Hi! My name is Victoria Meyer and I’ve been a Wedding Officiant in Indiana for close to a decade. Over the years, I’ve watched how getting married in Indiana has changed. A LOT! Since they stopped marrying couples in the courthouses in Indiana, the business of eloping in Indy has boomed! Makeshift wedding chapels have been created, The Indy Canal Walk, Monument Circle, public parks and other public outdoor spaces are being used as free wedding venues. You can get married in a wedding officiant’s home offices as well. It’s all a quest to find the alternative to getting married in the courthouse at a price you can afford.
What is an elopement today in Indy?
In general, an elopement in Indy is a couple just looking to get married immediately. They are looking for a courthouse alternative. They are looking for a wedding officiant to legally marry them quickly, easily and for as little money as possible. A same day wedding.
There are also couples who are choosing to elope instead of having a large wedding. They hire a great photographer to capture all the traditional wedding experiences but without the big wedding party. That’s a whole different wedding trend for another article. Those are couples who are meticulously planning the details of their wedding, not looking for bargain elopement.
I’d love to help you to Elope In Indy! Or anywhere in Indiana!
I've written this article to give people a definitive explanation about getting married in Indy and using free, public spaces. When I was offering budget elopements in Indy I felt like I was taking responsibility for the location. If I was offering to marry you in a certain locations like the Indy Canal Walk or Monument Circle, the situation should be legit. I decided to stop offering the budget elopements because there were just too many variables. If you want to get married in one of these locations I'm very happy to marry you there. I'm very happy to marry you anywhere you want as long as we are legally and respectfully able to be there. I'm no longer taking there responsibility of offering you a free space to get married. You are more than welcome to choose a free space on your own.
The 2018 wedding season proved to be very unpredictable. It rained, a lot! We had a lot of cold, windy days and winter has definitely arrived early this year too. If you choose to get married in an outdoor space, please have a back up plan. My fee to officiate your ceremony includes me driving anywhere within an hour of Fishers. That gives you many possibilities to prepare for anything that might happen on your wedding day. You can read about my wedding services here. Please feel free to contact me. Call or text (317)403-7379 or email me.
The Low-Cost, Budget Elopement in Indy.
Wedding Officiants have created wedding services to fit the needs and budgets of those who are on a courthouse wedding budget.
The cost of getting married by a magistrate, in general, is about $80. The magistrate marries you in a courtroom. If people want to watch you get married in a courtroom, they are allowed. Since you can’t get married by the magistrate in Indy during business hours anymore, you are left looking for a person to marry you and a place to actually get married.
Why does it cost money for such a simple wedding?
When I first starting marrying couples, I quickly realized if someone came to my house for me to just sign their marriage license it didn’t cost me anything. I didn’t have to pay for gas to drive to a wedding and I didn’t have to pay for a babysitter. When I created my $50 Quickie wedding in my home in Fishers is was created by two people who we bargaining. The couple on the phone needed someone to marry them at a price they could afford and I was trying to book a wedding. It was the offseason for formal weddings and I had bills to pay. I was also intrigued by the possibilities of marrying couples on a weekday and I was trying to figure out an angle to build my business in a new way.
The biggest cost involved in building a wedding officiant business in Indy is the cost of a location to actually perform weddings.
Professional office space is not free. When you could still get married at the courthouse in Marion County my schedule was filled with weddings of couples who had made a decision not to elope or get married in the courthouse. Many of those weddings were formal, held in country clubs, hotels and premium wedding venues. But, many of them were also held in parks, backyards, living rooms and rented rooms all over Indiana. Couples were planning their wedding and then hiring me to come to marry them. I had to pay to get there. I had to pay for gas and childcare while I was gone. That’s it.
Honestly, there are a LOT of places you can rent for a small wedding for a very reasonable fee. Depending on how long you need the space it could just be a few hundred dollars or less. There are Community Rooms for rent all over Indiana.
