A Colorado City Hall Wedding

Complete with rocking fauxhawk

Cherie, Physical Therapist & Large, Education Administrator

Photographer: Harper Point

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: “I don’t know, a day of bliss? There was bliss.” — Large

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My partner and I are simple and budget-conscious. We bought a fixer-upper home recently, and felt that city hall would be a practical wedding for us. (Did you see what I did there?) I think I hoped the bureaucracy would dilute the pressure and romance, seeing as how this wasn’t the first wedding rodeo for either of us. City hall can be the WIC equivalent of a hair shirt gown and ashes blush, and feel free to self-flagellate with that bitty birdcage veil. (I’m not knocking the birdcage. I wanted one, but it didn’t complement the fauxhawk.) But I was sorely mistaken about the bureaucratic dilution factor. Despite my grim determination to have a low-key day, we couldn’t stop smiling. As it turned out, swearing in at a government counter was exhilarating, and ultimately I grasped that it’s more about the partner than the venue. Emotions for the win. I thought I’d just know how to make the Sexy Face at our amazing photographer. But I have resting bitchface and the truth is, I can’t do Sexy Face unless I’m seducing myself in the bathroom mirror. We fell out laughing instead of mastering the American Gothic photo trend—we look better smiling anyway. Tip: if you want the Sexy Face photos, practice. I drove myself a little nuts looking for a simple-but-special city hall dress. Bridal store consultants talked me into lovely poofy numbers I specifically did not want. Ironically, the perfect dress was already in my closet. I got it for a friend’s wedding, but never wore it because I felt it had too much white. If you’re going the casual route, you might want to check your closet first. We are de facto orphans, so I wanted to give our post-city hall walk a communal reception vibe. We rode a bus, visited favorite landmarks, and tossed a bouquet. I got the idea to throw flowers at strangers from a joke someone made here on APW—in fact, it’s the only reason I made a bouquet. I personally dislike the toss tradition, but it wasn’t about All the Single Ladies; we wanted to celebrate wedding conventions with folks around town. We met some awesome women, who totally went for the bouquet, for complete strangers. I was touched. We ordered Large’s wedding band from a disappointingly late etsy seller. (It didn’t arrive for another six weeks.) I wasn’t going to wear my band that day unless he had one too, arguing that it would make me feel like chattel. He protested, rightfully so: it wasn’t a sinister patriarchy plot that his ring was missing. So we used a leather strap for a stand-in. It encapsulated the day: off the cuff, happy. We’re legally married, but we still have the community celebration to organize: a mountain getaway for 20, with incidental handfasting. I picked up a wedding magazine the other day, and all I felt was relief—those voluble to-do lists just don’t apply. We’re not planning a wedding, just a weekend, and Costco will be our primary vendor. Our biggest concerns will be choosing the craft beer and renting a big enough home. I’ll probably get Type A about it (making individually knitted beer cozies so people can ID their drinks all weekend… I feel strongly about this) but city hall was a lesson for me. Bobby McFerrin was right.


Cherie: Being Type A, I believed that our wedding would be a legit bummer without painstaking Pinterestesque details and event planning. Plus, no one would want to come to our little Friday lunch, so the day would be intimate and calm. In actuality, it moved with a life of it’s own, from brewery lunch to billiards tourney to fancy dinner to lively bar. Folks rolled with us for 12 hours, yet not a single paper flower was folded. Your people love you, not the centerpieces.

Large: The courthouse. Playing pool and laughing with everyone. Dinner. We stayed in a hotel that night, so we had cable. In the morning, Cherie crawled over me looking for the remote so she could watch Sportscenter.


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  • KM

    ohmygod. that shot in the puddle reflection is GOLD.

    • Stephanie B.

      Right??? I was just coming here to say that!

      The photo with the orange leaves as the background is gorgeous…and then I got to the puddle picture. AMAZING.

    • MC

      Right?? Amaaaaazing. Can’t stop looking at it.

    • Alison O

      so many terrific photos!

  • Gina

    Fellow Coloradoan here– I love this! You both look so happy and comfortable. Craft beer was a big part of our wedding too. And I love your tattoo, your style… everything about this. Congrats!

