Nina & Sean's 1950s-inspired quirky courthouse wedding

July 29 |  
Photos by: Rearview Photography

Untitled

The offbeat bride: Nina, Regional Planner

Her offbeat partner: Sean, Soon-to-be Nursing student

Location & date of wedding: Athens-Clarke County courthouse, Georgia — June 18, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Sean and I have been together for years, and for a while we had talked about getting married in Michigan, where we're from, at a lake house somewhere. We weren't officially engaged, and nothing had really been planned, but that was the goal. Then, one morning while we were getting ready for work, I asked him to marry me in Georgia instead, at the courthouse – kind of a big deal for me, since I'm not really the spontaneous type!

ceremony

ceremony

We knew we wanted to be as laid-back as possible about the whole thing, and as more of our out-of-town friends and family told us they planned on coming into town to be with us, we decided to have a reception at a local pizza place after the civil ceremony to celebrate.

We both love late-fifties/early-sixties style, so we took the opportunity to add some of those elements to our wedding clothes. My friends and I made paper flowers out of magazines to decorate the tables. My mom kept asking me about boutonnieres and a bouquet-she felt like I would one day regret not having some of these wedding-y things, but I resisted until I came across the button bouquet concept. The night before the wedding, my 'girls' helped me put it together. One of my favorite nights of all time!

ceremony

The day of the wedding, I cried through the entire ceremony, surprising no one more than myself!

Our biggest challenge: Money was of course a challenge, and we overcame it by having a courthouse ceremony and renting out a room at a local restaurant instead of dealing with a separate venue, catering, etc. Decorations were kept to a minimum, and most of them were handmade by my friends and I over wine and food – giving us a reason to get together.

Untitled

Also, at the last moment, my brother was unable to make it. This was really hard for me because we've always been really close and it was hard to imagine him not being with me on that day. I was still getting married, though, and had so many wonderful family members and friends in town. So I had to let go of my disappointment and focus on everything else.

bouquet
Button bouquet!

My favorite moment: The civil ceremony was truly the most meaningful. Since we got married at the courthouse and chose not to write our own vows, we didn't have a rehearsal or anything. So, while I had heard those same words before, I didn't realize how moving it would be to say them for myself.

My funniest moment: Someone realized that the bottom side of one of the magazine flowers was cut from an article on diarrhea remedies!

reception

reception

My advice for offbeat brides: Make sure that your partner is involved in every decision about the wedding. While there were some things I might have done if it were just about me (which doesn't make sense, really!), we had agreed that we were going to make decisions as a team – so compromises were necessary. The most important thing is that you are BOTH happy, comfortable, and calm so that you can fully enjoy your day.

reception

Also, understand the fact that some people won't get your wedding, and they may be judgmental, even if polite. When I told a pedicurist that we were getting married, the first words out of her mouth were, "let me see your ring!" I told her that wasn't really my style (I didn't want an engagement ring), that I proposed to him, and that we were getting married at the courthouse. Her response was, "ohhh, well, whatever works for you, I guess." You've gotta laugh that off.

That said, don't downplay your wedding because it's not full of pomp and circumstance – I realized after we got engaged that I was doing just that, and promptly stopped myself. Be confident in your decisions, because no matter what, it's a big life moment.

reception

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Great, simple and fun! Congratulation to the newlyweds!

    1 agrees
  2. What an adorable couple. I am 100% in love with the bride's dress, and the photography is amazing! They really look like 50s/60s photos.

    2 agree
  3. I loooove everything about this! The wash on the photos, the bride's dress, the button bouquet…it's all perfection. the picture where Nina is crying made me a little weepy…so beautiful! congrats guys!

    1 agrees
  4. This wedding is gorgeous, and I have to say I have that dress coming in the mail TODAY! I hope for it someday to be my wedding dress too.

    1 agrees
  5. "The civil ceremony was truly the most meaningful. Since we got married at the courthouse and chose not to write our own vows, we didn't have a rehearsal or anything. So, while I had heard those same words before, I didn't realize how moving it would be to say them for myself."

    There are certain vows that you take in a courthouse? Are they the "Do you take this person? Do you take this person?" type or…?
    I was never sure how much ritual was involved in a courthouse ceremony, and if you'd be willing to share any further details, I'd be grateful.

    0 agree
    • They were pretty simple, of the "do you take this man/woman…" type. It was really the exact vows you're probably thinking of, but no religious stuff (though our wedding certificate does say we were joined in the Holy Bonds of Matrimony, hahaha…)

      1 agrees
      • I wondered how much religion they could interject into a legal ceremony. Thanks!

        0 agree
        • We got married at the courthouse in a nearby county and our ceremony was very religious. We had to pray with the judge and our certificate also said Holy Bonds of Matrimony.

          0 agree
  6. Beautiful wedding! I love the old style of the photographs! It's so fun!!!

