For couples who don’t want the fuss of a big wedding, city hall ceremonies have emerged as a sweet, personal, and less formal alternative—with similarly streamlined bridal ensembles to match. For your city hall wedding, you may have already planned to trade that voluminous ball gown for a chic column dress or a short frock. But what about your wedding hair and makeup?
While you likely won’t sidle up to the town clerk with a full face of makeup and 400 bobby pins, you still want your look to feel special: “A city hall wedding has a pure and authentic vibe,” says hairstylist Clayton Hawkins. “You’re going for that less-is-more, you-only-better approach.”
Meet the Expert
- Clayton Hawkins is a creative director and hairstylist in Los Angeles.
Ready to map out your day-of plan? Read on for tips and inspiration from real brides for a look (and day!) to remember forever.
A Simple Style With Tousled Locks
There's no reason you can't keep things simple. After all, the most important part of the day is making that commitment to your partner. This courthouse bride chose a tousled, simple style for her locks and a soft lipstick hue.
An Effortless 'Do
Who needs a white wedding dress when you've got a fabulous floral frock? But this bride's simple yet stunning look didn't stop there. A flawless complexion and an effortless 'do? Truly gorgeous for a courthouse ceremony.
Smooth, Touchable Hair With Soft Curls
Instead of an updo, Hawkins suggests a smooth, touchable down ’do. First, shampoo and apply mousse. Then Hawkins suggests using hot rollers and brushing it out. This isn’t tricky, but it also isn’t a style you’d try every day. “You get lush ’60s volume that’s not stiff,” he says. (Keep a clean spoolie brush in your bag to tame flyaways.) Just as with this bride's effortless look, tousled, soft curls and full dark lashes are just what the beauty experts ordered.
A Tight Bun With Farm-Fresh Flowers
Megan Roup's bridal hair and makeup combo was nothing short of stunning. For her Santa Barbara courthouse wedding, she opted for a high and tight bun with a jeweled clip and a few flowers from the local farmers market to create a fabulous look.
There's just something so beautifully effortless about this bride's flowing hair. Brushed-out waves? Check. Glowing skin? Check. Bouquet? Check! What more does a bride need?
A Blowout With a Birdcage Veil
Turn the idea of a traditional bridal veil on its head with this unique piece. Jazz up your go-to blowout with a birdcage veil for a totally classic, vintage vibe.
An Updo With a Floral Crown
While you may be tying the knot indoors at city hall, it doesn't mean you can't bring the outdoors in. With just a sheer sweep of smoky black eyeshadow and a flower crown, this bride is beautifully set to say "I do."
A Touch of Glam With a Red Lip
We love the idea of keeping your beauty look simple while adding a pop of sophistication. Consider amping up your usual look by adding blush and full, dark lashes and your go-to lip color, only turned up one notch. This beaming bride proves that you can't go wrong with effortless curls and a just-glam-enough red lip.
Amp up your usual look, and then finish it off with translucent loose setting powder, which helps makeup stay put and gives that velvety finish.
A Half-Up 'Do With a Braided Crown
Bridal crowns have been gaining popularity for years, but they may seem a bit over the top for a city hall celebration. Why not embrace the trend, but make it your own? A boho crown braid is the city hall bride's version of a tiara.
Barely There Makeup and Soft Waves
There's no shame in sticking with something subtle. This bride opted for beautiful, barely there makeup. Paired with soft, touchable waves, this made for a stunning city hall look.
Incorporate a special fragrance to help you scent-stamp the memory of the day. For the full effect, spritz it in your hair as well as on your pulse points.
A Relaxed Updo
Wearing your hair down may not be the look you're hoping for, especially if you're used to an updo. And there's no shame in that! If you do end up choosing to rock an updo, keeps things loose and relaxed with a perfectly imperfect style.
Natural Makeup and a Wide-Brimmed Hat
Are you an avid hat wearer? Instead of a traditional veil, this bride decided to switch things up and paired her natural makeup and hair with a wide-brimmed hat. We can't get enough of this trendy look.
A Neutral Lip With Beaming Smiles
These brides know that their greatest accessory is a pair of mile-wide grins. We love the difference in gown styles and makeup looks, but both come together to look effortlessly beautiful with a neutral lip and beaming smiles.
A Playful Look With a Pair of Shades
You may be more focused on saying "I do" than an elaborate beauty look, and that's 100 percent OK! Go for a down 'do with subtle waves and add a pair of sunnies for a pop of color and a bit of fun.
Elegant Curls With Pearls
A city hall wedding doesn't always have to mean simple or subtle. This bride opted for elegant curls to go with her long-sleeved lace gown. Adding a pearl necklace and pearl earrings into the mix took this gorgeous look one step further.
A Pin in Your Hair for Vintage Flair
This bride started with a gorgeous, beaded vintage dress, and let her hair and makeup develop from there. With a simple red lip and a pin in her hair paired with wispy curls, this look is absolutely timeless.