Elopement Dress Guide

2022’s Guide to Epic Elopements

The Complete Elopement Dress Guide


Looking for an amazing dress for your elopement? There are no rules when it comes to picking out a dress for your elopement! It can be any color, size, shape or material that you feel beautiful in. Ultimately, what you choose to wear for your elopement comes down to the vision you have for the day. With that being said, the options can seem overwhelming if you aren’t sure exactly where to start. Over the years, we’ve learned a few valuable tips when it comes to picking out an elopement dress so we can help you find the perfect one for your celebration!

Photo by Lianna Marie Photography

Photo by Lianna Marie Photography


Important Factors to Consider When Shopping for the Perfect Elopement Dress



Planning an adventure elopement near the mountains or canyons? Make sure that your dress isn’t weighing you down! For couples planning to hike a bit on the day, we recommend fabrics like chiffon and tulle that are both breathable and lightweight. This usually isn’t a huge issue when dress shopping, but keep in mind that heavily beaded styles may weigh a bit more than simpler silhouettes. 



How well can you walk in your elopement dress? Make sure you’re considering all of the activities you’re planning for your elopement when dress shopping! Ready to break it down on a dance floor? Bust a move in the dressing room and try it out. Trekking to your ceremony spot? You’ll want a dress that’s easy to carry (no extravagant trains) in case of uneven terrain or inclement weather before or after your elopement ceremony.



For our destination couples, make sure it’s easy to pack your dress along for the adventure! Whether you’re flying or roadtripping, you’ll want to plan ahead accordingly to avoid any damage to your dress and save yourself any possible headache. We’re sharing more information about how to fly with your elopement dress further below!



You don’t have to wear white or ivory! Some of our brides have worn pink, floral designs and even black gowns for their elopement. You should feel confident and beautiful in your elopement dress, so make sure whichever one you pick matches your personal style. Did we mention that colored dresses can make for some epic elopement photos! Check out these shots if you’re in need of some inspiration: (photos will be below of previous brides in colorful elopement dresses).

amazing elopement dress on couple kissing during wedding

Photo by Feel and Focus Photography

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What Dress Fabric is Best for Elopements?


Truth be told, lightweight fabrics are the easiest for elopements — whether you’re hiking a mountain, walking along the beach or strolling through a park! We love dresses with flowing fabrics and continuous movement as they tend to look amazing in photos. Your photographer will be able to capture all of those amazing angles! But, there are a lot of things to consider including your venue, time of year you’re getting married and weather conditions.


wedding photo out in nature with bride and groom

Photo by Onyx and Arrow Photography


Light Fabrics

Chiffon, tulle, organza and silk dress designs will have lots of natural movement that can pop against a natural or dramatic background. If you’re planning to elope outside, these fabrics will usually catch the wind — leading to some majestic photographs! The only downside is that these fabrics can sometimes catch or collect twigs or leaves at the bottom of your dress. If that happens, just be sure to gently remove them so you don’t damage your elopement dress. If you’re eloping during warmer months, these fabrics can be ideal as they are typically pretty breathable and won’t be clinging to your body.


bride taking photos on street before wedding in dress

Photo by M.A.D. Images


Heavier Fabrics

Polyester and crepe are heavier fabrics in comparison to the others, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good elopement dresses! While they may not have a ton of movement on their own, sometimes these materials can provide a stunning contrast depending on your ceremony location. Since they are a bit thicker, they’re ideal for fall and winter elopements (especially if most of your elopement activities take place outside). 


Winter wedding photo of bride and groom

Photo by Ashlyn Savannah Creative


Lace or Embroidery

One big pro to lace or embroidered elopement dresses is that they tend to be rather wrinkle resistant. We’ve worked with plenty of adventure elopement brides in these types of dresses and they seem to be rather easy to move around or hike in if required. These designs can be simpler or have dramatic trains, so just be sure to ask about all of the personalization and bustle options if you’re concerned.

Couple kissing during their wedding on a cliffPhoto by The Hearns

Hiking In Your Elopement Dress


It’s a common question amongst our adventure brides. How does it work if we’re planning to hike? Should I wear my elopement dress or change out in the woods? The truth is, you can do either! It really comes down to a few different factors including your elopement location, time of day and flow of events. We’ve got a few tips for any brides wondering which approach is right for them.


