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Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4789, member since Sat May 18, 2002
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 03:34 PM

The more I try to plan this wedding, the more I just want to fly to Vegas.

No, really. I'm seeing way more pros than cons to eloping. Wedding dresses overwhelm me with dress. Everything else just overwhelms me with the minutiae. I don't care about colors and flowers and music and food - except insofar as if I do it at all, I want it done my way.

I'm just not that girl, you know? But I feel like we owe it to our families to allow them to witness or participate this thing.

The fiance is as on the fence about it as I am. Although, admittedly, he started off in favor of eloping and the more time goes on, the more he leans towards something more traditional. Since we're meeting in the middle on this now, it seems like a good time to re-examine our options.

Did anyone here do the courthouse thing and wish they'd done a whole "proper" ceremony and party? Did anyone do the whole wedding (small, big, whatever size) and regretted not just heading to the courthouse? I feel like I need some outside perspective to think rationally on this.

19 Replies to Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse

re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By hummingbird Comments: 10419, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 04:54 PM
We had a small wedding, it was at our local church but that's in the country so it was easy to keep it low key.

We didn't do flowers in the church and we really didn't miss them. The church we used looked way better without them anyway.

We didn't have a sit down meal or book a hotel to take everyone to. Our reception was a finger buffet and it was all set out in the hall of a local school that had huge windows looking out onto a really pretty garden that was one of the teachers pet projects with the students.

We didn't have an evening do, we didn't want one and many of my relatives were elderly and didn't want to stay into the evening anyway so we just told people that if they wanted to join us for drinks we would be going out that evening and we went to a favourite pub that night with our parents and our friends, it ended up being a really good compromise for us both and we actually got to speak to people.

I did do the dress but I bought it from a lady who did discounted, discontinued stock and it was very low key, especially for it's time :) . I tried lots of dresses on and was very much like you, they just looked like too much dress and the money for them made me cringe.

I did have bridesmaids, two old school friends and mine and Tims cousins who were too stinkin' cute not to be involved being only four years old. To cut down on the money again I made the dresses for all of them.

The expensive bit for us was our honeymoon, five days in Rome, five days in Florence and three days in Venice.

The only thing I would change if I could go back and do it again would be the venue, the church was an amazing 15th century building, but it really wasn't us and because of the laws at the time we could only have a church or a registry office as the setting but if I could have I would have used my parents acreage (smallholding for you Brits) it would have meant a lot to me at the time.

Do you have the option of using someones back yard as a venue, it might be a good alternative.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse (karma: 1)
By dancin_til_death Comments: 4381, member since Sat May 08, 2004
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 06:18 PM
Have a trawl through this website

www.intimateweddings.com . . .

There is heaps of cute weddings which have only 4-20 guests in it. Some of them look really cute and a lot less stressful then the big scary stuff you see in wedding magazines.

Also I wouldn't diss the package deals if its the stress that's getting you. My boyfriend's brother and his fiancee opted for a package wedding at a vineyard and they did the majority of the planning from the Netherlands (not Australia) due to work commitments. Such a beautiful lovely day, and it was lovely to see a wedding where the bride hadn't had to sacrifice her life to plan it.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 07:13 PM
We had 65 people at our wedding.

In terms of planning, I'm lucky enough to have two sisters that are savvy enough to know how to do it. I knew what I wanted, mostly. I wanted certain colors (didn't end up getting them), and certain flowers (them either - because my florist decided that a week before the wedding was a fine time to begin looking for hibiscus flowers in Michigan. Because I mean, why not?), and I knew what parts of the day were important to me.

Jim was the one who insisted on the ceremony. He thought he was going to DIE if his mom wasn't there (I proposed Vegas - I even said we'd fly her out, nope...). HE had to have the ceremony. So I dumped that task on him - if he wanted to have it, he had to find a place. He followed through, and we had a location. He picked a super cool vintage chapel in our town. It was built in 1935, or something crazy. It was really neat.

Dress, that one just sort of came to me. I was on the phone with my mom, and we were both on the David's Bridal website, and then all the sudden, THAT dress showed up. Not super stiff and formal (my sisters dress looked like something Bridal Gown Barbie might wear. And that's her style, and she looked amazing, but that's not my scene...), it was a fitted bodice, empire waisted skirt, coral sash. YEEEEESSSSS! Bring me that dress! Had some trouble finding it in the store, but it turned up, and it was just as amazing in person as it had been online, and the weekend we went, David's was having a sale, so we got it way cheap. Done and done.

I knew I wanted cupcakes, and my mom knew she wanted enough of a cake to have pictures of Jim and I cutting one, so that solved that - one tier, chocolate cupcakes, let's do this.

