Mary Beth + Peter called me just a few days ahead of their Wednesday wedding at the courthouse to see if I would be available that day. I made sure the hubby could pick up my 4-year-old from preschool that day and we were all set! Peter is from across the pond, and I didn’t get the to hear the story of how they met or their love story, but I got the impression that it is a doozy! They got their wedding bands from my good friends Kari & Andrea at Champaign Jewelers (shameless plug — they were on my podcast last week!), so I had to snap a photo of their ring boxes. It was a love-filled, emotionally charged hour spent at the courthouse, and I am so happy these two found each other and that I was there to witness their union. Congrats, Mary Beth + Peter!!
If you ever have a chance to attend a wedding at the courthouse, DO IT! To me, they invoke so many emotions -- romance, intimacy, candidness, humility, love... to name a few. They are almost always relaxed, heartfelt, emotional, and unfussy. Annie + Collin's weekday wedding story was all of these things and more. I will say yes to courthouse weddings 100x over and love it every single time. Often times I find myself tearful, and I typically have just met these two people!! I'm definitely looking forward to the next one in September. <3
Now, as far as logistics go... I have found that people sometimes have trouble getting info about weddings at the Champaign County Courthouse (though this link contains most of the info you need), so I thought I'd share what else I know. :)
1) Be sure to get your marriage license at least a day ahead of the day you plan to get married. You will get that from the Brookens Center in Urbana in the County Clerk's office (there is a fee involved and if I remember correctly you have to use cash or check).
2) At 11:30am the day of your wedding, you can enter the courthouse and proceed to the 2nd floor law library to pay the $10 fee (cash) and present your marriage license and IDs.
3) Do NOT bring your cell phone into the courthouse or they will make you take it back to your car. There are lockers across the street for rent at the sheriff's office as well.
4) Cameras are permitted for weddings only, and video is allowed. I have seen iPads brought in before to Skype/FaceTime family members, but I believe you need special permission for that.
5) You will have to go through a metal detector and empty all your pockets/remove belts, etc. I generally wear minimal jewelry and empty my pockets in my car before entering just to make things easier.
6) Weddings are called in before the judge in random order so you will wait until you are called. I use that time to do portraits of the couple in the hallways and group photos with friends and family.
7) Once the ceremony is over, we typically have a few minutes for more pictures outside the courthouse (My courthouse collection lasts for an hour from 11:30-12:30). It's a rounded out time spent together, and at the end of it you get a gallery of all the edited images from me (usually around 100-150 images). I've had some couples who've added an extra hour for portrait time at an alternate location, so that's always an option. The initial hour with digital images (downloaded jpegs) is $300.
To schedule your own wedding photography at the Champaign County Courthouse, shoot me a message and let's chat! You can also text or call me at 217-737-0971.
Spending my lunch hour at the courthouse with a sweet couple is always one of my favorite things to do! Lucy + Kenton actually were my first true elopement I've photographed at the courthouse. They hadn't told a soul besides me that they were going that day to get married. It was so fun to learn that little tidbit and be in on the secret for a few hours until they went and told their families. We spent the first part of the hour doing a few photos around the inside of the courthouse while waiting to be called into the courtroom by the bailiff. The ceremony, as always, was short and sweet, and I always love the intimacy of it. The judge gives me free reign to move about the courtroom as I like, which gives me great angles on each person's face and expressions. Following the official business, we went back downstairs and did a quick photo with the county seal. Then the rest of the hour we spent around the outside of the Champaign County Courthouse, which is a beautiful reddish-orange brick structure with lots of cool nooks and crannies and a decent amount of midday shade. At my most recent courthouse weddings, I've had each couple do a sort of "first dance" in front of the building which has become one of my new favorite things! It's a nice way to kind of cap off our time together! Congrats, Lucy + Kenton!