Going Against the Grain – Justice of the Peace Ceremony

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


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