I told the florist the colors I wanted, and the types of flowers I wanted, my sister was sitting there to fill in the blanks, done. Of course, as it would come to pass later, he'd botch the order HARD, but at that point, I had to let it go. His guy got there about a half hour before the wedding to deliver flowers. They were supposed to be watermelon (reddish pink), guava (orangeish pink), and lime, with black and silver as accent colors as needed. The guy delivers flowers that are ballet pink, pastel purple and teal, and asks if they're OK. I went "At this point, if I say no, what's the plan?!" They were so wildly off, that to this day, I remain convinced that we got the wrong flowers.

We had a daytime wedding, so that cut down on the formality of the reception. I knew what stuff was important to me - I wanted to dance with my husband, I wanted to dance with my dad, I wanted to have a meal, that was about it. Jim's dad gave a toast, because it was very important to him that he got to. I didn't care about it. In fact, I couldn't tell you what he said.

I didn't care about a DJ - we self-DJ'd, and I've had people tell me that was the coolest thing they'd seen at a wedding in a long time - and we didn't do the big announced processional into the reception hall.

As it happened, we got married on June 25. Four months later - almost to the day - Jim's dad was diagnosed with leukemia, and there's been a variety of times we thought he wasn't going to make it. So getting to have him there, and having him being Jim's best man, was absolutely 100% worth it, and I'd do it again in a minute.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Meganmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 12956, member since Wed Mar 17, 2004
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 08:31 PM
Why not do a package? That is the only thing getting me through this - the fact that it was one-stop shopping and I don't have to make any decisions. It's the best of both worlds: our families still get to attend a ceremony/reception, but I don't have to do anything. We chose Vegas to cut the guilt about keeping our guest list tiny, but I'm sure all-in packages can be found elsewhere too.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By CaffeinePremium member Comments: 3194, member since Wed Aug 08, 2007
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 08:34 PM
There's a whole big grey area between eloping and the Traditional Big White Wedding - it's not one or the other. Check out Offbeat Bride for some good ideas of what people can do when they do it their own way.

I'm of a similar opinion re the minutiae of supposed Wedding "Must Haves". You don't need three-course meals or monogrammed chair backs or colour-coordinating napkins or overwhelming masses of expensive flowers (why yes, I have been watching My Fair Wedding lately, how could you guess?); you need yourself, your fiance, a celebrant and whatever witnesses/family you want in attendance. The rest is just window dressing.

I've had friends create ipod playlists for the music instead of hiring a dj; I've attended receptions catered by the families of the happy couple in a church hall. A wedding can be as simple or as extravagant as YOU want (not what people say you should want).

N and I are planning a smallish outdoor, daytime (kid-friendly) wedding. I will be buying my dress off ebay. And while we're still a long way off planning properly, it's going to be pretty low-key, with as much done by the venue as possible. I don't cafe for centrepieces and aisle runners and all that junk; I just want simple.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4789, member since Sat May 18, 2002
On Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:15 PM
I was in a rush with somewhere to be when I started this thread, so it reads a little bit like I'm overwhelmed with planning a big, huge wedding. But the reality is, we've never been planning for anything big. Our total guest list, assuming everyone can make it, if I include my dad and his date, if Sheli brings a date, and if Jen and her family and travel, is only 25. And while I know, in the grand scheme of things, that's a tiny guest list, it feels huge and overwhelming to me.

I think more than anything, I want someone to tell me we're not horribly selfish people for wanting this moment to be private between us, and the bare minimum of witnesses. My best friend is horrified at the idea, and keeps telling me how hurt she'd be if she didn't get to be there (she started off saying she'd be hurt not to be a bridesmaid until I made it clear that I wasn't planning on having any anyway). My brother, and his mom have also expressed similar feelings. And although I'm not usually a people pleaser, something about not wanting all the bells and whistles of a traditional wedding day makes me feel guilty and like there's something wrong with me.

But I love the idea of running off to the courthouse, being wed by the JOP, and then holing up in a small B&B for a couple nights.

I think... I wish he weren't working a graveyard shift right now. Because I think I know what I want. Thanks for the input! :D
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By CaffeinePremium member Comments: 3194, member since Wed Aug 08, 2007
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 05:08 AM
Lirit wrote:

I think more than anything, I want someone to tell me we're not horribly selfish people for wanting this moment to be private between us, and the bare minimum of witnesses. My best friend is horrified at the idea, and keeps telling me how hurt she'd be if she didn't get to be there (she started off saying she'd be hurt not to be a bridesmaid until I made it clear that I wasn't planning on having any anyway). My brother, and his mom have also expressed similar feelings. And although I'm not usually a people pleaser, something about not wanting all the bells and whistles of a traditional wedding day makes me feel guilty and like there's something wrong with me.

But I love the idea of running off to the courthouse, being wed by the JOP, and then holing up in a small B&B for a couple nights.


With people trying to guilt you into getting an invitation, no wonder you feel like eloping!

