top of page
  • kathleenelizabethphotos

2022 Elopement Wedding Dresses Guide

Updated: Jul 14, 2022

A couple looking at each other and smiling while running on their elopement day in front of a blue lake in the North Cascades

What to Wear for Your Elopement

On your elopement day you want to look beautiful, confident & feel like yourself.

Maybe you want a dress you'll have fun in that pops against the beautiful landscape where you're eloping. I get it! Whether you're searching for a more simple elopement dress, or something a little more extravagant- there's the perfect dress for you! Searching for a wedding dress can be hard, but it certainly doesn't have to be (which is why I made this super helpful guide!).

The best elopement dress is the one that makes you feel confident, beautiful, and happy. There's no one perfect dress or style to elope in, no rules or expectations- only you can decide what's best for you. However, my elopement dress guide with a list of all my favorite elopement wedding dress options is the perfect place to start your research! It will help you make decisions based on budget, style, fabric, and fit while you're searching for your dream elopement dress.

P.S. There's a LOT of information in this resource, so feel free to bookmark it to refer back to as you continue searching for your perfect dress!

Tips on Finding the Perfect Adventure Wedding Dress

Decide on Your Budget

One of the first things you should think about is how much you want to spend on your elopement attire. There's no rule when it comes to shopping for your elopement dress! Honestly, I've seen brides wear gowns (and look absolutely beautiful!) ranging from $100-$1,500. Of course there are exceptions to this range- there are a few dresses here for $50 and several designer gowns that are $3,000+. It really comes down to what you're comfortable with, what your vision is, and what's going to make you the happiest. It's also important not to forget about budgeting for any alterations that may be necessary!

Consider The Different Options in Shopping For a Wedding dress

While going into a traditional bridal store is certainly still an option while searching for an elopement dress, there are so many other different ways you can find a dress you love! Gone are the days of limited options. Your wedding dress can be anything you want it to be. If you're on a budget and are looking for an affordable elopement dress, or if the idea of going into a traditional bridal store makes you feel overwhelmed, try these tips:

You can search for a pre-owned dress on many different platforms, and if you're lucky you can find your dream dress for about 60% of the retail price! You can narrow down options by size or by designer. Some great options to check out is

Sample sales occur typically at least twice a year in local bridal stores when they sell their old sample inventory to make room for new bridal styles. If you're lucky, you can find a dress for up to 70% off retail price! However, they are available in very limited sizes and are final sale- so the options are limited.

Trunk shows are a great option if you have a specific designer that you love! This is when bridal shops hold an event showcasing new bridal designs from a specific designer with a small promotion ranging generally from 10-15% off.

Online shopping for an elopement dress gives you tons of flexibility and returns are generally easy! Make sure to measure yourself and read reviews prior to purchasing.

Non-traditional dresses, like a dress that's colorful, floral, black, or is short can be a fun option to not only express yourself, but can also be a more affordable option as well!

One thing to note is that I don't recommend renting your dress for your adventure elopement as there's a high probability of it getting dirty or wet!

*Pro-tip: try searching “white maxi dress”. There are tons of beautiful, affordable options out there!

A couple kissing at sunset in front of an airplane in Sedona during their elopement and the brides dress is in the air

Choose something that you absolutely love

This is hands down the most important thing on this list. Choose wedding attire that YOU absolutely love and feel confident in. Wear something that makes you feel beautiful, comfortable, and happy. Don't pay attention to traditions, trends, or outside opinions. If you love the way you feel in your wedding dress, not only will it make you happier on your wedding day, it will show in your photos. HAPPY LOOKS GOOD ON YOU!

Remember, there are SO many different options for your wedding dress

While a lot of brides choose to wear white on their elopement day, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case. If you don't want to wear a white dress on your wedding day, don't do it! Personally, I love black wedding dresses or dresses with a pop of color. Wearing something "non-traditional" is a great way to stand out and showcase your personality. If you want to wear your favorite color on your elopement day, go for it! Additionally, there are other options for wedding attire besides dresses. You also can rock a pantsuit or a bridal top and flowy skirt!

