Planning to ditch the elaborate wedding and just get married at the courthouse instead? I absolutely love that idea! But don’t think just because you’re taking the courthouse route you can’t have some beautiful wedding photos to remember the day. You absolutely can, and that starts with hiring a professional photographer to document both your ceremony and some portraits afterwards.
I’m Madeline, a wedding photographer in Dallas, TX, and although I certainly love a big party, I definitely have a soft spot for courthouse weddings. There’s something special about couples deciding to ditch the theatrics and just get married in an intimate ceremony instead. To help you prepare for your elopement, I’ve compiled some courthouse wedding planning tips below to help you get the most out of your wedding photos and plan a beautiful celebration!
You do not have to get married at the courthouse closest to your home or where you acquire your marriage license. So shop around! I personally love courthouses with a vintage feel. So large columns, stone exteriors and steps out front. It’s also nice if they have pretty landscaping for more photo opportunities.
The worst time to take photos is around noon, when the sun is highest in the sky. This creates unflattering shadows on your faces and makes it hard to find a photo spot outside where you won’t be squinting. So if possible, choose a ceremony time first thing in the morning or late afternoon. That way, you’ll have more flattering light for your portrait session after.
When planning out your day, be sure to account for about 30 minutes to an hour of time after the ceremony to take portraits. For my couples, I like to book them for one hour of time. The ceremony only takes about 15 minutes, then we have 45 minutes to take photos around the courthouse afterwards. If they want to travel to a second location for more photo opportunities, we’ll do two hours! Just keep this in mind when planning events after your ceremony like dinner or a party.
Since you’ve already chosen the non-traditional route for your wedding, don’t be afraid to be non-traditional with your outfits as well! Showcase your personal style with a fun cocktail dress, a vibrant-colored suit, fun accessories, etc. Or if you still want to wear a traditional ball gown, go for it! No one will bat an eye, I promise. Just be sure you and your partner dress to the same level of formality so you look good in pictures together.
Courthouse weddings can still be incredibly sentimental and special. So don’t hesitate to bring personal mementos like family heirlooms, something old, new borrowed and blue, or even just a simple bouquet to add a little something special to your big day. Be sure to let your photographer know what you’ve brought with you so they can be sure and grab some photos.
Need more help planning your courthouse wedding? Don’t hesitate to reach out through my Contact Page, and I would love to help you! I offer small packages specifically for elopements, and I would love to be a part of your big day. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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