You are far from horrible people for wanting an intimate wedding with people of your choice in attendance. Your money (I presume), your guest list. But (and I really hesitate to post this) - how close are you to your bestie, your bro and your mom? Will the relationship you have with them be damaged if you don't include them? Do you care? Do they know the date/venue/etc? If not, can you tell them a little white lie after the fact that you and your fiance eloped to save hurt feelings?
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By dancin_til_death Comments: 4381, member since Sat May 08, 2004
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 07:20 AM
Edited by dancin_til_death (92905) on 2014-11-10 07:21:51
Maybe you could do both? Run away get married. Then have a room in a restaurant to celebrate with a small reception when you get back.

I personally would never refuse to let my close family come and see me get married/include them in some way. I have vivid memories of relatives; mother of bride, and grandparents in particular who get very dressed up for these events. Its beautiful to see.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 08:54 AM
Yeah, people giving you crap about being included is a whole different story. That ups the ante, for sure.

My sister (a different one from the one in my last thread) got married this summer, and she and her now husband are both the type that break out in hives if people look at them too long. She invited our siblings and their assorted significant others, our parents, his siblings and their assorted significant others, and his parents. That was IT. If you weren't invited, you weren't even told what day the ceremony was. I couldn't make it - it was during the school year, and the way it fell in the week, James would have had to have missed three or four days of school, and our brother couldn't make it, cause it's expensive to go home and he's always broke, but I'm told it was lovely. They had it at the Church, no one knew they were doing it, lovely. They left for the honeymoon - no reception - and when they got back, his parents hosted a dinner for them. Bada bing, bada boom.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By SaraTheGrouchmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 8600, member since Thu Apr 17, 2003
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:24 AM
I think you can be as unconventional as you want.

You CAN bring a group of people to a JOP wedding. One of my closest friends got married in a JOP's office with four witnesses, none of whom were family, but that's an entirely different story. They elected not to be there. There was plenty of room to have a few more people in there, too. If you are committed to the 25 people, why not ask a JOP, some of member of clergy, or anyone certified as an officiant to marry you guys in a park or another personally pleasing public space? You don't need to go over the top and have the expense of things get to you while still including your loved ones who want to be there.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 7765, member since Sun Nov 21, 2004
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:48 AM
I despearately wanted a destination wedding. I hated planning my wedding. Husband was upset that this and that relative would not have been able to come to the wedding, whereas I personally didn't care who came as long as my parents were there.

To me too much money was spend on our wedding, and we did things a lot lower budget than most people do in our area.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6359, member since Thu Jul 12, 2007
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 05:11 PM
Having been a wedding photographer (1976-1995 plus I've done three for family members only since, for free) I guess I can say "I've seen it all." For one, because of the fees I charged (high once I was established) I usually didn't do "small" weddings. Most were pretty traditional. What I did see several times were events where clearly the wedding was more important than the marriage. One bride bugged probably 3-4 times a week in the 6 months between the time I was contracted and the actual wedding. She was going to do this, she was going to do that. I was patient and I hope kind to her but a lot of that stuff was out of my ball park. After the honeymoon I delivered the photos at her parents house (the parents paid my fee) and while she was there, the groom was not - not too out of the ordinary so I didn't thing much of it. I was a bit curious that I never got a call to assemble an album, which was a separate transaction because of the wide variance in albums available. That had happened before too. Not my job to go bugging people. By chance I happened to run into the dad at a hardware store and made a polite inquiry, a simple "how were things" and he told me that the marriage six weeks. His daughter wanted a "fairy tale" wedding since she was a little girl and she got it at great expense. The marriage was either a divorce or an annulment. I have photographed weddings with extroverted people and families were a big bash was enjoyed by all and the bride called me up so see if I would do her daughter's wedding (the original was 25 years ago) but I was long retired. You can tell everyone had a great time. I've also done them where indeed, I'm sure everyone would have been happier with a simple JOP, a couple witnesses, maybe a very few family members because that was the way the couple was. BTW photographing a wedding like that is like pulling teeth for the photographer...nothing happened and there are limits as to how much I would intrude to fulfill my responsibilities to provide a product. "You can lead a horse to water....,etc."

