Choosing the perfect elopement dress for your special day is an exciting time in your life! Whether you’ve been planning your adventure elopement for months or are being a bit more spontaneous, you want a dress that fits the occasion. But selecting the ideal style is often a tough decision. Especially considering the location of your wedding, the weather at your destination, and the activities you may be doing. That’s why we’re covering what things you need to consider before taking your pick on dresses to elope in. Plus you’ll delight in experiencing 10 dress styles that are the best fit for an adventurous, destination elopement!
When a bride selects her wedding dress, she typically doesn’t need to take into account the unique elements that are often associated with an adventure elopement. An elegant indoor wedding ceremony doesn’t lend itself to the quirks of eloping outdoors, next to a waterfall, halfway across the globe. While there is often some overlap in styles, elopement dresses are best suited for ceremonies that take place in adventurous destinations – often outside, on rugged terrain, or even in extreme weather.
If a traditional wedding isn’t for you and instead involves adventure travel, hiking on a glacier to an ice cave, dancing on the beach, climbing mountains, or riding ATVs through the desert, then you’ll want an elopement dress that can withstand the elements while looking gorgeous at the same time. Let’s help you find the perfect dress!
The elopement dress you choose will need to be suited to the unique environment to plan to elope in, as well as accommodate the activities you plan to do on your special day.
It’s okay to get a little dirty on your elopement day, and the perfect dress will allow you to look beautiful even with some dirt and twigs here and there. The important thing is that you feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident!
So, here are some things to consider when choosing the perfect dress to elope in…
It’s best to choose a fabric that gives you the movement you want while also being able to withstand the elements. Also, if you plan to travel abroad for your elopement, it will be a space-saver to choose a dress that’s lightweight and easily packable in a carry-on suitcase! Remember, you’re having an adventure wedding, it doesn’t need to be perfectly steamed and wrinkle free!
Aim for lightweight fabrics like tulle, chiffon, or organza that give you a lot of movement while still being elegant. These fabrics also flow beautifully in the wind and and are ideal for photos against a gorgeous landscape!
If your elopement involves being near water or getting caught in the rain, then a fast-drying material is the way to go. Some of our brides have even opted for a Gortex-like material in their dresses.
Just because you are in the wild outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t have an elegant elopement dress. If you have an eye for detail, you can go for an embroidered or lacy dress. These fabrics also bring the added benefit of being less prone to wrinkles, and you can easily add a little more warmth with lace sleeves.
If you envision you and your partner hiking up glacier peaks, trekking in the mountains, or frolicking through the forest, then you may want an elopement dress that’s made with a more durable material. It will be more resistant to the elements and will be a slightly warmer option if your elopement takes place in a cold climate.
If your elopement is a little more adventurous than a church ceremony and a cocktail party, you’ll need a dress to match. It’s important to consider the activities you’ll be doing on your elopement day and whether your dress will provide the mobility you need.
If you are hiking to your elopement spot, you’ll need a dress that gives you the freedom to scramble over rocks, navigate switchbacks, and tread through the mud. Of course, you’ll also want to consider whether your trek involves crossing streams, climbing mountain faces, or even skiing the slopes.
We recommend choosing a dress that offers a lot of fabric below the waist so you can move around freely. A more restrictive dress (like a mermaid style, for example) will make it harder for you to get around. That being said, we have seen brides accomplish some pretty amazing things in an elopement dress and they looked awesome at the same time. We recommend trying on your dress and moving around to test your mobility before you make your purchase.
If you anticipate that you’ll be wading through water, skipping over puddles, or trekking through waterfalls, then be sure to choose a dress suited to these types of activities. Again, lots of freedom to move around is key. Also, you may choose a shorter dress so your dress doesn’t catch the waves (unless that’s the effect you’re going for!)
A long, flowing dress can look great by the water. Just consider your comfort level if your dress gets wet and you have to still go through the rest of the day.
If your elopement takes place at a faraway destination, it’s best that you choose a dress that’s easily packable. This means a lightweight material (typically) and fabric that’s less prone to wrinkles. If your dress is compact, you may also save a bit of money on your checked baggage fees. If wrinkles bug you, bring a travel steamer or use the shower steaming trick!
Some brides decide to go for a pop of color for their elopement dress. This can be a smart choice if you are concerned about dirt, mud, or sand showing on your gown. Layered colored fabrics and even dark colors like ash grey are less likely to show dirt – which can be a good thing when it comes time to take your photos. One of our favorite Iceland wedding dresses has been a bride who wore a black wedding dress!
Obviously, if your elopement takes to an adventurous destination, you’ll need a dress to match – and also withstand the elements. Some things to consider are the weather, the terrain, cultural customs, and what accessories are appropriate for your destination.
You can pair your dress with a warm cloak or shawl if you need to cozy up in the snow. You may even choose to pair your dress with some lightweight hiking boots and waterproof Sealskinz socks.
Be sure to bring a cover or umbrella to protect you, no matter what Mother Nature throws your way. Also, if you are traveling internationally, research the culture of your destination to make sure your dress is appropriate (for example, covering the shoulders for modesty).
