Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about planning your Beverly Hills Courthouse wedding.
1. What’s the wedding chapel at the Beverly Hills Courthouse like?
The wedding chapel at the Beverly Hills Courthouse is quite lovely, especially compared to most other courthouse chapels. It’s mostly white, and you’ll be married under a lovely flower archway surrounded by black and white vintage photos of historic and celebrity weddings at the courthouse. (NOTE: In true Hollywood fashion, the cake in the corner is a permanent prop, not a real wedding cake!)
There is ample room for your family and friends, too!
One of the best things about getting married at the Beverly Hills Courthouse is that the entire second floor where the wedding chapel is located is dedicated to weddings, so you won’t have to worry about bumping elbows with disgruntled people fighting their parking tickets, etc.
Depending on when you schedule your ceremony, you may be the only couple there, or on more crowded days, the second floor will be filled with happy couples and their family & friends, which makes for a really unique atmosphere full of laughter and joy, and great people watching, too.
And BTW, parking is easy. It’s $9 to park in the courthouse lot, but there’s usually free three-hour and two-hour street parking along Burton Way, and also free two-hour parking at the Beverly Hills Library around the corner.
2. What’s it like to have a wedding at the Beverly Hills Courthouse?
More romantic than you might think! The staff is super nice and they make every effort to make your wedding special. Each officiant has their own unique touch — some throw flower petals, others bring music for you to walk down the aisle to, and still others have special vows that they use. All of them care deeply that your ceremony is as meaningful and important as if you were having your wedding in a big fancy church or expensive venue.
The staff also makes sure never to rush you — part of the reason they ask you to check in half an hour prior to your ceremony is because they sometimes re-arrange the order in which couples are married to make sure that all of your guests are there. And after the ceremony, there is plenty of time for hugs and photos, too!
3. Can we personalize our ceremony?
Yes, you can. You can include music, a walk down the aisle, short readings, and many other traditions that reflect your unique personalities. Several couples that I’ve worked with have brought along photos of absent family members or pets who couldn’t attend the ceremony and displayed them during the ceremony. And of course, you can have your ceremony simple and focused on the vows, but that’s probably what you want anyway if you’re choosing a courthouse wedding!
4. Do we have to do our couples portraits at the courthouse?
There is a small park across the street from the Beverly Hills Courthouse that can be used for photographs in a pinch and if that’s all your budget allows for, we can definitely make it work — but it’s not ideal for a variety of technical reasons. Most of the locations around the courthouse (and throughout all of Beverly Hills) require a photography permit. So instead of photographing around the courthouse, I encourage couples to choose a location that’s particularly special to you and that’s a little more creative and interesting. There are lots of options, especially since we’re not constrained by the structure and formality of a big wedding day. We have the time and flexibility to get really creative with locations!
5. What do we wear for a courthouse wedding or elopement?
One of the best things about courthouse weddings, especially in Beverly Hills, is that you can wear pretty much anything you want to wear (within reason!).
For the bride, the most popular choice is a short or tea length white gown, but I’ve seen everything from full formal wedding gowns (complete with bridesmaids and groomsmen) to a casual white summer dress. And don’t forget the bouquet!
For grooms, a nice suit and tie is popular, but a tux or upscale casual is also appropriate.
6. Are there any other alternatives besides the courthouse if we want to keep our wedding or elopement very small?
Yes! You can book an independent wedding officiant and if there are only two of you and maybe a few family members or friends, you can have your wedding pretty much anywhere. Recently, I’ve photographed “guerrilla style” elopements at the Griffith Park Observatory, El Matador Beach and even in the couples’ living room!
An independent officiant is an ideal option if you’re coming in from out of town for a destination wedding. He or she can take care of all the paperwork in advance for you, so that all you have to do is show up at the appointed time and place and say “I do!”
7. Is it worth it to book a professional photographer for “just” a courthouse wedding or elopement?
Yes! Your wedding day is your wedding day, regardless of how big or small, and you’ll want beautiful memories of the day — not to mention that you’ll want professional photos that capture your day to share with family and friends who couldn’t be there for your ceremony.
I’ve also had several couples tell me that they were particularly glad they booked a professional photographer because having a photographer there made the day more special.
