Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Dream Hiking Elopement Dress

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bride in wedding dress with flowers

Whether you’ve been dreaming of choosing your wedding dress since you were little or you JUST created a Pinterest board with all your ideas, shopping for your hiking elopement dress is one of the most exciting parts of the planning process!! If you’re having a hiking elopement it means you probably value a stress-free, memorable elopement full of outdoor exploration & adventure – and you need a dress to match. You can’t just buy any ol’ dress like you can for traditional weddings, you need to keep different factors in mind such as weather, fabrics, movement, and more. 

I’ve photographed soooo many hiking elopements that I’ve seen everything that could possibly go wrong or right, especially with the dresses that brides choose. So I compiled all of my experience documenting hiking adventure elopements & seeing what dresses brides choose, into this blog to help ya choose the perfect hiking elopement dress!! 

I’ll go through all the dos & don’ts of shopping for your dress, a guide to picking the right fabrics + materials, the best places to buy your dress, FAQ’s, and then I’ve added a TON of elopement dress inspo at the end to help you see allll the endless possibilities. Happy dress hunting!!

bride and groom walking together

The Dos & Don’ts of Shopping for Hiking Elopement Dresses

To do or not to do. . . that is the question! 

First let’s get into the dos & don’ts of shopping for a hiking elopement dress, based on my experience seeing past brides elope & what they liked/didn’t like about their dresses. 

DO:

Think about how you want to feel in your dress

Hopefully this goes without saying, but before you start getting into the nitty gritty of elopement dresses (the materials, the neckline, the designs, etc.), start by thinking about how you want to FEEL in your dress!!

Do you want to feel like a freaking Disney princess in your dress, or would you rather feel like an A-list superstar walking the red carpet of your latest hit movie?

Maybe you want to let loose & feel like a bride running off to the courthouse with her love in a rom-com, or maybe you want to experience the glitz n’ glam feel of a high-end wedding gown, without the work of planning a large, luxe wedding.

Dream a little bit about how you would ideally FEEL, not LOOK in your wedding dress, and then you can start envisioning what types of dresses would help you embrace that feeling on your elopement day!

bride in a wedding dress smiling

Pick a dress with lightweight, breathable fabric

This is one of the biggest factors that distinguishes regular wedding dress shopping from elopement dress shopping: pay careful attention to the fabric of the dress you choose! Since you’ll be hiking outdoors, you want to pick a dress that’s easy to pack in your backpack, AND lightweight for you to move around in. 

Pick a dress that’s made up of breathable fabric so you can fully relax & feel comfortable in your dress, whether you’re laying in a grassy meadow or hiking up a huge hill, stepping over big tree roots & jagged rocks. 

Keep scrolling through this blog post for more deets on what kind of fabrics are best for hiking elopement dresses!

Pick a dress you can easily move around in

On the same note, pick a dress that you can freely move around in – not one that restricts your movement in any way. Even if you hike in normal hiking gear, then change into your dress at your ceremony location, you’ll still be walking around on natural terrain, which could be rocky, jagged, slippery, bumpy, etc. You don’t want to be wearing a super stiff dress that you can barely move your legs in, or one that’ll be hard for you to catch yourself in if you fall/trip on something!

bride and groom standing together

Get familiar with the hike/trail in advance

Once you’ve picked the trail you’ll be hiking, pleaseee make sure to do your research in advance & get familiar with the terrain! Don’t just wing it. Look at recent reviews by trailgoers on a site like AllTrails or WTA, see what the elevation gain is like and how gradual/quick it is, and most importantly, read up on what the terrain is like. 

If it’s been super muddy in the weeks leading up to your elopement, you’ll want to prepare accordingly with the right shoes & outfit. If the trail is made up of mostly rocky ground, wear shoes with traction, and wear a dress that you can easily take large steps in. If the trail is super dusty, you might want to pack your dress in your backpack when you hike rather than wear it, so it doesn’t get dusty before your ceremony.

Consider the weather

Obviously you’ll want to take weather into account when choosing your elopement dress! If you’re eloping early in the morning, it might be chilly if you’re hiking to the top of a mountain, so make sure to bring a jacket or some form of layers if you’re hiking in your dress. Remember, though, that you’ll be hiking & exercising – so you may get sweaty if you wear too thick of a dress, even if you’re a little cold when you start the hike. Consider also that the weather could be drastically different at the end of your hike, if there’s a large elevation gain, and/or you’re hiking to a mountain top. If it’s really warm out, pick a thin dress that you won’t get too hot in, or hike in summer hiking attire + change into your dress once you reach your ceremony location!

Think outside of the traditional wedding dress box

Don’t limit yourself to the traditional wedding dress options!! You don’t have to opt for a traditional white dress if you don’t want to – get creative with options such as:

  • Jumpsuits/pantsuits
  • Colored dresses
  • Patterned dresses
  • Short/casual dresses
  • Two-piece dresses

You can also totally buy two elopement dresses – one for your ceremony, and one for your reception or portraits!

wedding dress hanging

Carefully pack your elopement dress for the hike

If you choose NOT to hike in your wedding dress, and to instead change into it once you arrive at your ceremony location, here are a couple ways you can pack your hiking elopement dress:

  1. Fold the dress up into a small rectangle & store it in your backpack
  2. Pack the dress in a garment bag, and attach it with a carabiner to the outside of your backpack

If you’ll be packing your elopement dress for your hike, make sure to choose a dress made up of a fabric that doesn’t wrinkle easily, & that’s easy to fold for compact packing.

