Clothing Etiquette for a Courthouse Wedding

by Margo Dewey

When it comes to a courthouse wedding, brides have several choices, including a pantsuit, a sleek short dress or the traditional long gown. The groom can decide between a daytime suit or the formal black tie and tails, among other options. Although there are no definitive clothing etiquette rules for the courthouse ceremony, the couple may consider jeans to be too casual for their wedding day.

Wedding Dress Etiquette

A courthouse wedding dress can be a traditional long gown or a short tea-length style. The personality of the bride dictates the selection. The A-line and sheath gowns have the right length and casual look for the smaller courthouse venue. Generally speaking, a full ball gown and mermaid-style dress are considered too elegant and formal for a simple ceremony. The proper etiquette for wearing a tea length dress involves the hem falling between the top of the calf and ankle. The cocktail dress is also acceptable with the hem situated just above or at the knee. Because the courthouse wedding is casual, adding a veil and train are optional.

Classic Wedding Suit

Instead of a wedding gown, a two-piece suit is acceptable for a courthouse ceremony. Match a white tailored pencil skirt with a short-waisted jacket for a conservative ensemble. Brides can also create the look of a wedding dress suit by pairing a cocktail dress with an elegant waistline jacket. The appropriate fabrics to select for a wedding suit are silk, linen and satin. A white or beige pantsuit is also considered appropriate for a courthouse wedding.

Traditional Groom Attire

The courthouse wedding attire for the groom is casual, semi-formal or formal, but it should match the style of the bride’s dress. If the bride wears a long gown, then the groom will wear a tailored suit. For a semi-formal attire, the groom should wear a suit jacket, vest, tie and trousers. The groom puts on a nice shirt, tie and pants for the casual look when the bride decides to wear a simple tea-length dress. Jeans and cargo pants are considered inappropriate for the groom to wear to the ceremony.

Guests' Wedding Attire

According to Emily Post, the wedding invitation and the time of the wedding will be your best guide to its formality. For the daytime courthouse wedding, women should wear a dress or a nice skirt and blouse. Men should wear a sports jacket and pants with the tie being optional. Guests' wedding attire that is not acceptable includes jeans, T-shirts and clothing that is too provocative. Cargo pants, athletic clothing and flip-flops are also considered inappropriate to wear to a courthouse wedding.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Based in Livonia, Mich., Margo Dewey has been writing cultural and society-related articles since 1987. Her articles have appeared in “Suburban Living” magazine, “Associated Newspapers”, and “Oakland Business Monthly” magazine. She also produced a wedding cable series, “Just For The Bride”. She has achieved the Michigan Press Association Award. She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Eastern Michigan University and Bulmersche University in England.