Should You Hike In It or Pack It?


We’ve had brides decide to hike in their dress and we’ve had brides wait until the end of their journey to change into their elopement dress. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to determine the best route for you:


How long is the hike?

Short hikes (around 1-2 miles) with minimal changes in elevation shouldn’t be as challenging while wearing your dress. If it’s a longer hike, there’s rough terrain, bodies or water or elevation gain, it probably won’t be as easy or comfortable to hike in your dress.


What will the weather like?

Hiking in the morning typically lends itself well to cooler temperatures. But hiking in the afternoon sun can be more of a challenge — the last thing you want is to be sweaty and dirty in your dress during that time of day! Be sure to keep track of local weather patterns or changes wherever you’re located in case there’s unplanned rain, snow, and more.


Sunrise or sunset elopement?

If you’re hiking for a sunrise elopement, chances are that it will be rather dark outside and can lead to accidents in your elopement dress. We’d recommend changing into your dress at the end of the trail instead to ensure you don’t trip, tear or dirty your dress while it’s dark.


Are you doing a first look?

If you’re aiming to keep that element of surprise, you’ll want to hike up in hiking clothes and then change for your first look.


Couple kissing during wedding photoshoot

Photo by Henry Thieu Photography


How to Hike in Your Elopement Dress


You’re planning to hike in your dress. Let’s do it! But how to do it gracefully with a backpack, flowers and more? Here’s a few ways you can carry your dress to avoid any damage and juggle carrying a few things:

  • Bunch up the train and drape it over your arm.
  • Tuck it into your legging or thermal pants if you’re hiking during the cooler months. This is best for those lightweight or wrinkle-resistant fabrics!
  • If your dress has a slit, you can sweep your hands through it, gather it all to one side, and drape it over your arm.
  • Still having trouble? Have your partner carry the bag so you can focus on your dress.


Where to Change Into Your Elopement Dress


After you’ve made it to your ceremony destination, you’ll be looking for a spot to change. If you can find a private spot along the trail, go for it! If not, here’s two tips to have a bit more privacy while you slip into your elopement dress. 

  • Bring a pop-up changing tent! These can be purchased on Amazon, and some adventure elopement photographers actually may have them on hand. Be sure to chat with yours ahead of time to see if it’s a possibility.
  • Bring a blanket for your elopement planner (we’ve got you!) or photographer to hold up while you change. This will help not only with privacy but also wind if it’s blowing that day! Be sure to bring a blanket that you can lay your clothes on while changing so they don’t get dirty (assuming there’s not another person there to hold them).


How to Pack Your Elopement Dress for a Hike


You’ve decided it’s safer to pack the dress than hike in it, but curious how to pack it correctly? There’s a few ways to do this depending on the material and size of your dress. For lightweight dresses, you can hang it and use a garment bag and strap it to the outside of your backpack with a bungee cord so it’s secure. For dresses with a bit more volume, you can also use a garment bag but you’ll need to fold it up a bit more so it’s manageable. Lay out your elopement dress on the hanger, fold the larger skirt into thirds to make the entire dress one width, roll up any of the excess train length, then zip up and fold to secure to your pack. If your garment bag will fit inside your hiking backpack feel free to place it inside, too! Just be sure that there are no potential liquids or items in your pack that can stain or damage the dress.

Curious about booking an elopement?
Contact us today and let us help!

Ready to Go Elopement Wedding Dress Shopping?


So exciting! If you’re planning to shop with any loved ones or friends, be sure to communicate in advance the type of dress you’re looking to wear for your elopement. Don’t forget to bring shoes and whatever undergarments you’re planning to wear on your wedding day. But most of all, have fun!


Prices of Dresses and Top Places to Shop


Everyone’s elopement dress budget is different! Determine the appropriate budget for your dress in advance and communicate it to your stylist, should you have one. Try on some different styles to find the right one that makes you feel amazing! You deserve to look and feel like a million bucks for the elopement of your dreams.


