In the urban downtown city of Durham, N.C. lies a special treasure. It’s not the fluff and frill of your normal wedding venues in Durham. It is a wedding venue so perfect that it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and doesn’t come with stress of other wedding venues. It is the Durham County Courthouse.
It is the best wedding venue alternative in Durham, N.C. and in my opinion there is nothing more simple and fun then getting married at the courthouse so you can have a stress-free wedding day.
The Durham County Courthouse It is fun, romantic, and adventurous to elope at plus it has some great places surrounding the venue to have a simple reception.
I love taking photos of weddings all over Durham but I never feel as inspired as I do when I work with couples who put the importance of the day over the venue.
The Durham County Courthouse isn’t the wedding venue that’s for “traditional” couples. It’s for couples who believe that your connection with each other is more important than a lavish reception. It’s for couples who enjoy the simple things in life. It’s for weddings that are different and hopefully you fall in love with surprising wedding venue as much as I have.
10 Steps To Getting Married at the Durham County Courthouse
Choose a time and date
June, September and October are by far the busiest months in Durham because the weather is perfect and there’s still lots of daylight. May, July and August are also great months to getting married. In May nature is a lush green and flowers are in bloom. In July and August there’s lots of beautiful light. But since your courthouse wedding will be…in the Durham Courthouse you could also just get married in Winter too! It’s your special day so you should do what feels right.
I highly recommend a weekday when the courthouse is less crowded. In my experience, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the least crowed days. Whatever you do, try to plan on photos as early as possible in the day so you feel your best, look your best and have great light. I know it can be hard to plan around your wedding day (even when it’s a simple one) but because it’s one of the most special days in the world, don’t you want the pictures to capture that!?
Choose a photographer
Wedding photographers are usually the first vendor you’ll contact after you decide to get married at the courthouse. If the wedding photographer you love already has the date taken then you might not get the photos that you want from your courthouse wedding day so try to lock down a photographer asap. If simple, emotional, gorgeous, one of a kind photos are important to you (and I’m guessing they are since you’re looking into getting married at the Durham County Courthouse) then getting in contact with a photographer first thing might be a good idea. Plus, if they’re experienced then they can probably help you with your day-of planning timeline, the best locations, and all those little details that add up to a lovely day for you and your partner.
Plan the rest of the day
Getting married at the courthouse is only part of your wedding day. You’ll want to think about have lunch, dinner or drinks afterwards at Tobacco Road, American Tobacco Campus, The Durham, Bar Virgil or Alley 26. These are really close to the courthouse and you can even walk there if you like!
Also, think about doing a morning run or yoga with your partner to start your day off stress-free and positive. Then consider having a pre-wedding latte at Cocoa Cinnamon, Parker and Otis or Loaf in downtown Durham.
Another great wedding day activity is a hike at the Eno River, a stroll through Duke Gardens or a bike ride through downtown. Whatever you decide try to plan out your whole day so you won’t be worried or stressed on the day of.
Apply for a marriage license
Click here to apply. At the very top you’ll see the application form link that takes you to: http://rodweb.co.durham.nc.us/Marriage/MarriageApplication.aspx?type=PUBLIC&lang=ENU
The total ends up being $60 and the courthouse staff are very helpful. The Durham County Courthouse helps out by stating “In an effort to increase our processing time, and ensure accuracy of your records, we strongly suggest completing your marriage license application online and submitting prior to visiting our office”. This just means make sure you apply for your marriage license in plenty of time for your wedding day. Once you have your marriage license it is good for 60 days from the issue date.
Get an officiant (or a friend, or family member, or whoever)
In Durham we pride ourselves on being unique so they allow anyone to officiate weddings! It doesn’t matter whether they’re ordained or not so a friend, a family member or anyone you trust, could officicate your courthouse wedding!
In North Carolina, you do have to have a couple of witnesses so make sure you bring a couple of your closest family members or friends with you.
If you don’t have a friend or family member that can be your officiant then I recommend Jameela Dallis (919) 907-0718 or tell your bestie to get ordained here: https://www.oministry.com/ordained-marriage-laws/north-carolina
Make your travel plans
You will most likely be traveling to some exotic or adventurous location after your wedding at the courthouse so you’ll want to go ahead and choose a location and book a flight. This is lots of fun and super exciting!
Raleigh-Durham International Airport has lots of non-stop destination flights that are perfect for honey moons or a simple weekend getaway after your wedding day.
Some of my favorites places to fly from RDU are Cancun, Denver, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Punta Cana, San Juan, Seattle, or Toronto. Where ever you choose to honeymoon after your courthouse wedding just know it’s only a 15 minute drive from the courthouse down 147 South to I-40 West then take exit 284B then follow the signs.
Here’s a link to some of my favorite direct flights out of RDU Airport: https://www.rdu.com/airline-information/airline-destinations
Get a dress, suit, flowers and hair & make up
For hair Missy at Posh The Salon 919-683-2109 / www.poshthesalon.com
For make up April Kensington at Be Pure Beauty 866-535-8715 / www.bepurebeauty.com
This is the fun part. This is where it all comes together is a beautiful day of celebration. It’s as simple as that!
Send wedding announcements
As soon as you get your wedding photos back from your photographer you should let the world know you got married. I’m sure you already did this through Facebook and Instagram but you’ll want to send out formal announcements with the beautiful photos from your wedding day. Since you eloped at the courthouse, your family and friends didn’t get a chance to congratulate you so announcements are a great opportunity to subtly ask for gifts and give them your mailing address.
Enjoy the rest of your lives together
Isn’t this why you wanted to get married in the first place? You are committed, in love, and now you get to show the world that!
Click the button below to see more Durham Courthouse Marriage photos.