How to Get Married at the Courthouse
Getting married is such an important life event. You wait so long to find someone you love enough to spend the rest of your life with them and it only makes sense to get married. But you can’t always have a big, extravagant wedding. In fact, many people are opting to just get married at a courthouse instead of spending thousands on a big wedding.
Why would people choose to forgo a big event for the biggest milestone in their life? Well, there are actually a lot of reasons. Maybe they’re not on good terms with their family. Maybe they don’t have a ton of friends. Or maybe they just can’t afford it. With weddings costing so much money nowadays, it’s almost better to just get married at the courthouse.
The First Steps
You can’t just go waltzing into a courthouse and demand to be married. There are many different things you have to do before you can actually make the marriage official. Here are the very first steps you must take.
- You’ll need all of your ID information. Your issued IDs, birth certificate, social security cards, and all.
- You’ll have to apply for a marriage license ahead of time. To do this, you’ll call your local circuit court. If you’re not sure what the phone number is, you can simply Google it! Pretty simple.
- You’ll have to find out what info you need in order to apply for a marriage license from there. You can also look this up online and make sure you have all the documents you need. If you don’t have all of them, you can’t get the license.
- Call your local courthouse once you have all the information you need and ask them what you have to do in order to get married. By now, you should have everything they need before getting started.
- Pick a date! You still have to schedule a day to get married with the courthouse. So pick one that works best for you and your fiancé and some friends if you so choose to have some people come along.
- Double check that you have everything you need before going in! If you don’t have exactly what you need, you won’t be able to get hitched.
Questions to Ask When Applying for Your Marriage License.
Obviously, you have to have a marriage license before you get married. Otherwise, you’re just having a pointless ceremony. The first thing you’ll do is call your local court circuit. They can tell you everything you need to get your license but you may run into issues. Asking these questions can help.
- What documents do I need?
This is an obvious question you need answered. Before you can do anything, you have to make sure you have all of your documents to ensure that you can actually get the marriage license when you want it.
- Is there a fee to get the marriage license?
Money is a big factor in getting married. And if you’re having a courthouse marriage, it may be because money is really tight but you still wan tot get married. Knowing if there will be a fee can help you plan ahead and make sure you hand funds available.
- Am I allowed to invite guests?
Sometimes you want a few people to enjoy your ceremony and be present when you’re getting married. But before you invite everyone and they get there, you should figure out if guests are allowed in the first place.
- Are children allowed?
Obviously, if you’re planning to invite family members, you may have certain people with children who are unable to find a sitter or you may even want certain children there. If that’s the case, you should be sure that children are allowed before telling everyone they are.
- Is it okay to take pictures?
You might want some – or a lot – of picture of your big day. No matter where your wedding is, it’s still an important day and you’ll want to document it. But if photos aren’t allowed, you should be aware before getting disappointed when they kick out the photographer.
- Where will the ceremony be held?
Will if be in a small office or a bigger hall? It’s important to know just how big the room will be so you know how many people you will be allowed to comfortably fit into the area – assuming people are allowed.
- Do we need an appointment or can we just come in whenever?
They’ll most likely tell you this, but if you don’t hear it at first, feel free to ask. Most places are by appointment only, but if you aren’t inviting any family or friends, you may just want to be able to go in whenever. This question can help you know if that’s allowed or not.
- Do we need a witness present?
Most places you need a witness. This can be a friend or family member who signs a document stating they saw the wedding take place. That way it’s secured and finalized. It’s the proof you’ll need and you want to know if it’s required so you can pick someone out.
- How long does the process last?
If you’re planning on going to dinner after and making reservations somewhere, this is something you’ll have to know for sure. You need to set aside a certain amount of time to be wed so people know what to expect.
- Do you have any tips for making the process go smoothly?
These people have been wedding couples for a very long time and they know what mistakes are made the most often. It’s up to you to ask this question so they can give you the run down of that you should or shouldn’t do. It’ll help make your day that much more flawless.
What if You Don’t Have a Document Needed
If you don’t have all your documents, you won’t be able to get a marriage license and get married. That being said, sometimes we lose things or simply can’t locate them. This obviously makes things difficult, but not impossible.
Most of the time, you can request new copies of certain documents and have them within a month. If you lose your birth certificate, you’ll have to contact the county in which you were born and request a copy. They’ll most likely require you to submit different forms of ID in order to get one.
If you lose your social security card, you can request a copy at your local social security office. Explain what happened and why you need a replacement. Then you’ll have to submit your birth certificate and another form of ID before receiving it.
Explaining it to Your Friends and Family
While you really shouldn’t have to justify wanting to get married in a courthouse, there will be many questions from your family and friends. They’ll wonder why you want to skip out on a big celebration. They may even ask if you’re pregnant and looking to get hitched quickly.
No matter what they say, you can tell them the truth and keep it simple. Just say you prefer a smaller gathering sooner rather than later. Tell them you don’t want to spend too much money on a wedding because you prefer to have more for the honeymoon. It might be a little uncomfortable to explain yourself, but they’ll accept it.
Inviting Guests to the Ceremony
Obviously, this only applies if your courthouse allows guests in addition to the witness. But the main thing you have to pay attention to is how many people you can invite. You’ll want to make sure the room you’re being wed in is big enough for the amount of people you’re inviting. Otherwise, you’ll have to downsize.
My tips for who to invite include only allowing close family and friends to attend. Meaning there should really only be your immediate family (or family you’re closer to) and a few friends. Not many people should be in attendance for a courthouse wedding. However, you can have a larger gathering join you at a restaurant or bar for a mini reception.
Dress to Impress
Just because you’re getting married in a courthouse doesn’t mean you should wear jeans and a hoodie. You’re still inviting guests and taking photos of your special day. That means you should still dress up in really nice clothes that you’ll want to remember getting married in.
That being said, it doesn’t have to be a big white gown. You can settle for a really pretty dress that you love and a simple suit or casual white shirt and jacket for the guy.
Many people want professional photos of their big day. And while this is certainly doable in a courthouse, it’s not really required. You can get just as great pictures with a nice camera and a willing friend. Sure, they won’t be at a professional level, but they’re still pictures and it’s MUCH cheaper.
That being said, you can certainly hire a professional photographer if you want. Be sure to mention that it’s a short, small ceremony that won’t require a lot of their time. For that reason, you may be able to get a discount price. Yay!
You’re Getting Married!
The last thing for you to remember is to have a great day. Don’t marry someone just for the hell of it. No matter how big your wedding day is, the important thing is that you’re marrying someone you love and care about deeply. They’re the only thing you should be focused on that day.
Getting married is such an exciting event in your life. It should be a day filled with fun and laughter – not stress and worry. That’s why we’ve broken down just what to do to make your courthouse wedding the best!