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Couple in Front of a CourthouseThe idea of a big, elaborate wedding is not right for everyone. In fact, studies show that there are plenty of people who opt for alternatives to traditional nuptials. For example, statistics collected over the course of the last decade indicate that roughly 5% of weddings each year take place in a courtroom instead of a religious or secular venue. If the idea of the courthouse ceremony seems right to you, there are a handful of things to consider in advance. From the judge wedding ceremony script to the legal process, understanding a few points early makes your life easier. 

What Is a Courthouse Wedding?

Basically, a courthouse wedding is defined as a nonreligious ceremony that allows two individuals of legal age to marry in an official capacity. The main difference between religious and courthouse ceremonies is that the former is usually officiated by a priest or similar ordained individual and the latter is presided over by a local clerk or judge. People tend to get married in a courthouse for a number of reasons. Usually, couples prefer this option because it provides a quick and efficient alternative to traditional arrangements. 

Know the Legal Side of the Process

Before you can move forward with other aspects of a courthouse wedding, you first need to consider the legal wedding ceremony requirements. Usually, the best way to navigate this process is by reviewing the guidelines in your specific state. While there are federal laws pertaining to marriage, such as the right for same-sex couples to wed in any state, individual states have varying restrictions when it comes to the age of the participants, the number of witnesses, and other things. 

Thankfully, you can review your state’s requirements for legally binding marriage online. Conduct a bit of research and know exactly what criteria you need to hit to get the process started.

Think Over the Script

Depending on your state, there are a handful of points to consider related to the “ceremonial” side of things. Even though you’re choosing to marry in a way that slightly defies tradition for most families, this doesn’t mean you want your big day to be forgettable or feel like just another errand to complete in an afternoon. There are several ways to add a personal touch to the process and make the moment feel special. From inviting close friends or family to act as witnesses to playing some music to get pumped, a little creativity goes a long way.

You may also want to look into customizing the courthouse wedding ceremony script. Most judges and clerks are fine with couples who wish to speak their own vows or would like a certain passage to be read before the ceremony is completed. While you won’t have as much control as you would in your own venue, there are still several fun options to explore. 

Review What You Need To Bring

Finally, make a checklist of all the items you will need to bring to complete the application process for a marriage license. In some states, a waiting period is required between the filing of the application and the actual wedding ceremony. If this is the case, be sure to set aside two separate dates for both tasks. When applying, you will typically only need to bring legal ID and any fees involved. However, couples who have been married before might need to bring proof of divorce. 

If you’re not the type of person who envisions getting married in a huge venue in front of hundreds of people, a courthouse arrangement could be the ideal alternative. As long as you understand what will be expected of you, the process will be an easy and enjoyable way to take the next step in your relationship.

Category: Wedding Planning

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