Do you know why women wear white wedding dresses? It’s ok, I didn’t know until recently, and only thanks to my PBS addiction. Queen Victoria wore a white lace gown when she married Prince Albert. This was an unusual and somewhat brazen choice. Up until then, most women wore colored gowns. Little did the Queen know that she would lay the foundation for almost two hundred years of tradition.
Knowledge is power. Now that you know it’s origin, feel free to keep with the tradition or break it. The choice really is yours. Your elopement dress is yet another opportunity to make your wedding a true-to-you experience. So whether your dream gown is traditional white, a deep scarlet, or even jet black, be true to yourself!
But, if your idea of a perfect wedding day is lacing up your hiking boots and celebrating your wild love in a wild place, then here are some things to consider when choosing the perfect elopement dress to take on your adventure.
Elopement Dresses Guide for Adventure & Hiking Weddings
What activities will you be doing? And what will the landscape and terrain be like?
Many adventurous brides end up hiking to their ceremony location. If you’re one of those brides, a dress that allows movement is a must. Steer clear of elopement dresses with corsets that restrict breathing, too. The air gets thin on mountaintops. Certain styles, such as mermaid and trumpet, are super confining. A ball gown-style, on the other hand, may make it difficult to see the trail in front of you. Instead, choose a lightweight dress that will move with you.
While carrying your gown in your backpack will allow you more flexibility in terms of style, the last thing you want is to be trekking up a fourteener with a sequin gown that weighs almost as much as you do. I recommend material, like chiffon, that is light, wrinkle resistant, and that will catch the wind for those incredibly romantic windblown mountaintop images. Lightweight materials also won’t weigh you down, if there is any chance that you’ll encounter water on your wedding day (I’m looking at you, kayaking elopements).
Think About the Weather
Your wedding day should be a time to focus on one another and your relationship. That’s why you chose an intimate wedding in the first place, right? Turning blue, teeth chattering, in a strapless dress while standing on top of a glacier, or sweating buckets while wearing a long sleeve and bulky gown in Moab doesn’t sound like much fun to me. And that’s why it’s so incredibly important to think about your location, and how the weather there might change based on the time of year (or time of day!) you’re getting married.
If you’re eloping in the desert, elopement dresses made of lightweight materials that breathe, like chiffon and silk, are perfect. Getting hitched at a location that sees snow? Wool and layers are your new best friends. Additional layers for over your gown, like a shawl or stole, will keep you warm and cozy (in other words, happy), and have the added benefit of photographing beautifully. Nude fleece leggings, wooly socks with boots, and hand warmers (only the best invention ever) make cold temps much more manageable. I have recommendations for any and all of this. Just ask!
And don’t forget that even warm locations can get pretty chilly early in the day or later in the evening, which are coincidentally the most ideal times to be photographed. Having layers that you don’t mind seeing in your pictures is essential, and is yet another way to work some of your own personality into your wedding day attire.
Special Considerations for Expecting or Nursing Mamas
If you’re expecting a little love or still nursing, I’ve got you covered as well! I love when couples bring their littles along to their elopement! It’s actually my favorite thing ever. And there are so many gorgeous elopement dresses out there for pregnant and nursing women. Below are just a few to consider.
This one has an empire waist and is pleated so it fits perfectly over any baby bump. And this lace maternity wedding dress with cloak sleeves is perfect for the mum who loves all things boho. It would be perfect for a beach or desert elopement. Finally, this off shoulder lace dress with an empire waist and flowing train would be lovely for a forest or woodsy elopement.
Attire for Less Feminine Folks
While a black suit is traditional wedding attire, we’ve already established that your elopement day is your chance to break from any traditions that don’t make you feel like you. By all means, wear a black suit, if it makes you feel good, but be sure to choose something you can move in, and something that breathes. A colorful suit is a great way to imbue some personality into your wedding attire, and the color really pops against natural landscapes. You can wear a tie, but you don’t have to. Vests are also a great option. And base layers are important for you guys, too!
If you haven’t gotten it by now, the point is that everything you choose is absolutely up to you! Make sure you’re comfortable, that you can move, and that what you wear is a reflection of who you are.
The Importance of Boots
Probably the most important detail of all, a comfortable shoe or boot with excellent tread. The actual shoe (like the dress) will depend on the weather conditions, your chosen location’s terrain, and your activity, but being practical is key here. In my opinion, nothing says badass like a bride with hiking boots peeking out from under her gown.
By the way, considering the right shoe goes for the guys, too. Those smooth, slippy soles are a definite no for hiking elopements. Safety is definitely the priority here.
Elopement Clothes for Children
I think it’s great when couples decide to bring their kiddos along on their adventurous elopement. It definitely requires more planning and prep, but it is so worth it for the memories that are created. Appropriate gear and clothing are probably even more important for kids than adults though. Children aren’t as efficient at regulating their body temperature, don’t always have the language to let us know what’s bothering them, and aren’t as stoic as adults when it comes to dealing with discomfort. Some extra planning here can go a long way in making sure your littlest adventurers can make the trek happily, and in comfort and style.
These are my favorite base layers for keeping children comfortable when the temperature dips:
And these kids hiking socks will keep their toes warm and blister free.
Some of my favorite kids’ elopement styles are:
How Do You Feel About Dirt?
When purchasing an elopement dress, ask yourself whether you mind getting it dirty. Personally, I love the ombre look that occurs when a wedding dress is taken along on an epic adventure. A dirty dress very much equals a gorgeous dress in my book. And it’s a sign that you had a good time! You may or may not feel the same way, and this might determine how much you feel comfortable spending on a dress. The good news is, there are loads of places to purchase affordable elopement dresses. Which brings me to my last point, where to find the perfect gown for your adventure or hiking wedding.
Where to Shop for Elopement Dresses
I’m a bit of an Etsy fanatic, so it may not come as a surprise that some of my very favorite wedding gowns are available in Etsy shops, like Blush Fashion ,We Are Reclamation, and Flutter Dresses (this last one has dresses for your littles as well).
BHLDN is full of both bohemian and classic styles.
Dreamers and Lovers is a CA-based dress studio run by some self-proclaimed laid-back ladies that design and hand make all their boho-chic dresses. They prioritize comfort without sacrificing style. Honestly, every.single.one of their dresses makes me gasp, they’re just that gorgeous.
Grace Loves Lace specializes in ethically handcrafted gowns in Australia that are as gorgeous as they are comfortable.
For elopement dresses that are more budget friendly check out this dress roundup, which contains dresses from places like Modcloth and ASOS (pssst, all the gowns are under $1000).
Only you know when you are truly comfortable. And I can’t stress it enough, when you’re comfortable and confident, you naturally look amazing. The most important part of the selection process is choosing clothing for your elopement that allows you to experience your wedding day fully, and to be completely and utterly in each moment as they come.
The goal is to be able to look back and say, “That was the dress I was meant to wear on that day, on that mountain, when I married my best friend.”
I would be over the moon to help you with all the tiny (and big!) details of your elopement day! Whether it’s dress/suit shopping, choosing an epic location, telling family, coming up with ways to involve friends and family in your elopement from a distance, or documenting your wedding day with authenticity, I’m here to help!