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Some couples prefer to keep their wedding low key by inviting just close family and friends to the official part with a small reception at a bar or even in the parking lot of the city hall. Read how to dress for a civil wedding as a guest, what to consider when picking you outfit and enjoy the outfit inspirations for different times of the day and year.

  1. Best City Hall Wedding Guest Attire
    • What to Wear to a Civil Wedding as a Guest
  2. Court nuptial outfit ideas
  3. Accessories for wedding guests
    • Best purse to wear at a civil nuptial
    • Add a hat
  4. Be aware – a wedding is a sort of family reunion

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Best City Hall Wedding Guest Attire

In Germany, the dream wedding month is May. Many young couples want to get married in May because it is the first real spring month with the first real warm days in Germany. The trees are green and the flowers, bushes and trees are in full bloom. Somehow they associate May with sunshine and hope. Actually, May is the rainiest month in Germany. When I told my sister, she switched her wedding to October. And yes, she had a sunny warm day on her wedding day.

bride wearing a hat
Wearing a hat at our wedding


In the US, June is the wedding season. Anyhow, as weddings need long planning, especially here in the US, it is the right time for civil wedding outfit ideas.

What to Wear to a Civil Wedding as a Guest

Let’s start with just a civil wedding with just the legal wedding procedure. They differ strongly by states and countries, but when borough, county, city or religious officers are involved you cannot be wrong with pants or skirt suits, a formal dress, anything along the line of festive business casual as long as you leave your jeans at home. City hall wedding-guest attire means dress up. What’s called Sunday’s Best like a velvet dress would work too.

When the invitation says semi-formal, a cocktail dress with cropped jacket to cover the shoulders will work as long as you are sure not to out-dress the bride. If no dress-code is given, take the location of the reception and time of the day into account. Late in the day means more fancy like the burned velvet dress with hat in the outfit inspirations.

Don't outdress the bride. #weddingguest Click To Tweet

Stylist’s tip: When it’s a winter wedding, make sure to wear a fancy coat.


In the US, a LBD is ok, in many European countries it's a no-no. #weddingetiquette Click To Tweet

On chilly days (or in winter) you need outerwear. Coordinate it with your outfit as some photos may be taken outside as well. See the cardigan in the photos below and the coat later in this post for inspiration.

Stylist in Kate Middleton inspired dress withcardigan

back view of dress with jacket

stylist in cardigan dress civil nuptial outfit
Shein dress, Ivanka Trump pumps, Hipstik pantyhose, Sam Edelman studded bag with metal top handles, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Ray Ban sunglasses, and cardigan c/o Coolibar


Wedding Guest Outfit Inspirations

The photos below give some outfit inspirations for a formal civil wedding.

pink jersey attire for a guest at a civil wedding
Baby pink sheath jersey dress c/o Lookbook with own studded flats and necklace for a civil casual style summer wedding guest


fake skirt suit for a participant in nuptials at a court house
Vittari linen blazer with black straight skirt, Dolce and Gabbana Madonna sunglasses, GNW polka dot top, Anne Klein silk scarf, pearls, structured bag and L.K. Bennett pumps


over 50 years old fashion blogger in silk shirt dress with matching belt, bag and heels
Banana Republic silk shirt dress, Kieselstein Cord lizard belt, Gucci dionysus silver enamel buckle, Nine West pointy-toe pumps, Hermes collier de chien bangle, multi-gemstone cuff, Gucci ostrich bag



style blogger showing what to wear to a civil wedding
Victoria Victoria Beckham cat pleated drop-waist dress with pumps, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Bulova watch, bracelet and scarf



stylist showing how to dress for a civil wedding as a guest in a color blocked dress
Liz Claiborne pumps, statement bag, a coin necklace designed by my late Dad, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and color blocked jersey dress c/o Ronen Chen



look for a civil wedding
Long sleeve turtleneck layering top c/o Adea with own hounds tooth blazer, pearls and Sienna Studio pencil leather skirt, pantyhose and pumps for a sleek, sophisticated and effortless look (works in winter in Germany)


style book author looking elegant in LBD, trench, pumps, pearls and purse
Burberry trench coat, Ellen Tracy sheath, Kieselstein Cord belt with 3 horses buckle, Anne Klein pointy toe pumps, multi-color pearl necklace worn c/o The Pearl Clasp (all own) accessorized with a purse c/o Bellorita. Again the look is inspired by the colors of the purse


Accessories for Wedding Guests

Best Purse to Wear at a Civil Nuptial

Jewelry is a no-brainer. And sure, you need a purse. Avoid shoulderbags. They will let your dress, blazer, jacket, or blouse look odd. Of course, a fancy day clutch works, but a small, fancy top handle or wrist-handle bag is best. This way you have your hands free to greet people, have a glass of champgne or take photos with your cell phone.

ombre top handle bag
Nina croc embrossed top handle bag


When it is a sunny day, make sure your sunnies look great with your outfit. They should have the same vibe. On a rainy day, an umbrella is a Must-have. Since the photos are a memory for the couple, make sure the color of your umbrella doesn’t clash with your outfit or that of the wedding party.

Add a Hat

In some regions, women wear a hat. This accessory makes the outfit very sophisticated (see above inspiration photos). The hardest part is to find a hat that goes with the vibe of the outfit. Check this hat guide for a know-how. How lucky are our sis in Great Britain where there are still hat makers and stores with huge selections!

Be Aware – A Wedding Is a Sort of Family Reunion

Since weddings are also some sort of family reunion you may want to also take in to consideration what to wear at a family reunion to not become the amusement of the freshly weds future kids at a family reunion down the road.

fashion blogger in 40s style shirt dress

robe in retro style for non-bridal party invitees

vintage style gives a romantic vibe to a nuptial ceremony

midlife wedding guest outfit idea black shirt dress
Outfit details: Velvet corduroy shirt dress (self-sewn),  leather coat (old, similar available at LeatherCoatsEtc), L.K. Bennett pumps, Jaeger bag, Hermes collier de chien leather band and D&GM sunglasses (all own)


When your kid is marrying you may also be interested in reading the 6 does and don’ts of selecting a mother-of the bride dress. Do you have a wedding coming up? What kind of wedding is it? Just curious.

Do you want more tips and advice like given in this post? Then you may want to get a copy of my style book “How to Dress for Success in Midlife.” It covers all kind of dressing situations for women over 40 from job interview over spa to dinner invitation. Buy it now.

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Photos: G. Kramm

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