A Justice of the Peace ceremony or elopement has been dubbed with the stigma of hiding a marriage from family and friends for years. The reality is, for many people having a Justice of the Peace ceremony happens to be more convenient for a couple’s lifestyle. For our particular situation in the military it was financially and emotionally more beneficial for us to have the nuptials beforehand and plan the family celebration later. Plus, during such a transition period for us, planning a date so far in advance had a large possibility of not working out. I was initially very against a courthouse ceremony; it was not tradition and it was nothing I had ever envisioned. So after finally coming to my senses that an extravagant wedding isn’t a prerequisite for a marriage, it was important for us to make this day special for us.
For those of you considering a similar ceremony here are my tips or words of wisdom if you will…
- Pick a scenic backdrop. You do NOT have to say your vows at the courthouse. In many instances, venues will allow you to use their facilities without a fee since you will most likely be there for 15 minutes max.
- Hire a Photograper. This is technically the day you will be married, so you will want to have memories of it…even if you are having a larger celebration at a later time.
- After Party. Find a restaurant or bar around the area, outside of the courthouse to celebrate afterwards with your family and friends who were in attendance…or even more romantic, just the two of you!
- Feel like a Bride. I didn’t wear the traditional, white wedding dress; however, I did order myself a bouquet. Since the only flowers I purchased for the day were my own, I splurged a little on the arrangement.
- Talk to your officiant. Many times the courthouse will have a preferred list of officiants. Find someone who meshes well and is willing to adjust pieces of the ceremony to accommodate the couple’s personality.
- Go with it. At first, I spent so much time fretting that it wouldn’t feel like a real wedding that I was beginning to lose sight of the greater blessing, being united with my best friend and soul mate.
- It’s normal. What isn’t traditional in everyday life is sometimes normal in the military community. The more I spoke with other military spouses, the more I learned so many of them also had a Justice of the Peace ceremony prior to a larger wedding.
Regardless of how a couple chooses to perform their nuptials neither is more or less significant than the other. Besides, you have to admit, there is a little something rebellious and sexy about going against the grain.