Many couples find planning a courthouse wedding less stressful than planning a more traditional religious ceremony. That being said, the wedding planning process still requires careful consideration to avoid common mistakes that can drag down your big day.
Below are some common courthouse wedding issues to be aware of to ensure your wedding day goes off without a hitch.
#1: Failing to Set a Budget
Many couples decide on a courthouse wedding over a traditional wedding to save money. However, you’ll still have costs associated with getting married in a courthouse or city hall. Make sure that you consider the costs for things like your:
- Reception venue
- Wedding dresses and apparel
- Catering and DJs
Depending on your post-wedding plans, you may also want to consider the costs associated with your honeymoon, like hotel and transportation. Setting a budget allows you to plan out your expenses with your future spouse, setting a precedent of communication for the future.
Staying within your budget can also help you avoid unexpected—and unwanted—credit card bills in the weeks and months after your wedding ceremony. Ignoring your budget by, for example, buying a very expensive dress can leave you without the funds you want to cover your reception.
#2: Running Out of Time to Get a Marriage License
Technically, you cannot get legally married until you obtain a marriage license. Each state has different laws regarding marriage licenses, and you should review the applicable rules to make sure you have all the paperwork squared away before you head down to the courthouse.
Many states require you to wait at least three days before they issue a marriage license. Other states only regard the license as valid for a limited amount of time, meaning that if you get it too early, it could expire before your wedding day.
When planning a courthouse wedding—or any other type of marriage ceremony—the experts recommend that you square away the paperwork associated with your marriage license to prevent issues on the big day.
Note that you may still go through with your reception without a marriage license, but the state will not consider you legally married.
#3: Mailing the Save-the-Dates Prematurely
We understand how excited you feel after you get engaged. It can feel tempting to send out save-the-date cards as soon as you hammer out a wedding date. However, mailing these notifications out right away represents a common mistake for many engaged couples.
You and your future spouse should take the time to finalize your guest list before even thinking about sending out save-the-dates. Anyone who receives a save-the-date may expect to get invited to your wedding. This action could lead to hurt feelings if you decide to cut down the guest list to:
- Fit a specific venue
- Save money
- Keep your wedding more private
You can take steps to avoid awkward situations around your wedding by completing the guest list and then, around eight months before your wedding, sending out the save-the-date notice.
#4: Planning for Too Many People
On a similar note, many couples end up inviting too many people to their wedding reception when planning a courthouse wedding. You may face restrictions from the venue as many reception sites have a maximum capacity.
Restrictions mean you need to decide on the venue for your reception before you settle on your guest list. A local farm may allow you to host a reception with 200 people, while a community center may only permit 100. Select your location first, so you know how many people to invite.
Note that, in most cases, around 80% of the people you invite will attend the wedding. Based on these wedding invitation tips, you can invite slightly more people than the capacity for your venue.
#5: Placing Orders Too Late
Setting up a wedding reception takes a lot of planning and coordination. You may need to:
- Rent a venue
- Hire vendors for food and drink
- Contact a DJ or band
- Book a room for your honeymoon
- Order wedding favors
The above list contains only some examples of the third parties you may need to work with while planning a courthouse wedding. Each will have its schedule to keep and other events to handle, so be sure to reach out to them as quickly as possible.
Waiting too long to order your dress or rent a venue means you may not have what you need on your wedding day. Avoid this mistake by knocking out your planning early, even if you feel like you have plenty of time.
#6: Working with Friends Instead of Professionals
Hiring a photographer, DJ, and catering company can often leave engaged couples with concerns about their budget. After all, a courthouse wedding is supposed to save you money. Some couples feel tempted to keep the prices lower by asking friends to handle these tasks.
However, this often turns out to be a mistake. Most people only have one chance to get the wedding reception they want. Working with friends prevents you from getting professional-grade pictures and entertainment, which may not represent what you want for your big day.
Additionally, your friends won’t be able to relax and enjoy the reception if they’re trying to take pictures, handle the tunes, or keep the kitchen running.
#7: Turning Down Outside Help
Finally, some couples make the mistake of trying to do all parts of wedding and reception planning alone. You can get help from your friends and family as you plan your big day. Draw on advice from people who have been married already and accept any contributions made by your loved ones.
Learn More About a Courthouse Wedding
Planning a courthouse wedding takes hard work and effort, but it’s more than worth it in the end. You can focus on all aspects of your San Francisco marriage ceremony with our team. Review your options for venues, DJs, and picking the perfect wedding dress.