What is a courthouse wedding like?

I am getting married at the courthouse on July 19th and have no idea what to expect. For those of you who have attended one, or had one of your own, can you give me lots of insight and details? I am very nervous and also don't know what is appropriate to wear. What about the guests (our families)? Do we have to say wedding vows ("I, ____, take you, _____ ....." Etc. Thanks in advance for your answers.


it depends entirely on where you are getting married. some courthouse officials will allow you to speak your own vows, you just have to let them know that when you go in. but for the most part, it is all very sterile and business like, taking about 2 minutes. there is no ring ceremony but they will allow you a moment to slip rings on each other's words or prayers are spoken over the rings though.

some places allow you to bring a few guests but if you do, they will most likely have to stand. you have to have at least one witness with you, but if you want to have other guests, you had better check with the courthouse first to see if they allow it. not all of them do. most courthouses allow you to take pictures.

the ceremony will basically be just a simple question by the officiant "do be your husand?" "do be your wife". then "i now pronounce you man and wife, you may kiss the bride" and that is it. it's over.

people show up for courthouse weddings dressed in everything from jeans to nice dresses, but it really is only going to matter to you what you wear. no one else will care.

please be prepared to be very disappointed in this type of ceremony. it is not lovely and most of the officiants who do it are very uninterested in the whole process. there is usually a line and lots of people waiting to do the same thing. they do about 30 or 40 weddings a day in busy cities. it is all very impersonal and rather cold.....however, there is still something sweet and romantic about it all because it is people in love getting married and committing themselves to one another for life.

if you want to watch a short video on getting married at city hall, click on this link.…


OK, I am sorry, but I must disagree with some of the answers. The thing is.....YOU need to call your courthouse and find out what is allowed. Where I live, we have an amazingly BEAUTIFUL courthouse (marble staircase, etc.) The room is HUGE, so you are allowed many, many guests. Yes, I have been to one where the bride wore a regular gown...there was music....there were vows.

I guess it all depends on where you live (or are to be married.) I do agree, though, that if it was me, I would opt for a shorter dress.

Call the county clerk's office where you are to be married and ask your questions. That is the only way to truly find out your answers. Again, it all depends on where YOU will be married....not everyone else's experiences.


Wow, Blunt.. That's terrible.

This must be an American thing. In Australia we get married at the Registry Office, and a ceremony is performed and guests are allowed.

It just seems so.. empty.


Its bearly romantic - its merely just the legal procedures of the marriage


Where there's a courthouse there's a jail so just will have ALL types of people venturing around there. This one to fight for custody, that one to fight a traffic ticket. Have you ever been to the courthouse? It is probably one of the least romantic places. But its cheap and you'll be married nonetheless.


It's about 5 minutes.

No, no vows, no grand entrance, none of that. You will be in line with many others, there may be limited seating and you cannot have an entourage as there is no altar, no aisle, no music etc.

The judge/notary public state your names (asks for I.D.), may give a short speech, asks you if you want to take this man/woman as your lawful wedded husband wife, response, I do, you are asked to exchange this rings. Then "by the power vested in me by the state of X, I pronounce you man and wife" You are asked to signed and then you are out the door. Next.

It is a very simple and short ceremony, I suggest you do not show up with cathedral length gowns, ring bearers and rose petals. A simple suit would do, show up with a witness, you may have room for parents but that's about it. It's a court house, not a circus, if you want to have more people try that at your reception.

Good luck


you are more than welcome. i got married 25 years ago at a courthouse wedding and my husband and i are happily married still, so all the best to you and your fiance and many years of happiness ahead.

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