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Our Austin Courthouse Wedding (& Everything You Need To Know!)

June 09, 2024

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Austin Courthouse Wedding

Paige Vaughn Photography

We just got married at the Travis Courthouse in downtown Austin last week and as a very stressed out bride doing this for the first time, I wanted to share our experience! Especially since the downtown courthouse has changed and I couldn’t find any updated information on the internet.

 


To celebrate Pride Month and the ninth anniversary of Marriage Equality, the Travis County Clerk’s Office and Judges will offer free wedding ceremonies starting June 22, through the end of the month. This year’s celebration has expanded, following the success of last year’s inaugural one-day event.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges affirmed the national right to same-sex marriage. On that historic day, the Travis County Clerk’s office, led by then-County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, issued 312 formal and 113 informal marriage licenses to both different-sex and same-sex couples. Earlier that same year, the Travis County Clerk’s Office issued Texas’s first marriage license to a same-sex couple.

How to Participate:

Couples wishing to marry during the County’s Marriage Equality Week Celebration must schedule an appointment via a form on the County Clerk’s website. They must also obtain a marriage license from the Travis County Clerk’s office in advance to comply with the 72-hour waiting period requirement.

 

Ceremony Details:

  • Dates: Saturday, June 22; Monday, June 24; Wednesday, June 26; and Friday, June 28
  • Location: Various
  • Times: Various

 

Participating Judges include Hon. Selena Alvarenga, Hon. Andy Brown, Hon. Nicholas Chu, Hon. Laurie Eiserloh, Hon. Bianca Garcia, and Hon. Denise Hernández.

For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit the Travis County Clerk’s website.


 

Travis County Austin Courthouse Wedding

To give you context, we are still planning two weddings later this year – friends and family celebration at Cactus Moon in Dripping Springs in the fall and a small intimate celebration (20 people) in potentially Joshua Tree. However, we decided to make it legal now at the courthouse so we could get the process started!

I will share with you that I have been very shocked by how much weddings cost. The average wedding in Austin is around $60,000 – depending on how big your party is. We’re spending around $30,000 for 100 guests – if you want to see my breakdown, feel free to email me at jane@atasteofkoko.com or check out my wedding resources here. I’ve created several resources for brides to be! I did not use a wedding planner for Austin and did everything on my own.

I did interview several wedding planners and here’s what I learned:

  • average wedding planning fee is a base of $10,000, plus 10% of other vendor fees
  • you should plan for $1000 per wedding guest
  • a few wedding planners told me they plan $300,000 weddings!

Soooo I definitely felt out of budget and was uncomfortable with how each of them were pushing their preferred vendor list and weren’t respecting what we actually wanted and how much we wanted to spend. I did create a list of wedding vendors so I could see how much everyone costs, and will be opting for a month of coordinator. Here is the list of types of wedding vendors:

  • wedding venue
  • furniture
  • florist
  • table scapes
  • bartender
  • alcohol
  • photographer
  • videographer
  • wedding planner / wedding coordinator
  • music
  • hair & makeup

 

Austin Courthouse Wedding Cost

Now diving into what’s the process of getting married at the courthouse in Austin! It only costs $280 – only $280!!! Having done this, I can see why this is a popular option. Hire a photographer to document this intimate ceremony, and celebrate with friends and family at a restaurant afterwards. Here’s the process:

 

Obtain Your Marriage License

You’ll need to obtain a marriage license from the Travis County Clerk’s Office (5501 Airport Boulevard, Austin, TX 78751.). You can start the application process online and then schedule an appointment to finalize your paperwork in person. Both of you need to bring valid identification (drivers license, birth certificate or passports) and $80. You are both required to be present at the courthouse and they do ask you if you’ve been married before.

Important:

  • do not overlook, the marriage license is only valid for 90 days, if it expires you will need to apply for a new one.

Requirements:

  • Complete a marriage license application;
  • Both parties appear together at the county clerk’s office located at 5501 Airport Boulevard, Austin, TX 78751 once an appointment is scheduled;
  • Provide a proof of identity using documents approved by state law, see list here
  • Not be divorced within the last 30 days (or provide a waiver);
  • Not presently married to someone other than the other applicant;
  • Not related to the other applicant;
  • Be 18 years or older to obtain a marriage license. Effective September 1, 2017, Texas Family Code 2.003 states, A person under the age of 18 years of age may not marry unless the person has been granted by this state or another state a court order removing the disabilities of minority of the person for general purposes.

Fee(s):

  • $80.00 license fee (can be paid with credit card) or if you and your partner complete the Texas Twogether Program, it’s only $21!