    And great advice! "don't downplay your wedding because it's not full of pomp and circumstance " This last weekend my fiance and I decided to have a court house wedding so we can get married sooner (yay!) and I've been finding myself downplaying it all, which is a shame because I'm so darn excited!

    1 agrees
  7. Aaah, I love this wedding. The clothes and the photos are just as nice as some of the over-the-top weddings I've seen. I also love 1950s and 60's style things, I design vintage looking cards, so your wedding dress and hairstyle makes me weak at the knees. Your photos also look like they are in an album from yesteryear. Have a happy life together.

    1 agrees
  8. Nina, you were such a gracious bride! I'm so happy that Thimble Kiss could be a part in such a small way. Your whole look and feel was so special and unique. Brides like you are the reason I LOVE my Etsy store!!! Congratulations again and thanks for the shout out!

    1 agrees
  9. I love vintage looking photos, and how simple and relaxed everything looks. Pizza reception/dinner thing? Sounds fabulous!

    1 agrees
  10. love love love everything about your wedding!! you were so beautiful!!

    if i can ask, would you mind telling us which dress you chose off the unique-vintage website? :)

    1 agrees
  11. i love the 50's/60's for the elegance of it – the elegance that just oozes out of this bride. so in love with your dress and those photos. *dreamy sigh* :-)

    1 agrees
  12. I love this wedding – the photography totally captures the essence of the 50s – it looks like the genuine era! And I am so in love with the button bouquet – makes me wish I hadn't already paid for my real flower one!

    1 agrees
  13. Thank you so much for this post, I love the photos! My fiancee and I are planning a small courthouse ceremony and then eating out at a restaurant and I'm happy to read about your celebration and that you laughed off people's judgements about what a wedding "should be" it gives me confidence

    1 agrees
  14. Nina –

    Would you care to share the name of the restaurant? I'm planning a small get together in Athens and that place looks perfect!

    1 agrees
  15. Nina– this looks lovely! As a former Atlantan…I would looooove to know who did your hair! It's so beautiful!

    0 agree
  16. Congratulations! We got married eight days before you at the Jackson County courthouse! We are having a ceremony and reception for family and friends in November.

    0 agree
  17. So cool Nina and so you! you look absolutely radiant and so happy!!

    0 agree
  18. Oh this is the sweetest! Thanks for sharing. I am so glad I found this site and particularly read your story. It inspires me to make the wedding for my partner and I just as special. :)

    0 agree
  19. "…we didn't have a rehearsal or anything. So, while I had heard those same words before, I didn't realize how moving it would be to say them for myself."

    I cried after reading this because this is how I will be! My fiance is very emotional and I'm the type of person that cries when I see tears. Just like when he cried when we saw our baby's heartbeat for the very first time then I went off too!

    I am so glad to see another bride who does not care for an engagement ring, a huge white wedding nor all the other distractions from the sanctity of actually being married. :)

    1 agrees
  20. So fabulous! The 1950s/60s feel definitely came off, but it felt so quirky and authentic (love some of those pictures!).

    I'm actually looking at that same dress (in ivory) on unique-vintage – it's my top choice, so it was very cool to see it featured here on OBB (looks comfortable!).

    Congratulations on your marriage!

    2 agree
  21. This is such a classic style, and you look lovely. The button bouquet is awesome, too.

    Great wedding, and congratulations to you both!

    1 agrees
  22. Wow! I lurk on this site occasionally, but I've never made a comment until now. What an amazing wedding. I LOVE courthouse weddings. The dress and photography are perfect. I would love to know how the photographer got the photos to look old. I would love to have some photos like that for my wedding.

    2 agree
    • Sam,
      I was the photographer for this awesome wedding, and I couldn't help but respond! I did some special photo editing in Photoshop to give the photographs the vintage feel! By running some of my different actions and adjusting the levels, I could achieve the vintage look. Hope this answers your question.
      Elizabeth

      1 agrees
  23. Fantastic dress! Love the simplicity, that is the route Im going. I bought a ring for ten bucks just to keep the ponderers at bay, plus, well, I like giant rocks. Those dont come cheap :P

    0 agree
  24. "don't downplay your wedding because it's not full of pomp and circumstance"

    Thank you so very much! I am spending so much of time telling people, "It's nothing really" BUT IT IS. It might not be 250 people, with a live band and ice sculptures but its still a big deal. We are still getting married and that's something to celebrate. Thank you for the reminder and encouragement.

    PS: Loved the pic with the bartender. We are doing a pub crawl with our friends instead of a big reception. I hope to get a few shots like that.

    PPS: And many more pics working my skirt like you are! SWING BABY SWING!

    1 agrees
  25. Love this! Congrats to you and hubs!
    This should be the wedding standard. Everybody gets so crazy with formality and etiquette and grinding the wedding machine.
    But this looks simple, and lovely, and meaningful, and didn't cost $20k. :)
    To each their own, of course, but this is the essence of what getting married is. And getting married is the *thing* not the wedding.
    Just beautiful!

    1 agrees

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.