Post Summary: The beauty of hiking elopements is that they can be as simple or intricate as you’d like, with just the two of you and your vow books, or a few guests and a ceremony arbor. However, there are things you need to keep in mind when picking out your hiking elopement dress to make sure you choose a dress that will best fit your day! Below is a complete guide to picking the perfect dress for your hiking elopement, including what types of materials to look for, the best dress designers, tips for packing your dress, & more of my best tips.
Today, instead of diving deep into one of my favorite places to elope like I often do, we’re talking about one of the most important elements of your adventure elopement day that you’ve probably been dreaming of forever: your dress!! Because adventure elopements take place in the great outdoors, and can be impacted by a LOT of factors (such as weather), there are a few crucial things you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re picking out your hiking elopement dress. It’s not as easy as picking one for a traditional wedding may be, since you need to consider things like weather, dirt, material, movement, wrinkles, & more – so I’m here to guide you through it all.
In this guide, you’ll find all of my best tips from my experience as a professional adventure elopement photographer, and based on what I’ve seen couples do in the past! Keep in mind that although I’m specifically talking about dresses in this article, most of these tips apply to ANY type of elopement outfit you might choose, such as jumpsuits, rompers, and even full suits. Ready to find your dream hiking elopement dress?!
3 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Elopement Dress
To start off, I wanted to let you in on 3 super important things to consider when choosing your elopement dress to make sure you’re able to be comfortable, confident, & safe during your hiking elopement!
1. Type of material
First, you’ll want to put careful thought into the type of material you select for your hiking elopement dress. Since you’ll be hiking, you’ll want to choose a lightweight, comfortable material that you can freely move around in – i.e. don’t pick a tight-fitting dress that you can’t lift your legs up in when we come across rocks, driftwood, roots, etc. You’ll want to avoid heavy, larger dresses, such as ball gowns, that can be extremely difficult to navigate trails in!
Fabric is another important aspect of the material of your dress. It’ll dictate how flowy, tight, stretchy, and breathable the dress is against your skin. Chiffon, charmeuse, organza, silk, and satin are great fabric choices for ultimate dress flowiness!
Next up, choose what kind of style you’re going for! The amount of dress options in today’s wedding industry and across all the different designers/shops/platforms is INSANE, and can get kinda overwhelming! It’s most important that you choose a dress that genuinely & authentically represents you, and the feelings you want to feel on your elopement day.
If you want to feel like a damn princess, go with a dress with a super dramatic train (that can be bustled up during your hike). If you want to feel a lil’ spooky on your day in an all-black dress, go for it. If you want to look like a total badass superhero in a cape, do ittttt! The world is your oyster when it comes to picking out a dress, so remember that you don’t have to pick something “traditional''.” Whether your dress is white, black, burgundy, striped, floral-patterned, or not even a dress at all (several of my brides have opted for a pantsuit or a jumpsuit, instead!), choose what you know YOU will feel best in + best represents who you are.
Finally, make sure you pick a dress that allows for the kind of movement you want to be able to have in it. When you’re trying on dresses, see what happens to the dress when you move around, dance, pick it up, act like you’re hiking/stepping over something, etc. Dance, spin, sit, stand, run around, squat, do all the things!
Being outdoors and hiking means you’ll be moving a lot, and you’ll also be affected by the weather, so you should know how it moves in the elements. Think through what would happen on a super windy day, what the dress would be like if it rained, how it’ll move when you have your first dance in the sand, etc.
Best Designers for Epic Hiking Elopement Dresses
Moving on, let’s admire some of the best elopement dress designers out there – because trust me, there are MANY talented designers. It can be so hard to choose!!
Below are 3 of my all-time favorite designers for epic hiking elopement dresses!
Rue de Seine
Buying your wedding dress from Rue de Seine is a trend I will never get over. This beloved company designs the best modern bohemian bridal gowns out there, inspired by the romance of Paris’s Rue de Seine & the beauty of all things bohemian. They are THE designer for the boho-loving bride who’s ready to take the road less traveled while wearing an artistically-designed gown that shows off alllll her best features. Whether you’re looking for an all-white gown or something with patterns + pops of color, a simple dress or an all-out masterpiece with sleeves and a cape, or the most cowgirl-esque dress you could ever dream of, Rue de Seine HAS it!
Sarah Seven is another fave designer of mine, offering a variety of collections for the modern chic bride. I freaking love their slogan – “Feel like yourself, only fancier” – their gowns really exemplify the beauty of minimalism in wedding dresses, yet show off the spice + personalized flair that small touches can bring, such as pearl sleeves, intricate cutouts, and uniquely-shaped necklines.
Last but not least, Daci Gowns will never ever go out of style. This one-of-a-kind bridal atelier brings all of your unique bridal dreams to life, with carefully-picked silks & laces, hand-stitched patterns, and personalized “finishing touches” to make your dress feel totally, 100%, uniquely like you. Their tagline says it all: “Each wedding dress we design and create is an individual piece of art” – and you can bet they follow through on that promise with each and every phenomenal creation!
If you’d like to see some of my favorite specific dresses, head over to this guide I created to the Top 10 Best Elopement Wedding Dresses & Designers!
How to Hike With Your Elopement Dress
One of the questions I hear most often from brides is “How the heck do I hike in my wedding dress?!” Here are the two different ways that you can wear your elopement dress for your hiking elopement, depending on what you’re most comfortable with + what your hike entails!
1. Get ready at your Airbnb, then hike in your dress
The first option is to get fully ready at your Airbnb, including putting on your dress, and then hiking in your dress. This is a good option if the trail to your ceremony location isn’t very long, and/or you aren’t overly worried about getting your dress dirty. Make sure that your dress is super easy to move around in, if you choose this option, and that you won’t get too hot & sweaty in it if you elope in the summer!
