Skip to Content

About: Rebecca

Recent Posts by Rebecca

What Happens at a Courthouse Wedding?

For many years, courthouse weddings have had a bad rep. They were treated as the inferior option.

They’ve since evolved. Courthouse weddings are the hot wedding option, the one that’s helping couples celebrate their wedding milestone in a low-stress, low-cost way.


How Long does a Wedding Ceremony Last?

When people ask how long a wedding ceremony lasts they’re usually asking about the overall wedding timeline—which encompasses a lot more than the ceremony itself. To plan your wedding correctly you need to think of every step of the day, from the moment you start to get ready to the moment you and your partner drive off (in a car all painted up with the words ‘Just Married,’ of course)!

Here are the major steps you’ll find most wedding parties taking on most wedding days. While you may choose to shorten or lengthen any given step, you should at least be taking each one of them into account.

Getting Ready: 2 to 3 Hours

Both members of the couple, and every member of the wedding party, will need time to get ready. If you all have nail, make-up, and hair appointments you’ll need to block off time to get to the appointments, as well as time to get through the appointments.

You’ll also need to block off time to get dressed, and to handle any disasters like popped buttons or stuck zippers. Having an emergency wedding kit handy will really help here.

Leaving a lot of time to get ready can make for a more relaxed, happier wedding day. This time will set the mood and if everyone feels rushed and stressed out then you might well set a tone that creates problems later. If you can, you might even leave yourself a buffer of an additional half hour, just to make sure that nobody feels overwhelmed.

Portraits: 1 to 2 Hours

Each member of the couple generally gets a solo portrait done prior to the wedding ceremony. In addition, each member of the couple generally gets a photo shoot in with their wedding party, as well as with their maid/matron of honor or best person.

If you’ve chosen to take “first look” photographs then you’ll want to slot that photo shoot into this time.

Travel Time to Ceremony Venue

It is absolutely vital for you to accurately chart your travel time when creating your wedding timeline! If you’re going from a hair and make-up appointment to a changing room at your venue then you might already be there, of course, but there’s no getting around the fact that at some point, you and your wedding party are going to need to slip into a vehicle and get where you need to go.

Pull up the Google Map, note the normal travel time, and add thirty minutes to account for any unexpected weather or traffic that might pop up on your wedding day.

The Ceremony: 20 minutes to 2 Hours

Ceremony length can vary wildly depending on the venue, the officiant, and the type of ceremony you’re having. Some long religious ceremonies with a lot of traditions built into them can last for hours. Meanwhile, a courthouse wedding may be over and done in 20 minutes or less.

You should talk with your officiant about what to expect when you are planning your ceremony and reception times. Theoretically any professional officiant has run enough weddings to know how long your ceremony should take.

Receiving Line: 30 Minutes

Receiving lines are not necessarily required, but they are an easy way to thank every guest for coming to the wedding. You set one up to meet and greet each guest after they leave the ceremony venue.

The receiving line may also be held as soon as the couple reaches the reception venue.

Wedding hosts typically stand in the line. That tends to include the couple’s parents and the couples themselves.

At a small wedding, it’s okay to just have the couple visit every table sometime during the reception.

Family Photos & Cocktail Hour: 1 Hour

Once the ceremony is over guests will immediately start traveling to the reception venue. Your venue should be ready with cocktails and perhaps mild appetizers and snacks, depending on the hour.

Most of the guests will enjoy these refreshments while the couple takes family photographs, which can take about one hour. This may either happen at the ceremony venue or the reception venue.

Travel Time to Reception Venue

Again, you’re going to want to factor travel time into your schedule! You should do this long before the wedding day of course. It should factor in to when the reception time is scheduled to start.

Grand Entrance & First Dance: 15 Minutes

The reception kicks off formally when the couple makes their entrance and is announced as a married couple. The wedding partner enters, and then the couple enjoys their first dance.

Dance Floor Opens: 30 Minutes to 1 Hour

At this point the DJ or the live band generally invites the guests to hit the dance floor. This is a great time for guests to relax and enjoy themselves!

Dinner is Served: 1 to 2 Hours

Dinner can take awhile, especially if you’ve planned a buffet line or multiple courses. There are also a number of traditions that take place over the dinner hour such as the welcome toast and the wedding party speeches.

Dinner is also traditionally the time when certain reception games get played, such as the wedding shoe game.

Dinner generally comes to a close after the DJ announces the parent dances. Each member of the couple dances with the parent of their choice.

Cake Cutting Ceremony: 30 Minutes

You don’t just cut the cake and serve it. The symbolism of the first cut is all about taking your first steps together as a married couple.

Typically the couple makes the cut and then the catering staff serves the guests.

Don’t forget to consult with your baker or caterer before making the cut! Sinking your knife into the wrong spot can result in a cake that topples or collapses.

Party Continues: 1 to 4 Hours

There’s no real limit on how long a reception can continue after the cake is cut. If the party is rocking there’s no need to bring it to a close as soon as the last bite of cake gets eaten.

You’ll be guided by the venue rules, of course. In addition, nothing says you have to stay until the last guest leaves. Indeed, the couple is the first to leave, not the last. All you really have to plan is how long you’re going to want to stay at the party after the cake cutting ceremony.

