Advice From Brides- Courthouse Wedding
Molly and Jackson's Courthouse Wedding
Photography - Melanie Principe Photography, Makeup, Hair, Bouquet - Jennifer Melendez Makeup, Picture Venue - Salvage One - 1840 W Hubbard, Venue - City Hall Courthouse - 119 W Randolph, Bride’s Hairpiece - TALISMAN Headwear, Bride’s Skirt -Mr Pretty Skirt
My partner and I plan to get married in Iceland on June 5th, 2019. However, we wanted to do a private service one year prior so that certain family members who may not make it to Iceland could attend our marriage. We also thought that might help with the legalities of getting married in another country. We decided to get married exactly one year prior on June 5th, 2018 downtown Chicago at the courthouse.
1. Hire a Photographer and head to a great venue for pictures -
To make the day special, we hired an amazing photographer and booked a session at Salvage One to take photos. In my early twenties when I was still interested in a more traditional wedding (not the adventurous elopement we now have planned), I had wanted to get married at Salvage One, so this felt like a great way to pay tribute to that former obsession. We were even more excited to learn that Salvage One is dog-friendly, so we were able to bring our little family with us for our special day. That's a great way to get photos you love without having to pay to have your wedding there. We even took one at their altar! Contact venues you find beautiful and find out the rates for a photo session there.
2. Call on Your Friends and Family to Help -
We are very fortunate to have some amazing friends and family that helped out and made everything run smoothly. One of my closest friends and a bridesmaid in the Iceland wedding next year, Jen, did my hair and makeup, and she even made my bouquet. We did a hair and makeup trial beforehand to make sure it was the look that I was going for, but she did the bouquet completely on the spot the day of in about twenty minutes. To save some money, I purchased a couple packages of greenery from Jewel, and then my mom picked some peonies from her garden. Jen used a little floral tape and wire from Michaels, tied it up with my grandmother's wedding ring and a piece of ribbon I ordered from Etsy. Altogether, I think my bouquet was under $30! Plus, I bought my groom a boutonniere from the floral department at Jewel, and it was only $12 and they custom made it for me!
3. Ask Trusted People to Help Out with Wedding Photos-
The next bit of help we had was from my best friend and my partner’s sister. They came with us to Salvage One and helped the photos run smoothly. They helped manage the pups and anything the photographer needed. Without them, I don’t think we could’ve accomplished everything in the time period we had set aside. Obviously, everyone might not need “dog wranglers”, but it might be worth it to ask a couple trusted people to help out with wedding photos when the time comes.
4. Save Money and get Married at a Courthouse-
After Salvage One, we headed to the loop to get married at the courthouse. The courthouse is super affordable; it's $10 by us, and it's right in downtown Chicago, so if you bring a photographer, you can still have some amazing photos. We have a couple photos we took quickly in the loop when a man stopped traffic for us (shortly after we were yelled at by a police officer). We pretty much took those photos in front of about 22 stopped cars at the crosswalk honking.
5. Don't Expect the Glamour -
However, warning, the marriage part of the courthouse is super sad looking (see the picture of the dollar store congratulations banner). It’s tucked away in the basement and has none of the glorious vintage ambiance of the upstairs. We had a good sense of humor about it since our WEDDING WEDDING is next summer in Iceland! We’ve always said that our wedding is about us, not all the crazy extras, so we just laughed at things like the sign that said no food or drink allowed, and the lack of decor.
6. Don't think that just because you have a small wedding, there won't be wedding crashers. Randomly, a man leaving the courthouse to go to work saw (and knew) my partner's sister, and then he ended up dropping his stuff off at work, and FINDING US in the basement to just show up at the ceremony… It was kind of ridiculous but too funny to not allow. Actually, some of our favorite photos are of us taking a minute to talk in the stairwell after the wedding and laughing our heads off about having a wedding crasher.
7. Speaking of photos, definitely make sure you hire a photographer who makes you smile every time you see something they post-
I have seen Melanie’s work online for the past few months, and each time I saw a picture, I wished I was in it. She was amazing to work with and directed us rather than posing us. That made our pictures feel more natural, relaxed, and intimate. Despite having a fairly non-traditional, simple courthouse wedding, she made it look expensive, intimate, and special. I can’t stop smiling every time I look at our photos.
Last logistic tip… honestly, I feel like this ruins the sentimental mood I was just going for with all the previous advice, but it does need to be said...
8. Don't just wear Spanx...
If your outfit will allow, have even stronger shapewear (if your dress doesn't have boning). I did a bodysuit and a skirt for my outfit, and while my Spanx flattened things out, it didn't help hold the hourglass figure in all my photos. The silhouette is everything in photos, so make sure to have a quality undergarment that helps give your body the definition you’re looking for.
We’re very lucky that this was only the beginning. Even though that day was over in a matter of hours, we get to do it all over again on our terms next summer on our one year anniversary in Iceland. That’s when we will add in all the special, personal wedding touches like writing our own vows, having a killer bridal party, eating dinner at Reykjavik’s Ikea, and having the adventure we have been talking about for the past two years!