Love is in the air and we can hear the wedding bells ringing; but this time, they are on the steps of the courthouse. A courthouse wedding can be intimate and romantic without the lengthy planning and size of a traditional service. And for many couples in Onslow County, a courthouse wedding is the perfect way to become husband and wife before – or between – military deployments.
Perhaps you’ll have a traditional ceremony later with your family, but for now, you want to make it official without hosting a big affair. A courthouse wedding is a WEDDING! So, with a little planning and a few special touches, your day can be just as celebratory and sharable as a church wedding. Here are a few hints to help you pull off a simple celebration at the Justice of the Peace.
Love & License
In North Carolina, couples are required to obtain a marriage license before getting married. Your marriage license can be from any county in North Carolina; it does not have to be from the county where you have your wedding. In Onslow County, you can obtain your marriage license from the Register of Deeds Office at the Courthouse before your marriage date. After you receive it, it’s valid for 60 days. Both parties must be present, the license fee is $60 and you’ll need identification. Don’t forget this one! No license, no wedding.
A Dreamy Dress
Make your simple ceremony special by wearing a dress and having him wear a suit. Just because you’ll be in the courthouse, doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the dress! Encourage guests you bring to wear appropriate wedding attire as well. A dreamy dress and wedding-worthy attire will make for better photographs and fun memories.
Go Pro Photography
We’re not talking about a camera strapped to your head! Schedule a professional photographer to capture photos of your day. Having a courthouse wedding eliminates some of the traditional expenses of a church wedding, so budget in a talented photographer who can take amazing photos. Onslow County’s courthouse is nestled in downtown near parks and historic buildings, so it’s only a short distance to a great photo shoot destination before or after your ceremony.
Tiny Guest List
When it comes to the actual ceremony in the judge’s or magistrate’s office, there may be a limit on the number of attendees. Inquire with the office and verify limits. You’ll want to have 2 witnesses to sign the marriage certificate. If you wish, you can also invite close friends and family to witness your vows. The guest list is much smaller, but this intimate group can celebrate with you.
Skip the Bridal Party
It’s not necessary to have bridal parties for a courthouse wedding. Having a maid of honor and a best man as your witnesses are all you need. Take advantage of the smaller setting and reduced company to save on expenses and formalities. This day is about a commitment to love, so keep the focus on your marriage and each other.
Reception? or Not to Reception?
Short answer, yes… or no. This one is completely up to what you and your fiancé desire. There is no big expectation for a traditional reception or party. Some couples want to celebrate privately – and that’s perfectly fine. Some couples host a small cake-cutting only. Others skip the big wedding expense and invest in a party with friends with a few more traditional touches.
If you want to host a celebration after your ceremony, be creative in how you celebrate with your friends and family. You can rent a beach house and have your friends and family join you there to celebrate. Cut the cake, have some fun and the two of you can slip away to your own accommodations when you’re ready. You are free to create your own style and size of celebration. From picnic to beach party to fine dining… it’s completely up to you.
Enjoy the one you love and the day you are married. You’ve got a lifetime to build more memories. For this day, plan the little details that will make it special for the two of you and your courthouse wedding will be perfectly suited to you.