You’re engaged (yay!), you’ve decided to have and adventure wedding or elopement (yay x2!), and now you’re on the hunt for the perfect outfit. There are so many beautiful wedding dresses in the world, so how do you know where to start? The first thing to think about is where you’re getting married and what your wedding day is going to look like. What are the temperature and weather likely to be? Are you hiking to your ceremony location, or will you be riding in a car/Jeep/helicopter/ski lift most of the way? What’s the terrain and landscape going to be like? Here are a few elopement dress ideas and tips for what to look for.
What to Look for in an Adventure Elopement Dress
Consider the weather, temperature + terrain for your adventure wedding
- For cold weather, consider that you will likely want to wear thermal leggings, warm socks, and a pair of boots under your dress. A dress with a high slit or a tight skirt probably won’t work well for your cold weather accessories. And also consider a long sleeved dress or a stol, cardigan, or wrap to keep you warm and stylish while you take photos (you can always put on your big warm jacket in between shots!).
If you’re expecting warm temperatures, stay cool with light fabrics and dresses with short sleeves or none at all.
- If you think it might be windy on the day of your adventure wedding, I highly recommend choosing a dress with fabric that is light, flowy, and has plenty of movement. A full skirt catches the wind and helps create the most romantic and dramatic elopement photos!
- Are you getting married at the ocean or a lake and want to do some photos in the water at the end of the day? Choose a super light fabric so that your dress doesn’t weigh you down!
Consider what you’ll be doing on your wedding day
- If you plan to hike to your ceremony location, you’ll want to wear an elopement wedding dress that is easy to walk in. (Or you can opt to change into your dress when you get there – more on that below.) Fitted silhouettes like trumpet or mermaid wedding gowns can be a bit too restricting for more than a little bit of walking. On the other hand, a giant ball gown-style skirt will probably be too much to manage for a hiking elopement. If you’re riding in a car, off-road vehicle, helicopter, ski lift, etc. to your ceremony, you won’t need to worry as much about hiking in your dress and you’ll have more flexibility in what style you choose. And if you hire an awesome adventure wedding photographer, I’m sure she or he would be happy to help lift your dress as you walk a short distance.
- Now, if you are planning to hike (or mountain bike or kayak) for your adventure wedding but plan to change into your dress at the destination, there are a few things to consider. You’ll need a dress that easily fits into the backpack you plan to bring and that doesn’t add more weight than you’re willing to hike with. That weight limit will really depend on what you’re used to and how long the hike is, so it’s different for everyone. I highly recommend packing up everything you’ll need before your wedding day and testing out to make sure you’re comfortable and the weight distribution is okay. (For kayaking, make sure the dress fits in a dry bag, and the filled bag will fit in your kayak or strapped to the deck.) If you’re trying to cut down on the weight or bulkiness of the dress, look for lighter fabrics like chiffon, cotton, silk, or rayon. Also think about how the dress will look after it’s been stuffed in a backpack or dry bag for several hours. Materials that are less likely to wrinkle are ideal!
- One last thing to note about dress fabrics: Tulle and lace tend to pick up dirt, leaves, and small sticks easily and can potentially rip. Tulle in particular often becomes statically charged and attracts dust and particles like you wouldn’t believe! I personally don’t think this is a huge deal for elopement dresses because adventurous brides aren’t usually too concerned about their outfits getting dirty. A dirty hemline is a sign of an awesome adventure wedding! But if that would bother you, steer clear of these materials or choose a short dress.
Choose an Elopement Dress You Love
This might sound obvious, but look for a dress that you totally love! You should feel awesome wearing the dress, and it should fit your personality. And whether you’re wearing it for just a couple of hours or all day, the dress should be comfortable and easy to move in. If you’re constantly pulling up an ill-fitting dress or wondering if the fabric is laying right, you’ll be distracted and detracting from the special moments of such an incredible day. Be comfortable, amazing, and be you!
And wear what you want. Who says it has to be white? Or even a dress at all? Patterns? Yes please! A huge part of eloping is doing what makes you happy and celebrates your love. So forget the “wedding rules” and find an outfit that makes you feel amazing!
Where to Buy Elopement Dresses
You might find your dream elopement dress at a bridal salon, but you might not. With more and more couples opting to ditch traditional weddings and do something totally different, there are more options! Department stores, online boutiques, custom dress designers, and even Instagram and Pinterest are a great places to find dresses perfect for your adventure wedding. From traditional bridal gowns to boho dresses to bright colors to even pantsuits, there’s something out there for everyone in any budget or style.
Fillyboo, Spell + the Gypsy, Lulus, Etsy, BHLDN, and Modcloth are a few of my favorite online stores to shop for elopement wedding dresses. I’m also a huge fan of Jordan de Ruiter, Reclamation (sustainable fashion – yes!) and Natalie Wyn for beautifully designed and hand-crafted elopement wedding dresses. If you’re wanting to have a bridal salon experience as you shop for your elopement dress, check out romantic and boho dress designers like Leanne Marshall, Lillian West, Monique Lhuillier, Watters, and Hayley Paige.
To see specific styles and get inspired, browse my elopement wedding dress Pinterest board!
Hey, friend! I’m Julie – an adventure wedding & elopement photographer who loves the outdoors and traveling! My photography is fun and heartfelt while highlighting the beauty of love and nature. I’m based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but wedding photography takes me throughout the southwest, to national parks, and all over the world! To find out more about destination wedding photography, check out my travel page. And if you want to get some great elopement planning tips, check out planning and advice section of the blog.