DON’T:

Worry about getting your dress dirty

It’s inevitable, my friend – your dress WILL get dirty if you’re having a hiking elopement. Embrace it and know that you can always take it to the dry cleaner later on if you really want to get it back to sparkling clean!

bride and groom holding each other

Set your mind on one “style” right away

“Style” is sooo subjective when it comes to elopement dresses. If you’ve been scrolling through Pinterest or some good ol’ bridal magazines, you might have your heart set on a certain style already – “boho,” “elegant,” “glam,” etc. But I want to encourage you NOT to make up your mind so soon, because you’ll limit yourself to certain options when shopping, and you might miss out on dresses that surprise you!

Pick a dress you love the look of, but don’t feel good in

I promiseee you will regret picking a dress that you like the LOOK of but don’t FEEL good in. “Pain is beauty” isn’t a motto we want to live by for your adventure elopement, so make sure you pick a dress that you love the look of, and that feels good on your body + keeps you comfortable!

Pick a dress that’s too tight or restricting

Since you’ll be hiking, you want to be able to move around freely, whether that be walking, dancing, twirling, sitting, laying down, etc. So don’t pick a dress that’s super tight and doesn’t let you breathe or move around like you want to! Don’t be afraid to move around a bunch when you try on dresses to make sure the dress will move with you.

Feel pressure to spend a ton of money if your dress isn’t your top priority

Finally, don’t put pressure on yourself to buy an expensive dress if it isn’t one of your top priorities! Dresses are important to every bride in a different way, and some may not even care that much about their dress. If your dress is a priority in your budget & your overall elopement experience, then splurge!! But if you care more about your flowers, or your lodging, or your activities, you can totally lower the budget for your dress. There’s no pressure, expectations, or norms you need to follow!

bride and groom kissing

Best Hiking Elopement Dress Fabrics + Materials

Now that you know why it’s so important to pick a dress that’s lightweight, breathable, & allows you to move for your hiking elopement, here’s a list of the dress fabrics that are good for hiking elopements (AKA lightweight fabrics), and ones to avoid (AKA heavy fabrics)!

What fabrics are good for hiking elopement dresses? (AKA lightweight fabrics)

  • Chiffon
  • Tulle
  • Organza
  • Lightweight silk
  • Crepe

What fabrics are NOT good for hiking elopement dresses? (AKA heavy fabrics)

  • Satin
  • Heavier silk blends
  • Jersey
  • Mikado
bride and groom kissing

FAQ’s About Hiking Elopement Dresses

How much should you spend on an elopement dress?

It’s totally, completely, 100% up to you. Some brides don’t care too much about their dress & place it lower on their priority list, so they may spend $100-$200 on a used dress from a thrift store or Facebook Marketplace. Some brides may have been dreaming about their dress since they were little, and value having a high-end dress that they adore, so they may spend $3000+. Elopement budgets are so subjective & different for every couple, so think through what you value most out of your elopement experience (be it your dress, your photographer, your guests, etc.) and spend the most on those things!

Should I wear a veil for an elopement?

If you want! Veils can look sooo beautiful in the wind, say, if you hike to the top of a mountain for couples portraits and the breeze is blowing by you. They can also be annoying to some brides and get in the way of their dream hairstyle, so it’s 100% up to you whether or not you want a veil. Also consider a flower crown, or some sort of hairpiece if you want something in your hair that’s not a veil!

Do you have to wear white to elope?

No!! You can wear pink, yellow, burgundy, green; you can wear off-white shades like cream or ivory; you can wear white dresses patterned with colorful flowers. The world is your oyster!

bride and groom kissing

Where to Buy Your Hiking Elopement Dress

Okay soooo you know what style you’re looking for, you know what to consider for your hiking elopement dress – but where tf do you buy it?

Here’s a list of some great places to go shopping for your hiking elopement dress, from local bridal shops that I personally love to online retailers to some of the best elopement dress designers in the industry!

Top Seattle Bridal Shops

A & Bé Bridal Shop

The Dress Theory Seattle

Popular Bridal Designers

For boho elopement dresses: Rue de Seine

For one-of-a-kind dresses: Daci Gowns

For couture, luxury dresses: Galia Lahav

For modern, chic dresses: Sarah Seven

For effortlessly-glam dresses: Rime Arodaky

For a wide variety of stunning collections: Watters

Larger Online Retailers

ASOS

Still White

Elopement Dresses on a Budget

Luxe Redux Bridal

Brides for a Cause

Etsy

Lulu’s

Thrift Stores

Facebook Marketplace

Elopement Suits for All Bodies

Wildfang

Bindle & Keep

Isadora Nim

bride in a wedding dress

Hiking Elopement Dress Style Inspiration

Let’s wrap this thing up with some stunning dress inspiration to help you pick your DREAM elopement dress style. Nothing is better than seeing dresses in action, and visualizing what your elopement could look like depending on the type of dress you pick! 

Here’s a collection of some of my fave elopement dresses I’ve seen the past few years, organized by style, to give you tons of inspo to screenshot, save to Pinterest, etc.

Long-Sleeve Elopement Dresses

Casual Elopement Dresses

Beach Elopement Dresses

Colorful Elopement Dresses

Ruffled Elopement Dresses

Mountain Elopement Dresses

Boho Elopement Dresses

Two-Piece Elopement Dresses

Elopement Dresses with Trains

I hope you feel confident, ready, & EXCITED to go shopping for your hiking elopement dress now! Remember, above all else, HAVE FUN with it, and pick the dress that makes you feel the most beautiful + authentically you!

If you loved this blog post all about how to pick your dress, then I know you’ll love these elopement planning resources, too:

8 Unique Elopement Ceremony Ideas for Your Special Day

How to Have a Leave No Trace Elopement | The 7 LNT Principles

How to Plan Your Perfect Elopement in 18 Steps

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@BreeAnnalasher