Your Stress Free Wedding At The Tarrant County Courthouse

February 26, 2024

After photographing weddings at the Tarrant County Courthouse for twelve years and counting, I’m here to tell you it’s 100% possible to have a stress free and budget friendly wedding day while also receiving beautiful portraits to cherish for years to come. I greatly appreciate that while some couples are opting for smaller, more intimate weddings, they still value photography and capturing their special day. So if you’re looking for how to get married at the Tarrant County Courthouse, this post will have all the answers you need and more!

Photo of the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The middle and upper portions of the building are featured and backed by a large blue sky.

A Tarrant County Courthouse wedding may be right for you if your priorities are:

1) To marry the love of your life

2) To keep it intimate with just your closest friends and family (or even just you & your fiance!)

3) Beautiful, candid photography that captures the day authentically

If all the above priorities resonate with you, consider having your wedding in the most gorgeous courthouse in Dallas/Fort Worth: the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth. If you’re wanting to get married at the Tarrant County Courthouse but have any questions or concerns, this is the blog post for you!

First of all, even tiny micro weddings need logistics and planning. And I’m here to help make it easy and as stress free as possible!

Here’s a great starting place for a day of plan: get ready in a gorgeous suite at any of the nearby hotels, tie the knot in a quick 15-minutes-or-less ceremony at the historic Tarrant County Courthouse, frolic around the beautiful courthouse and downtown Fort Worth for portraits with me, then meet back up with your favorite people for an intimate dinner at some of the best restaurants (and bars) that Texas has to offer. Keep on reading and I’ll share some of my favorite spots for prep, portraits, and receptions.

A couple posing close together under the main courthouse dome before their wedding ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The woman on the right is wearing a long sleeve, intricate, white dress and is holding a bouquet. The man on the left is wearing a white dress and jeans.

WHERE TO GET READY:

  • The Ashton Hotel – This boutique gem is located right on Main Street and is both a straight shot down the brick roads to the courthouse and one block from the historic Sundance Square. The building features 39 luxurious rooms and suites, valet service, modern amenities, and a partnership with one of the nicest restaurants in the city, GRACE.
  • The Worthington Renaissance – This beautiful behemoth is just about as close as you can get to the Tarrant County Courthouse! It has a fantastic view of the steeple and clock from the rooftop courtyard. It is very contemporary and boasts exceptional city views, floor to ceiling windows, in house fine dining, and a four minute walk to Sundance Square, the heart of downtown.
  • The Sinclair – This is one of the newest boutique hotels to open in the Sundance Square area. This historic Art Deco building is on Main Street, so it’s an easy walk straight down to the courthouse. Photography bonus: you can request rooftop access for portraits!
  • Nearby Residence – A lot of the couples I work with live within a 15 minute drive of the Tarrant County Courthouse. Why not get ready together at home in an environment you’re most comfortable in?

THE CEREMONY ITSELF:

So now that you’ve picked where you’ll get ready (and maybe even your honeymoon/”staycation”), it’s time for the main event!

The Tarrant County Courthouse requires three things to get married:

  1. The marriage license
  2. The couple
  3. $100 cash (yes, it has to be cash!)

Ceremonies start at 9:15 a.m. and run until 4:30 p.m. With the abundance of windows in the ceremony room (located on the fourth floor), anytime of day has beautiful light. I prefer a later in the day booking if possible as the 4th floor can get very crowded — especially on Fridays! They don’t require witnesses,  but you’re welcome to bring your loved ones in as there’s plenty of seating! While the ceremony itself is quick and scripted, Judge Swearingin usually allows time to read handwritten vows.

A couple holding hands and looking joyfully at each other during their wedding ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The bride on the right is wearing a sleeveless, elegant white dress while the groom on the left is wearing a dress shirt with a boutonniere and jeans. Friends and family can be seen joyfully smiling in the background.
A bride and groom laughing and holding hands during their wedding ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The bride on the right is wearing a sleeveless, intricate, short, white dress while the tall groom on the left is wearing a navy suit with a tie and boutonniere. Many friends and family can be seen seated behind them.

POST CEREMONY (You did it!):

Now that you’re legally wed and on a joyous high, it’s time for the fun! If you’ve brought your family, this is typically when we will do family portraits. There are great spots both indoors and outdoors for these. After family (and friends/chosen family!) portraits, you’ll send your guests to the reception space or on their way to enjoy downtown where you can meet up with them later (or not – it’s your day after all!).

Detail shot of a couple's hands reaching towards each other after their wedding ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The bride's hand has on her engagement ring and wedding band and a bracelet. The groom's hand has his wedding band and the end of his wedding suit can be seen. Their hands are backed by the majestic interior ceiling of the dome of the courthouse.
A couple posing with their friends and family at the Tarran County College Trinity River Campus after their wedding ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The bride is wearing an elegant, sleeveless, white dress and is holding a bouquet. The groom is wearing a grey three piece suit with a stripped tie. All their friends and family are laughing and smiling and are all wearing formal but varied wedding attire.