  • BreckW

    So awesome, and I like how you talk about the wedding having a life of its own in a good way. Congrats!

  • I love that dress! And at first, just looking at the photos, I was thinking “what a cool wedding band for a guy! I love how rugged and flexible it is!”

    • Jess

      I thought the same thing… only I was like can I do this as MY wedding band?!?!?! And then I realized yes. Yes I can.

  • Sarabeth_n

    Awesome. Just wanted to let you know that we had a similar combo – city hall wedding plus weekend getaway celebration with about 25 folks, friends only (we did have our parents at city hall with us). I sometimes felt weird about the friends-only nature of our celebration, but it ended up awesome.

    • ferrous

      Thanks for the input! It’s good to know it works out. I deleted this paragraph from my essay, but in case anyone is reading who might not have parents at their celebration:
      “I worried that the lack of parental presence would be awkward, and tarnish some of the legitimacy of our new marriage. Later, I realized with a little jolt that I didn’t notice. Parents simply weren’t present, physically or emotionally, and all went well. The truth is, sometimes abuse and death just can’t be overcome, but love and friendship step up to the plate quite nicely.”

  • Emma Klues


  • KM

    “In the morning, Cherie crawled over me looking for the remote so she could watch Sportscenter.”

    This made me smile – our first morning as Marrieds was similarly true to real-life. And that felt so amazing, thinking of all the mornings to come.

  • MC

    “Your people love you, not the centerpieces.”
    That line will stick with me. Everything about this is so beautiful. And as much as I know we will love our ceremony and reception in the mountains, part of me is totally envious of the simplicity of a city hall wedding. They are maybe my favorite weddings to see on APW.

    • Emily

      This! I keep trying to tell my mother that if the most important thing is the flowers, we should really reconsider this marriage thing. I think she’ll come around…

  • Jessica

    This makes me so happy! Your smiles are infectious!

  • SJ

    These are flawless! You’ve got great legs and the two of you look incandescently happy! If that was the joke about chucking your bouquet at strangers….glad to assist! ;)

  • Molly

    I love this! My fiance and I are doing the courthouse thing too, in May. Reception next day, then hopefully taking a short trip somewhere nearby. I think it has helped me stay levelheaded about the reception knowing that we will be married the day before, in a super small ceremony just like we wanted. I get a bit stressed at times but I know that as long as we are married, that’s all that matters. This makes me so excited. I love your dress! This looks like so much fun, and I’m glad y’all had what looks like a lovely wedding day. :)

  • Jacki

    Oh gosh, I love everything about your wedding, and can’t stop smiling reading about it! Just perfect. Congratulations! :)

  • Jo

    So so so happy for you two, who just seem really NEAT and FUN and with your priorities in all the right places. I’m glad the emotions snuck up on you in all the right ways. And thanks to APW for teaching me over and over how meaningful and great (and right) elopements can be!

    • Jo

      Or, if I have that all wrong, and it’s not an elopement but a city hall wedding, then that is what I meant, and please forgive my ignorance!!

  • Alison O

    “I have resting bitchface”

    haha! i have new vocabulary to use in responding to people who ask me what’s wrong.

    • KC

      “You should smile more. You always look mad.” Thanks! So glad to know my face looks that bad when I’m focused or concentrating on my work. I’m a huge fan of “resting bitchface” and I’m stealing it!
      And happy to know I’m not the only one!

      • Alison O

        It’s definitely a widespread sexist thing, expecting/asking women to smile. I regret not giving the fishmonger who told me to smile a piece of my mind (/education) last summer. Cannot imagine him saying the same thing to my dad, or even my younger brother.

        But there are also people who just think I look really serious. I do. In fact, I am probably more serious than the average person. But, my seriousness is not necessarily correlated with my facial expression.

        But yeah, “oh no, thanks for your concern, that’s just my resting bitchface”, would be fun. Depending on how annoyed you are you can point our your active bitchface, too.

  • feelingfickle

    That fauxhawk deserves some serious applause. Y’all look stunning in the photos and I’m glad it was so special and meaningful!

