For some, a courthouse wedding may seem too low key, and for others it may sound like a dream (especially after months of wedding planning). But for those who aren’t quite sure about whether to go the civil ceremony route because they think it’s the bare minimum, think again!

Related: Planning a Courthouse Wedding? Here’s What You Need to Do

First of all, many couples elope to the courthouse for various reasons. Some couples want a small ceremony that’s more cost effective and casual and others just don’t see the need for months and months of planning. It’s intimate, cost effective, and low-key. But no matter what the reason is, it doesn’t mean the experience can’t feel like a wedding.

Groom embracing bride from behind as she smiles while they are on a bridge in downtown San Antonio, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Courthouse couples can do everything a traditional wedding couple would do: send out invitations, wear formal attire, have groomsmen and bridesmaids (witnesses are usually required anyway), and hold a reception afterward.

But even if you choose to have a courthouse wedding and forgo all of those traditional things, there is one thing you absolutely need to include. One thing that most traditional wedded couples save a portion of their budget for. And since you might not be spending big bucks on catering services, a DJ, and hundreds of wedding favors, you’ll likely have extra to spend on this very important thing.

Okay, okay, Nikk, what is it already??

A wedding photographer!

Bride and groom walking hand in hand on the sidewalk in downtown Austin during a congress hotel wedding. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

And I’m not just saying this because I am a photographer. Just do a little bit of research and you’ll see that in many cases brides who look back on their big wedding expenses have said that splurging on a photographer was one of the best decisions they made. And for those who decided to assign the job to their amateur photographer cousin? Well...regret.

You might be thinking, but it’s just an in-and-out moment - is there really a need for a professional?

Yes, absolutely! Because it’s still your big day and there are plenty of moments to capture: first looks, the ceremony, the exit, in and around the courthouse, the after party, etc. You may not be walking an aisle surrounded by hundreds of family and friends, but that doesn’t make your courthouse wedding any less important.

Couple spinning each other around in front of an old box office in Austin, texas during engagement photos. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

And you can get creative with your photos, whether it’s before, during, or after the ceremony. Get photos taken before the ceremony at a park or a favorite nearby spot. Make a grand exit in a rented sports car or limo. Get formal as well as fun shots with anyone you invite to the courthouse.  

Another reason you don’t want to have a courthouse wedding without a professional photographer is the fact that he or she can put a lot more focus on you and your partner.

A newly married couple after their elopement in San Antonio, Texas stand in front of a brick building. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Wedding photographers have a full plate of images to capture throughout the day, from family formals and couple shots to first dances and cake cuttings. It’s a go, go, go kind of day for everyone. But with a courthouse wedding there’s less of a rush and more time to capture the special moments.

The courthouse may not be a grand cathedral or decked out ballroom, but it’s just as Insta-worthy when you have the right photographer. More importantly, you’ll have quality photos of one of the most special days of your life, and that’s priceless.

Related: 7 Things You Should Tell Your Wedding Photographer

Looking for a wedding photographer? You're in luck, because I know one!

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