The first time I got married it was in the courthouse in Reno, Nevada. Although that marriage didn’t last, my fascination and love with the civil ceremony was here to stay. I adore courthouse weddings. Having shot so many big weddings during my first five years as a “wedding photographer,” I got to enjoy some really great parties, and I witnessed some amazingly touching ceremonies. I had a blast at each one of them, but they were long days for sure. And there are so many people! I always asked for a spotter, appointed by the bride, to point out close relatives, relatives/friends who had come from out of town, etc., so that I could get extra photos of them.
But at courthouse weddings it’s often just the couple getting married, along with a couple of witnesses. Sophia & Gerard were the exception; they had a relatively large group there to support them, and it was awesome! You could see that everyone was special to them; every one of them mattered. Those are the kind of people you populate your wedding with: people who matter. That way when you’re looking through your wedding album 40 years from now, you’ll recognize every face, and have a funny or sweet story to tell about every single person who was there to watch you get married.
Courthouse weddings are terribly sweet and romantic, whether they’re in beautiful old courthouses like this one in Santa Ana, or even the mid-century, steel & glass buildings like the one in Norwalk. At that location, a wedding is a really big deal. People who are waiting in line for a court date or to pay some parking tickets all stop what they’re doing and wave and smile when they see a bride walk past. Everyone yells “congratulations!!” and for just a few minutes, everyone there feels a little better about the world and a little more hopeful about themselves.
I know that most of you know I’m not able to shoot big weddings anymore because of the injuries I sustained to my back while lugging all that gear around (not to mention jumping around and laying on the ground and standing on chairs, etc. etc.), but I think I’ll always make time for courthouse weddings. In professional terms, they are the love of my life.