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These Couples Loved Their Courthouse Wedding & Here’s Why

Published Thursday, Jun. 27th, 2024

Newlyweds leave the San Francisco City Hall building in their wedding outfits, joined by their children.
Above: Newlyweds leave their San Francisco City Hall wedding in style. (Photo cropped: ClaudineVM / iStock)

No regrets about getting married at the courthouse


Courthouse weddings are a simple, affordable, and sweetly ‘official’ way to get married, but there are some important factors to consider before deciding if they’re the right choice for your wedding day. While you might love the convenience and ease of getting hitched at city hall, you might miss the special touches and personal elements of a small elopement or wedding.


It’s all about weighing the pros and cons! 


If you’re on the fence about having a courthouse wedding, these stories from real couples on Reddit might convince you to go for it… 



Real couples share the benefits of marrying in courthouse or city hall wedding


No guests, simple paperwork: u/vvitchae describes the courthouse as a fast, cheap option: 


“It was fine. We didn't opt for the ceremony or anything, just filled out paperwork. It was a money thing, we only knew each other a few…


I always say that we will have a wedding later, but to this day there's still not enough people I like enough to throw a party for 🤣 Married 14 years this June. Happy as ever, and I have absolutely no regrets.”


Saved the money for house repairs: u/ADtalra describes the financial benefits: 


“My partner and I got married in a courthouse at the start of 2020 with the intention of doing a wedding in their home country. Spoiler alert, that didn’t happen.


But we own a house now and we joke that we can either have a wedding or <insert X renovated thing in our house>.


Overall I don’t regret it. You do what you both want; not what other people want.”


Related: How Much Does a Wedding Officiant Cost? (& Should You Tip Them?)


No wedding anxiety and no debt: u/Any-Ground3201 says:


“We’d been together for many years, typical Asian background, introverted, dysfunctional families (had anxiety just thinking about the invite list and seating chart), lot of money for one day, never dreamed of walking down the aisle in a white dress.


We went to the courthouse and got married, just the 2 of us. It cost maybe $25. We wore jeans and flip flops (Southern California). Told a few family and friends, everyone knew our style, laughed, was happy for us.


We bought a house and went on a 2 month honeymoon with the money we didn’t spend on a wedding.


15 years married later, (22 together in total), it’s all good. Never regretted it once.”


None of the typical ‘dumb stuff’ that comes with weddings: u/moosewings11 says:


“My courthouse wedding was…just the two of us, then we went away for the weekend after. No regrets, not at all.


I love that we have it as such a special private memory, and that it's insulated from the dumb stuff that comes with traditional weddings. Which for us would have inevitably involved: BIL being a drunk ass, FIL crying all day and making everyone uncomfortable, my dad being unhappy with his food, various people making unwelcome religious comments, etc.”



A bride stands under fluorescent lighting before her courthouse wedding

Photo: martinedoucet / iStock

The perfect courthouse wedding dress (or city hall wedding dress) is the one that makes you feel beautiful and confident; that might be a new dress or something you already own and love. The same goes for a nice wedding suit, a colorful or casual look, or anything else you want to wear on the wedding day!


Cheap and casual, followed by lunch with friends: u/evillittlekitten says: 


“No regrets. Cost us $20 to register. Did it midday on a super-cool anniversary date. Wore suit and dress we already owned. Our wedding photos are selfies.


We had a nice lunch with friends, which was surreptitiously comped by my boss—baller, classy move, imo—and then we had a lovely private dinner downtown and spent the night at the Four Seasons.”


Bought a house instead, plus no unwanted advice: u/Momsohard2023 says:


“No regrets! My husband and I chose to get married at the county clerks office. We wanted to buy a house and start our lives together and looking at our budget, it didn’t make sense to have a big wedding when for $100, we got a ceremony and pictures. Plus we were able to avoid all the “helpful” tips on wedding planning from family. It was worth it in the end.”


Good memories, under $1000: u/abbeycrombie says:


“My sister and I both did a courthouse wedding! After, we had a nice dinner with close family at our favorite restaurant. The whole thing cost under $1000. I 100% recommend it! A lot of our friends have told us that they wish they had done the same thing.”


Related: Plan Your Entire Wedding at Target (For Less Money Than Your Last Vacation)


Super inexpensive followed by a day of relaxing: u/Midwestmamax2 says:


“I did a court house wedding and have no regrets! It was super inexpensive. We both wore clothes we already owned. I [wore] a long black dress that I still wear to this day. We had only immediate family and a few close friends [there]. Got married in the courthouse by an officiant. My best friend was our photographer. She took great pics. Went to a nice steakhouse for lunch afterwards. We were home by 3:30pm and got to relax the rest of the day.


Each year for our anniversary we go to the same restaurant to celebrate.


A little sad but saved a ton of money, followed by a vow renewal: u/memyselfandi_2024 says: 


“We got married in a courthouse and I didn’t exactly regret it…more just sad for a little bit that we didn’t have a “wedding.” I got over quickly because of course we Saved tons of money that we thought would be wasteful for one day and we didn’t exactly have the money for anything extravagant anyway back then. We’ve been married for almost 13 years now. We did a cute little vowel renewal for ourselves at year 5 in Fiji and then year 10 with professional photos/spiritual ceremony for our family of 5. So no, no regret. You do what is best for you!!



Groom, bride, and their wedding party head up an escalator for their city hall marriage ceremony

Photo: martinedoucet / iStock

How many guests at a courthouse wedding? Every courthouse is different, but usually no more than 10 people can join you (including any required witnesses).



So, would you regret a courthouse wedding… or love it? 


The people quoted above all agree that courthouse weddings are much less expensive than a traditional wedding ceremony. That means you’ll have more money to invest in the future you’re building, and no debt from throwing a wedding you can’t really afford. 


Couples also talked about celebrating their commitment in larger celebrations with friends and relatives down the road, either with a party or a vow renewal ceremony on a meaningful anniversary. 


Learn more about what happens during a courthouse wedding (civil ceremony): 



Of course, courthouse marriage ceremonies aren’t the only affordable way to get married without a traditional wedding! 


If you’re still on the fence, keep reading…


Save money by asking a friend to get ordained online with AMM to officiate your ceremony!


A friend or relative can become a wedding minister online to marry you in a small ceremony at home, help you elope at a park or favorite location, or simply sign your marriage license for you.



We even have a simple wedding script for them to use to capture that official ‘courthouse’ vibe: 



Or consider one of the sweet and practical alternatives below: 




Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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