Bride walking through the woods in her elopement dress

What to Consider When Choosing an Elopement Dress

As an elopement photographer, I’ve had the pleasure of photographing some truly stunning elopements in some of the most breathtaking locations on the planet. As a result, I’ve seen my fair share of elopement dresses and have learned what works well in a variety of outdoor settings. I also worked as a bridal stylist learning about different fabrics and how well they hold up to certain conditions. Here are my top tips for choosing the perfect elopement dress!

Note: The most important thing on your wedding day is you! Choosing a dress that makes you feel beautiful and feels “you” is more important than any of the other tips on this list. So even if your dress doesn’t align with these categories, don’t let that stop you from wearing it. As long as you feel confident and beautiful, your dress is the best elopement dress! 

If you’re planning an elopement and need a photographer who can help you through the planning process, check us out here!

Tips for Finding Your Perfect Elopement Dress

Prioritize Comfort in Your Elopement Attire

The number one thing when choosing an elopement dress is comfort. Most of your elopement day will be spent in this dress and the last thing you want is to feel weighed down by it feeling heavy or restrictive. You’ll likely be doing some sort of exploring on your elopement day and choosing a dress that feels uncomfortable will make those activities a lot less enjoyable. It could also tie uncomfortable memories to your wedding day. Your elopement day is your special day, and you want to be happy and comfortable for the entirety of it!

bride and groom sitting on a rock with the elopement dress hanging over

Choose the Right Fabric for Your Elopement Dress

The fabric you choose on your wedding day can affect your comfort, mobility, and your elopement day will likely put its durability to the test. On your wedding day, depending on the locations you choose to explore, you could be exposed to all kinds of weather conditions and terrain, so choosing a fabric that can withstand those conditions is key to having a comfortable wedding day. Also, consider the climate and location of your elopement. If you’re getting married in a hot climate, a lightweight, breathable fabric would be a good option and if you’re eloping in a colder climate, you may want to consider something heavier.

Elopement Dress Fabric Pros and Cons

  • Satin: This fabric is shiny and has a smooth, silky finish making it beautiful to photograph. Satin also drapes beautifully and flows in the wind but is prone to wrinkles, stains easily, and can be heavy.
  • Polyester: Polyester is known for its durability and affordability. It’s a great fabric for an elopement dress as it’s very easy to take care of and to travel with because it doesn’t wrinkle as easily. Some possible downsides are that it’s not a very breathable fabric and that it can feel heavy.
  • Lace: Lace can add texture and dimension to any dress and looks so beautiful in many landscapes! Lace is lightweight and comfortable but can be delicate and can easily snag on branches or rocks.
  • Chiffon: Chiffon is a lightweight and airy fabric that’s sheer look makes it perfect for layering. It’s lightweight, breathable, does not wrinkle easily, and it flows in the wind. The downside to chiffon is the fact it can be fragile and can easily snag on a branch or rock.
  • Tulle: Tulle is a very versatile fabric that can be used for a variety of dress styles. Similar to chiffon, tulle is a lightweight fabric making it very easy to move in and can add a whimsical look to a dress. Tulle has the same pros and cons as chiffon.

Consider the Climate When Choosing Your Elopement Dress

Weather on your elopement day can be unpredictable, especially when you’re eloping outdoors. Taking into consideration where you are eloping when choosing your elopement dress will ensure your elopement day goes as smoothly as possible. Make sure to dress for the climate and be prepared for any changes. 

If you’re getting married in a colder climate, you’ll want to choose a dress with long sleeves or consider layering a shawl or sweater over your dress. If you’re getting married in a warmer climate, you’ll want to choose a dress that’s lightweight and breathable to keep you cool. If you’re eloping in a location where it’s likely to rain, consider a dress that won’t weigh on you too heavily if you get wet. And if you’re getting eloping in a location with high humidity, choose a fabric that won’t cling to your body.

brides looking out towards the mountains hugging in their elopement dresses

Think About Mobility in Your Elopement Dress

You’ll want to be able to move around freely in your dress, especially if you’re eloping in nature. And you don’t want to be held back by your dress when you’re hiking, climbing, or exploring. An elopement dress that restricts your movement will not only be uncomfortable but also hinder your ability to take in the scenery and fully experience the moment.  Look for a dress that allows for a full range of motion, with a skirt that’s easy to move in and won’t get caught on branches or rocks. You may also want to consider wearing comfortable shoes or boots that allow you to move freely. A-line or column dress styles tend to be the most popular for elopements because they allow you full range of motion. Ballgowns can be very heavy and hard to move in due to how much fabric is in the skirt and fitted dresses can restrict your range of motion and make walking/hiking more difficult.

A good test when choosing your elopement dress is to practice walking, sitting, standing, and stepping up in the dress. If you feel restricted at all during these movements, imagine what an all-day elopement would feel like in it when you’re exploring. Also make sure your dress doesn’t restrict your ability to breathe deeply or eat food, since you’ll want to feel 100% on your wedding day.

Woman and man in elopement attire kiss next to a rushing river

A Durable Elopement Dress is Key

You want to choose a dress that can stand up to the rigors of an outdoor elopement. Look for fabrics that are durable and can handle a bit of dirt or mud. Also, if you’re eloping in a climate that has a high chance of rain or you’re doing an activity that involves water, check to make sure you’re dress won’t weigh you down if it gets drenched on your elopement day. 

Bride wearing elopement dress and groom look at each other on a mountain top

Dress for Your Elopement Landscape 

Your elopement location is an essential factor when choosing a dress. If you’re getting married on the beach, consider a lightweight, flowy dress that won’t get weighed down by sand or get caught in the wind. If you’re eloping in a forest, consider a dress that complements the natural surroundings and won’t get snagged on branches. If you want to really stand out in your elopement landscape, choose a dress color that pops against the color of the landscape. For example, a black elopement dress complements red desert landscapes wonderfully and a white dress would pop against a dark forest.

Bride wearing an elopement dress sharing her vows in front of a mountain to her groom

Find the Perfect Elopement Dress for Your Adventure Elopement

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to find an elopement dress that’s not only beautiful but also practical for your outdoor adventure wedding. Don’t let your dress hold you back from exploring and having the time of your life on your special day! But remember, even if your dress doesn’t match these tips, as long as you feel confident and beautiful, your dress is the perfect elopement dress. 

Elopement Dress Brand Recommendations

Visiting your local bridal shop is a great way to try on a variety of styles and fabrics to see what looks and feels the best on you! Your local bridal stylist will also be able to give you personalized recommendations based on what styles you are drawn to and connect you with dresses you may not know exist. Below are a few of our favorite shops and designers to find elopement dresses. For shops like Lulus, Etsy, and Azazie, check the reviews on each dress you are interested in to make sure the quality matches your expectations.

Meet your photographer team

We’re Bridget & Ryan!

Adventurers turned adventure elopement photographers specializing in national park and hiking elopements! We help couples craft a wedding day that feels authentic to them in a meaningful and epic location. Life’s an adventure, let’s make your wedding one too!