Back in the day, courthouse weddings got a bad reputation. But alas, the year is now 2020, and I am allllll about the practicality, ease, and intimacy of getting hitched at the courthouse followed up with a leisurely portrait session and fun dinner after with your close friends and family. Sometimes simple really is better, and simple certainly doesn’t have to mean boring!
Although you won’t be dealing with planners, caterers, and that one aunt your fiancé’s mom just had to invite, there’s still a planning process for getting married at Houston’s courts. Below is my step-by-step, wedding-photographer approved guide to getting hitched at the courthouse!
1. Choose a getting ready space
Where are you putting on that dress before you head to the courthouse? Are you going all out and renting a hotel room or Airbnb space to hang out in, or are you keeping it simple at your childhood home? Pick a space you feel comfortable in that’s not too far from the courthouse so you don’t have to worry about commuting the morning of your wedding day.
2. Apply For Your Marriage License
Within 90 days of your wedding date, you’ll want to visit your local county clerk to apply for a marriage license. Applications are done in-person Monday-Friday with varying business hours. You can find your county clerk here.
3. Confirm Your Wedding Date
Complete the online form on the houstonx.gov website schedule your ceremony. After you fill out the form, a City of Houston representative will contact you within 48 hours to discuss the details of the ceremony and to confirm your date of marriage.
4. Pay The Ceremony Fees
On the day of your wedding, arrive early to pay the $100 fee. All fees can be paid at the Public Service Counter, located on the 1st floor of the Herbert W. Gee Municipal Courthouse at 1400 Lubbock Street, Houston, TX 77002.
5. Get Married
After your payment has been made, proceed to the second floor, Room 214, with your receipt and your Texas-issued marriage license. Your ceremony will be approximately 10 minutes long.
6. Take Epic Portraits
My couples all get a full one-hour portrait session immediately after their ceremony. I love to snag family photographs at the courthouse itself and then walk around downtown Houston with my couples. A few of my favorite spots to take portraits after a 1910 ceremony are Quebedeaux Park, Discovery Green, Buffalo Bayou, and Main Street!
The best part about a short courthouse ceremony is all the time you have afterward to spend celebrating with the people you love the most. I love it when my couples rent out restaurants nearby to keep the party going! Some great choices are Brennan’s of Houston, The Original Ninfa’s, and The Grove.
Easy peasy! I’m so happy courthouse weddings have evolved over the last few years into what they are now – an affordable, modern alternative to the huge 1,000 person wedding. With such an easy process, what’s not to love?