When starting to look for a dress, I recommend to keep an open mind and consider different silhouettes, styles, fabrics and even colors! You never know what you might fall in love with. Even if you plan on shopping online for a dress, I recommend going to a bridal store to try on dresses just to see how the different shapes of dresses look and feel like on you so you can get a better sense of what you like! You may be surprised with what you end up with- I hear many brides say they end up choosing a dress that was no where near what they initially had in mind and are so happy with their choice!

Lightweight and airy fabrics are perfect for adventurous elopement because they're easier to hike in (or pack up if you're carrying your dress) are super fun to play with in the wind, and catch the sunlight in a really pretty way- making for fun and unique photos in the elements. If this interests you, consider fabrics like chiffon, organza, and tulle. Lace is another INCREDIBLE option- it's beautiful, boho, and won't wrinkle.

Other fabrics to consider are silk, satin, and polyester. These have such a gorgeous shine and texture, however they are heavier so are less ideal during summer elopements (especially if you're hiking). If you love the look of these fabrics but want to opt for something a bit more lightweight, try charmeuse! Additionally, another fun fabric, especially if you're going with a colorful dress, is velvet!

Another thing to consider is whether or not you want a train. The more fabric there is, the more you can play with it in your photos and get creative (like throwing it in the air, draping it across the rocks or the trail, letting it play naturally in the wind, etc.)

There's many styles to consider, however some lend themselves better to adventure elopements and hiking then others. A-line, fit and flares, empire, princess, two-pieces, and ballgowns with smaller skirts work well because they have a lot of natural movement and allow you to move around easily. I would recommend against a trumpet dress or a mermaid dress if you plan on hiking a lot- if you do go for a more form fitting dress I recommend testing your mobility in it to ensure you can still move around comfortably!

A bride and groom dancing on top of a mountain at sunrise on their elopement day in the North Cascades

Choose something that is easy & comfortable to move around in

It is absolutely essential to choose something that you feel comfortable in and that is easy to move around in. If you're uncomfortable in your wedding dress, you aren't going to have as much fun as you would if you were comfortable. This is especially important if you're having an adventurous elopement or if you are hiking on your wedding day! Certain styles of dresses will make hiking easier, and others (like ones that are tight around your hips and legs or are made of too heavy of a material) will make it impossible.

When trying on dresses:

  • Do lots of movement! Make sure that you can hike and move (and breathe!) in comfort

  • Lift your legs high, like you would if you were climbing over a rock or stepping on a high ledge

  • Try picking it up and twirling it around

  • Raise both hands while twisting and twirling around

  • Pick it up in one or two hands and try running & skipping

  • Grab a handful of the dress from the bottom and then hold your hand straight out at about waist level or higher and swish it around

  • Ask yourself- Can I wear this all day and be comfortable?

  • Take several deep breaths like you're hiking- it should be easy to breathe

  • Try and take note if anything is itchy, poky, or if anything is digging into you in any way

One of my favorite things about adventurous weddings is all the elements of nature we get to play with- especially the wind! Keep that in mind when looking for a dress. Flowy skirts look so incredible and create beautiful, dramatic wedding photos. Dresses make a lot of different shapes when moving & being blown around versus just standing still… so loving how the dress looks & feels when you’re moving is super important!

Pro-Tip: Choose a dress that is easy to get in and out of, especially if you plan to hike and change into it at your destination!

A couple walking their dogs in front of a lake during their sunrise elopement in the North Cascades

Keep in mind your elopement location & the time of year you're eloping

Some people choose to hike up in their wedding dress, while others will hike up in regular clothes and change into their dress at the top. If you’re planning on hiking to your destination in regular clothes and changing into your wedding gown when you get there, consider getting a lightweight dress and avoid heavy or bulky materials that would take up a lot of space in your pack.

Keep in mind the time of year you are eloping and what the weather will be like at your chosen elopement destination. If you're eloping somewhere colder, consider buying outer layers (jackets, gloves, shawls, ear muffs, etc) that you wouldn't mind being photographed in. Another great tip for staying warm in your wedding dress on your elopement day is wearing nude, fleece leggings like these. If your elopement destination is going to be cold, I suggest choosing a dress where you can comfortably wear leggings underneath them (Trust me on this, these leggings are lifesaving! You can thank me later).

