Essential Tips for Santa Barbara Courthouse Weddings

Welcome to your ultimate guide for planning a wedding at the stunning Santa Barbara Courthouse! Whether you’re dreaming of an intimate elopement or a small, elegant ceremony, this historic venue offers an idyllic setting with its Spanish-inspired architecture and beautifully manicured gardens. Here’s everything you need to know to ensure your courthouse wedding is as smooth and memorable as possible.

The Key point covered in this post:

  • Making A Reservation
  • Costs And Fees
  • Ceremony Locations
  • Photography & Videography
  • What To Bring
  • Parking
  • Pros And Cons

Booking and Reservations

Secure Your Date Early

The Santa Barbara Courthouse is a popular wedding venue, especially for locations like the Mural Room and Sunken Gardens. It’s advised to book your preferred date and time well in advance, ideally three to six months beforehand. This early booking is crucial due to high demand.

Weekday Ceremonies

Opting for a weekday ceremony can offer a more intimate experience and help avoid weekend crowds. Additionally, consider scheduling your ceremony before 11 am or during the golden hour (2.5 hours before sunset) for the best lighting conditions.

Costs and Fees

Understand the Fees

Here’s a breakdown of the typical costs involved:

  • Marriage License: $100
  • Confidential License: $111
  • Ceremony Fee: $104
  • Appointment Reservation: $23

Be sure to bring a valid ID and a form of payment to cover these costs. If you’re having a larger ceremony, additional fees may apply for reserving specific areas. Please do not forget your ID! If you forget it and think I’ll just get through the line and it will be okay…it will not be okay. They will ask you to step aside and come back when you have your license. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen.

Ceremony Locations

Beautiful Outdoor Options

The courthouse offers several picturesque spots for your ceremony, including the Sunken Gardens and the iconic Mural Room. Each location provides a unique backdrop, from lush greenery to stunning historical murals​. If it’s not a busy day you could do it at the top of the steps, you could go directly on the middle of the lawn to have a wide grand backdrop behind you, you could opt for something private underneath the palm trees or if you’re lucky the blooming bougainvillea.

First Come, First Served

For outdoor locations, it’s often first come, first served, so plan accordingly. If you have a specific spot in mind, make sure to arrive early to secure it​.

Photography and Videography

Capture the Moment

Hiring a professional photographer is highly recommended to take full advantage of the courthouse’s stunning architecture and landscapes. Whether it’s the ornate details inside or the expansive gardens outside, you can create a timeline with your photographer to cater to your day.

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Planning and Logistics

What to Bring

  • ID and Payment: Ensure you have a state-issued ID (driver’s license or passport) and a credit card or check for the fees.
  • Witness: Bring a witness if required (not needed for a confidential license).
  • Rings and Vows: If you plan on exchanging rings and personal vows, make sure to bring them along

Parking Information

Parking is available around the courthouse, with street parking limited to 75 minutes. Alternatively, park in City Lot #7 at 1115 Anacapa Street, where the first 75 minutes are free, and then it’s $2.50 per hour. There truly is no shortage of parking but I do recommend arriving 30 mins early for that peace of mind.

Personal Touches

Personal touches in weddings often revolve around the details that reflect the couple’s personalities and preferences, making the occasion more intimate and memorable. Even if your wedding is small, consider bringing a bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, and perhaps a special car for your arrival. These touches can add a sense of occasion and make your day even more memorable.

Final Thoughts

A wedding at the Santa Barbara Courthouse is a wonderful way to combine simplicity with elegance. By planning ahead and considering these key details, you can ensure a beautiful and stress-free wedding day. Whether it’s just the two of you or a small gathering of loved ones, the courthouse provides a timeless and romantic backdrop for your special day.

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