My husband and I have discussed the subject at length on several occasions. We decided the amount of money we would have to charge for a wedding and how many weddings we would have to do in order to pay for rent on office and make a profit isn't really reasonable. We'd much rather pay or mortgage. There are so many other really great options for your wedding. There are wedding officiants downtown who do have offices. If you really want to get married in an office. They can accommodate you. They charge a little more money but if that's what you want, it's worth it.
Not only are wedding officiants looking for no-cost places to perform weddings, but they are also looking for creative ways to sell them to you.
The term “Wedding Chapel” is one of the terms that Google recognizes so we use the term to advertise our services. There are very few actual wedding chapels in Indy. There are offices and corners of people’s homes decorated like a chapel but they aren’t really chapels. Just like “Ordained Ministers” are not performing religious wedding ceremonies.
Where to Elope in Indy for free?
As wedding officiants, we came up with these ideas of places where we can marry people for free. Public spaces that anyone is free to use. "Meet me at this pretty spot on the canal and I’ll marry you. It will be beautiful!"
Are these public places in Indy really free outdoor wedding venues?
Technically, yes, anyone can walk along the canal, anyone can walk through a public park. And if what you want is a traditional elopement - just the two of you and a wedding officiant, all of these places work just fine.They are great! First date on the canal, engaged on the canal, elope on the canal! Finding a quiet space for just the 3 of us is pretty easy. If it’s cold or rainy, we can still usually find a romantic spot if you have an adventurous spirit. The problem is when it goes from being an elopement to a small wedding.
A Budget Elopement Vs. A Small Wedding In Indy
When you are using a public space, a group of 3 or 5 people - Just the couple, the wedding officiant and maybe two other people, is just fine. An elopement ceremony is super-quick and easy. It takes a matter of minutes to perform an actual “ceremony.”
The problem is, an elopement can quickly go from just 3 people to 30. Once someone finds out you are getting married they want to come and then everyone wants to come. That many people actually make a big difference when using a public space. When you have so many people it’s not an elopement anymore, it’s a small wedding. The logistics of a small wedding are very different.
One of the main problems with having small weddings in public spaces is the size of the crowd in the area you want. I limited my budget elopements to 20 people and people would ask if children count in that number. Yes, they count. The bigger the crowd, the more space you take up. Strollers and roaming children actually take up more space. I found people asking that questions were just looking at the price of the wedding, not the wedding itself.
When you plan an elopement, it’s usually last minute, when you plan a small wedding, you plan ahead.
If you need to get married today and can see it’s a nice day out, getting married in an outdoor public space is a great idea. If you want to plan on getting married outside in a public space 3 months from now with 30 people, It’s NOT a good idea.
Why is planning a small wedding using a free outdoor space is a bad idea? What could possibly go wrong?
You are planning a wedding. It’s a big day! If you are actually making a plan for sometime in the future, dressing up, getting your hair and makeup done etc… It’s a wedding and it’s a big deal. If you feel like saving a few bucks on you wedding ceremony is a good place to save money you might want to think again.
As wedding officiants, we are trying to sell you great ideas at budget prices so we can make money.
We do actually perform a lot of beautiful elopements and small weddings in free public spaces. We also take lots of pretty pictures to show you the possibilities. Obviously, we are going to hope for the best that everything works out. We cannot guarantee it will.
Aren’t there indoor public spaces where we can get married as a backup plan?
As a wedding officiant, I’m selling you my services and suggesting places to get married. The Indy Canal Walk or Monument Circle isn’t mine to rent or reserve for you. Either is an indoor place.
I officiate weddings in The Arts Garden or The Indiana State House. Those places are open to the public but they also charge money to rent the space for weddings.
The Indiana Statehouse is open to the public for tours. As a resident of Indiana, you are free to walk through the building. You also have to go through security to get into the building. Be aware there could be someone else there exercising their right to chant prayers at the top of their lungs. It is also a place of business for the State of Indiana. There are people who work there. Photographers use the space for beautiful photoshoots and we perform lovely elopements. If you want to get married there, call them, check with them to make sure what you are planning is OK. Choose a time when it’s not so busy. Be aware that unless you actually pay them money to formally rent a space, you might need a backup plan. If you hire me to marry you there, I will assume you’ve taken responsibility to make sure it’s OK to be there. I’m just there to perform the ceremony. Here is a link to the Indiana State House website.
