The best dresses for an elopement wedding + tips on shopping for your dress by an Adventure Elopement Photographer

I am SO excited you are here, because that means you are eloping!! I am so happy for you. Now you are wondering how do I select a wedding dress for an adventure elopement???

In this blog post I will share with you all the secrets I have gained from previously renting out designer gowns, from photographing many elopements in different locations and helping brides on their elopement day! When I was shopping for gowns I found that I have a huge love for wedding dresses. All of their textures, colors and fabrics always catch my eye. I hope this elopement dress guide helps you in finding the perfect gown! If you have any questions at the end please drop them in the comments!! Or feel free to reach out to us about your elopement, I would love to capture your day and help with the planning along the way!

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A bride holds her hat as she stands on a desert vista!

The top three questions my brides ask me about their wedding dress before their elopement:

Will my dress get dirty during my elopement?

Most likely, yes! This is not a huge deal because after a dry cleaning it will be back to normal in most elopement locations!! Now, if you are eloping in Sedona or Moab it could stain depending on the fav. There is a chance of your dress getting torn, getting sticks or cacti in it and more. This is a risk you take when choosing to have the most epic wedding day possible. If you are concerned with your wedding dress getting dirty it is best to change into the dress after the hike and carry the bottom of the dress as much as possible.

This all depends on you and your elopement! Some of my couples will get dress at the peak of the hike close to where we will be doing the ceremony portion. Some want to hike in their attire and they get dresses either at the trailhead, their Airbnb, their van or campsite. If you plan on changing on location it is best to carry we wedding dress bag or carefully pack your dress in your pack.

Where will I change into my Wedding Dress during my elopement?

This really depends on a lot of things like, where are you eloping? What are you doing as far as an adventure? Do you want to get the dress dirty? Can you adventure in your dress? Some couples change at their Airbnb and hike in the dress. Some change at the top of the location where they plan to get married via a changing tent or hiding behind a tree or bush. Some change at the trail head in the car or bathroom. It all really depends!

Can I do a first look in my dress if I am eloping?

Of course!!! First looks are not just for the big traditional weddings. You can do a first look on the top of any mountain peak. The great thing about elopements is that the day is truly all about what you two want to do and the experience you want to have. If you want your partner to help you get ready, great! If you want to get ready separately and have that surprise moment together, great! We can make it happen.

Bride Wearing BHLDN during her Sedona Elopement.

Before you start shopping, keep these day of shopping tips in mind:

  • Research online first styles you like and shops that carry those dresses. Before selecting a wedding dress store to shop out learn about the experience they offer, is it what you want? Some stores are pushy with sales, some stores are extremely hands off. Some stores have limitations on how many people you can bring with you so just do your research. I personally found that I prefer stores that are super hands off and give you space.
  • Bring with you when you shop the undergarments you plan to wear the day of and the shoes you plan to wear.
  • Be open to trying on other styles too.
  • If you need to order a dress for your elopement day then you want to shop at a minimum 4 months before, 6 months before would be even more ideal. If you are shopping of the rack you can go whenever, but do keep some wiggle room for alterations if needed with your timing.
  • You can buy a wedding dress from $75 and all the way up to $20k or more. Set a budget that you are comfortable with and shop only within that budget.
  • Don’t be afraid to shop online, just read lots of reviews on quality and sizing.
  • Be prepared for alternations, especially if your dress has sleeves. You can ask your shop where they recommend to go, or I simply found a lady on a local FB group who did mine in a few days for $75.
  • Date the dress do not feel like you have to buy something while shopping.
  • 100% you need to make sure that your wedding dress is wear-able for the adventure you plan to do on your elopement day.

Where to get a wedding dress for an elopement? What to look for in a dress?

Just like a traditional wedding you want your dress to showcase YOU. The dress should scream your personality and you should feel stunning in it! Just because you are eloping which may involve hiking, rock climbing or what have you, does not mean you have to compromise on the look. Check out these options to purchase from along with great tips. These are by no means the only places or options for looking for your perfect elopement wedding dress! While going through the guide feel free to click on images from the suggested dresses from each store to go directly to the dresses site.

