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These Couples Regret Their Courthouse Wedding and Here’s Why

Published Tuesday, Jul. 2nd, 2024

Funny image of a bride holding a chalkboard over her face, with a sad face drawn on it in chalk.
How does a courthouse wedding work? It's quick, but is it worth it? These couples say no, but we'll let you decide. (Photo: rkankaro / iStock)

Reddit courthouse wedding stories? We’ve got ‘em, and they aren’t pretty… 


Courthouse weddings are a simple, affordable, and sweetly ‘official’ way to get married, but they’re definitely not for everyone.


Although courthouse weddings are convenient, some couples just can’t do without the special touches and personal elements that come with a small elopement or wedding. 


If you’re on the fence about whether or not a courthouse marriage is right for you, and think that a small elopement or marriage license signing ceremony might be more your style, these stories from real couples might help you decide. 



Close up of a bride and groom's feet as they leave the courthouse wedding

(Photo: Gregory Hayes / Unsplash)

How much does a courthouse wedding cost? It might be more than you think if you consider the emotional cost. The couples below paint a disappointing picture of civil marriage ceremonies, but you’ll have to decide for yourself! 



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


The courthouse was awkward, vaguely racist, and sexist: An anonymous user says: 


“...We did a courthouse run before the wedding 'event'. It was awkward sitting around the courthouse waiting for 5pm when they stop the day work and start with weddings. That wasn't a big deal, but it's something to think about - what do you want your day to look like, you know? What mattered was what came next. The judge basically kicked off our ceremony with a painful tight 5 that was vaguely racist and sexist. I'm grateful that wasn't the only wedding memory I had.


Because of that, I always tell people not to just go to the courthouse. You can have a friend or relative ordained online for next to nothing, or pay a little more and have an officiant who does weddings marry you in a similarly simple setting/ceremony. With those options, you at least get a nicer vibe than a stodgy government building without dealing with wedding industry stuff you are uninterested in, but you also get a say in what they actually say when doing the ceremony - as little or as much as you want.”


Sacrificed the ceremony and low-key regrets it: An anonymous user says:


“Most people who choose this, don’t regret it. [But] I’ve always wanted a wedding ceremony with a reception. Nothing insane, but I’ve dreamt about it since I was little. When my ex-husband proposed and was like let’s plan the wedding, I was so excited, and then he changed his mind. It’s long and complicated but I finally broke down and agreed to a courthouse wedding. I was always low-key disappointed.”


Unceremonious, sterile, embarrassing and sad: u/onedaybetter says this about choosing a courthouse wedding:


“Yes, I regret it. I wish I at least had hair/make-up/pictures. We have nothing but a few selfies, it took but 5 minutes. It was very unceremonious, sterile, and unemotional. Couples shuffled through like an assembly line. Not how I had ever pictured making that level of commitment.


I'm not sure how many times I've been asked about how/where we got married, but it has been far too many times. How does this question still keep coming up?! I feel a flush of embarrassment when I have to lie about it. Nobody wants to listen to anyone say remembering the day makes them sad, so you'll never hear my real feelings and true story in real life.”


No celebration, no family: u/Pickles_McBeef says:


“My first wedding was at the courthouse. My ex was military and we got married when he had a weekday off. No family, no celebration, and no honeymoon. I did regret not having family and a celebration.”


Missed having the perfect wedding dress: u/kittycleric says: 


“I saved a ton of money and I'm not in debt over a wedding.... But I would have liked a pretty dress and to have had the opportunity to look "perfect."”



So, would you regret a courthouse wedding? Weigh the pros and cons...


The people above all agree that their courthouse wedding got the job done (they were married!), but the ceremonies felt stuffy and fell short on celebration, family, and fun. 


You might save money, but at what cost? 


If you like the idea of a courthouse wedding because it’s affordable, but the idea of a sterile ceremony without friends, a fancy dress, or a walk down the aisle makes you feel sad, consider one of the fun and personal alternatives below instead.



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. This can help you save money, but still give you a personal and memorable ceremony experience on your wedding day.



We even have a simple wedding script for them to use to capture that official ‘courthouse’ vibe. Start with this simple script and personalize it: 


Or consider one of the sweet and practical wedding 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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