The 2020 Brides American Wedding Study found that brides spend an average of $2,400 on their wedding dress. Keep in mind that this is prior to alterations, which can be an additional $200-$500 depending on how much needs to be adjusted and the material of the dress. If you’re working with a tight budget, don’t worry! Some of our favorite places to shop for both budget-friendly and timeless designs are BHLDN, Grace Loves Lace, Lulus, ASOS and Revolve.


Don’t stress if you don’t find the perfect dress on the first try! Go into a few different shops (look for bridal boutiques) or order a couple of different styles to find what looks best on your body. Enjoy the search knowing that you’ll find an incredible dress for your big day!


Tips For Your Dress Fitting


If your dress needs a few alterations, you may have some dress fittings on the calendar before your elopement. If you want to invite some close friends or family for a second opinion, you can bring them along! Here’s a few tips and things to ask to make sure you’re prepared before your first fitting:

  • Just like you did when trying on dresses, be sure to bring your shoes and undergarments to get the full picture when you put on your dress.
  • Move around in your dress! Make sure that you can walk, run, dance and move comfortably in your dress when making alterations so you don’t have any regrets later on. 
  • Can you put the dress on by yourself or will you need assistance? This is a great thing to know in advance in case you need to enlist your elopement planner or photographer for help on your elopement day. If it’s an involved process, take a video on your phone to reference later or show others that will be helping you!
  • Should you add a bustle? Have your seamstress show you the available options for bustling your dress so you can decide if you’d like to add one. This is ideal if you’re planning on a celebration after your ceremony and want to be able to move around easily in a long dress with or without a train.

Bride in wedding dress

Photo by Elizabeth Le Photography

Let’s Jet! How to Fly With Your Dress


If you’re planning to fly with your elopement dress, be sure to plan ahead of time — things could get tricky and you don’t need the added stress. Most airlines offer on-board closets that you can utilize, but here’s everything to do before check-in just in case.


Call Your Airline


Every plane is different, so it’s best to call ahead and find out how your specific airline handles passengers traveling with large, delicate items (like wedding gowns and tuxedos!). If they’ve experienced this in the past, they can probably provide the most accurate details for space, how to package your dress and more.


Pack Your Dress Carefully


If your dress has a long train, delicate lace or beading, be sure to pack it neatly to avoid damage. First, stick the hanger through the top of your garment bag and hang it up somewhere high (where your elopement dress can hang straight). Take the left side of the gown and the right side of the gown and fold them into each other toward the center. From there, take the bottom of your train and roll it up until the fabric is all inside of your garment bag. Once placed inside, zip up the bag carefully to make sure nothing gets caught.


Wedding dress hanging up

Photo by The Emerics


Try to Secure Priority Boarding


You’ve got better chances of stowing everything away easily if you’re one of the first ones on the plane! If you can’t board early, talk with the attendants at check-in to see if they can store it safely ahead of passengers boarding the plane. While there are usually no guarantees, attendants will typically do their best to help you out.


Make Sure Your Elopement Dress Complies with Your Airline’s Carry-on Policy


No one wants to end up with their wedding dress heading for the checked luggage area. Who knows what could happen to it once you can’t keep an eye out. It’s essential to verify that you’ll even be allowed to bring your dress as a carry-on. Things to double check are the weight and size.


If All Else Fails, Buy an Extra Ticket


Some brides (with the means to do so) will actually purchase an additional plane ticket just for their dress, so they can ensure it stays in tip top shape. Right now, there’s a possibility of empty seats on plane rides. So, there’s a chance that the airline will allow you to take advantage of an empty seat for your dress too. 


Don’t Forget to Pack a Steamer


Once you land, you’ll probably want to smooth out any wrinkles right away so they don’t sit for a long time. Pack a portable steamer in your suitcase that you can use once you’ve arrived at your destination. When steaming your dress, be sure to steam the underside of your dress (not the top!) so you don’t cause any damage to beading or lace. It’s also recommended to put a sock over the top of your steamer to ensure there’s no water spots.





Our team of elopement planners, coordinators, and writers are happy to share their insights and expertise to help educate and inform those looking to elope. Their goal is to make your lives easier and spark inspiration! And when you’re ready to elope, they’ll be here to help you with your special day.

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