Your budget for an elopement dress is also an important thing to consider. In fact, you don’t necessarily need to go to a bridal shop to find a gorgeous gown. You can find low-key elegance at small boutiques or online (Hello Etsy!) for a couple of hundred bucks (or less).
Or, if you are aiming for a luxury elopement, feel free to pull out all the stops. It’s worth it to invest in a dress you love, that will be suited to your destination, and will help you feel comfortable on your adventure wedding day.
The #1 most important thing to consider when choosing an elopement dress is whether you feel confident in your gown! All details aside, you should feel free to move as you wish, strike a pose, and feel gorgeous on your elopement day. Go with the gown you love, even if the style is outside the box as there are always way to modify to make it work in the terrain. After all where there is a will there is always a way!
With all of the above features in mind, we’ve created this list of the best dresses to elope in based on what our happy brides have loved in the past.
We work with brides with unique personalities, adventure levels, and styles. You’re sure to find a dress style that’s suite for your special day
While a ball gown may be a traditional style of wedding or elopement dress, it gives you tons of space to move. You can easily bunch up your skirt, skip over rocks, and trek your way up to your destination elopement spot.
Plus, ballgowns are typically made with sturdier fabric and the extra layers can add a bit of warmth. (And, you can sneakily hide some hiking boots underneath).
An A-line elopement dress offers you a full-length skirt without the fullness of a ball gown. So, you can still capture that more traditional look without the bulk that comes with a ball gown. You can find A-line dresses with spaghetti straps, capped sleeves, or long sleeves to suit the look (and warmth) you want.
Whether you’re dancing through waves or wading into rivers, you may want to opt for a gown with a higher skirt so your dress doesn’t get soaked and weigh you down on your special day. In the example above, this bride went for a higher hem and paired her dress with some sturdy boots.
Hiking up a mountain may not be your thing, but you can still get that gorgeous, hilly shot in a mermaid-style dress. It may not offer a ton of mobility, but it’s a figure-flattering style that’s sure to make you feel beautiful on your elopement day.
Boho-style dresses are a popular choice amongst alternative brides that like to go against the grain. If you dream of hippie vibes and a low-key wedding, a boho-style dress may be right for you. Look for off-white colors, comfortable fabrics, and unique lace elements.
No Iceland elopement is complete without a cozy yet elegant elopement dress. Opting for a gown with long sleeves can add a bit of warmth, or just some additional flair if you’re not worried about braving the elements. Pair it with a warm shawl or cloak to shield you from rain or snow during your elopement.
Elopement dresses today come in a wide range of colors and are a great option for brides who aren’t a fan of the traditional white gown. Not only do dark colors camouflage dirt from your adventurous day, but bright colors can be a nice contrast against a snowy, white landscape.
What’s considered “formal” differs from couple to couple, so while you may opt for a gown and rainboots, you may also choose a more casual outfit like a maxi dress. There are no rules when it comes to what you wear on your elopement day. Have fun with it and don’t be afraid to go beyond the bridal shops to find your gown.
Adventurous elopement attire is best suited for the wild at heart. Maybe you envision running across a dusty landscape, skiing in the mountains, climbing cliffs, or even taking a helicopter to a remote mountaintop you can’t even hike to! There are tons of light-weight gowns that give you the freedom to move. Princess dresses and flowy skirts are both great options if you’re going for maximum mobility and elegance. Pairing them with hiking boots are ideal as well. Professional Adventure Elopement Planning Tip: Bring your boots with you to your fittings and make sure the seamstress doesn’t bully you into wearing anything else!
Two-piece elopement top-and-skirt combos are a great, non-traditional choice. You can go with something a little edgy, mix and match, and also get a little extra movement around the waist. The example above shows a full, ash-grey skirt (perfect for hiding dirt) and a lacy tank.
By now you have seen 10 unique elopement dress styles, but there are many more to choose from. With more couples opting for adventure elopements, designers have strived to create dresses that are comfortable, flexible, durable, and fun.
Here are some suggestions for finding that perfect elopement dress:
If you’re already feeling inspired by a certain style, you can go to the web to find some options online. Also, you can do a Google search of “elopement dresses” to see what comes up. There are many online designers and boutiques than can tailor your dress to your unique needs. Personal favorite website is BHLDN as they have many long sleeve options along with dresses that are easy to move in for a hiking elopement!
Go local by browsing boutiques in your area. Sometimes the hole-in-the-wall shops have the best options because they carry designs you won’t find anywhere else. Then you can be confident that your dress is 100% unique.
If you consider yourself crafty, you may choose to make your own elopement dress. You can find templates and designs to inspire you online and go to your local fabric shop for materials. This can often be a great route to take because you can make a dress with the fabric, cut, color, and durability you want.
Have an old gown that could be brought back to life? You can upcycle an existing dress to wear to your elopement. This is perfect if you are going for a low key elopement and/or are planning your elopement on a budget. Or, maybe a dress holds sentimental value and you want it to be part of your special day.
It’s okay to color outside the lines when it comes to your adventure elopement. You don’t have to choose an actual “elopement dress” if you find a dress that stands out to you. What’s important is that you feel comfortable and confident!
After photographing hundreds of adventure weddings and elopements, our photographers know a thing or to about what types of dresses are best suited for an elopement.
Here are some tips from the Your Adventure Wedding crew:
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