Wedding Exit: 15 Minutes

Announce the exit by starting with the bouquet and garter toss. Give your guests sparklers to wave or rice to throw, then slip into your getaway car and head out happy!


How to do a Courthouse Wedding

There are a lot of advantages to doing a courthouse wedding. They tend to be less expensive, take less time to plan, and can get you started on your married life with a lot less stress.
Yet because most of us grew up assuming we’d have a formal wedding ceremony, knowing what to do isn’t always intuitive when opting for a civil wedding. Here’s what you should know about planning a civil wedding.


How to Prepare for Your First Marriage Counseling Session

Seeking help from a couple’s counselor? This is a scary step for any couple.

Yet it could be the step that saves your relationship and which keeps you out of divorce court.

If you start counseling early enough you may not even get to the point where you have to “save” your relationship. You may only have to strengthen it. Indeed, many therapists wish couples would reach out to them before they’re in active crisis.

If you’ve chosen your therapist and have set the date of your first session, here are the next steps you should take to ensure your session is as productive as possible. 

Be Invested in the Process

Couple’s therapy is rarely successful unless both members of the couple are invested in the process. You should at least be willing to take your experiences here as an opportunity for learning and growth.

Going to couple’s therapy is not the mark of a failed relationship. It’s not an expression of weakness. In fact, choosing to go and ask for help learning the skills that it takes to have a successful relationship is a marker of loving strength.

Being invested in the process means you’re going to be open and honest as you answer the therapist’s questions. You’re going to abide by the ground rules the therapist sets. If you are assigned exercises or given tools to use then you’re going to use them. Making a commitment to do all of these things, in advance, is the only way that your couple’s counseling sessions will have a chance at helping you meet your goals.

When you choose to go to therapy you are choosing to make investments of both time, money, and vulnerability in the success of your relationship. This is a powerful thing.

Is your partner a little less invested in the process than you are? Don’t get mad. Just express your sincere appreciation to your partner that they are willing to go with you. Even that tiny bit of gratitude could lighten their mood and make them happier about coming to the table.

Remember, it won’t be your job to get your partner to talk. That’s all on your therapist.

Discuss Goals

Ideally, you and your spouse will have shared goals for couples counseling. Yet it’s not unusual for individuals to have different goals.

“You could be going into counseling hopeful the relationship is worth fighting for, while your partner is not so sure. This could make your initial goals a bit different from each other. It doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed.” Biltmore Psychology and Counseling

Common goals for couples counseling include:

  • Learning to communicate better.
  • Learning to make conflict productive instead of problematic.
  • Learning how to identify needs and get them met.
  • Learning how to be candid with one another.
  • Learning how to heal from certain marriage betrayals, like adultery or financial infidelity.
  • Find out what it takes to make each member of the couple feel safe in the relationship.
  • Come to a better understanding of where each member of the couple is coming from.
  • Replace destructive habits with constructive ones.
  • Conquer sexual problems or frustrations.
  • To prevent further damage to the relationship.
  • Rekindle the romance.

It may help to write down your goals and hopes for counseling so that you may share them with your counselor and with your spouse.

Know What to Expect at the First Session

Few matters will get resolved at the first session.

Instead, the therapist will spend the session asking some questions that will lay the groundwork for future appointments.

You may be asked to talk about how you met and what drew you to your partner. You may also be asked to talk about the state of your relationship today, and to give the therapist some idea of what you’re hoping to accomplish with them.

The therapist may also ask about your past, including other relationships you’ve had in the past, as well as your relationships with your family.

Answer openly, honestly, and to the best of your ability. This will help the therapist get a full and complete picture of issues that might be impacting your relationship.

A good, professional therapist will not “pick sides.” They will try to remain as unbiased as possible so they can guide each conversation successfully.

Be Ready to Focus on Your Own Changes, Not Just Your Partner’s

Ultimately, you cannot control the degree to which your partner embraces the therapeutic process. You also don’t want to make therapy one more thing for you and your partner to fight over.

You can make the suggested changes yourself. Often, when one member of the couple begins to change the other member of the couple begins to make their own changes in response. Often it only takes one person’s commitment to healthy habits to prompt the other to respond in a healthier way.

For example, if you stop making accusatory, “you always” style statements in conflict, then your partner will in turn spend much less time defending themselves in your next argument. This could make the overall argument more productive and easier to navigate.

Get Committed to the Process

It can 12 to 18 months of therapy before you and your partner truly work through all the issues you need to work through. You’re not going to get everything done in one or two sessions.

Let therapy proceed and unfold at its own pace. Know that it’s going to take time and be ready to be patient with that.

How to Tell if Couples Therapy is “Working”

Every time you and your partner communicate better, spend more time together, or are happier in one another’s company you’ve achieved a victory together. As long as therapy is helping you see improvements then it is in fact working.

There’s no “endpoint” for deciding when you’ve “arrived” at the perfect, healthy relationship. Yet it is possible to make measurable process just by observing whether or not you feel happier and more centered. Eventually you should notice that you and your partner are doing a better job of pulling together for common goals.

So take heart, and approach your first session with an attitude of optimism and openness! This could be the best thing you and your spouse do for one another this year.



Recent Comments by Rebecca

    No comments by Rebecca