Wedding Planning Ideas

The Pros and Cons of a Courthouse Wedding

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An extravagant wedding has become the American perquisite of romance. Girls (and boys) are groomed from a young age to hold the details of their future wedding in high regard. As a result, many brides and grooms follow a go big or go home wedding planning strategy. And while a large traditional wedding is certainly a beautiful way to celebrate the beginning of a long life together, it’s not the only way.

A lot can be said about simplicity these days and for some couples, a courthouse wedding is the perfect way to rejoice in their commitment to one another. There is no wrong or right when it comes to planning a wedding, but there are certainly some pros and cons to both conventional weddings and courthouse nuptials.


If money is of no consequence to you, then feel free to just skip this section. If you’re practically living paycheck to paycheck like the rest of us, it’s important to understand that weddings are expensive, really expensive. The average American wedding costs around $27,000 according to recent statistics. And this number doesn’t factor in a honeymoon.

If you live in a large metropolitan area, expect to pay even more. New York City weddings average just over $65,000, while Chicago nuptials average around $53,000. Plus, have you seen the stock market lately? A gloomy economic climate like this one can sometimes force couples to choose between a dream wedding or a down payment on a house.

If you simply can’t afford to drop the cash on a traditional wedding, a courthouse wedding may turn into one of the shrewdest financial decisions you’ve made in your life. And hey, a courthouse wedding doesn’t have to be the stepchild of nuptials. When properly planned, it can still be a creative and romantic event for you and your guests (if you choose to have any).

Friends and Family

A large traditional wedding allows you to spend time with all of your favorite people (and then some) at the same time. Some are willing to travel many miles just to celebrate your big event. That can be a pretty amazing feeling. And really, how often do most of us get to have a huge party thrown in our honor after age 21? Almost never.

That being said, there are certainly some disadvantages. Mingling your way through hoards of great aunts, distant cousins and old high school friends can be exhausting. A courthouse ceremony is a simple way to limit your guest list without hurting anyone’s feelings. You can celebrate one of the most important events of your life with only the people who really matter. You can take the time to have real conversations with the people you love and avoid all of that boring chitchat.

Divorce Rates

Considering the potentiality of divorce can be a total buzz kill. Most couples wholeheartedly believe that their love will supersede measly statistics. Unfortunately, divorce is practically an epidemic in the U.S. (and around the world). A little over half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. What does this have to do with the actual wedding day details, you ask? Well a lot – sort of.

Interestingly enough, the divorce rate for courthouse marriages is a lot higher than it is for traditional ceremonies. A whopping 80 percent of courthouse marriages end in divorce. That breaks down to four out of five couples. Okay, okay. Just because these two events happen to correlate, doesn’t mean the actual setting of your wedding increases your risk of divorce.

Higher divorce rates could be related to a number of other factors. Perhaps it’s a simple case of economics. Financial instability is a frequently cited reason for divorce. Or maybe courthouse weddings are more popular with individuals who have been previously divorced (which does in fact increase your chances of divorce). Or it could be the case that a traditional ceremony makes a marriage feel more permanent and meaningful.  Whatever the actual reasons may be, you might not want to find out.

{Guest Blogger} This guest post was written by Briana Davis on behalf of Lake Wissota Golf & Events, a popular destination for Eau Claire weddings. She writes tips, tutorials and more on the Lake Wissota Golf & Events Blog.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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