How The Courthouse Became The Ultimate Cool Bride Venue

Is the big white wedding dead?
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The courthouse wedding has had a makeover. Once the venue of choice for the young, broke and accidentally pregnant, the courthouse wedding has gone from the antithesis of romance to the epitome of cool. Just look at Naomi Watts, who recently married Billy Crudup at an inner city courthouse in Manhattan wearing lace Oscar De La Renta. 

Naomi Watts wedding
Naomi Watts married Billy Crudup at city hall. (Credit: Instagram)

In contrast to the big white wedding, a courthouse ceremony is unfussy and intimate. The nonchalant courthouse brides, in their sleek suits and stylish mini dresses, exude sophistication. 

While some people have been dreaming of their wedding day for their whole lives, others can find themselves crippled by exorbitant budgets, spiralling guest lists and complicated family dynamics, which is where the courthouse wedding can offer an escape. 

With no traditional wedding rituals to fulfil—father-daughter dances, bridesmaid selection or bouquet tosses—couples have an opportunity to focus on what is meaningful to them. For many couples, the appeal of the courthouse ceremony is found in its emphasis on intimacy over performance. 

Sabrina socol
Fashion influencer, Sabina Socol’s Parisian civil ceremony. (Credit: @sabinasocol)

Of course, not all couples choose the courthouse wedding for these reasons. For Jasmine Garnsworthy, creator of Female Founder World, and her husband, it was a matter of legalities. 

“The main event was a 65-person wedding in France—but as an Aussie, you can’t actually do the legal part of getting married in France,” Jasmine tells marie claire Australia.  

“My husband and I have been living in New York for almost a decade, and so we decided to go down to City Hall and get the paperwork sorted a couple of months before the wedding day.”

Jasmine Garnsworthy
Jasmine Garnsworthy got married at city hall in Manhattan. (Credit: @jasminegarnsworthy)

While Jasmine didn’t necessarily choose to have a courthouse wedding for sentimental reasons, that didn’t stop the day from becoming an exceptionally meaningful one. 

“It turned into one of my favourite days of all time,” Jasmine says, as she tells us about her wedding day

“I gave a local photographer around $200 to snap some quick photos of the day and invited my sister and one of my husband’s best mates to be our witnesses. I wore a wedding dress by Delphine Manivet and grabbed some flowers from the bodega and we joined the queue at New York City Hall a little before lunch time.” 

Jasmine Garnsworthy
Jasmine grabbed her wedding bouquet from the bodega. (Credit: @jasminegarnsworthy)

The way couples choose to celebrate their newly married status varies. Some keep it simple with a family dinner, or drinks in the backyard. Others go ultra-luxe with champagne in sumptuous hotel lounges, private dining rooms and long table dinners under the stars. 

For Jasmine and her husband, it was all about keeping things low-key. 

“Afterwards we sat on the park bench nearby and opened some champagne, then went to our favourite Italian restaurant, Via Carota, in the village for a long lunch. It was a very good day.” 

Jasmine garnsworthy
Jasmine and her husband celebrated with champagne in the park. (Credit: @jasminegarnsworthy)

When it comes to having a courthouse ceremony, you don’t have to forgo the romance and there are plenty of ways to make your day feel special. 

“Wearing a wedding dress—although it was quite simple and fell just above the ankle–made the day special,” Jasmine says. 

“I also wanted to keep the vibe relaxed, so we added fun touches, like the champagne outside City Hall, giving each other a ring budget of $20 and surprising each other with something fun (the ‘real’ rings were exchanged at our wedding in France), and celebrating at our favourite spot afterwards.” 

What To Wear To A Courthouse Wedding 


Evangeline mini dress, $525 from Aje.

Brandon Maxwell

Brandon Maxwell Silk-faille mini dress, $2,495 from Net-A-Porter.


Halfpenny London Double-breasted satin-mikado mini dress, $2,400 from Net-A-Porter.

Jimmy Choo

Brinker + Eliza Delia 24K-Gold-Plated, Crystal & Cultured Freshwater Pearl Drop Earrings, $224.25, from Brinker + Eliza.


Jennifer Behr Tripled Rosette mesh-trimmed silk-faille headband, $669.53 from Net-A-Porter.


Sophie Bille Brahe Bisou Perle 14-Karat gold pearl single earring, $1,482.00 from Net-A-Porter.

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