How to Plan an Elopement at The Coleman A. Young | Detroit, MI

Big weddings aren’t your thing? Follow this guide to having your perfect courthouse wedding.

Bride and Groom at their elopement wedding, in a courtroom with the local Judge.

If you’re reading this, I don’t have to tell you why having a courthouse wedding is a great choice for some couples. And saying “I do” at city hall can be just as personal and special as any grand ballroom. Just because you’re having a more intimate wedding in a government building doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate traditional wedding details and enjoy the moment just as much as brides and grooms who walk the aisle do.

But before you head to the courthouse, there are some things you need to do.

Yes, even a courthouse wedding involves a little bit of planning. Here are the details, and some suggestions on how to plan your civil ceremony at city hall.

Bride and Groom giving first kiss, and signing marriage license at their courthouse wedding.

FIGURE OUT THE LOGISTICS

Like any other wedding, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license before you can legally tie the knot.  Specifically in Michigan, the following are the requirements;

Marriage License Fee:
$20 – Residents
$30 – Non-Residents

Marriage Law Requirements for Michigan:

  • You must be 18 years of age to apply for a marriage application in Michigan.
  • In order to get married in Michigan, couples must apply in person, with current valid driver’s license or state I.D. to obtain a marriage license from the County Clerk of the COUNTY in which either applicant resides.
  • The marriage license fee is $20.00 for residents of Michigan. $30 for non-residents.
  • Blood tests are not required for a marriage license.
  • There is a three-day waiting period after the application before the license may be issued and used.
  • Michigan requires two witnesses (who must be at least 18 years of age).
  • Marriage license is valid for 33 days.

Be sure to contact your local County Clerk’s Office well in advance of the wedding to find out on what days and during what hours the Clerk will be in the office. Some locales will require an appointment.

Marriage Application Requirement Michigan:  Get Copy Of Birth Certificate

To complete the application for a marriage license, a couple must:

Marriage License applications are available through the your local County Clerk’s Office.

  • In order to get married in the State of Michigan, couples must apply in person and present current valid driver’s license or state I.D. to obtain a marriage license application.
  • Requirements may vary as each county in Michigan could have their own set of rules. It is important that you verify all information with your local County Clerk’s Office before making a trip to purchase your marriage license.

Marriage ID Requirement Michigan:

The following is required of both parties:

  • Valid driver’s license or state ID showing current address.
  • Birth certificate or valid passport.  If passport is used instead of birth certificate, full names of both parents and the state or country where they were born must be provided at time of application.
  • Social Security numbers of both parties

Bride and Groom photos for their elopement wedding, holding hands, kissing and enjoying their day.

PLAN THE CEREMONY

First, you’ll want to contact your local court to find out what days are available, if you’re able to choose a specific date, or if ceremonies are on a first-come-first-serve basis on certain days. Once you have the time and date of your courthouse wedding ceremony, feel free to ask any questions you may have regarding the ceremony. Consider asking how many guests are allowed, if outside decor and flowers are allowed, if a photographer is allowed to attend the ceremony, etc. You’ll also want to find out how many witnesses are required.

Once the details are sorted out, you can start planning the fun stuff: pick out your flowers, choose your witnesses, and send out invites if you’re inviting guests. Even if you’re not inviting guests to the ceremony, you can send out invitations for a reception get together.

And just because you’re having a city hall wedding doesn’t mean you can’t wear your dream dress, three-piece suit, or whatever your heart desires.

You should also hire a photographer to capture your special day.  Just because you’re having a small wedding doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the lasting memories of your big day.  You could choose to travel to your favorite spot for photos, since your day is a lot more flexible! 

Pro tip: Get ready before you head to the courthouse, as there will not be a designated room to get changed in. Bring all your documents and the rings and show up at least 15 minutes before your appointment so you don’t feel rushed.

INCLUDE POST-CEREMONY ACTIVITIES

The celebration doesn’t have to end once you’ve exchanged vows. Meet with friends at your favorite restaurant, host a party at your home, or keep it low-key by inviting a few friends and family to a cocktail reception.

Your courthouse ceremony and reception can be just as tailor-made as any other wedding!

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