A bride laughs as her groom holds her close in the forest of Washington.

Shop BHLDN

This online store by Anthropologie’s brand has so much variety!! You can shop by style, price, neckline and fabric. They even have a “last minute bride” section which is great if you are planning your elopement in a shorter time frame. Shopping online with them is super easy and their sizing is on point, but they do have in person stores as well in certain cities. They have a dress for any budget which makes shopping easy. If you are going to shop by fabric and you are looking for a dress that will catch the wind perfectly on your wedding day then shop for silk, chiffon or a layered tulle dress.

Below are example dresses found on the BHLDN website + inspo how how this would look on an elopement day.

A woman in a wedding dress from the BHLDN website

This dress would be super light weight, not to mention beautiful! This would be great for an elopement at a location in the Pacific North West will tall ever green trees or a place like the Redwoods. The detail would really stand out.

A woman in a wedding dress from the BHLDN website

PANT SUITE!!!!! How classic and beautiful is this??? Not to mention super easy to hike in or rock climb. I can see a couple now riding off on their motor-cycle under the starts after eloping on top of a route in Joshua Tree.

A woman in a wedding dress from the BHLDN website

Never be afraid of a little color and bling for an elopement dress. This dress would be so beautiful in Yosemite National park with its blush color against the tones in the park and look so beautiful in the wind on the cliffs.

Shop Rue De Seine

Their designs are unique, bold and beautiful. If you are looking for the perfect boho dress this may be the way to go. Their dresses are texture galore! They have retailers all over the United States and in other countries so that you can go and try on the gown before purchasing. Check out some of my suggestions for Rue De Seine below.

Is your dress functional?? Location also matters in the sense of can you hike or do other activities in your dress on your elopement day. Most of Rue De Seine Dresses are light weight and flowy making it a perfect design for almost any adventure elopement. Do not doubt yourself, but know your limits. You can totally elope in a ball gown too!! If you do buy a gown with a lot of under layers you can always cut out the first layer that is the more stiffer fabric to be more comfortable.

Seriously?! This wedding dress in a desert setting like the a slot canyon in Page, Amangiri or Moab would amazing!! Those colors are a perfect match and this dress gives you all the freedom in the world to move around and have fun! Also, not a bad beach wedding dress!

This dress screams the Pacific North West to me. The lace overlay reminds me of the ferns that are plentiful in Washington. This light weight fabric would even be stunning and workable on a rainy day elopement, that is bound to happen when eloping that region.

This brand even has denim jackets! This is great if you want the sexy strapless dress, but you’re eloping somewhere a little chilly. Or it is a great accessory to have if you’re joining your newly wed spouse around a campfire after your elopement.

A detailed photo of a brides wedding dress from behind as she climbs a ladder in a slot canyon.

Shop Reclamation

This designer is really something special, she fully believes in you and you showing off that magic inside of you. Based out of Canada she hand makes each dress from vintage and antique lace. You can shop on her Etsy site or you can help her design the dress of your dreams. Her dresses are one of a kind and Eco-friendly. Speaking of environmentally friendly, you can also rent some her dresses from her Etsy shop or from other vendors. See below some of my favorite designs from the designer.

A bride and groom dance together as they are engulfed in a cloud.

Other awesome online wedding dress stores we highly suggest:

As far as online or in person stores I suggest:

Lulus + Reformation + Asos – for an affordable dress, online only

Free People for a super boho fit, online + in person

Still White for a second hand dress, online only

Shop Gossamer – vintage gowns online only, be sure to buy not rent for an adventure elopement!

I also highly recommend checking out Brides for a Cause as they are a non-profit that donates to women based causes. They have in person stores in the Seattle, Portland and Sacramento regions and you can shop their flash sales on their instagram page. My own elopement wedding dress was from the Portland Brides for a Cause store, where I found a Leanne Marshal gown!

Two brides stand together in the sunset light on their elopement day in Sedona.
Sedona elopement.