Also think about bridal accessories you may want to incorporate into your look like a veil, flower crown, a cape, jewelry, jean or fringe jacket, or a hat!

Embrace The Dirty Dress

If you're having an adventure elopement where you'll be hiking in your dress or will be outside in your dress- it's going to get dirty (and if you're eloping here in the PNW, there's a good chance it'll get wet!). My biggest advice? EMBRACE IT! I think the dirt ombre (and probably some sticks, leaves or twigs) your dress will get on it is awesome, it's part of your elopement story now! It's the perfect representation of your adventure. You only get to wear this dress once and you may as well really wear it!

A bride's dirty and muddy elopement dress during her hiking elopement in Mount Rainier National Park

Hiking in Your Dress

While you definitely don't have to hike when you have an adventure elopement, many couples choose to hike at some point during their day! A question I get asked a lot is do couples hike in their wedding clothes or do they change into it later? And honestly it depends!

For shorter hikes (generally under 2-3 miles one way), most people decide to hike in their wedding dress, however that is completely up to you! If your dress has a long train, you can choose to get it altered to have a bustle, or you can secure it in your pack's hip belts or drape it over your arm so you don't trip.

For longer hikes or for sunrise hikes when we start in the dark, generally couples opt to start in hiking clothes and change into their wedding garb at the top or once we reach our destination! Depending on how big your dress is and the material, you can either fold it up and strap it on top of your pack, put it in a dry bag (if it's rainy), or put it in a garment bag and attach it to your hiking backpack. When at your destination, you can change behind a big rock, a tree, a fire lookout, behind a blanket, or you can pack up a pop-up changing stall! Then, oftentimes couples choose to hike down in their wedding clothes as it is a less sweaty endeavor.

A bride hiking in her elopement wedding dress in the mountains in the North Cascades

How to Travel with your Elopement Dress

If you are traveling by plane, make sure to bring your elopement attire with you as a carry on and not to check it just in case your luggage gets lost!! Most flight attendants are super nice about it and if you ask they will hang it up for you in the cabin closet for you (there's no guarantees though) which would also help with any wrinkling. If you don't plan on bringing it hanging up and are getting it altered, you can ask your seamstress for recommendations for how to fold it for your specific fabric to help prevent wrinkling but a pro-tip is to roll your dress.

To do this, first hang your dress up high so you can work with the whole skirt and train. Then take the right and left sides of your gown and fold them in toward the center- resulting in your skirt laying flat at the same width as your bodice. Then roll up whatever excess train is longer than your garment bag and zip it up carefully to not catch any fabric. Lastly, fold the garment bag over as few times as possible to get it to fit in your suitcase or bag. Once you get to your lodging, I'd put it on a hanger and let it air out right away! If your fabric allows, you can steam it then if there is any wrinkles.

If you're traveling by car, it's a little bit easier. I recommend keeping your dress in a garment bag and laying it as flat as possible, with nothing on top of it, to prevent wrinkles. If you don't have the room- roll it up the same way I described above and then once you reach your lodging immediately hang it up!

Where to Find Your Elopement Dress- A Dress for Every Budget

*All photos are linked to the website so you can find them easily!*

Affordable Elopement Wedding Dresses

Price Range: $80-$300

Online Shopping: Yes

Why I love this designer: I love Lulus! They have gorgeous, affordable gowns in a variety of colors and styles.

Price Range: $70-400

Online Shopping: Yes

Why I love this designer: They have absolutely beautiful dresses in a variety of styles and in a large range of budgets! They have a lot of options that would be easy to move in and would be perfect for an adventure elopement

Price Range: $170-500

Online Shopping: Yes

Why I love this designer: A popular choice for bridesmaids dresses, this shop also has many gorgeous wedding dresses to choose from!

