Many people have never attended a courthouse wedding. While a wedding in a courthouse doesn’t have to be that different from a traditional wedding, there are some differences between the two that you can’t avoid. First and foremost, what should you wear to a courthouse wedding?
Fortunately, the courthouse wedding dress code is pretty easy to follow: just dress in your best business casual wear. However, if you need a little more guidance, don’t worry – we’ll go further in-depth below.
Don’t forget to check out our other guides, too! If you need a guide to wedding invitations, advice on wedding documents, or other tips and tricks, we can help.
Dress Code Guide for Female Guests
Whether you’re attending a formal ceremony or a courthouse wedding, female guests should always have one goal in mind: don’t upstage the bride! Since the bride herself will most likely gravitate towards more casual wedding dresses for a courthouse ceremony, female guests should follow the same lead.
Aim for business casual, semi-formal, or upscale casual, depending on what the hosts recommend. Full skirts may be too formal for this setting, but if you feel unsure, just ask the bride or groom for advice.
As long as you look stylish, modest, and put together, feel free to explore more options than just dresses. Other outfits that female courthouse wedding guests might consider include:
- Skirt suits
Dress Code Guide for Male Guests
Courthouse wedding dress codes for males typically require, at minimum, slacks or khakis and button-down shirts. However, men can also choose to wear suits, blazers, or sports coats. A tie is not a requirement, but men attending the courthouse wedding can wear them if they choose to make their outfits look more formal.
Men should make sure to choose smart-looking formal shoes, boat shoes, or loafers as their wedding shoes of choice. No tennis shoes or sneakers, please!
If you’re a man attending a courthouse wedding, you should consider asking the groom or bride about what level of dress is most appropriate. However, when in doubt, dress more formally than you think is necessary. A full-on tuxedo is too much for a courthouse wedding, but an attractive, upscale suit is always welcome!
What Not to Wear
Now that you know most of what’s included in our courthouse wedding dress code, are there any things you should specifically avoid when putting your outfit together? Absolutely! Rule number one is to avoid any outfits that will either upstage or bring unwanted attention to the bride and groom. For instance, unless the groom specifically requests that you bring it, you should plan to leave your polka-dot suit at home.
Rule number two is to avoid anything that’s overly formal or overly casual. Evening gowns and tuxedos may be too much, but jeans and tennis shoes are too little. It’s up to you to find an acceptable middle ground between the two extremes.
Rule three is to avoid bringing anything that isn’t allowed inside your county courthouse. What is and isn’t allowed may depend on the courthouse rules where you live. Firearms and knives are illegal in all courthouses, for example, but your cell phone is a different story. Some courthouses do not allow cell phones on the premises, but many do.
Finally, stay away from anything overly provocative. Business casual outfits can certainly be sexy and mature, but too much sex appeal is neither appropriate for court nor welcome at a wedding. Plus, such outfits may upset the bride and groom.
Special Considerations for Courthouse Weddings
Keep in mind that a courthouse is a public place, and there will be strangers going about their work during the ceremony. They will be dressed in business casual or formal business wear. While you don’t need to match your outfit to what they’re wearing, you should try not to stand out too much. As long as you adhere to the advice already mentioned here, you will be fine.
It’s vital to remember that this is an important day for the bride and groom, too. Avoid wearing too much black to the ceremony if you can, unless it’s your only appropriate attire. Too much black suggests mourning, which isn’t the message you want to send on a day of celebration! Avoid wearing too much white to show deference to the bride, as well.
A good rule of thumb to follow is, if you wouldn’t wear it to court, don’t wear it to a courthouse wedding. On this note, make sure to wear courthouse-appropriate shoes. Stay away from shoes that make excessive noise when you walk. For women, this includes some high-heeled shoes, and for men, this may include some types of formal loafers.
Since your county courthouse is full of people who are hard at work, you should try to avoid disturbing them as much as possible.
Subsequent Wedding Plans
If your bride and groom plan to hold a wedding reception or another event in a separate location, you may need to take that into account when planning your courthouse wedding dress. It’s always a good idea to bring a comfortable pair of shoes to swap into, especially for women.
If they plan to hold an outdoor event or party after the wedding ceremony, you may want to bring an entirely separate outfit that’s better suited to that venue.
When in Doubt, Ask!
If you’re not sure about your courthouse wedding dress code, all you need to do is ask the bride or groom! If you can’t get a hold of them or they’re too busy with wedding planning to answer, then this guide should serve as a solid starting point. However, the only way to know with complete certainty is to ask the wedding party.
If you need more advice on courthouse wedding dress codes, San Francisco city hall wedding ceremonies, or anything else wedding-related, please don’t hesitate to send us a message!