ceremony are typically omitted. Therefore, couples have a separate unity ceremony after the courthouse wedding to have a more extended and symbolic celebration. 

You can also invite your guests to the reception afterward. Check how to throw a reception-only wedding for ideas to make it fun. 


What Are The Requirements For A Civil Wedding?

The requirements for a courthouse or city hall wedding depend on your state’s marriage laws. You must accomplish the legalities beforehand to ensure a valid union. 

For example, your state might require you to have the marriage license before the courthouse wedding. The number of witnesses and the requirements are also different, so check your local state or city’s website.

You can also visit your county clerk’s office for the checklist. Typically, you’ll need a government-issued ID, comments about previous marriages, proof of residency, and a birth certificate to apply for your marriage license. 


Courthouse wedding checklist

  • Visit your city office to accomplish the forms and fee for the marriage license
  • Set the courthouse wedding date to ensure that your marriage license will still be valid for the union
  • Confirm your wedding officiant with the courthouse. 
  • Have your witnesses ready and ensure that they pass the requirements of the state
  • Know the maximum number of guests you can bring to your civil wedding 
  • Dress nicely, but very grand wedding attire is unnecessary for a civil marriage ceremony; read what to wear to a court wedding to guide your guests


How Much Does It Cost To Get Married At The Courthouse In The US?

The expenses to get married at a US courthouse can be over $100. You will also need to pay the marriage license fee, and the location may require you to include a payment for the government-approved officiant or county-appointed witness.

Set an appointment or contact your county clerk’s office to prepare your budget beforehand. But in general, civil weddings are cheaper than other weddings since it’s intimate and fast. 


Can You Get Married Without A Ceremony?

Some states recognize the common law marriage or informal marriage, where the wedding is established without a ceremony or marriage license. However, it’s essential that couples who want this type of marriage to still meet the basic marriage requirements under state law. 

And of course, check the state you’ll live in if you want to get married under the common law marriage, as not all US states recognize it. Also, it is no longer common nowadays, and you might find it more symbolic of having a ceremony with your partner. 



And that’s it! You just learned how does a courthouse wedding work, where you must accomplish the marriage requirements first, then secure the date and officiant with the courthouse. 

This wedding ceremony is preferred by couples who are on a budget or don’t want a religious ceremony. The union will be legal, and you can have the reception afterward with more guests.

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