If you're considering eloping at a courthouse in Los Angeles and don't know where to begin, then this is the right place for you!
Why eloping at a courthouse in Los Angeles might be the perfect option for you...
I think a common misconception about eloping at the courthouse is that it's not special. But that couldn't be more wrong. Let me tell you why.
At the heart of it, getting married isn't about what flowers you're holding, what designer dress you're wearing, or whatever meal you serve to guests. It's not about meeting everyone else's needs or making sure you invite that one girl who's the daughter of your parents' friend (because you barely know her and why does that matter anyways?). It's not about anything material or temporary. It's about love. The love between you and your partner and the union of families. It's about the commitment you and your life partner are about to make to the world, proving that you are dedicating your lives to each other and no one else. It's about the statement you're going to make to each other, which is, "I'm choosing you for life." You're most likely engaged for a reason. You probably understand exactly what I'm saying, because you don't just get married for no reason. You and your partner fully understand what marriage means and why it's significant to you.
This beautiful, meaningful commitment means everything. And all the frills of a wedding mean nothing.
With that being said, courthouse weddings are just as important as any other wedding ceremony. Evan, my husband, and I eloped at the Santa Ana courthouse of July in 2021. It was never our original plan, but over the span of four months, I found myself deep into planning a small wedding I never wanted (I wanted to elope originally) and it was too much for me. I'm incredibly simple, never really cared for materialistic things or a large wedding ever- Evan's the same way. So we came to decision to elope at the courthouse, and let me tell you- it was THE BEST decision we ever made during our engagement. We got married on a Wednesday afternoon, 7/14/21, and then got Korean BBQ with our family for lunch. It was the only decision we made for ourselves up until that point and we had the best time. I can go on about our experience, but I wrote a different blog about my experience here if you're interested!
I'd encourage you and your partner to really consider this as an option if you're kind of over the whole "wedding planning" thing right now. You can even elope, then plan a bigger reception for when you feel safe to do so (pandemic restrictions can be all over the place), have the money, or have the time when you're ready. Planning a wedding is HARD when you haven't been preparing for it your whole life. You're most likely not a wedding planner- that's why there's pros out there- so it can be a lot for just one or two people to handle.
I'm here to walk you through this incredibly easy process, because I wish I had known this was the best option for me from the start, and I also want to make sure you get the best experience possible. I'm a Los Angeles wedding and elopement photographer, and I pour so much into my clients because I genuinely care!
Before we get started, I want you to think about 10 years from now, when you're telling your kids the story of how you got married, showing them photos from that day and sharing you felt. What memories do you want to hold onto? What feelings do you want to associate with the moment you got married? Do "relaxed," "present," "joyful" come up? Do you want to be able to look back on beautiful photos that captured those exact feelings 10 years from now? Do you picture those emotions and memories happening with a big wedding, or a simple courthouse wedding? These are important questions to be asking yourself as you navigate your engagement. As a photographer, I understand the importance of good, emotive photos. These photos aren't for you today, they're for you in 10, 20, 30 years from now. Whichever you choose to do, be intentional and think about the big picture. How you get married does and doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because love should be at the heart of it and nothing else, but it does matter because it should reflect who you are as a couple.
Here are the few simple steps you need to take to get married at a courthouse in Los Angeles County!
There are technically only two things you need to have to get legally married: a marriage license and a civil ceremony. A public marriage license in Los Angeles cost $91 and once you receive it, you have 90 days to get married. You can easily apply for it online here, and then you schedule an appointment to pick it up in person. You're going to need info for both you and your partner, as well as both of your parents/guardians. This step is essential for everyone, regardless of how they're getting married. From here, you have the option to either make your in-person appointment to pick up just your marriage license, or you may also schedule a civil ceremony at the same time.
This part can be a little tricky- appointments can only be made up to 2 weeks in advance, and availability isn't always open. Appointments are limited to weekdays during office hours. So expect to schedule your appointment during the day! Once you fill out all of your information for your marriage license application, you'll have the option to schedule a civil ceremony for an additional $35. If there is no availability for the next two weeks, you can just save your confirmation number and check back here.
Here are the available courthouses that you can get married at in Los Angeles County:
-Norwalk: 12400 Imperial Hwy, Norwalk, CA 90650
-Lancaster: 44509 16th St W Suite 101, Lancaster, CA 93534
-Van Nuys: 14340 Sylvan St, Van Nuys, CA 91401
-LAX Courthouse: 11701 S La Cienega Blvd 6th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Once you choose a location, book your appointment and save the confirmation so you don't lose it!
3. Bring a witness to your appointment.
Along with your identification and payment, you'll need to bring a witness. This may be a family member, a close friend, or even a photographer! They need to be comfortable signing as your witness. This is a significant role so definitely think about who you want to stand by your side as you get legally married.
Courthouse weddings, like any other weddings, are only as special if you make it special. Book a photographer who's style you love, and someone you know you'll vibe with. I'm currently booking courthouse elopements in LA and surrounding areas! If you have any questions about the process or my own experience, just fill out my contact form and I'll get back to you pretty much immediately! Looking forward to meeting with you!