What To Wear When You Elope

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What to wear when you elope

In this post we’re going to talk all about what to wear when you elope. Although every elopement is so unique, there are some common elements to consider when shopping for your elopement attire.

But before we get into it, I want to start by saying: what you wear when you elope doesn’t have to be a black tux or a white gown.

Your elopement experience is 100% yours, so don’t feel bad for stepping outside the bounds of “normal” or “traditional” when it comes to your attire. 

What you wear when you elope doesn’t have to be black or white, or even a suit or a dress. Don’t be afraid to experiment with color, unique textiles, or layering different pieces. Whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable, timeless, and unapologetically you – go for it!

Table of Contents

Questions to ask when shopping for elopement attire

When figuring out what to wear when you elope, it’s important to consider the logistics of your unique elopement experience and work outwards from there. You’ll want to consider things such as:

  • your elopement location
  • the activities you’ll be doing
  • whether or not you’ll be traveling
  • or even how many days your elopement experience is going to last.

Before you start shopping for your elopement attire, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What activities will you be doing on your elopement day?
  2. Are you traveling for your elopement or will you need to pack your attire?
  3. What will the weather or environment be like?
  4. How much do you want to spend on your elopement attire?

What activities will you be doing on your elopement day?

What to wear for an adventurous elopement

If you’re planning an adventurous elopement, a big and heavy outfit will probably not be suitable. Instead, consider materials that are lightweight, breathable, and easy to pack.

Many couples who hike on their elopement day prefer to change into their elopement attire after arriving at their final hiking destination. However, other couples prefer to wear the entire day. Either way, shop for elopement attire that breathes well, moves with your body, and isn’t too heavy or difficult to pick up. You’ll inevitably run into boulder,s sticks, and mud-pits when you elope, and you’ll want to be prepared in what you wear.

Some brides dream of wearing a long, dramatic gown that gets covered in dirt and quite literally “soaks” up the day. While long trains are beautiful, they can be a pain (and dangerous) to deal with when hiking. If you dream of this drama, shop for lightweight materials that won’t weight you down, and materials you can easily pick up and carry in your hand if needed. You might also want to consider bringing a belt or harness to pull up your long layers while hiking.

What to wear for your destination elopement

If you are traveling for your elopement, take into consideration the weight and size of your elopement attire, as well as wrinkle-factor (which I get into more later).

Like adventurous elopements, big and heavy articles of clothing will likely be burdensome if you’re traveling for your elopement. For destination elopements, look for attire that you can easily pack in your suitcase. 

If you’re eloping in a cold environment, choose attire that allows you to layer other clothing you pack as well. Not only will you stay warm, but you’ll save space in your luggage!

What to wear to travel elopement disclaimer:

If you are traveling for your elopement, pack your elopement attire on your carry on! Last thing you want is for your elopement outfits to get lost in transit!

What to wear for a relaxing elopement

If you are planning a visit to a beach or spa for your elopement, consider shopping for additional pieces such as silk robes or swimwear that effortlessly vibes with the rest of your elopement experience. Not only may these outfits also be photographed, but they will help make your elopement experience feel more special than any other trip you’ve been on together.

What to wear when you have a multi-day elopement

If you are planning a multi-day elopement, you’ll want to shop for multiple elopement outfits. Maybe consider something more “bridal” for your actual ceremony, then allow the rest of your itinerary to inspire your other outfits.

Multi-experience elopements

Some couples don’t have a multi-day elopement per say, but rather a “multi-experience” elopement – meaning they fit multiple activities into one day. For example, if you spend the morning of your elopement hiking, maybe you start the day with a really beautiful lightweight gown then change into a swanky jumpsuit for your post-hike celebration dinner. If you choose to start your elopement day with some time at the spa, maybe invest in a cute pair of pajamas before later changing into your elopement dress or suit.

What to wear when you elope & have a reception later

If you have a reception after your elopement, don’t feel you have to wear the same dress again. This is actually where two piece or convertible wedding dresses can be handy!

Couples who chose to exchange their vows with an adventurous elopement may very well end up getting their wedding attire dirty – and I personally think they should. Trying to preserve your wedding attire for a party isn’t going to allow you to completely immerse yourself in your elopement day. If you’re going to spend your elopement day worried about getting your attire dirty, you’ll be so happy you invested in two outfits up front. Get something for for the adventure, and something else for the party.

Are you traveling or will you need to pack your attire?

Weight

If you’re hiking on your elopement day and decide to change when you get to the mountain top, are you really going to want to carry a huge, heavy garment bag at the same time you’re carrying your backpack filled with water, snacks, and other hiking gear? Probably not.

