City Hall & Courthouse Wedding Ideas

It’s hard to beat the hometown charm of an intimate city hall wedding. Here’s what to wear, who to bring, and how to make a courthouse wedding special. 

Bride and Groom walking out of subway to city hall and courthouse wedding. Bride and Groom walking out of subway to city hall and courthouse wedding.

Your Logistics

Most towns offer marriage ceremonies only on certain days or during particular hours, so visit your local government website or call the office as soon as you start to plan. They’ll help you reserve a spot and get the right paperwork in order. (In some towns, you can get a marriage license and say your vows on the same day, but in others, you’ll need two trips to city hall.) Each town charges different fees, but they’re often under $150 altogether. 

Your Guests

The number of friends and family you can invite to a city hall wedding varies widely by town—think anywhere from two to 30 guests. (You’ll definitely need one or two to serve as official witnesses.) So find out early, and think about who’ll make the cut. If you’re torn about leaving people out, you can always welcome them to a lunch or dinner mini-reception afterward.

Bride and Groom on city street.

Your Logistics

Most towns offer marriage ceremonies only on certain days or during particular hours, so visit your local government website or call the office as soon as you start to plan. They’ll help you reserve a spot and get the right paperwork in order. (In some towns, you can get a marriage license and say your vows on the same day, but in others, you’ll need two trips to city hall.) Each town charges different fees, but they’re often under $150 altogether. 

Your Guests

The number of friends and family you can invite to a city hall wedding varies widely by town—think anywhere from two to 30 guests. (You’ll definitely need one or two to serve as official witnesses.) So find out early, and think about who’ll make the cut. If you’re torn about leaving people out, you can always welcome them to a lunch or dinner mini-reception afterward.

Bride and Groom walking through city.
Bride and Groom walking through city.

Your Look

City hall brides have all the options: A courthouse wedding dress can still be an all-out ball gown, complete with cathedral veil and tiara. But many brides take advantage of the low-key vibe to wear a short silhouette, a fun jumpsuit, or even a colorful ensemble. Your city hall wedding dress can be as formal or free-spirited as you like.

SHOP CASUAL DRESSES >

Your Vendors

Since you won’t have a big entourage, your hair and makeup plans are blissfully flexible! Schedule a salon visit a few hours before the ceremony, and you’re set. When you choose a photographer, look for someone who’s shot a city hall wedding before—she’ll be able to show you the best unexpected backdrops. And while you don’t have to carry flowers, why not stop by a local market for a fresh-picked bouquet?

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