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Our $1.5K Quaint Houston Courthouse Elopement

Covid canceled our destination wedding and so we eloped!

Telyssa, Oncology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
+ Jordan, Pediatric Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: An intimate celebration of a longstanding love that defies all odds.
Planned Budget: $1,500
Actual Budget: $1,800
Number of Guests: 3
Location: Herbert W. Gee Municipal Courthouse,
Houston, TX
Photographer: Stephanie Rogers

Where we allocated the most funds: Our amazing photographer, Stephanie Rogers! Photos have always been such a special part of our relationship—from taking engagement photos in Paris to selfies with our pups, we love capturing our love and lives together to remind us of the wonderful experiences we’ve had over the past 16 years.

Thanks to COVID, this was an originally unplanned elopement. We had planned to have our wedding in the Dominican Republic, but had to postpone our international celebration last minute. We knew we didn’t want to wait any longer to be legally married, so we decided we would elope at the courthouse instead. With our big celebration to come, we knew we wanted to keep the elopement intimate.

To make the elopement special, I wanted to surprise Jordan by booking a professional photographer to help create memories we could look back on for years to come. Our original photographer was quarantined in Ireland and unable to capture this event, but we are so grateful she recommended Stephanie. Seeing the look of surprise and pure joy on Jordan’s face when she realized what I had done was absolutely priceless! We loved working with Stephanie and Bradley and our photos couldn’t have been more perfect.

Where we allocated the least funds: We spent next to nothing on the venue itself and had the “reception” at a local restaurant that even provided us with a free bottle of celebratory champagne! One of the benefits of quarantine and having your wedding on a Monday afternoon was practically having the restaurant to ourselves. Because we still plan to have a large celebration when it is safe to do so, we didn’t feel the need to spend a fortune on a local venue.

What was totally worth it: Skipping the traditional wedding cake and opting for gorgeous (and delicious) pride themed macarons from La Sicilia instead! Not only were these fun to eat, but we had a blast using them as props in our photo session!

What was totally not worth it: Nothing! This day was everything we wanted it to be and more. Although it was not what we had originally planned, everything came together to make it perfect in its own way. The minimalistic approach to the day allowed the focus to be on the real reason we wanted to be married, which is to declare our love for each other and have our union officially recognized. In that moment standing in the courthouse, holding each other’s hands and reciting our vows, nothing else mattered—not the dress, not the venue, not the décor, just us.

A few things that helped us along the way: Pinterest! We used Pinterest to search for a ton of cute elopement ideas, outfits for non-traditional, non-formal weddings, etc. We also spent a lot of time sitting down together to discuss what we really wanted from the day and what we felt like were MUSTs to make this day meaningful to us.

My best practical advice for my planning self: Don’t panic! We had not planned on a courthouse elopement. We had a wedding planner when designing our dream destination wedding that helped us with everything from venue accommodations to centerpieces. When the pandemic and quarantine caused us to postpone our original celebration, we had to practically start over.

We wanted this day to be uniquely special in its own right. We waited a long time to get legally married and we did not want it to be an afterthought. Even though we didn’t have much time to plan our courthouse rendezvous, the best thing we did was stay calm, made our list, and kept the focus on our love.

Favorite thing about the wedding: The judge who presided over the ceremony was amazing. We had no idea who would be performing our nuptials. Would it be someone who advocated for gay marriage? Would it be sentimental?

Lucky for us, the judge was enthusiastic, sincere, and engaging. Even though we only met her five minutes beforehand, she delivered the reading of the vows in a way that felt like she had known us for years. She also took the time to see which pronouns we preferred and how we wanted to be addressed (spouses versus wives) which made us feel instantly at ease.

Anything else: Don’t stress over your guest list! Social distancing and infection control regulations at the county courthouse only permitted two guests per person. It would have been easy to stress about who to invite, trying to avoid hurt feelings, but at the end of the day, it is about the two of you and your commitment of love. Don’t get caught up in the event of the wedding itself, but rather focus on how amazing it is to commit yourself to the person you love!

The Details: Jordan had her wedding dress purchased and ready to go for the destination wedding we had originally planned, but when we were forced to postpone that ceremony, she knew she wanted a different dress for this event. We didn’t really have much of a budget for this ceremony since we had already budgeted it all for the destination wedding so we wanted to keep things as affordable as possible. She browsed online and while running errands one day, we decided to pop into a David’s Bridal just to see what they had and she actually ended up loving one of the dresses they had right there in the store and it was less than $200! She got Betsey Johnson sparkly heels to compliment her outfit from Nordstrom and they cost about $150.

I knew I did not want to wear a dress for the wedding and it is somewhat difficult to find what is traditionally considered “menswear” for women, but one company that does this incredibly well is WILDFANG. I found my pants and matching vest on their website and used the size chart to determine my size. It ended up fitting perfectly and, again, cost less than $200.

In addition to surprising Jordan with a professional photographer, I also ordered her a surprise bouquet to carry for this ceremony. I ordered it via phone from Power of Flowers in League City, TX and they could not have done a better job. I don’t know much about flowers so it was somewhat difficult for me to describe what I wanted, but they ended up providing exactly what I had pictured in my head and Jordan loved it! Total cost was around $75. Highly recommend this shop.

As we mentioned, we decided to forego a wedding cake for this ceremony and, instead, we ordered pride-themed macarons from La Sicilia Bakery in Houston, TX. These were delicious and so gorgeous!

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