Best Courthouse Wedding in Orange County

Best Courthouse Wedding in Orange County

The best courthouse wedding in orange county takes place at the historic Old Orange County  Courthouse. This is one of our favorite courthouse wedding locations in Southern California. Whether you are eloping, looking for a small intimate civil ceremony with a few close family and friends, or you just want to tie the knot and only need one witness. There are three Courthouses to choose from for your civil ceremony. South County Branch Office, North County Branch Office, and the Old Orange County Courthouse. We recommend choosing the Old OC Courthouse. We have put together this special blog post about getting married here and all the questions you might have. You will learn the best days to get married on, how to get a marriage license, how many guests you can have, and other useful facts and tips. 

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I know I have said it before but I love these art deco stairs.
There are two rooms downstairs where weddings are performed. You can reserve the courtroom upstairs for an additional fee.
I love documenting a civil ceremony at the Santa Ana Courthouse. This is the first step when signing in for your ceremony.
These two brought their two young boys to attend their ceremony.
When you hire a professional photographer you get portraits like this one.
After the civil ceremony, we take photos of the newlyweds in the room where the wedding is performed.
This couple got married on one of the Saturdays in the summer. It was really crowded but we were able to duck into this corner and get some great portraits.
After the ceremony, I take the couple around the outside of the courthouse for some more romantic portraits.
More romantic portraits after the ceremony.
This is one of my favorite photos from inside the courthouse. The art deco staircase inside is stunning.
The couple can take photos upstairs in the original courtroom if it is available.
Once a month the Old OC courthouse in Santa Ana opens the doors for couples to get married.
Midweek elopements at the historic Old Orange County Courthouse are perfect for romantic portraits.


Every marriage ceremony is special. Hiring a photographer will ensure you preserve all the memories of your wedding day.

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How to plan An old orange county courthouse wedding

The short answer on how to plan an old orange county courthouse wedding is:

  • Choose a day Monday-Friday from 8 am -4 pm and head down to the courthouse.
  • If you want to get married on a Saturday you are in luck. The courthouse opens its doors one Saturday a month. Be sure to check the schedule. However, keep in mind this is by far the busiest day to get married. It will be a zoo.
  • Bring at least one witness to sign the marriage licenses and be present at the ceremony. The courthouse will not provide a witness for you. I am able to step in as a witness for couples who just plan on it being the two of them.
  • Don’t forget to bring a valid form of government I.D. for both the bride and groom.   You will need to show this to the county clerk.
  • You can get a marriage license on the spot, but if you go online and begin the process this will save you time. You can also schedule an appointment for your civil ceremony online.
  • Walk-in applicants are taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. Keep in mind priority is given to online applicants.

Who can get married at the Old Orange County Courthouse?

  • Couples who are at least 18 years of age and not married
  • You have to bring and present a valid form of government-issued photo I.D. A current driver’s license or a passport or acceptable. Your valid I.D. must be shown to the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s office to apply for your marriage license.
  • In Orange County, you don’t have to be a citizen, reside in the county, and you do not need to take a blood test or show results of one.  
  • You need to bring one witness to sign the marriage license. The courthouse will not provide one for you.
  • Both individuals must be able to read, speak and understand English. If you don’t you need to bring a third-party interpreter. The courthouse will not provide one.

What you need to know when getting married at the courthouse

  •  Marriage License Application is available online or at the County Clerks office.
  • This marriage license system is your first step towards obtaining your official marriage license.
  • Once you have applied for your marriage license, you may pick it up at any of our four locations; Anaheim City Centre, Westminster, the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana, or Laguna Hills.
  • Marriage licenses are issued to applicants on the spot.
  • You have 90 days from the date your online application is submitted for both parties to appear together in person to complete and obtain an official marriage license.

To complete the application for a marriage license, a couple must:

  1. Appear together in person. Both the bride and groom must present one form of a valid non-expired, government-issued, photo identification such as a driver’s license or passport.
  2. Appointments are accepted but not required, although online applicants will be given priority. You can book your ceremony up to 6 months in advance.
  3. Walk-in appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. Keep in mind afternoons and Fridays are a busy time. Saturdays are available once a month. They are the busiest days at the courthouse. 
  4. You will need to bring at least one witness to be present to sign the marriage license and to witness the ceremony if you are having it performed at the courthouse. They will not provide a witness for you.

How much does it cost to get married at the Santa Ana courthouse?

  • The marriage license  cost $61
  • The marriage ceremony is $28
  • The acceptable form of payments can be made by cash, personal check, cashier’s check, money order, Discover, American Express, MasterCard/Visa Credit and Debit.

Where can I park at the Old Orange County Courthouse?

  • There is a small metered parking lot located behind the courthouse.
  • You must pay to park here.  The meters accept credit cards.
  • There is adjacent street parking available.  Also, meter parking for up to two hours.
  • There is no fee for parking on Saturdays

Do I need an appointment to get married?

