Meet me ‘outside’ the courthouse: Couples unite in unique settings

by Judy Stringer

Whether it’s curbside pickups, working from home or cocktails-to-go – there are some pandemic changes with staying power.

Add to that list: Courthouse weddings performed outside of the courthouse.

The Akron Municipal Court has held 65 off-site weddings over the last two years, a service it began in early 2021, according to Community Outreach Coordinator Nicole Hagy.

“We were in the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center, which is an older building, at the time, and it just wasn’t designed for social distancing,” she explained. “But our jurisdiction really was interested in weddings, so Judge Ron Cable had the idea of going to local parks.”

Previously, the court had become known for organizing festive – sometimes off-site – weddings on Halloween and Valentine’s Day and held ceremonies around unique holidays like Leap Day. The push offsite, however, triggered an explosion of imaginative events.

Cable and his colleagues have hosted April Fools’ Day (“Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”) nuptials at Jilly’s Music Room; a May 4 “Star Wars”-themed ceremony at Highland Square Theatre; weddings on the starting line at Derby Downs, the home of the All-American Soapbox Derby; over Galley Boys at Swenson’s Drive-In; and alongside the world-famous Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at Firestone Stadium.

In 2023, 180 couples tied the knot in 26 off-site courthouse ceremonies.

“Our off-site wedding opportunities became very popular in 2021 and I’m happy to see them continue,” Cable said in a statement.

Hagy said iconic venues like the Hower House Museum on the University of Akron campus, the Summit County Historical Society’s Perkins Stone Mansion and the Akron Civic Theater tend to be the biggest draws, as are events scheduled on Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

“The Halloween couples often tell their friends to dress up and it can be so sweet. Sometimes you will have a Hulk Hogan next to a teddy bear,” she said.

The court-arranged ceremonies are open to any couple with a valid marriage license. Couples residing within the court’s district, which includes Bath and Richfield, pay only $25 for the service, while the court fee for non-resident couples is $40.

That’s a hefty savings compared to more conventional weddings, which average about $30,000, according to The Knot. 

“We’ve had couples tell us they are now able to save money for a down payment on a house or [are] able to go on like more of a dream honeymoon,” Hagy said. “It’s been a really fun and rewarding part of the services that we offer to the community.” ∞