After family/friends photos, it’s time for your couple’s portraits! One of my favorite things about photographing elopements is the TIME it allows me to photograph a couple! There are so many great spots to shoot at all within a short radius of the courthouse: Main Street, all around Sundance Square (which does require a free permit to shoot there), parking garages with skyline views, outside Bass Hall, etc. The options in downtown Fort Worth are endless!

PRO TIP: If you’re planning on rocking a fabulous pair of heels during the ceremony, trust me on this: bring a backup pair of flats or sandals to walk in! It’ll help us make the most of our time and help you NOT be in agonizing pain 45 minutes in to waltzing around downtown Fort Worth.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE PHOTO SPOTS:

The Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus is next door on both sides of the courthouse. There is beautiful architecture, clean lines, and plenty of photo opportunities. This is also a great place to meet up for a First Look before your ceremony!

Outside of the TCC campus, there’s plenty frolicking to be had around Downtown Fort Worth! There’s Bass Hall, Main Street, Scatt Jazz Lounge, and so many more; the possibilities are honestly endless.

A couple crossing a downtown brick street and holding hands after their wedding ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The bride on the right is wearing an elegant, sleeveless, white dress and is holding a bouquet. The groom on the left is wearing a dress shirt and dress pants. The courthouse rises majestically behind.

On top of nearby parking garages:

WHAT’S INCLUDED/SAMPLE TIMELINE:

My micro wedding/courthouse wedding package starts at 3 hours of coverage for $1300 (plus sales tax). It includes one photographer (me, Melissa!), professional photo editing, personal online gallery hosted for three months, digital download of all edited high resolution images, a la carte print options directly through your gallery, a print release, full delivery within six weeks and a sneak peek within 72 hours. If you’re wanting prep, ceremony, portraits, and a bit of reception coverage, I recommend at least four hours of coverage.

PRO TIP: Here is where I recommend parking as there are always spaces available: Tarrant County Calhoon Street Parking Garage (yes, “Calhoon” is misspelled on Google) 101 Calhoun St, Fort Worth, TX 76102.

A couple standing close together and laughing before their wedding ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas. The bride on the right is wearing an intricate, sleeveless, white dress and is holding a bouquet. The groom on the left is wearing a navy suit with a boutonniere. Two of their friends and family are standing close by and smiling at them.

Sample Courthouse Wedding Day Timeline:

2:00 p.m. – Photographer arrives at courthouse, meets couple, family, guests outside if weather is nice, inside if it’s not.
2:45 p.m. – Head inside, go through security and head up to 4th floor, couple checks in.
3:00 p.m. – Wedding Ceremony with Judge Swearingin
3:15 p.m. – Y’ALL ARE MARRIED! Take a quick portrait with the judge, then leave Ceremony room
3:15 – 3:30 p.m. – Family Portraits
3:30 p.m. – Start of Couples Portraits inside
4:00 p.m. – Head outside for more Couples Portraits around downtown, now is a good chance to take family portraits outside as well.
4:30 p.m. – Head to reception location (walking distance only)
4:45 p.m. – Toasts & Cake Cutting
5:00 p.m. – Photo coverage ends

It’s that easy! The entire process is chill, quick (but not rushed!), and should be pretty much painless. I’ve found, in my experience, that three hours is the perfect amount of time to allow things to run late, to get plenty of portraits inside and outside, AND to not feel rushed. It’s about as “easy” as a wedding day can get. You do want to go into this with a plan though! Trust me on that :)

WHERE TO PARTY:

  • Wicked Butcher – Located in the basement of the Sinclair Hotel: I have it on good authority that they will let us take city rooftop photos as well.
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House – They have private rooms to reserve!
  • Reata – An absolute staple in “Cowtown Cuisine!” They have several private rooms to rent out, as well as rooftop dining options! If the weather is nice, definitely opt for the roof. The views are fantastic, and the Tex-Mex is heavenly.
  • Joe T. Garcia’s – The patio is legendary and the margaritas are unparalleled. Be sure to have a check or cash on you for payment though!
  • Worthington Renaissance or any nearby hotel – Have a toast in your suite or in the hotel bar if you’re staying overnight!
  • Acre Distilling Co. – Book the space for your reception if you’re into whiskey, bourbon, gin, vodka, and other craft liquors.

WHAT TO WEAR:

Gone are the days of courthouse weddings of showing up in jeans and a t-shirt. If you’re saving a ton of money opting out of a huge wedding, you can spend a little on your attire instead!

And there you have it! If you’re wondering the best way to get married at the Tarrant County Courthouse, this blog is a fantastic resource to begin with. You CAN have a fabulous wedding on a budget in such a cool city. Planning an elopement for yourself or a friend? Contact me today and inquire about my micro wedding packages!

Some of the content on this post was graciously provided by Beth Swan. Dallas/Fort Worth has the best, most supportive photography community and I’m always grateful!! Definitely reach out to her if I’m not available on your date!

Elopements, Weddings

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