A Guide to Picking the Perfect Elopement Wedding Dress

A Guide to Picking the Perfect Wedding Dress for your Elopement

Tali      January 3, 2022

You are planning an elopement (woot woot!) and now you are starting to work out some of those details that really start to make the whole thing feel real, like picking out your elopement dress! Finding a dress that is a perfect fit for you, your location, and your adventure can be a bit overwhelming. What do you even need to consider when picking an elopement dress? Don’t worry, we have got you covered! To help take some of the stress out of it and make sure that your dress is exactly what you have always dreamed of, we have put together this quick guide to help you pick the perfect wedding dress for your elopement.

First, we will cover a couple of key things to keep in mind when deciding which dress is THE dress. Then we have a couple of quick notes on accessories (especially for hiking elopements, thinking about accessories is a must!). Finally, we will wrap up with a couple of extra tips and tricks, like how to fly with your wedding dress.

TIPS FOR THE PERFECT ELOPEMENT DRESS

A groom helps his bride down from a palm tree during their tropical elopement so that she doesn't wreck her elopement dress

FABRIC

The fabric of your dress is an important factor to consider for a number of reasons. From a photography perspective, we love lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, soft tulle, and silk, which catch beautifully in the wind and can create dramatic, flowy movement in your photos. It is also important to consider other factors that the fabric of the dress influences though, such as your comfort. If you are getting married in the middle of the summer heavy fabrics such as brocade, moire, and velvet might not be the best choice (especially if you aren’t planning on spending the day in an air conditioned building). Additionally heavy fabrics may be harder to hike in.

SHAPE AND FIT

Picking a style that makes you feel beautiful comes first in my book, but if you have a little wiggle room with exactly what you want, choosing something that is easy to move in and matches the activities that you want to do on your wedding day is important to consider. If you are planning on horseback riding or doing a lot of hiking, wearing something that is tight down to your ankles might make your plans a little tricky. When you are trying on your elopement wedding dress, imagine yourself doing some of the activities that you are planning on doing in your elopement. Do you have room to move? Can you bend over, take a big step up, and squat down? Our advice? Say yes to a dress that gives you the freedom to conquer anything your wedding day throws your way!

A bride swishes her elopement wedding dress in the forest while embracing her groom during their New Hampshire elopement.
A bride hikes up her elopement wedding dress as she adventures through the woods

LENGTH AND VOLUME

This category ties in closely with the fit and shape of the dress. The length and volume of your dress will play a big role in how easily you are able to maneuver during your wedding day. If you plan on doing some serious hiking on your wedding day, a six foot train or a mountain of tulle might make things a little tricky. However, if your heart is set on a dress that doesn’t perfectly match your day, there is always a way to make it work! We could pack the dress while hiking and change into it when you get to your location or if there are parts of your day that won’t work with your dress, you could have a backup dress or outfit that gives you the flexibility that you need and change into it for part of your day.

WEIGHT

Wedding dresses can get heavyyyy! If you are planning on moving around a lot, hiking, or packing your dress, make sure you pick a dress with a weight that you can handle. We can always pick shorter trails, plan activities that give you more time sitting down (mountain top picnic anyone?!), or find other ways to accommodate, but balancing your dream dress with your dream day is a good place to start. Some things to consider when being conscious of the weight of your dress are the fabric type, number of fabric layers, and length of the dress. 

PACKABILITY

The packability of your dress can come into play in a number of ways for your elopement. If you are planning on flying or driving to a destination for your wedding, picking a dress that you are able to easily bring with you is something that is important to consider. For adventure elopements though, it is also important to consider how easily your dress will pack if you are planning on hiking to a location and then changing into your dress. Something that can be rolled and carried in a backpack is ideal, as well as picking fabrics such as crepe, lace, and tulle that are less prone to wrinkling (steamers are hard to come by when you are out on the trail!).

A couple dances among the tall pines during their winter elopement

COST

The least fun of the things to consider when picking out your wedding dress is the cost, but it is important to keep it in mind. Most elopements aren’t exactly kind to wedding dresses. If you are truly out there for the adventure, there is a good chance (almost a guarantee) that your dress is going to get dirty. A stunning desert dust ombre, a couple of twigs that tell the story of your hike down the mountain after saying your vows, or a lace accentuating touch of mud on the hem… it’s all a part of the adventure and story of your day. If you are planning on offsetting the cost of your wedding dress by selling it after your big day, be sure to keep in mind that it may not be perfect off the rack condition after your elopement and factor that into your budgeting.

TIPS FOR THE PERFECT ELOPEMENT DRESS ACCESSORIES

A bride hikes up her elopement wedding dress to show off her cowgirl boots. Proper footwear is important while hiking on your elopement day and especially important when eloping with horses!

