Advice For Brides Having A Courthouse Wedding -plus Beautiful Courthouse Wedding Dresses

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Molly and Jackson’s Courthouse Wedding With Wedding Dress Ideas

Have you been thinking about having a Courthouse Wedding? Whether it’s to elope, to keep costs down, or to just make for an easy ceremony, your state or city courthouse is a great place to do all of the above.

Molly and Jackson had a beautiful Courthouse Wedding, and shared their advice with us here.

Be sure to scroll all the way down to see our recommendations for the best Courthouse Wedding Dresses below. If you’re looking for more wedding saving ideas, check out our full list of Amazon Wedding Items.

*This post contains affiliate links.  See our full disclosure policy here

PhotographyMelanie Principe Photography,   Makeup, Hair, BouquetJennifer Melendez Makeup,  Picture Venue – Salvage One – 1840 W Hubbard,  Venue – City Hall Courthouse – 119 W Randolph, Bride’s HairpieceTALISMAN Headwear,  Bride’s SkirtMr Pretty Skirt  

Our Courthouse Wedding 

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!

Courthouse Wedding Dresses

There are several different styles of wedding dresses you can choose from. If you want to go simple or short, or if you want to still go fancy and classic, here are some great dresses for a Courthouse Wedding.

And, they’re all Affordable!!


Lace Beach Wedding Dress: This long beach wedding dress is nice and flowy, with pretty details on top and a bow in the back.




Knee Length Wedding Dress : This sweet wedding dress is perfect for a summer courthouse wedding.





White Cocktail Dress: Want to dress it up a bit? This fitted cocktail lace wedding dress would be a great choice.





Sweetheart Lace and Satin Wedding Dress: This would be a beautiful dress for any wedding, and it’s under $100!



Knee Length Lace Wedding Dress : This lace dress could be great for a rustic wedding paired with boots.





High Low Halter Dress: This dress even comes in 25 different colors if you decided to go for another one.




Lace Chiffon Bridal Gown: The top and straps have beautiful details, and you’ve gotta see the back of this dress!




Off the Shoulder Dress: This cute skater dress can be worn again and again.




Sequins Chiffon Gown: This beautiful sparkly dress will jazz up your ceremony, and who doesn’t like a little sparkle?!




Crochet Backless Bohemian Halter Maxi: Check our this bohemian maxi dress. Perfect if you’re heading to the beach for a celebration after.




Lace Applique Tulle Dress: The details on this dress are so beautiful, and its a cross between fancy and more casual.




A-Line Evening Gown: This one is made with a shimmery satin material.





Elegant Empire Off Shoulder Chiffon Dress: Looking for a long but more casual dress? This off the shoulder dress is a perfect in between.





Floral Lace Knee-Length Wedding Dress: Heres a sweet dress with capped sleeves and beautiful floral lace.





Long Sleeve Chiffon Wedding Dress : Want long sleeves? Here’s a great pick…it even has a slit!



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Sara, a seasoned expert in wedding planning and date ideas, brings a wealth of experience to our couples blog. With a background in the television industry and hands-on involvement in a dozen weddings, including working as a wedding assistant on "My Fair Wedding with David Tutera," Sara has an innate understanding of the magic that makes weddings truly special. Growing up with four sisters has given her unique insights into the dating world, making her a go-to source for practical and heartfelt dating advice. Her knowledge and enthusiasm make her the perfect guide for couples seeking to infuse their relationships with creativity and love.

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