Jon
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Moonlitefairy06member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 7177, member since Fri Apr 16, 2004
On Mon Nov 10, 2014 07:40 PM
I just went to a fairly traditional wedding this weekend. The ceremony and reception were both held at the same venue. It was an expensive wedding and they went pretty much all out for everything. It wasn't as over the top as I expected it to be though. Her dad went on and on about all this food they would have, and how great the dress was, and all that. It was a very very nice wedding but I didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. Then I thought about how her parents got married. They got married on a trampoline in togas! The whole thing cost $800. For their daughter, total opposite. This wedding probably cost at least a year of college. And I know her mom was really seeing her daughter's wedding as the wedding she didn't get. They didn't want to deny anything as her mom didn't get a traditional wedding. I think at the time the whole trampoline and togas thing seemed fun (they owned a gymnastics gym), but as life went on she regretted it. I think there's a happy medium that you can find. I've had more than 20 people over to my apartment for a birthday party, so i guess I don't see what you are talking about as being overwhelming. I think you can find a happy medium of doing just the 25 people, all in one location, make your own playlist, maybe a friend can do the pictures. Another friend did a huge 200 person wedding in her parents backyard and cut corners with the dj, photographer and food (Family cooked it all), plus not having the reception in a venue and just getting a tent instead. I think you can find something that works for you and your family and friends without going into a full over the top 40 grand extravaganza.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 5930, member since Sat Jan 25, 2003
On Tue Nov 11, 2014 03:06 PM
My wedding was "traditional" in the sense that I had a white (short) dress and my husband wore a nice suit and there was an officiant and the rings and dinner and a cake and a dance and photography, etc. BUT, there were 15 guests and I did it about 3 hours out of town at a resort destination. I truly believe I had the best of both worlds and our guests all say it was the best wedding they've ever been to.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Kettricken Comments: 174, member since Thu Jun 07, 2012
On Wed Nov 12, 2014 06:15 AM
I agree with the folks saying that you can do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.

My husband and I both come from HUGE families. People seem to expect you to freak out over every little thing, like what color the napkins will be (which nobody is going to remember anyway, so who cares?), but that doesn't mean you need to. For some reason, people kept suggesting that we go somewhere else and get married, then come home and have just the reception. To me, that didn't make any sense. The ceremony is really the part that can be done cheap, to me.

So I did my own thing. We got married on property that has been in my family for generations. It's an old farm, so more than enough space. I did all the decorations myself. One of my brothers did the music for the ceremony and the reception, which was basically playlists I had set up beforehand. A family friend that owns a grocery store sold us food at cost as his gift, and a cousin cooked the food as his gift.

So it ended up being pretty traditional as far as what everyone wore, the music, that sort of thing; but it had sort of a casual barbecue sort of feel. That's what worked for me, and I don't have any real regrets.
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4789, member since Sat May 18, 2002
On Thu Nov 13, 2014 03:46 PM
Caffeine wrote:

But (and I really hesitate to post this) - how close are you to your bestie, your bro and your mom? Will the relationship you have with them be damaged if you don't include them? Do you care? Do they know the date/venue/etc? If not, can you tell them a little white lie after the fact that you and your fiance eloped to save hurt feelings?


My relationship with my mom, brother, and Sheli will not suffer for not having them there. Sheli and I have been best friends since we were 9 years old - she has been more sister than friend through my life. She would be more hurt if I eloped without telling her I was doing it. It disappoints her that we're thinking about it, but at the end of the day, she'll still be my best friend and happy for me.

I spoke to my mom about it last night. She said she would be a little bit sad to not be included, but that the only thing she wishes for me is that it lasts, and that she wishes that regardless of how we do it. So again, no concerns about irrevocably altering that relationship - although making my mom sad is enough to leave me feeling the worst person ever born. So... Sigh.

There's no winning with this crap, is there?
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By glitterfairyPremium member Comments: 12135, member since Tue Oct 01, 2002
On Sun Nov 16, 2014 05:26 PM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2014-11-16 17:28:05
I've long suspected that if/when I finally get married, I'll feel the same way... :/

My plan at this stage is to beg for some sort of elopement first. Something quiet, something private, something beautifully low-key.

After that, because I'm terrified of the guilt tripping too, will be some sort of cost-efficient 'show wedding'. Seriously. Because it'll be for other people instead of for me, and I'll just show up in my dress with hair and makeup done and perform :P I HAZ EXCELLENT WALK DOWN AISLE IN STRAIGHT LINE SKILLZ.

But I'm thinking that after having the 'real' wedding first, maybe I'll be less stressed about the 'show' wedding and won't really care about it? (FYI, my idea of the latter is still pretty low-key... eg held at someone else's house, and probably doing most of it myself sans the actual catering which I could probably talk my mum into doing)
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse (karma: 1)
By pokomember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 9026, member since Sun Oct 31, 2004
On Mon Nov 17, 2014 05:36 AM
Pop Up Wedding. It's like eloping but everything is organised for you. A friend of mine has a great business here in Australia specialising in it, and he's branching into the US too! They're on Instagram and FB - Popupwed I think it is!!
re: Pros and Cons of a traditional ceremony vs the courthouse
By Liritmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 4789, member since Sat May 18, 2002
On Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:29 AM
My mom is officially planning our wedding. She has our guest list, and she's running from there. I have no idea what to expect, and I'm so okay with it. No more guilt, and no more stress. It's a total win-win.

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