8. A friend of mine offered to do the photos. Since it’s just a courthouse wedding, that’s going to be okay, right?
That depends. Is your friend skilled in the posing, lighting, composition & retouch skills needed to make you look your best in your photos? Does he or she know how to get those “must have” photos time after time no matter what? Can your friend guarantee you’ll have a professional gallery and album that will stand the test of time? Are you going to be okay with asking a person that you care about to be an observer & worker at your wedding rather than being able to enjoy celebrating with you? What if the photos don’t turn out that good? (That’ll be awkward!)
Wedding photographer is a skill that requires years of practice to do well and the lighting at the Beverly Hills Courthouse can be particularly challenging for an amateur photographer.
9. How much does it cost to have our courthouse wedding or elopement photographed?
Often, budget is a major reason for choosing a courthouse wedding or elopement, so of course, price is an important consideration.
Courthouse weddings, probably more than any other kind of wedding, vary a lot in terms of how elaborate they are. The smallest courthouse weddings include just the couple, a short ceremony and some couples photos. The largest are full-day weddings with a full wedding party and reception, where the ceremony just happens to be at the courthouse. I can honestly say I’ve never photographed two courthouse weddings that are exactly alike!
Depending on how elaborate your wedding day plans are, courthouse wedding package pricing ranges from just a couple hundred dollars for a teeny tiny package all the way up to a full day wedding package. You can see some sample packages that have worked well for previous clients by clicking here.
The best way to figure out what works for you is for us to talk through the details of your plans and create a custom package that’s just right for you!
10. What does a courthouse or elopement wedding photography package include?
Courthouse wedding photography packages vary depending on your budget and the details of your day. All of them include coverage of your ceremony, of course, and couples portraits. In addition, because it’s important that you have high-quality heirloom-worthy memories of your day, all courthouse wedding packages include a gallery-quality signed and matted print for your wall or a small flushmount album in an archival case, so you can have a beautiful keepsake to enjoy and share with your family for generations to come.
From there, we can customize your package to fit your unique wedding plans. Some of the customization options include expanded couples portrait sessions at multiple locations, professional hair/makeup for the bride, getting ready or reception photos, a pre-wedding posing coaching session and more. Once we’ve talked through the details of your wedding plans, I’m happy to go over the options and make recommendations for what you might want to include, as well as show you samples of prints and albums.
11. Do you photograph elopements and courthouse weddings anywhere besides the Beverly Hills Courthouse?
Of course! When it comes to courthouse weddings, the Beverly Hills Courthouse is usually the first choice for couples, but there are lots of other beautiful options in the LA area for an intimate ceremony. I’m even happy to help you find just the right spot, if you don’t yet have one in mind.
12. Can we still get a beautiful wedding album even if we’re not doing a big traditional wedding?
Of course! Just because you’re planning a courthouse wedding or elopement doesn’t mean you can’t have a gorgeous wedding album to remember your day by. In fact, because you won’t blow your whole budget on venues and catering and all that stuff, you might even have a bit more license to indulge yourselves in a truly fabulous wedding album that you can enjoy and pass on to future generations. Whether your album budget is $50 or $500 or something in between, I can help you create a beautiful album that you’ll love. You can preview album styles & options here.
In addition, your album design proofs and revisions are included in your package, so all you have to do when we’re ready to order is pay for the printing.
Think you don’t need an album?
A study from Backblaze showed that only 50% of hard drives survive for more than six years. A CD or DVD often lasts only a year or two, and that’s assuming you don’t lose it before then. Digital technology is wonderful and it’s amazing to share photos online, but it’s beyond risky to keep your photos solely in digital space. (Ask anyone whose wedding video is on VHS…).
13. Are you available to photograph “regular sized” traditional weddings as well?
Planning a full-day wedding with invitations and favors and cake and dancing and all that good stuff? Sounds fabulous, but I’m not your photographer. 🙂 I do know some really amazing photographers who do traditional full day weddings. My favorite is Kate Breuer — check out her work, she’s terrific!
I’m proud to be the premier courthouse wedding photographer for LA and Beverly Hills. For more information on booking your courthouse wedding or elopement photography package, click here.