2. Hike in normal hiking clothes, then change at your location
The second option is to hike up to your ceremony spot in your regular hiking clothes, and then change at the location. I usually recommend this option so you can avoid getting your dress sweaty beforehand, and so you can be totally comfortable in your hiking gear on the way up. This is a good option for people who don’t care about changing in the woods – and if you’d rather change in private, you can use a pop-up tent like this one!
How to Pack/Carry Your Dress During Your Hiking Elopement
If you decide to go with the second option & change into your dress at your location, you’ll need to pack your dress somehow to carry with you on the way up! Here are the two ways you can do this, plus an extra tip to ensure your dress makes it safely + maintains its full beauty during the hike.
1. Outside of your backpack (best for dresses that wrinkle easily)
If your dress wrinkles easily, you can carry it outside of your backpack to avoid having to fold it up too much. You can put your dress in a garment bag and fold it in half carefully, then hang it from the outside of your backpack! Make sure to attach it as securely as possible so that a) it doesn’t fall off and b) it’s not swinging around during the hike.
2. Inside your backpack (best for dresses that don’t wrinkle easily)
If your dress is made up of a material that doesn’t wrinkle too easily, you can carry it inside of your backpack. You’ll want to roll the dress down vertically & smooth it out to make sure you get the wrinkles out, then put it in a waterproof bag, garment bag, or trash bag to keep it protected. Pack it into your backpack either vertically or horizontally, whichever way it fits best without getting squished!
Bonus tip: Bring a travel-sized bottle of de-wrinkle spray to get out any wrinkles caused by packing!
Best Shoes to Wear With Your Hiking Elopement Dress
Even if you aren’t hiking very far to get to your ceremony location, it’s super important that you have proper footwear that’s not only cute, but comfortable & safe! Hiking boots are the ultimate choice for a badass adventure bride, and honestly look so cool in photos + will give you plenty of traction on your hike. Make sure you also keep in mind the way that weather could affect the trail – e.g. if rain is possible, what will the soil be like? Are there rocks or tree roots that will be slippery along the way?
Some of my favorite shoes that go best with elopement dresses include:
Seasonal Accessories to Go With Your Hiking Elopement Dress
Now that you know how to pick out the best dress for your hiking elopement + what shoes to wear, let’s talk accessories!! Accessories are one of the best ways to personalize your elopement look and help you stand out from other brides who may wear the same dress as you, but in a totally different way. Plus, accessories can help bring out elements of your unique personality + keep you as comfortable and confident as possible on your elopement day.
Here are some elopement outfit accessory ideas to consider, depending on the weather + season you elope in, along with a few links to my personal favorite items!
In the winter/snow:
- Bridal hood
- Skin-toned fleece-lined leggings
- Pashmina scarf
In the spring/rain:
- Knit gloves
- Rain boots
- Clear umbrellas
- Tools to bustle your dress (to keep the most water out of it/avoid it getting too heavy)
In the summer/heat:
- Lightweight cape
In the fall/cool weather:
- Furry shawl
- Leather jacket
Want to see more of my fave elopement gear for your hiking elopement from my one true love, REI? Check out this guide I published a while back, the REI Anniversary Sale 2021: Best Deals for Adventurers for hiking elopement gear ideas + inspiration!
How to Clean Your Dress After Your Hiking Elopement
If you’re having a hiking elopement, I need to let you in on a little secret: your dress WILL get dirty. It’s inevitable. It’s just part of the adventure when you explore off-the-beaten-path with your partner, and you’ll just need to accept it! So be sure to choose a dress that you’re okay with getting a little (or a lot) dirty, and that you can clean afterward if you want to.
Here are a few ways to clean your elopement dress if it gets dirty during your hike:
1. Spot treat with a Tide-To-Go Pen on the day-of
I definitely recommend bringing a Tide-To-Go Pen on your hike to keep day-of stains to a minimum!
2. Wash with warm water & Dawn dish soap
After your elopement, fill up your bathtub with warm water and use Dawn dish soap. Let it soak for 20-30 minutes and scrub out any dirt using just your hands, or even an old toothbrush works great. This should help get out dirt and any other stains from the trails. Once you’re done, hang it up to try!
3. Do not use a washing machine
Lastly, do NOT use a washing machine to clean your elopement dress!! If the stains don’t come out using the methods above, take it to a dry cleaner and let them work their magic. Trust me, you don’t want to risk the damage that your washing machine could cause to your beautiful, expensive dress!
My Final Hiking Elopement Dress + Outfit Tip
And before I wrap this up, I wanted to give you my last & final hiking elopement dress tip: you don’t HAVE to wear a dress! The beautiful thing about elopements is you can do whatever you want! These tips I gave you will also carry over to jumpsuits, pantsuits, or whatever else you want to wear on your wedding day.
Other elopement outfit options include:
- Two-piece dresses
- Button-up & pants
- Summer/more casual dress
Ultimately, your only job is to pick something that authentically represents + feels like you, rather than what’s on trend or popular on the ‘gram at the time. I hope you now feel confident and ready to find the perfect hiking elopement dress (or non-dress) for you so you can feel like your absolute best, truest self on your elopement day – because you deserve it!!
More Adventure Elopement Tips & Resources
Want more of my best adventure elopement tips, tricks, & planning resources? Don’t worry, I’ve got PLENTY from my years as an adventure elopement photographer – check out a few of my most-loved guides below!
How to Handle Bad Weather on Your Wedding Day
Leave No Trace: A Planning Guide for Adventure Couples
Should You Have a Sunrise or Sunset Elopement?
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