Hi! I’ve been away for far too long but if you follow me on Instagram (@natashaleeds) then you know it’s because I recently got married to my boyfriend, my best friend and my faithful partner of 10 years ♥ I gave myself away to him in marriage on our 10 year anniversary of being together on the 28th day of March, 2016.
Ever since announcing that we tied the knot, we’ve received so much kind, loving and congratulatory words and we both appreciate them all. I originally did not intend to write a blog post on our special day but instead just planned on sharing a few pictures and details on what I wore. But, most recently more and more people have been asking why I chose to get married at the courthouse. As such I’ve decided to share with you why I switched from having a traditional wedding to getting married at the courthouse.
Originally Manny and I were planning the big “PERFECT” wedding, with all the bridesmaids and groomsmen, a spectacular venue, a florist, caterers and a long guest list. I purchased wedding magazines, had meetings with a wedding planner and began the hunt for a one-of-a-kind wedding dress. After about 2 months into planning the wedding that I had dreamed of, it started to not feel like me anymore; it no longer felt like us! It began to consume me and I stopped looking at our wedding as a joyous occasion and began feeling overwhelmed and under pressure to please everyone…so I cancelled everything.
We live in a world where an extravagant wedding almost is a prerequisite for romance. From a young age we are groomed to hold details of our future wedding in high regard and as a result many brides and grooms follow a ‘go big or go home’ mentality when planning their wedding. I feel like we’ve been raised to think that we aren’t having a ‘real wedding’ unless you go the whole nine yards; have the ball gown, several bridesmaids, an ice sculpture, a three tiered cake, enough flowers to create a garden out of and thousand dollar designer heels. I however don’t think you need all that to have a beautiful and meaningful wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for living out your childhood fantasy of having the perfect, dream wedding but I don’t think going the traditional route is the only way to do it.
If you recall, Manny and I went on a little weekend getaway earlier this year at the Iberostar Grande Hotel and it was on this very relaxing stay where we gained good mental head space and decided to plan the perfect day for us. I knew then that I just wanted a short and simple ceremony with just our immediate family on a day where I would be able to spend my special day with him, skip all the hassle and just have a no-frills courthouse wedding. We realized that a big wedding wasn’t for us and over our weekend getaway we both gave careful consideration to what we both really wanted. We agreed on a courthouse wedding in Florida where he currently lives and the following weekend I told my parents and sister about our plans and he did the same with his grandparents and siblings.
“We were going small and simple and doing it at a courthouse but we most definitely weren’t going to be boring! I told everyone not to worry about stealing my show, just wear ALL WHITE!”
Sometimes without even realizing it, a magical moment happens in our lives and everything begins to slide right into place. Somewhere in the deepest part of my heart I knew I was in the right place, at the perfect time while standing next to the person I’m meant to be. Our courthouse wedding was that magical moment.
The moment Manny began repeating the very cliche phrases from the officiant, my eyes were filled with tears. I’ve been telling my girlfriends for years that Manny would be my husband one day and although I’ve dreamed of the day and envisioned what it may be like, not once did I think about the moment Manny would say aloud the words that we have all learned to associate with marriage. Hearing it from him made my heart melt, and although they were an obvious collection of phrases, somehow it all seemed significant and remarkably fresh as the words emerged from my fiance’s mouth.
When it was my turn, I was so moved I could barely speak—my lips quivered as I repeated the very same words back to him. All sorts of thoughts raced through my mind as I repeated the words and by the end I giggled and thought to myself how happy I felt for not having a huge audience. The only voices were mine, his and the officiants, while the room was filled with love everywhere; our love and the love from our family. The moment was magical. The moment was right!
“You may now kiss the bride…”
Frozen in time, I held my breathe. Manny leaned in and we shared our first newlywed kiss. A kiss that held so much more magic than any other kiss in my entire lifetime ♥
I’m glad we did things this way. A few people have since asked if I hold any regrets and want to know if I plan on having a big wedding a year from now. My answer is: ‘if I had to do it all over again I would do it exactly the same’. It meant so much to me that Manny and I were able to share our love quietly with our immediate family. I understand that a courthouse wedding isn’t for everyone but it’s also important for us to realize that a traditional wedding isn’t for everyone either. If you are thinking about tieing the knot at a courthouse, I hope these wonderful reasons help you decide.
