5 Tips for the Perfect City Hall Wedding

san francisco city hall wedding

Source: Sasha Wedding Photography; San Francisco, California; (415) 706-9350

Courthouses have been synonymous with shotgun weddings since the shot gun was invented, but the times, they are a-changing. Brides of all ages and races have been opting for courthouse and city hall weddings for their simplicity and quirkiness. And even our beloved Carrie Bradshaw eventually married Big in a lovely city hall ceremony. Whether you’re eloping, formalizing your wedding paperwork for a destination wedding or just looking for a nontraditional way to celebrate your nuptials, a city hall or courthouse wedding may be for you!

But, it’s not as simple as passing through a Vegas drive through. Although they’re far easier to plan than a traditional wedding, some planning is still required for a city hall/ courthouse wedding. Here are some tips to help make your city hall wedding a dream come true.

1. Schedule an Appointment

Source: Steph Stevens Photo; Boston, Massachusetts; (413) 896-6039

Some cities require you to make an appointment to wed several months in advance, but even if your city doesn’t, getting on their schedule is the only way to avoid waiting in line for hours. I recommend that you make the appointment at least a week in advance, but be sure to check your city’s site, to understand their rules.

2. Get Your License

The way her silky shawl lends a sweet old-timey vibe to her dress.

Source: Kristina Varaskina / via Mistakes and Malarkey 

Depending on your state laws, you may need to wait at least 24 hours after getting your marriage license to get married. It’s usually pretty easy to get and very affordable, so be sure to get this as soon as possible.

3. Look the Part

SF City Hall edgy bride portrait

Source: Choco Studio; San Mateo, California; (650) 906-0445

Just because you’re having a non-traditional wedding, doesn’t mean you can’t look the part. Many women still opt for a white dress for their courthouse nuptials, but you might want to incorporate other wedding elements into your special day. I’m a fan of bouquets, because they add a bit of elegance to the occasion, but you might want to wear shoes that pop of your heirloom jewelry. Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short in the outfit department. You’ll want to remember this day for the rest of your life.

4. Figure Out Your Guest List

In some ways, this may be infinitely simpler than planning a traditional wedding guest list, since most cities limit the amount of witnesses you can have. I suggest having both you and your partner each pick at least one person who’s important to you. It’s pretty much like picking your maid of honor. If you opt for a larger party, start with family and close friends first. Just make sure they’re supportive of your union and drama free.

Williamson County Courthouse Wedding || Georgetown, TX || Katherine O'Brien Photography

Source: Rachel Miller of The REWMKatherine O’Brien Photography; Austin, Texas; (512) 295-6802

5. Get a Photographer

I must confess, I’m a huge fan of the iphone selfie, but on your special day, you’ll want to let a professional take care of the pictures. If you splurge on nothing else, make sure you get a high quality photographer, who has experience with non-traditional weddings.

6. Enjoy Being Married

san francisco city hall wedding

Source: Sasha Photography; San Francisco, California; (415) 706-9350

No matter how much money, effort or thought you put into your wedding day, the real bliss starts after the first kiss.

Happy Wedded Bliss!

-Native and Posh


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