The Arts Garden in the Circle Center Mall is also a public space. Anyone can walk through it. They also rent out their space for large formal weddings. Even when they rent that space for large weddings, people still have a public walkway they can use to get from one end to the other. They have their own schedule of events. It is also a place of business. The steps or in front of the window may be a pretty spot for a quick ceremony or a few photos but if someone needs to get somewhere and that’s the only path, they may not notice what you are doing until it’s too late. Call the Arts Garden yourself and ask them if it’s OK to get married there when you want to. They will give you a definitive answer. Here is a link to the Arts Garden website.
I literally, just got off the phone with a couple that scheduled her Arts Garden elopement with me 2 months ago. She spoke with them then and again today to confirm things. They booked up with other events and she had to reschedule her time. But she was aware of the situation and planned ahead.
Indianapolis City Market rents out their space for weddings. It’s a great place to grab a table and sign a marriage license but over the past few years, it’s become a busy place! I used to perform little elopements outside or upstairs but that’s become really difficult to do. If you want to reserve a spot for a wedding you can contact City Market. Their prices for roping off a spot for a small wedding are very reasonable. You can order a cake and champaign too! Here is a link to City Market's website.
You can reserve an area on the Indy Canal Walk.
For a very reasonable fee, you can reserve a spot on the canal for a wedding. You can reserve the spot for 3 hours or the entire day. If you really love the canal and want to have a wedding there. It’s a great idea to reserve it. You can actually put up a tent just in case too. If someone else wants to the spot you’ve formally reserved on the Canal Walk, they can’t. You won’t have to work around another group if you really want to get married there. Here is a link the Indy Canal Walk website.
Drawbacks to getting married on the Canal Walk in Indy.
You can reserve a spot but you still can’t keep people from walking by your wedding. You can rent the Indiana State Museum for your wedding ceremony or your entire wedding. If you choose to get married outside they are able to rope off the area right in front of the museum but there is still a public throughway. Bikes and segway tours still go by. The loudspeakers go off at the memorial across the canal. If there is a festival in the park, none of that stops the bands on stage for your wedding.
Don’t people realize there is a wedding going on and stop?
That would make perfect sense!!! The problem is people are not thinking about your wedding. They are thinking about what they are doing. If someone is out for a run with earbuds in their ears they are in their own zone. They might realize they are running through a wedding when they do it and feel bad about it, but too late.
One day we were performing a wedding ceremony on Monument Circle. We were up at the top of the steps and off to the side. A guy with an ottoman on his shoulder walked right through the wedding. It was funny! But it might not be for you. It still baffles me that a person carrying a heavy piece of furniture chose to walk up and down the stairs of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument instead of going around.
Eloping in a wedding officiants home in Indy
When I performed weddings in my home it was generally a very positive experience. Many little elopements turned into small weddings and entire families would show up to my home when I was just expecting two people. Some people felt like they were renting my home as their wedding venue. In the beginning. I did welcome families and friends. That was before I realized that is regulated too. You can only have 4 people in your home at one time for business purposes. It’s a city code. If you get married in YOUR home and hire me to marry you, you can have as many people as you like. That’s not regulated. You can certainly have a party in your own home.
The Observatory atop the City-County Building
Before 2015, we performed many elopements upstairs from the Marion County Clerk’s office. Then, wedding officiants started abusing the space. Instead of just a little elopement with two people, some were leading people to believe that you could go upstairs, create an aisle to walk down, and have a wedding. This is obviously not the intention of the space. After that, the City-County Building implemented a policy that no one can get married anywhere inside the building unless it is by a member of the court. So, if you know a judge that wants to marry there, they are allowed. No one else is. We don’t want to abuse other public spaces and lose the privilege to use them respectfully.
Courthouse Weddings in Indiana. Visit this post to find out more about your courthouse wedding alternatives in Indiana. Some courthouses to still provide wedding services!
How to Get Legally Married In Indiana. Visit this post for everything you need to know about obtaining a marriage license in Indiana.