After being engaged for a year without doing any wedding planning, my fiancé and I woke up one morning and decided it was a perfect day to commit ourselves to each other. We got dressed (nothing fancy) and drove straight to our local courthouse to sign our lives away. The ceremony—if you can call it that—was awkward and not at all what I expected and now I have mixed feelings about my decision.
You definitely don’t just sign a paper and walk away (like I thought). I’m not really the kind of person that enjoys all eyes being on me, even if it’s for something good. I’m shy and awkward and I always grew up thinking I would trip as I walked down the aisle. I was comfortable signing documents and leaving, but no—we had to go into a courtroom full of people we didn’t know, say our vows, and kiss in front of everyone. It was slightly terrifying.
You aren’t surrounded by anyone you know and love. Unless you bring a few close friends or family members, they will simply grab anyone walking around to be your witness. Luckily for us, a court session had just ended and a few people stayed (unknowingly) to observe our ceremony. They were sweet and clapped at the end, but it would have been nice to have a day surrounded by our family and friends.
You don’t get a day where you’re the center of attention. I’ve met a few bridezillas in my lifetime and to be honest, it seems like a badass job. You get to be the boss for months and there’s pretty much an unspoken rule where everyone just has to do what you say for fear of making you cry. With a courthouse wedding, you’re still the center of attention, except no one around you is familiar so you can’t really enslave them like you could have at a real wedding. You also miss out on bridal showers, wedding songs, dress shopping and other cheesy tasks involved with weddings.
I didn’t get any cute wedding photos. My spouse and I recently bought a house and there isn’t a single wedding photo in sight. We don’t have anything other than our memories to look back on and remember the day we committed our lives to each other. We could have had some pictures taken, I suppose, but it wouldn’t be the same. There wouldn’t have been any fancy outfits, the first look or tears as we walked down the aisle. Honestly, this was one of the things I was most bummed about.
Some people felt offended by the courthouse wedding. There will always be selfish people trying to bring you down. Some people were offended by my courthouse wedding because they thought they weren’t important enough to be involved in the big day. Really we just wanted to focus on each other and save money in the process, but the situation didn’t end without a few hurt feelings. To be honest, we probably would have offended someone in some way if we had an actual wedding too.
We saved a ton of money by foregoing the wedding. Since we were both college students and didn’t exactly come from wealthy families, we would have accrued a ton of money in debt if we had an actual wedding. Being in debt isn’t exactly the ideal way to begin your future with someone, which was one of our main decisions for a courthouse wedding. We were able to save money quicker for other more important needs and wants. Plus, weddings are kind of overrated.
I saved my sanity by going to the courthouse. My fiancé and I come from pretty untraditional families. We also have several divorcees and family members that simply don’t get along and bring drama where ever they go. I can’t even fathom the amount of stress and the arguments that would have ensued from actually planning a wedding. The decision to head to the courthouse truly was a bullet dodged. Of course, if you want at least some type of ceremony, you can always look into eloping.
The entire day was focused on love and our relationship. We didn’t have to feel rushed and we weren’t on any kind of schedule. The entire day from beginning to end was only focused on us. Since there wasn’t really a venue or reception, we didn’t have to ensure the table settings were perfect or that the food accommodated everyone’s needs. There were no meltdowns over something not being perfect because there was nothing involved except my fiancé and me.
Courthouse weddings do not mean you don’t love each other as much. It doesn’t matter where or how you get married as long as you are marrying the person you love. You may have a few traditional family members who really don’t see a courthouse marriage as a true commitment, but all that matters is how you and your fiancé feel about each other. Your wedding day is all about what you make it.
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