Until it's safe to celebrate face-to-face with hundreds of people again, micro-weddings, elopements, and courthouse weddings are here to stay for the foreseeable future. But a small or impromptu ceremony can be just as special, and that includes finding the perfect courthouse wedding dress to complete your look for the big day. Whether you're into the traditional white ball gown or looking for something more unique and versatile, we've got you—you can buy these civil wedding dresses online right now.
What does a bride wear to a courthouse wedding?
Before we dive into the basics of shopping for a courthouse wedding dress, the most important thing to know is that in the end, anything goes, because it's your wedding! But there are a few details that can be helpful to remember if you've decided to get married at city hall, your local county clerk's office, or a courthouse. Casual wedding dresses and shorter hemlines are popular for courthouse weddings, especially for couples who make a last-minute decision to get married—these types of dresses tend to be easier to find online or in stores at a moment's notice. Pantsuits and jumpsuits are two popular alternatives for city hall wedding dresses, and the separate pieces are easily re-wearable long after your wedding day. And while white is always appropriate for a courthouse wedding, feel free to shun tradition by wearing a color other than white or ivory if they aren't quite your style.
Can you wear a wedding dress to city hall?
You can absolutely wear a wedding dress to city hall. But depending on the exact location, you might be limited on space—for example, a very short or non-existent aisle, a small area to stand at the altar, etc.—so be mindful of that when shopping for your courthouse or city hall wedding dress. Styles with large amounts of fabric may not be as easy to maneuver in tight spaces. If you'll be getting ready alone, you may want to skip styles with intricate corsets or button-up backs.
Do you wear a veil to a courthouse wedding?
Remember what we said earlier? It's your wedding day, so if you want to wear a veil for your courthouse wedding, go for it! There are no rules when it comes to the type of veil you should or shouldn't wear for a courthouse ceremony, but longer wedding veil lengths may be more difficult to maneuver. We recommend short to medium-length veils, such as birdcage, blusher, and fingertip styles.
Courthouse Wedding Dresses
If you can't shop for a wedding dress in person due to COVID or another reason, these ready-to-wear styles will still make you feel gorgeous on your special day. Here are 35 courthouse wedding dresses we'd buy right now.
We love this demure A-line gown for a winter courthouse wedding or any bride who's in search of added coverage on top. The thick waistband slims your figure, and the low open back keeps the dress feeling fun and fresh.
David’s Bridal three-quarter sleeve plus-size dress, $599, David’s Bridal
This lightweight cotton gown featuring crocheted lace is oh-so-romantic and feminine. The vintage-inspired style is also casual enough to wear again and again after your wedding day—pair it with flat sandals in the summertime or boots and a chunky sweater in the fall and winter.
LoveShackFancy Edie dress in white, $335, LoveShackFancy
Add a little glitz and glam to your courthouse wedding look with this flirty dress featuring metallic gold fil coupé. The organza skirt is made for twirling!
Mestiza Alfama midi dress, $495, BHLDN
Get your French girl fashion fix by rocking this cool blazer dress by Parisian bridal designer Rime Arodaky. Lace peeking out from the sleeves and hem adds a touch of romance to this otherwise edgy style.
Rime Arodaky Lui lace-trimmed mini dress, $1,340, NET-A-PORTER
Show as much (or as little) skin as you want with this set that features an adjustable zipper slit. The stretchy, thick white fabric hugs your curves in all the right places.
Black Halo Kacie two-piece maxi dress in porcelain, $375, Shopbop
This minimalist civil wedding dress is serving major goddess vibes. The satin slip gown (a huge wedding dress trend to watch for 2021) is accented with a subtle cowl neckline and thin spaghetti straps for a bridal look that is understated and sexy.
Jenny by Jenny Yoo Sutton gown, $995, BHLDN
As proven by this playful midi style, classic does not have to equal boring. Unexpected details like puff sleeves and voluminous godets give this traditional lace dress a fashion-forward spin.
Bronx and Banco Megan long-sleeve dress, $595, Neiman Marcus
Wear this ethereal gown if you want to feel like you just walked out of a Jane Austen romance. This courthouse wedding dress is covered in gorgeous embroidery, ruffles, and features delicate puff sleeves to rival Elizabeth Bennett's own wardrobe.
LoveShackFancy Viviana dress, $1,995, LoveShackFancy
A short, strapless mini is all you need if you want a no-frills city hall wedding dress. Look for one that has an eye-catching element, like this ruffled taffeta neckline.
Cushnie strapless mini dress, $1,495, Shopbop
This simple but chic dress is appropriate for all seasons and courthouse ceremonies—the satin fabric and tasteful ruffles are the perfect amount of fancy without being over the top.
DB Studio flutter sleeve satin plus-size dress, $160, David’s Bridal
Reminiscent of Old Hollywood glamour, this slinky silk gown is a gorgeous option if you're looking for a show-stopping courthouse wedding dress. The front features a plunging v-neckline with an equally low back.
Michael Lo Sordo Alexandra silk satin gown, $1,220, NET-A-PORTER
If there were ever a dress made for a city hall wedding, we think this would be it. The full tulle skirt, tea-length hemline, and bustier bodice give this dress a vintage-meets-modern look that's totally whimsical and sweet.
By Watters Lynette gown, $995, BHLDN
A sweetheart neckline and off-the-shoulder straps complete this airy, sophisticated civil wedding dress. The slim-fitting skirt and midi length are perfect for petite figures.
