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I'm Rachel, your Washington-based elopement photographer. I create affirming spaces for all couples, so that you can have the freedom to be exactly who you are on your elopement day.
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Plenty of people just kind of…brush off courthouse weddings. They don’t think about them too much or pay them any real consideration. But folks, they’re great. Here’s why:
Even for people who love big weddings…you have to admit that there’s a significant amount of stress involved. One of the big reasons why engagements are often a year or more is the fact that big weddings take ages to plan. And there’s a lot that goes into that.
You have to: pick a date, find a general location, then find a venue–which can’t be confirmed until you sort out how many guests you’re inviting (hello, can of worms)–hire and work with a planner, find a photographer (ideally someone who’s photographed your venue before and knows what they’re doing), find a florist, maybe find a hairstylist and makeup artist (and schedule trials for both of those services), take your big entourage with you dress or suit shopping, send out hundreds of save-the-dates and invitations, sort out accommodation if your wedding isn’t local, deal with the license and paperwork, find an officiant, find and try on rings, write your vows…
Tired yet? I’m tired.
Listen, courthouse weddings do involve some of the things on that list (if you want them), but they’re way less stressful! Location? Taken care of. Officiant and witnesses? Sorted. Paperwork? Still have to do it, but you can literally pick up your license and get married at the same place. Photographer? Hi, right here.
Everything else? It’s on a smaller scale, so it’s instantly less stressful and less work. And if you aren’t inviting anyone, if it’s just the two of you…? Even easier.
Speaking of invites.
Courthouse weddings give you all kinds of guest list wiggle room. If you want to invite some close friends and family, you absolutely can! Want to keep the list small but don’t know how to tell people that they didn’t make the cut (it’s super awkward sometimes, I know)? Tell them the courthouse just can’t fit 80 people. It is what it is. Want to invite zero people? Excellent; do what you want to do. A private ceremony and some sort of party afterward? Easy peasy.
Your wedding day is still yours, it’s still about you and your partner and what you want.
With courthouse weddings, you have the freedom to celebrate with as many or as few people as you want.
Going off of what I just said up there about guest lists: courthouse weddings give you the best of both worlds.
I’m an elopement photographer. I don’t photograph big traditional weddings because they just don’t resonate with me, and everyone deserves to have the people at their wedding be fully on board with what’s going on. Courthouse weddings are much smaller, more intimate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with friends and family!
You can still get ready however you’d like, you can party afterward however you want. If you want to spend your day with just your partner, exploring the city or driving out somewhere beautiful and remote, we can absolutely do that. If you want to have a quiet ceremony and then a bigger party, we can do that too! It’s whatever you make of it.
Now. Cost isn’t the #1 reason why couples choose to elope or have small courthouse weddings.
But it’s a nice, happy bonus.
It’s not so much that couples who elope are cheap, it’s that they value different things! Diiiiid you know that the average spend on wedding reception venues in 2018 was $15,539…?
Just the venue. Yikes. Imagine what kind of incredible day you could have for half of that. Actually, thought exercise: let’s plan a day for $7500. Less than half of the average venue cost. Most of my couples spend a good portion of their budget on photography–I love them dearly for it, and I don’t take that lightly. For courthouse weddings, you can hire me for anywhere from 4-12 hours. Even at my most expensive…you’ve got thousands left to play with. Let’s average things out and say that you spend $3500 on photography. That gives you $4,000 left! You can…stay at a wicked AirBnB, enjoy your ceremony downtown (followed by brunch), take an easy hike to somewhere gorgeous, take a helicopter or hot air balloon ride, and follow it up with some incredible food and drinks!
…And still have money leftover.
Remember how I said that wedding planning takes a long freaking time?
Not at the courthouse, it doesn’t. The only timeline things you need to worry about have to do with obtaining your license. And we’re talking a consideration of days here, not months. So if you’re one of those couples who wants (or needs) to get married on a shorter timeline than the average (13.6 months, as of a 2018 study), a courthouse wedding might be for you!
You can still plan a beautiful wedding day, and you can also…not do that, if it’s not something you’re into. Options, my darlings, options.
This one is near and dear to me, and one that big traditional weddings suck at. (I’m not here to mince words)
Environmentally, the wedding industry is a monster. The average wedding produces 400lbs of garbage. Four. Hundred. Pounds. That’s over 1 billion pounds in the U.S. every year. Yep, let those numbers sink in a bit. I personally can’t wrap my brain around what 400lbs of garbage even looks like.
So I googled it.
It’s abooouuut 23 large garbage bags. Per wedding.
Small weddings aren’t perfect, but they generate a hell of a lot less waste than that… Helps me sleep easier, for sure.
And there we have it, folks! The top reasons why courthouse weddings are the best. And just because you’re getting married at the courthouse doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a full wedding day. You’re still getting married. This isn’t one of those, “Ok, let’s go get married at 2:30, pick up the groceries on the way home…” situations.
You deserve better than that.
It’s still your wedding day, it’s still your anniversary. It’s still the day you’re going to look back on for the rest of your life, so let’s celebrate it like it’s more than just an errand.
Want to chat about your courthouse wedding? I’m right here!