Affordable Wedding: How Much Does Getting Married At The Courthouse Cost?

By Jim CampbellJim CampbellJim CampbellJim is the owner of A lifelong traveler, Jim's wanderlust has led him to spend months living on the Mayan Rivera, instruct SCUBA diving in Croatia, sail from San Diego to Hawaii, and cruise the Caribbean on a catamaran. Jim launched his honeymoon business while planning his own honeymoon in 2019. Since then, he has helped thousands of honeymooners plan their trips through his honeymoon travel agency.Meet Our Team | Updated on February 14, 2024 | Posted In: Weddings

A courthouse wedding is a short, simple, and practical alternative to religious rites. How much does getting married at the courthouse cost? Couples who want to forgo the complications and high price of a religious wedding rite would be interested to know.

Getting married at the courthouse is the route for you if you like the idea of a very intimate wedding. By intimate, we mean the possibility of having very few witnesses. This route is the safest choice for couples who like eloping or would rather spend their money on a home or a lovely honeymoon rather than a big, lavish wedding. Courthouse weddings are the go big-by-going small wedding route.  

How Much Does Getting Married At The Courthouse Cost?

Traditional wedding cost in the United States is pegged at around $27,000 in 2022. Civil weddings are a lot more practical and affordable. When you ask, “how much does getting married at the courthouse cost?” the long answer is that it depends on the location of your courthouse. 

The cheaper end would range at about $50, but you have little choice on who would officiate your wedding. Some courthouses do not allow other “witnesses” to be around during your wedding day. Hanging around after the schedule of your wedding might also not be allowed. 

You must prepare more money if you want more leniency and bring in someone specific to officiate your wedding. The courthouse wedding cost would go up if you request more time at the venue and for space for witnesses. Still, it won’t be as expensive as a traditional wedding. You will probably only spend around $120 tops if you are holding your wedding in California. 

What Are The Requirement For A Courthouse Wedding

The requirements for a civil wedding ceremony are also straightforward. As with any other wedding, you will need a non-expired marriage license. You should secure this before your wedding. The expiry of wedding licenses varies from state to state. 

You will also need a government photo ID of each applicant. Most of the time, a driver’s license would suffice. You may also bring a passport if you wish. 

The usual number of witnesses is two, but this would also vary per state. Your witnesses should also have at least one valid government photo ID with them. You will also need to secure an appointment with the courthouse. Courthouses are usually very strict with their appointments, so do not be late for your wedding day. 

5 Steps To Take If You’re Planning To Get Married At A Courthouse

Now, planning is an essential part of the courthouse wedding. While more accessible than most weddings, a courthouse wedding still needs minimal preparations. 

1. Choosing Your Courthouse 

The first step is to choose your courthouse. You can choose a courthouse in a different area than your residence. You can select a courthouse in another state or another city. Some factors to consider may include the ease of having your ceremony carried out. Another would be the proximity of the courthouse to your chosen wedding reception venue. Sentimental reasons may also factor in. 

2. Apply For Your Marriage License 

You need to acquire a marriage license in the same city as your chosen courthouse. Make sure that you look at the validity of your marriage license. Do not fetch this too early. Your license should still be valid on your wedding day. You will need the following:

  • A government photo ID for both applicants 
  • A copy of the final dissolution of marriage if any of you were previously divorced
  • Payment for your license

3. Prepare Your Wedding Essentials

A few days before your wedding day, already prepare your necessary papers. You must also prepare the payment for the courthouse, and you must bring your witnesses. Some courthouses require one witness per party. Others require two witnesses, each from the groom and the bride. You need to clarify this before your wedding day. Witnesses need to be over 18 years old. 

It’s also up to you if you want to exchange wedding rings during your civil wedding. They are not required by law.

4. Prepare Everything For The Big Day 

Most courthouse weddings are held during office hours from Monday to Friday. Some courthouses are welcome with a handful of guests. Others have a bigger venue to allow more guests to witness the event. 

Make sure your main witnesses are available with their IDs. Plan your attire and the reception afterward. Double-check whether photos and videos can be taken during your wedding. The fees of suppliers on the big day should also be considered when you ask, “How much does getting married at a courthouse cost?” 

5. Plan How You Choose To Celebrate 

Some couples want a big party after the wedding ceremony. Others want to fly off on their honeymoon after the quick wedding rites. The size of your wedding is entirely up to you. Refrain from letting anyone pressure you into holding a big wedding reception afterward if you want something else. You do you, with your new spouse, of course. 

Courthouse Wedding FAQs

How Long Does A Civil Wedding Ceremony Take?

Courthouse weddings are quick, discreet, and solemn. Most of the time, the actual ceremony only takes 15-25 minutes. Depending on when your courthouse wedding schedule is, you might have to wait in line with the other couples. 

Do You Need To Write Wedding Vows When Getting Married At A Courthouse?

As with other wedding rites, you may say your wedding vows at a courthouse wedding. However, it is best to let the legal official who will officiate the ceremony.

How Many Guests Can Attend The Courthouse Wedding Ceremony?

The size of your guest list during the ceremony would depend on the limits of the courthouse. However, you may have more guests at the reception if you wish. Some couples prefer to have a minimal guest list before their honeymoon. Others prefer 50 to 100 special people to stay with them at the reception after their wedding. 

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