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. In this post we’re going to talk all about what to wear when you elope:

  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?

 

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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!

What activities will you be doing on your elopement day?

Adventurous Elopements

Couples who hike on their elopement day often prefer changing into their elopement attire after arriving at their final hiking destination. However, sometimes couples prefer to wear the entire day.

Either way, you’ll want to shop for elopement attire that breathes well, moves with your body, and isn’t too heavy or difficult to pick up. Instead of big or heavy garments, consider materials that are lightweight, breathable, and easy to pack. You’ll inevitably run into boulders, sticks, and mud-pits when you elope, and you’ll want to be prepared in what you wear.

For example, although long dress 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. 

Relaxing Elopements

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.

Multi-Experience Elopements

Some couples prefer to have “multi-experience” elopements, 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 pair of pajamas before later changing into your elopement dress or suit.

 

Post-Elopement Receptions

If you have a reception after your elopement, don’t feel you have to wear the same dress again. This is a scenario 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 for your elopement or will you need to pack your attire?

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. You’ll want to consider the weight and size of your elopement attire, as well as wrinkle-factor (which I get into more later).

Pro tip: 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!

Weight

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

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.

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.

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 or climate be like?

Cold Environments

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

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

If eloping in a cold environment, you might also want to consider packing:

  • Proper hiking shoes with strong tread (or ice spikes)
  • Hand warmers for shoving in shoes, pockets, or wherever else they fit!
  • Wool socks and gloves for layering in cold environments
  • Jackets, wraps, scarves, and overcoats
  • Extra base layers

Warm Environments

Choosing your layers carefully can also protect you from extreme heat or sun exposure.

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 protective garments like long-sleeves and hats to protect your skin from the sun.

If eloping in a warm environment, be sure to bring:

  • Ice packs for your drinks or cooling off throughout the day (a frozen water bottle works well)
  • Shoes that can get wet or submerge in water (for all those waterfall and beach elopements)
  • Electrolyte packets to replenish from perspiration
  • Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses

Additional elements to consider and items to pack:

  • 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
  • Bug or bear repellent

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.

 

Shop Online

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). Here are a few online retailers I’m always suggesting to my couples for finding their elopement attire:

Shop used

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!

 

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!