Is it appropriate to buy a formal wedding dress for a civil ceremony?

Just curious is it appropriate to buy a formal wedding dress for a civil ceremony? I have always wanted a formal wedding dress but fiancee wants a civil wedding is there any reason not to get the dress i want?

Nancy Tucker

It depends entirely on what you mean by a civil ceremony. The term implies that there are no religious references in the ceremony. It can also imply a “courthouse” or Justice of the Peace ceremony.

If you are speaking of a ceremony without the traditional religious references, by all means go ahead and wear your dress. If you are speaking about the Court House, you may want to consider something less formal.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Yes, most people wear conservative clothing to a court house wedding. However, if you are meeting in a judges private chambers you should be able to wear whatever you want.

You might want to ask first.


Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

Dear Lindsay,

You certainly may wear a wedding gown to a civil ceremony. Do keep in mind that the wedding gown should match the formality of the wedding. So, a marriage at city hall would be a perfect setting for a smart white suit. A justice of the peace in your parents living room would be perfect for a gown with a small sweep. And a JP in the ballroom of a five star hotel would be perfect for a bejeweled gown with a train.

I do hope this helps,

Father Ken Zelten OFM

Im in agreement with Nancy, it depends on the setting. Don’t wear a formal wedding dress to the court house, but if the setting is a park, or a big home… go for it.
Come to a decision together. Work out differences (where related to the wedding…or married life) …and your relationship will be the stronger for it.