- More intimate: Often times planning a big wedding with the very long guest list can get overwhelming, especially when you hope to please everyone on that long guest list. If you decide to tie the knot at the courthouse you can either invite two witnesses to be present on your special day or invite a small group of guests like immediate family members to help celebrate your beautiful day with you. Take it from me, it felt very special when gazing into each others eyes to say ‘I Do’ because it felt as if we were the only two people in the room. My husband is also quite shy so he never did like the idea of having 200 eyes staring at us on our big day. A smaller wedding means you don’t have to think about the 200 guests who will watch you share your first kiss, say your vows, or have the first dance.
- Less Stress: Okay, Okay! I’ll admit it…planning a wedding can sometimes be pretty exciting. But all that excitement sometimes diminishes because of how stressful things can also get. For me, the guest list nearly drove me insane. I spent my nights trying to figure out who to invite, who can I leave out and where to sit my crazy family members who aren’t the easiest to get along with. I spent so much time worrying about whose feelings would be hurt if they didn’t get invited that it caused me to lose focus on what my wedding was really about; Manny and I sharing a union together. At the courthouse you save yourself the sleepless nights by not stressing about catering to a venue packed with a few hundred of your closest friends and family. There is no worrying about seating charts, table cards, wedding favors etc. The only thing there really is to do, is for both you and your partner to show up!
- Budget Friendly: I think this is perhaps one of the main reasons for a courthouse wedding ceremony. [Fun Fact: the average cost of a traditional wedding is roughly USD$30,000. Crazy I know! But hey, a courthouse wedding will run you anywhere between $35 to $80 depending on which state you’re in]. By getting married at the courthouse you will be able to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Plus, think about all the other places you and your partner could spend that money to get your marriage started on the right financial footing.
- No Time Restraints: When Manny and I first started planning our extravagant, traditional wedding one of the first things our wedding planner went over with us was a ‘Schedule’ that laid out exactly what to expect on the day of our wedding and the allotted times for each ‘activity’. I honestly felt like I was back in school all over again. My mind went in overdrive just listening to her tell me how much time we had at the venue, how much time we had for photos, how much time we had to eat and for our guests to eat, how long for speeches, etc. It was too much and felt way too planned for me. When you get married at a courthouse as long as you arrive before the marriage department closes you’ll be perfectly fine. You’re in and in no time you’re out and then you are completely free to do as you please.
- Focus on What’s Important (LOVE) – Yes, the fancy place cards and centerpieces taking center stage are nice, and table tops adorned with flowers are too, and lets not forget how awesome getting a top DJ is. BUT!!! Instead of focusing on getting the best DJ so your guests can dance up a storm all night or having a three tiered cake adorned with edible rhinestones, if you get married at a courthouse all those things become irrelevant and your love becomes your primary focus. Plus, your photographer will now be able to spend more time capturing photos of you and your new spouse. The focus will be on the new union between you and your other half and that’s what is most important.
Often times we hear the words ‘courthouse wedding’ and immediately assume someone has eloped. It does not just signify that a couple is eloping when they take the courthouse route but it is also for those who want something less stressful and more intimate. I love weddings and enjoy attending the very extravagant ones too but I’ve realized that I’m simply not the big wedding type of gal. I didn’t choose a courthouse because it was a quick and easy way to get married, but instead I did it this way because it was a more intimate, stress free and budget friendly way to rejoice in our commitment to one another.
So if and when you are thinking about getting married don’t just think doing it ‘BIG’ is the only way to go. Always remember that there are other options available too. If you do hope to get married at the courthouse stay proud of your decisions and make sure it is something that both you and your fiance agrees on. Remember not to get too caught up in the details or making sure that everything is perfect. As long as the love you have for each other is there, whether you get married at a mansion or at the courthouse you’re big day will be special no matter what!
Enjoy a few pics from the day of our wedding. Nuff Love, Talk Soon. Natasha ♥
[My dress is from HouseOfCB: more details to come…]