How to Get Married at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin

Are you and your partner thinking of getting married at the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin, but aren’t sure where to get started? Then this is for you! I’ll go over everything from finding an officiant, to suggesting places to celebrate after. As an expert in documenting couples getting married at the Capitol in Madison, this guide will help you every step of the way.

bride and groom stand in the madison capitol building during their intimate elopement

Step one: Find an officiant

This might be super obvious to some, but the first thing you’ll need is someone to legally marry you. I suggest finding someone first because they may have limited availability.

You could ask a friend to marry you and they can register to become ordained online at the Universal Life Church. The bonus of asking a friend to marry you is that they can tailor your ceremony to be a bit more personal.

If you’re interested in hiring a civil official to marry you in the Capitol building, you can find an ordained professional on the Madison County Clerk’s website here.

Note: You will need your officiant’s name, address, phone number and email address when you are applying for your marriage license.

Step two: Pick a wedding day & apply for a permit

Once you’ve chosen your officiant, the next step is to pick a date. I’d recommend picking a weekday as the Capitol building will be less crowded. The Capitol is open from 8am – 6pm Monday thru Friday and 8am – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

If you are planning on using a private room, having chairs or inviting more than 50 guests, you’ll need to apply for a permit to get married inside the Madison Capitol building during regular business hours. You can find the information on their website here.

There are two permit fees that are associated with weddings inside the Capitol building. The first is a refundable $750 deposit. The second is a non-refundable deposit equal to $375 or $750. The $375 permit is for ceremonies that are occurring inside of business hours that require room rental, chairs or more than 50 guests. If you are hoping to have your ceremony after the building is closed (like on weekends after 4pm or weekdays after 6pm), you’ll need to pay $750.

You can find the permit application online here.

If you are planning to get married with a small amount of guests, are not using a private room, and do not need chairs, you do not need a permit. All you need to do is show up and get married!

Step three: Apply for your marriage license

When you are 60 days away from your wedding date and you have selected a date, location and time for your ceremony, you must schedule an appointment to apply for a marriage license on the dane county’s website here.

Marriage license appointments are held via Zoom and are online only. You must have your photo ID and Social Security number, a document with your current physical address, and a certified copy of your birth certificate. There are a few other stipulations that are outlined on the Dane County Clerk’s website here. The total fee for your license will be $120 and is due at the time of your application.

After applying, there is a three day waiting period before your marriage license is issued. You may apply for a waiver for an additional $25 fee.

Note: These rules can change anytime so be sure to double check before applying to make sure that you have the proper documents and requirements.

Step four: Choose a photographer (aka, ME!)

Photographers aren’t just for traditional wedding days. Capturing memories that you can physically hold and look at for the rest of your lives is something that’s so important.

My favorite thing about photographing ceremonies at the Capitol building is being able to spend so much time with each couple. I’ll help you build a timeline that maximizes our time together and will allow us to get some fantastic portraits featuring the Capitol’s gorgeous architecture and natural lighting.

But don’t worry, if you’re inviting any guests, I’ll be sure to capture some candid photos of them and formal group photos just like a typical wedding day.

Ready to make this official? Contact me today!

couple embraces in the madison capitol on their wedding day as image is captured from below

Step five: Invite guests

Legally, a ceremony in Wisconsin consists of five (5) people: the couple, your officiant, and two witnesses. This means your photographer is able to sign as a witness and so is any passing person who “witnessed” your ceremony taking place.

I’d recommend inviting at least two people who can celebrate with you once your ceremony is over.

Step six: Secure a florist, attire and the rings

Just because your wedding is at the Capitol doesn’t mean you can’t have all the bells and whistles of a typical wedding day.

Flowers are a beautiful addition to elopement days. Some florists will work with last minute clients if you just need a bouquet and boutonniere, but be sure to call ahead and tell them your date and vision. Being less picky about the flowers you have will be helpful and allow your florist to create beautiful designs.

My favorite florists for Madison Capitol elopements are Hy-Vee, Daffodil Parker, and Sunborn Gardens.

Make sure you find a fit that is comfortable for you. The Capitol building is huge and can involve a lot of walking (especially outside!). If you’re getting married in the winter, I recommend having a coat or jacket for some outdoor photos.

A few of my favorite sites for dresses are Asos, BHLDN, Baltic Born, Lulu’s and David’s Bridal.

For suits, be sure to lean on the side of being comfortable and finding a suit that fits well. Men’s Wearhouse is a good option as well as Indochino, Bonobos, Sene, Suit Shop, The Black Tux. Please make sure you have enough time to order and tailor your suit before your wedding day.

Another option is to thrift, borrow or mix and match with what is already in your closet. This applies to each of you! You don’t need to spend thousands on attire that you’ll only wear once. If you want to wear something non-traditional, it’s your day – remember you can do anything you want.

When it comes to rings, it’s important to make sure that you have rings that fit. If you want to wear silicone rings, that’s totally okay! Just make sure to get them before your ceremony!

Step seven: Plan a celebratory dinner or drinks for after your ceremony

One of my favorite ways couples celebrate on their elopement days is when they reserve a table at a nearby restaurant for dinner after their ceremony. There are so many amazing five-star restaurants close to the Capitol that are perfect for celebrating your marriage.

Some of my biggest recommendations are Eno Vino Downtown, Lucille, Cooper’s Tavern, Cento, RED Sushi, Tornado Room Steak House, Sardine, and Harvey House – just to name a few!

Be sure to inquire early and make reservations!

I hope this was helpful as you plan to get married at the Madison Capitol! Check out more of my favorite tips and tricks for any couples planning to get married in Wisconsin:

Best Venues for Your Intimate Elopement in Madison, Wisconsin
How to Elope in Wisconsin
Top Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Are you looking for a wedding photographer for your elopement or intimate ceremony? Get in touch!

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