Reformation Violet dress in ivory, $278, Reformation
Throw on this short, leg-baring number, add a sassy pair of high heels, and you've got your courthouse wedding look in just a few minutes.
Galvan satin halter-neck midi dress, $995, NET-A-PORTER
From the oversized shoulder bows to the floral embroidery and scalloped trim, this city hall wedding dress is all about the details. Plus, the square neckline is completely on-trend.
Mestiza Clara dress, $395, BHLDN
For the sophisticated bride, a cap-sleeve shift dress never fails. This civil wedding dress is made from stretch lace and features a flattering keyhole neckline.
DB Studio cap sleeve lace plus-size dress, $110, David’s Bridal
Bohemian and free-spirited brides will love this floaty dress made from Swiss dot cotton and custom lace. The waist is elasticized, giving the dress just the right amount of structure while also being incredibly comfortable and easy to wear.
LoveShackFancy Lupita dress, $595, LoveShackFancy
There's so much to love about this modern jumpsuit: the on-trend wide leg, the off-the-shoulder neckline, and most importantly, the pockets.
DB Studio off-the-shoulder jumpsuit, $200, David’s Bridal
This high-neck wedding dress gives you the option of coverage on top while showing off your legs. Made from ivory crepe fabric, the dress is luxe and trendy.
Vanessa Cocchiaro The C.J. mini dress, $395, NET-A-PORTER
Adjustable waist, bra-friendly sleeves, and a comfortable silhouette—this civil wedding dress pretty much has it all. If ivory isn't your color, choose from blush, champagne, or dove gray instead.
Reformation Winslow dress in ivory, $268, Reformation
If you've been dreaming of wearing a wedding dress with a full skirt and train, consider this classic number by Jenny Yoo. The A-line silhouette is slimmer than a large ball gown skirt (which means it's much easier to move around in), but you'll still get the full bridal effect.
Jenny by Jenny Yoo Octavia gown, $975, BHLDN
Introducing the ultimate cool bride outfit: this pantsuit. Bridal separates look amazing on your wedding day, but even better, you can re-wear them again and again for years to come by pairing them with other items in your closet.
This satin LWD hits the mark when it comes to minimalist style. It's a blank slate for whatever type of accessories you're into (like edgy bridal jacket), but this dress is also chic enough to pull its own weight and can be worn long after your wedding day.
Line & Dot Loulou satin dress, $92, Revolve
Wear your heart on your sleeve—or in this case, your dress! This adorable mini dress is embellished with white sequins and the word 'love' in contrasting gold letters, adding a whimsical element to your courthouse wedding look.
Theia Kaida dress, $260, BHLDN
A white jumpsuit is a stylish alternative to a city hall wedding dress. This one-shoulder style is perfect for petite brides, thanks to its 28-inch inseam and flattering crepe fabric that will show off your shape.
Black Halo pravella jumpsuit, from $45, Rent the Runway
What could be more romantic than a dress covered in lace roses? We're obsessed with this timeless sheath style, which features thin straps and a satin waist detail in a barely-there blush hue.
Catherine Deane rose lace Frida dress, from $115, Rent the Runway
For your own Marilyn Monroe moment (without the wardrobe malfunction, we hope!). This vintage-inspired courthouse wedding dress is effortless and comfortable—plus, it's flattering for all body types with adjustable straps and a flowy tulle skirt.
Lulus walking on air tulle midi dress, $99, Lulus
If you're not into dresses or skirts, a versatile white jumpsuit is perfect for a city hall wedding any time of the year.
Adrianna Papell asymmetric overlay jumpsuit, from $30, Rent the Runway
Don't be afraid to get a little non-traditional with your courthouse bridal look! A high-low skirt is a fun option for your civil wedding dress, especially if you're in the mood to wear a fabulous pair of shoes.
Parker Black Roxanne gown, $388, Revolve
Many brides choose to wear mid- or tea-length city hall wedding dresses, but by no means do you have to. If you prefer a full-length gown, we recommend a slimmer silhouette, such as this airy chiffon style (it also comes in blush!).
Lulus Best Part of Me satin bustier maxi dress, $95, Lulus
You can also go super-short in a leg-baring mini dress. Thanks to the high neckline and sheer lace sleeves, this dress won't leave you feeling totally exposed at the altar.
NBD Abra dress, $310, Revolve
You'll feel like a million bucks in this glamorous sequined gown, which features a cowl back to offset the higher neckline. It has rave reviews for being comfortable and flattering at the same time, and it's available in three different lengths.
Badgley Mischka award-winner gown, from $85, Rent the Runway
If you're looking for a courthouse wedding dress that offers a bit of modesty, try this classic knee-length style. It's ideal for any season and will give you that classic bridal vibe.
Kiyonna plus-size wedding belle short dress, $188, David’s Bridal
We're into this unique boho-inspired maxi dress, which can be worn two different ways. Brides with smaller busts can wear the deep v-neckline in the front for a sexy (but tasteful) hint of skin, or you can turn the dress around for a little more coverage.
HAH take a bow dress, from $35, Rent the Runway
Wear a floor-length lace dress for a traditional bridal look. This sheath gown is accented with a demure side slit, pretty eyelash lace trim, and a low scoop back.
Melissa Sweet long-sleeve faux surplice wedding dress, $849, David’s Bridal