 

Travis County Austin Courthouse Wedding

Choose Your Ceremony Date, Time, and Judge:

Once you have your marriage license in hand, it’s time to schedule your courthouse wedding ceremony! There are courthouses all around Austin but I really wanted the Travis County Courthouse in downtown Austin in precinct 5 on Guadalupe Street. Here is the full list of Travis County judges who can perform marriage ceremonies. Judge Wong apparently is the most popular and the crowd favorite. Another popular option is downtown Georgetown and the historic Williamson County Courthouse (you can rent it for a small fee).

The Travis County Courthouse offers ceremonies by appointment, typically on weekdays during business hours. Plan ahead to secure your preferred date and time.

The email we received from Judge Wong’s assistant:

Availability Monday through Thursday, typically between 10:00-11:45 a.m. and 03:00-04:00 p.m. and Friday’s, between 09:30-11:45 a.m. The charge for a weekday starts at $200, which must be paid in exact change, but not until services are rendered the day of. For a weekend wedding, they start at $400, in exact change, and must be paid the Thur. or Fri. prior to the weekend date. Weekend weddings are performed outside the Courthouse. Guests and/or a photographer is up to. Weddings are held at the Civil and Family Courts Facility, located on 1700 Guadalupe St., Courtroom 7C or 7D, Austin, TX.

 

Jane Ko and Josh Campbell

Hire a Professional Photographer:

Invest in a professional photographer who specializes in intimate weddings and elopements. Look for someone whose style resonates with you and whose portfolio showcases their ability to capture candid moments and genuine emotions. We love Paige of Paige Vaughn Photography‘s style and she has a very relaxed but attentive personality – she made both Josh and I very comfortable during the shoot. She also shoots full scale weddings and destination weddings.

Paige is generously offering 20% off her photography for 2024 when you mention KOKO!

 

Austin Civil and Family Courts Facility

Giselle wedding cape from Jenny Yoo

Where to take photos

I still love the historic look of the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Court House (1000 Guadalupe St) so Paige recommended for us to meet with her an hour early and shoot photos here before heading over to the Civil and Family Courts Facility (1700 Guadalupe St., Courtroom 7C or 7D). We did still take photos inside of the Civil and Family Courts Facility but it’s a different look! Photo above taken on the stairs inside.

Other nearby spots:

  • The Texas State Capitol
  • South Congress
  • Republic Park

 

Prepare for Your Courthouse Wedding:

On the big day, arrive at the courthouse with your partner and any necessary witnesses. Dress to impress, but keep in mind that courthouse weddings are generally more casual affairs. You’ll want to arrive a bit early to check in and complete any final paperwork.

  • cash (since we picked a weekday, it was $200 in cash)
  • marriage certificate (we actually forgot ours at home and had to turn back)
  • steam/iron your outfits
  • flowers (I made my own from Trader Joe’s for only $30!)

 

Jane Ko and Josh Campbell and Judge Wong at Travis County Civil and Family Courts Facility

Travis Civil and Family Courts Facility Experience

Wow – that was our first impression and thank goodness for A/C. Because we were taking photos at Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Court House, we were sweating. The new Travis Civil and Family Courts Facility is stunning. You do have to go through security but they do allow photography equipment through. Our ceremony took place on the 7th floor, $200 cash, and it was about 30 minutes. Judge Wong read us vows and officiated us! He was so sweet and kind.

Then we went down to the 4th floor to submit our marriage license and get it stamped (convenient so we didn’t have to go back to the Travis County Clerk’s Office). We also purchased additional copies ($6 each).

 

engagement ring

engagement ring from Roen

Where To Celebrate Afterwards

We were starving afterwards so we had lunch with our friend at Gina’s On Congress. It’s slim pickings for nicer restaurants in downtown Austin during lunch. This was our first time to Gina’s and we were super impressed and it was the PERFECT spot to celebrate our special day. The staff was super sweet and when they found out we just got married, they wrote us a note and send over glasses of bubbles.

The steak tartare was absolutely delicious. Our friend had the Lardo Salad (I had a bite and it was so good). Josh had the Big Salad with tuna conserva and I had the Conchiglie Pasta with pork sausage and broccoli rabe with a side of shoestring fries and it was soooo good.

For dinner late that evening, we celebrate at the new Prélude, a cocktail and canapé lounge by Chef Matt Peters. The space is stunning and the cocktails and canapes were delicious. The perfect way to end our special day!

Jane Ko and Josh Campbell

WRITTEN BY:

Jane Ko is the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin's top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. Jane has been a speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW), Texas Conference for Women, BlogHer, and more on entrepreneurship and social media. She lives in Austin Texas with her dog and cat.

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