Other wedding dress designers that are 100% worth checking out:

Vera Wang – been in the industry a long time making stunning gowns

Calla Blanche – sexy statement dresses

Daci Gowns – hand made per bride super flowy dresses

Grace Loves Lace – a very popular option from our brides, simple + stunning

Monique Lhuillier – Designs super classic dresses + but also fun colorful or textured dresses

Watters – a popular choice among several of our brides! We know for sure you can find this brand at BHLDN.

As I always say, ask your photographer!!! Your elopement photographer is here to guide you and help you through this planning process. If you have any questions about what dress is best for the location, elopement plans and or weather never hesitate to ask. No matter what dress you choose you’re going to have the must magically day, congratulations!!!!

Now, we can not forget about veils and accessories!

Here are a few tips and important things to know when you want a veil on your adventure elopement!

👰🏽‍♀️ Having a veil is totally up to you. There is no rule book that says you need one. So it’s up to you!
👰🏽‍♀️ If you get a veil keep in mind you can wear the entire day or just some of the day, again up to you!
👰🏽‍♀️ If you want the “under the veil” classic romantic close up shot we for sure recommend getting the longer, floor length veil length which is called a chapel or cathedral veil.
👰🏽‍♀️ You also don’t have to get a white veil! You can get one with texture, color, lace or sparkle!
👰🏽‍♀️ Of you like the look of a veil but don’t want something on your head a cape is an epic alternative!
👰🏽‍♀️ Our top recommendation for shopping veils are @etsy @brides_for_a_cause @asos @bhldn @lulus @emmakatzkabridal @twigsandhoney
👰🏽‍♀️ You can pair your veil with a hat, crown, updo, flower crown etc!
👰🏽‍♀️ Did you know you can make your own veil too? Or you can make changes to it if you want something no so simple. There are easy tutorials online if you’re feeling creative!
👰🏽‍♀️ It’s also important to know that your veil may blow out of your hair lol. Those windy vistas almost always win, however we always retrieve them! Be sure to bobby pin in your veil, don’t just rely on the comb. The wind will also blow your veil around a lot if it’s windy, which can make for some super beautiful photos, but if you’re getting annoyed with it you can always take it off. On a windy day, you want to make that choice before your ceremony. It’s also helpful for the one wearing the veil to stand on the side her wind is blowing!

Other accessories that are important to have on your adventure elopement day may include, but are not limited to:

  • Hiking Boots! Hiking one mile or 20, it doesn’t matter having the proper shoes is so important for safety and a smooth experience. Hiking shoes are important to break in before the big day. I highly, highly recommend buying these in person so you can try them on at a place like REI.
  • A jacket or extra layers in case it it chilly. Some of our brides will but tights or leggings on under their dress which is a great idea! Some of our fellas will do thermals. You can always bring a cute bridal hat and gloves.
  • Jewelry – just make sure what you wear won’t fall off or hinder your adventure.
  • Flower crowns! They are so much fun, your florist can make one or you can order one off of etsy!
A bride dances in her ballroom wedding gown on top of a cliff in the desert.
Adventure Elopement Photographer

Pin it for later! Or send to a friend looking for an elopement wedding dress <3

18 Responses

  1. Okay.. This blog post is AWESOME. Seriously so useful for adventure elopements. I cannot wait to pass this along to my future clients as this is such a well thought out resource. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ok, I personally LOVE the pantsuit and would love to photograph a bride rocking the pantsuit. I heavily considered it for my own wedding. What a great article. Super informational and thorough. I will be referring back to this often!

  3. This guide is so helpful!! There are so many things to consider when you’re planning an adventurous elopement! I love that you talk about dry cleaning! A lot of people probably forget about the magic of dry cleaning a wedding dress!

  4. What a fabulous guide! I wish I had read this before taking my own dress out into nature — definitely was not the right choice as it got snagged on everything! Live and learn 🙂

    1. Yes, buying a wedding dress in general is such a task hope this helps all the ladies that are going to be climbing mountains in them or trekking through the desert 🙂

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