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SHOES

But actually, shoes are key. If you are doing any hiking on your elopement day, a good pair of shoes is critical. My favorite for an elopement? The hiking boots that you already have, love, and can always count on. Personally, I don’t think it gets much cuter than hiking boots and elopement wedding dresses, but strictly from a practical standpoint, something with tread and support is key to any hiking excursion. If you are in the market for a new pair of boots, I recommend getting them as soon as you can so that you have time to test them out and break them in. You don’t want to find out on your wedding day that your new boots give you terrible blisters! There are plenty of great brands out there (my current go-to boots are the Vasque St. Elias FG GTX… so comfy and cute!), but the most important thing is to try them on and find one that works for you. Everyone’s foot is a different shape and finding a pair of boots that are made for your foot shape is key to comfort. Going to a store like REI that specializes in outdoor gear is a great option. They have sales reps that are trained to help you find the perfect hiking shoe and also have a great return policy, so if the shoe that was perfect in the store turns out to be a toe eating monster, you aren’t stuck with it for life.

LAYERS

A famous man once said, the outdoors is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you are going to get. Okay, maybe that isn’t quite a direct quote, but it is true nonetheless! Sunny one moment, cold and raining the next. We have all been outside in a situation where the perfect weather takes an unexpected turn or the temperature drops 50 degrees from one day to the next (on one adventure in the Tetons, Dom and I went from wearing shorts and sandals in 80F weather to being blocked in by a blizzard and slipping around on icy roads… all in less than 24 hours!). The key to success in situations like this is planning for everything and bringing plenty of layers. I suggest picking some sort of cute layer for a little extra warmth if you need it during pictures… maybe a fur shawl, a cute white coat, an edgy leather jacket, or even a cozy blanket… and having a more robust option (read raincoat or puffy jacket) that you can pull out if the situation calls for it. 

A couple kisses on the North Shore of Lake Superior during their elopement in Minnesota. It's a chilly morning and the brides elopement wedding dress was a bit too thin to keep her warm. The groom has draped his coat over the shoulders of his bride to warm her up.

TIPS FOR THE TRAVELING WITH YOUR WEDDING DRESS

A newly married couple dances along the shore of Devil's Lake during their intimate wedding. The bride twirls her elopement wedding dress as she is spun by her groom. Forever and Evergreens Elopement Photography

BASIC TRAVEL TIPS

When packing your wedding dress for travel, we have a couple of quick tips that will help make your life a little easier. Our number one trip, roll instead of folding! Folding your dress will make it more prone to creases and wrinkles that you will have to deal with later. If you are planning on getting ready in a hotel or other space with electricity, consider packing a mini steamer, just in case! If you are loading your dress into the car, put it on top of everything else so that it doesn’t get smushed and wrinkled. This might seem like a no-brainer, but always make sure that your wedding dress is in a bag that protects it. The last thing you want is to hang your dress up on the morning of your wedding and find out that somewhere along its journey, it had a run-in with some unknown sticky green substance.

AIRLINE TRAVEL

The first thing we are going to say on this is that unless there is no other option, never check your wedding dress. We have all heard horror stories of checked luggage lost by the airlines… and that is not a story we want for your wedding dress (or tux!). There are a couple of options for carrying on your dress. First, remember that it is going to count as one of your carry-on bags; plan accordingly so that you don’t end up with too many bags at the gate. When you get to the gate, talk with the gate agent. Some airlines will let you board early will allow you to hang it (in the garment bag) at the front of the plane in the small closet used by the pilot and crew. Even if they don’t let you board early, there might still be space in this closet, so be sure to ask the flight attendant that is greeting you as you board the plane. If the closet is a no-go, find an overhead bin that isn’t too full and lay your dress on top of the luggage (this will help avoid wrinkles). Lastly, if your dress isn’t too big, you might be able to roll it (remember, always roll!) and fit it in your carry-on luggage.

A bride in a lovely wedding dress smiles at her groom during their tropical elopement

There are many things to consider when you say “Yes!” to the dress and even more to keep in mind when that dress is for an adventurous elopement. At the end of the day, choosing a dress that makes you feel comfortable and beautiful is the most important thing, but we hope that these notes will help you pick the perfect dress for your elopement!

If you are dreaming up the perfect adventure elopement (to go with your perfect elopement wedding dress) and need a little assistance, we would love to help you plan a crafted-to-you day (and tag along to capture the biggest day of your love story). Get in touch and let’s get rolling!

8 thoughts on “A Guide to Picking the Perfect Wedding Dress for your Elopement”

  1. Pingback: How to Elope in Minnesota - Forever and Evergreens

  2. There are a lot of ideas here that brides would do well to consider when picking their wedding dress, such as airplane travel! This article is super helpful.

  3. A perfect guide for those looking to buy a dress for a wedding or an elopement, lots of great tips and advice here – thank you for sharing! I think a lot of brides go primarily for the look and don’t consider the practicality, which can be super important, especially if there is a hike involved.

  4. So much to consider when picking an elopement dress and your guide is so helpful! I love your vibrant style.

  5. These are such great recommendations! Choosing an elopement dress simply isn’t the same as a traditional wedding day.

  6. This guide on how to pick the perfect wedding dress is so well done – you’ve thought of everything! The information is very well laid out and presented. You go above and beyond with not just how to select a dress, but also how to care for and carry it with you! I just adore a pair of boots and a flowy dress:) Thank you for putting this together!

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