Same thing if you are traveling for your elopement – are you really going to want to carry a huge, heavy garment bag through airports, onto airplanes, and in the back of shuttles or taxis? I promise you, you aren’t.

Whether hiking or traveling, you’re going to be much happier (and more comfortable) if you chose attire that’s lightweight and easy to pack along with the rest of your belongings. If you are able to, find elopement attire you can roll up and fit into your hiking backpack or a separate, smaller bag you can clip on.

Wrinkle-factor

Another thing to consider is wrinkle-factor, which I think a lot of people don’t consider when looking for elopement attire.

During your elopement, you’re probably not going to have uninterrupted access to a steamer or iron. There are portable handheld steamers you could bring with you – but again, that’s another thing you’ll have to fit in your hiking backpack and they don’t work that well with thicker or heavier textiles.

Instead, here are some other options to avoid wrinkles in your elopement photos:

Choose wrinkle-resistant fabrics

Your best option to avoid wrinkles is to chose fabrics that don’t wrinkle much! Rather than materials like silk or chiffon, opt for knit materials such as wool and cashmere, or blended fabrics including polyester and spandex. You could also shop for elopement dresses made with lace or beaded fabric, which resist wrinkling very well. However, beads and lace can be heavy… so again, think about the activities of the day and prioritize elements based on your itinerary.

Choose dark colored fabrics

Another option to avoid wrinkles in your photos is to shop for dark colors, which don’t show wrinkles as much on camera.

What will the weather be like?

If you plan on being outside most of the day on your elopement day, you’re liking going to experience shifting weather and temperatures. Whatever elements come your way, I have a few suggestions for you to keep in mind when shopping for what to wear when you elope!

Staying warm

Layering with insulated, long-sleeve thermals or leggings under suits and dresses can keep you warm and easily allow you to shed or add layers as needed.

Too many tight layers can trap perspiration and limit your body’s ability to expand and contract with movement. To keep comfortable and warm, elect for loose and breathable materials that allow you to move freely. Materials like silk and merino wool will trap heat without holding onto too much moisture.

Worried about the base layers showing through your gown? Shop for skin-colored thermals and leggings!

Base layer disclaimer:

I do have a word of caution with this… base layers work by trapping body heat. This means there must be a layer of air between your skin and the thermal clothing in order to keep you warm. No matter how many layers you put on, if they are too tight you’re probably not going to stay very warm because there isn’t enough air between the layers to trap heat.

Keeping cool

In the same vein as staying warm, choosing your layers carefully can also help you stay cool in hot or sunny weather. Lightweight materials like silk and cotton will wick away perspiration and allow fresh air to reach your skin.

If you are eloping under a strong sun, you may want to wear things like long-sleeves and hats to protect your skin from the sun. You wouldn’t want to leave your elopement day (and photos) with a burn!

Additional things you may need

You won’t want to feel self-conscious or unprepared on your elopement day. You want to walk through your elopement day without having to think about all the things you didn’t (and should have) packed, and confident knowing you have tons of options to keep you comfortable all day long!

  • Proper hiking shoes with strong tread (or ice spikes)
  • Shoes that can get wet or submerge in water (for all those waterfall and beach elopements)
  • Bridal veils that can easily be taken off and stowed away in cases of high winds or during hiking
  • A belt or harness for holding up long dresses while hiking
  • A rain jacket in case of… you guessed it, rain
  • Hand warmers for shoving in shoes, pockets, or wherever else they fit!
  • Ice packs for your backpack or cooling off throughout the day
  • Wool socks and gloves for layering in cold environments
  • Jackets, wraps, scarves, and overcoats
  • Extra base layers
  • Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses

How much do you want to spend?

A lot of couples who elope would rather spend more money on their experience than on clothing. Maybe they’d rather spend more on a great photographer, a beautiful accommodation, or an adventurous excursion like a helicopter tour. These couples would rather spend less on clothing and more on other elements of their elopement day.

What you wear when you elope doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, and you don’t have to shop at a high-end bridal shop! Shopping online or through used dress sites can help you save a ton of money (and time).

Places to shop online

Good news: you don’t have to go to a huge bridal store to shop for your elopement attire; you can shop online and save a ton! Here are a few online retailers I’m always suggesting to my couples for finding their elopement attire:

Places to shop for used wedding dresses

Another great option is used wedding dresses from sites like Still White or Preowned Wedding Dresses! This is actually where I got my stunning Rue de Seine gown (originally $3500, but I got it for $700). Give a pre-owned gown a new life!

Where to find inspiration

Still wondering what to wear to your elopement? I have a Pinterest board called “Elopement Dress Inspiration” that I’m always adding to with these factors in mind. I have curated a really beautiful collection of affordable elopement dresses, and the best part – they’re all available online!