  • StevenPortland

    So many great quotes: ” I have resting bitchface”, “Your people love you, not the centerpieces.” and “We stayed in a hotel that night, so we had cable” were the best! Lovely photos of a lovely day. Congrats!

  • vegankitchendiaries

    Your photos are amazing… no “dilution” here!

  • KC

    The photos are great, but I especially love the swearing-in photo-of-glee.

    And tossing your bouquet at strangers is just plain fantastic. :-)

  • Rachelle Reese

    Yay Denver!!! My car is in that parking garage at this moment and most likely was at the time of the picture, too :) Such a great tour of downtown – love the civic center and mall ride shots and the puddle is one of the best wedding pictures I’ve ever seen!
    As a side note, EVERYONE looks better smiling in my opinion!

    • stefanie

      Agreed on the yay Denver. Also love that the impromptu bouquet toss was in front of the Tattered Cover.

  • Jess

    So. Much. Joy. I can’t even explain how much I love this whole thing – how honest and awesome and happy it is. I love the song choice – fabulous.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Class of 1980

    Say “Yes” to the flowered wedding dress! You people are very cute.

  • EF

    this is wonderful! I’ve been wondering if I can pull off a wedding fauxhawk (which I wear sometimes; my fiance digs it too) and I’m just so happy to see someone else did it!! Also Cherie just sounds like she’d be so awesome to hang out with. Guinness and sportcenter?! Yes please!!

  • Em


  • js

    I strongly feel there should be a how-to post on individually knitted beer cozies coming up. This wedding is gorgeous! Congratulations to you both!

  • lady brett

    i love, love, love this. y’all are a great combination of adorable and badass. (plus, i was totally hoping when i saw the photo that that was in fact a bouquet toss to a group of strangers. wonderful.)

  • Claire

    I LOVE this! The shoes, the coat, the fabulous photographs (the reflection in the puddle made me gasp), all of it. But mostly, I love the laid back, bad ass, authentic vibe, the mix of calm and brilliant joy captured in both the photos and words. Just looking at it makes me happy.

  • ferrous

    Thanks for all the kudos! We would not have been able to put it all together without the good ideas of this community, so I give you props. You folks are awesome.

    In the spirit of the budget thread from a few weeks back, our budget is listed below, for those thinking of city hall. I think information-sharing is key, not gauche, where finances are concerned. You’ve got to talk about money in order to know what’s going on around you.

    TOTAL: about $2100
    Photographer: $1500–yes, almost 75% of the budget, I really wanted good pictures.
    License: $30 (no officiant is required in Colorado, you may self-marry… yourselves by signing the license).
    Dress: $110 White House Black Market.
    Suit: $200 Hugo Boss from Nordstrom Rack.
    Hair/makeup: $0, used my everyday look + eyeliner (by the way, don’t let anyone tell you that curly hair + round face MUST = long hair).
    Announcements: free via Paperless Post.
    Brewery lunch: surprise gift from a relative.
    Dinner: $150 for the two of us. I feel like an asshole for this, but people paid their own way, likely in lieu of gifts (we specified no gifts on the announcement). Also, it probably had a lot to do with the fact that the dinner was crashed, and the bill came to almost $1k. We’d planned a quiet dinner for two, but like I said above, the party just kept going, happily, regardless.
    Favors: about $150 for bottles of wine–we’re not complete etiquette heathens.
    Hotel: surprise gift from Large’s coworkers.

    Mountain handfast budget, two nights in the Rockies for 20 people
    Rental house: $1500–I want at least 8 bathrooms for everyone’s comfort, so it’s going to be pricey for a rental.
    Food: $1500-$2000 for two dinners and continental breakfasts (Costco to the rescue).
    Alcohol: I don’t know yet, but we’ll be using this: http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/01/calculate-alcohol-for-wedding/
    Knitted beer cozies: I’ll use scrap yarn, so it should be $0
    Clothing will be casual, $0 expected
    Hopeful total: $3500

  • Lib

    Cherie, you are hilarious (and gorgeous). I too have what you call “resting bitch-face” and that term is awesome.

  • what a gorgeous wedding, lovely photography!

  • HMC

    this article left me in a puddle of tears! the authenticity, joy, simplicity of it all. bravo for being you! this is awesome!