Mid-Range Elopement Wedding Dresses

Price Range: $750-1,600

Online Shopping: Yes, and some stores

Why I love this designer: Home of gorgeous dresses that would be perfect for an adventure wedding. They have a range of dresses in different price ranges and a large variety of styles. They also have some good deals on their site throughout the year!

Designer Elopement Wedding Dresses

Price Range: $2,600-8,000

Online Shopping: No, store locations only (unless bought second hand)

Why I love this designer: Another designer with absolutely beautiful gowns. Romantic & whimsical, these dresses were practically made to be worn on an elopement.

Price Range: $3,100-4,000

Online Shopping: No, store locations only (unless bought second hand)

Why I love this designer: This designer creates some of the most stunning dresses I've ever seen. Seriously. These dresses are absolutely breath-taking. Bohemian & beautiful, any of these gowns would be an amazing addition to your elopement day.

Price Range: $1,800-$2,600

Online Shopping: Yes and Select stores

Why I love this designer: These dresses are absolutely breathtaking and are so beautiful! Every single dress is gorgeous and in terms of designer dresses, this is a more affordable option out there! The detailing and designs are absolutely exquisite.

Best Elopement Wedding Dress Ideas

White Elopement Wedding Dresses

Black Elopement Wedding Dresses

Colorful Elopement Wedding Dresses

Floral Elopement Wedding Dresses

Long Sleeve Elopement Wedding Dresses

Short Elopement Wedding Dresses

Two Piece Elopement Wedding Dresses & Bridal Separates

Pantsuit Elopement Wedding Dress

A bride and grooms hiking wedding boots and the brides sequin elopement dress has mud on it

Hiking Boots to Go With Your Elopement Wedding Dress

Now this blog wouldn't be complete unless I talked about hiking wedding boots! I love how hiking boots and a wedding dress or a suit go so perfectly together for adventure elopements. If you're eloping outdoors, especially if you're hiking, the two most important things when it comes to footwear is that they are comfortable and that they have actual tread. Uncomfortable shoes will detract from your experience at best, and at worst leave you with blisters and in severe pain. Additionally, unless you plan to be on flat pavement or a lawn all day, you will want supportive shoes with good grip! I strongly recommend against heels or dress shoes that have smooth bottoms so you don't have to worry about twisting an ankle or falling.

If you're looking for a new pair of hiking boots, make sure to try on a variety of brands and styles before purchasing! I also recommend purchasing from REI, not only are they extremely helpful in finding a shoe that fits for you and ensuring you have the proper fit, they have a year return policy (even if you've already worn them!). When trying on your potential new boots, make sure to wear the socks that you would actually hike in. I recommend always hiking in wool socks and not cotton! Wool wicks away moisture and will help prevent cold feet and blisters. Additionally, once you have your new pair of shoes, if needed, be sure to break them in (not all shoes need to be!).

I personally have these Merrell Moab II's and I love them! I hiked nearly 300 miles in them this last year and my feet still feel great in them and I don't get blisters. They also ride a little higher and give me a bit better ankle support which I appreciate (especially on these PNW elevations & declines!). Other brands I've heard good things about are Danner, Kodiak, Keen and Lowa!

Pin It For Future Planning!

Want More Resources?

Curious about what people actually do all day when they elope? Read what do you do on your elopement day- 80+ fun elopement activity ideas.

Wondering why people choose to elope? Here are 6 Reasons to Have an Elopement.

Or get real life elopement inspiration with this Romantic Olympic National Park Elopement!


Meet Your Adventure Elopement Photographer

Hi! My name is Kathleen and I'm an adventure wedding and elopement photographer (and your new friend!). I'm also an avid hiker & backpacker who loves adventure of any kind (most of the time with my dog Ranger!). I'm here to help guide you to having the ultimate wedding day experience, and to document every single moment of it.

I would love to help you plan your elopement and answer any questions you may have! I photograph elopement packages in Washington, Alaska, Arizona, and Utah and would love to document your special day.

Get in touch with me and let's start planning your dream adventure.


An Alaska elopement photographer in front of a glacier

2,676 views0 comments


bottom of page