  • No, you do not need an appointment. I highly recommend that you do get one. Here are the two options:
    1. Submit your application to obtain a marriage license and schedule an appointment online.
    2. Submit your application to obtain a marriage license on a walk-in basis without an appointment.
  • For a faster and more smooth process, it is recommended that you do begin the application process online. Here you will be able to also schedule an appointment for your civil ceremony.

What Is the best way to have a ceremony without an appointment? 

  • Arrive early, either first thing in the morning or soon after. 
  • The least busy days are early in the morning Monday-Thursday. Thursday and Friday afternoons are the busy times.
  • Once a month the courthouse opens up on Saturdays. This is the busiest day of the month. 
  • Make sure to give yourself plenty of time in case you go on a busy day.
  • Always refer to the website for up to date and current information and changes.

What is the ceremony like? 

  • The ceremony is 5 minutes long. No joke. So make sure guests arrive on time. You will need to bring at least one witness. 
  • After the ceremony, you will have approximately 4-7  minutes for photos inside the ceremony room depending on how busy they are on that day.
  • The ceremony is a civil non-sectarian ceremony,  performed by a Deputy Commissioner of Marriage.

Who performs the wedding?

The courthouse will appoint you a Deputy Commissioner of Marriage from the County Clerks office to perform the ceremony. 

What are the rooms like at the courthouse?

  • There are two small rooms on the second floor that accommodate up to 30 guests. The county clerks office will determine which room they assign you based on how many guests you will have and availability. 
  • For an additional fee and based on availability, you can reserve the original historic courtroom upstairs. This room can accommodate up to 75 guests.

How do I reserve the large Courtroom upstairs?

  • The best way to reserve the courtroom is by going online. You can reserve this room up to 3 months in advance. You get the room for up to 2 hours. This is a beautifully restored courtroom with wood benches and a historic look.

Other Useful tips to know before your marriage at the courthouse?

  • If you arrive in the morning there are fewer crowds 
  • When you arrive the first order of business is to sign in 
  • Make sure your witness is there to sign the marriage license. This is done before the ceremony. If it is just you and your fiance I can be your witness. 
  • Sheriff deputy patrolling to help with crowd control
  • More opportunities mid-week for photos

How do I avoid the crowded days at the courthouse?

  • Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday tend to be less crowded than Thursday and Friday
  • Avoid major holidays when the courthouse is open like Valentines Day and Halloween
  • Afternoons tend to be a busier time
  • Saturdays are the busiest days. The courthouse is very crowded. Your photos will still be gorgeous

Can I get married on a Saturday?

  • Yes, the Old Orange County Courthouse is open one Saturday a month. Please refer to the website for updated changes. 
  • Remaining Saturday dates for 2019 from 10 am -3 pm
    • AUGUST 17, 2019
    • SEPTEMBER 21, 2019
    • OCTOBER 26, 2019
    • NOVEMBER 16, 2019
    • DECEMBER 14, 2019

What if it rains?

Rain or shine we will take beautiful photos of you. They do say rain is good luck on a wedding day. 

How early should we get to the courthouse before our ceremony?

This depends on when you designate time for your wedding photos. If you plan to take lots of photos before the ceremony give yourself an extra 45min. We recommend getting there 20-30 minutes before your ceremony. This will give you plenty of time to park and take a few photos before. There will be ample time after the vow exchange for more portraits. 

About photography 

How far in advance do we need to book you as our photographer?  The sooner the better. However, I have been asked to photograph weddings at the courthouse the day before the ceremony. This just all depends on if I am available last minute. 

Do I need a permit to hire a professional photographer? No permits are not required to have a professional photographer.

What is included in your civil ceremony package? 

  • Up to 2  hours of photography coverage
  • Photo session in and around the Court House after the ceremony
  • 30-50 beautiful images included
  • Online gallery of images delivered within 5 business days or sooner.

Where can we take photos? We photograph couples inside the courthouse. This includes the beautiful entryway, upstairs in the historic courtroom, and the room where you get married in. Outside photos are also taken around the property. 

Will you be able to photograph us after the ceremony? Yes, I will help you put together a timeline for the day. 

How do I book you as our photographer? Call or send an email. I will respond to your inquiry quickly if not immediately. If you don’t hear from me right away it is because I am in the middle of photographing other clients.

How to make your elopement special

  • Get your hair and makeup done professionally. 
  • Wear a special dress. Maybe you want a traditional white gown. It is also common for the bride to choose other colors.
  • Add flowers to the day. A bridal bouquet and a boutonniere make the day special and are lovely in photos.
  • Share a meal with family and friends immediately following your ceremony. Enjoy champagne toasts and cake with your guests.
  • Hire a photographer. Even if you choose to elope its still your very special day. Get beautiful portraits as newlyweds.



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