Long gone are the days of getting married indoors, now brides need an elopement wedding dress for outdoors, but how the heck do you find an elopement wedding dress made for adventures? Or what to wear when eloping? And what if you’re not looking for civil court wedding dresses? The simple answer is that there are so many options it all depends on what experience you want to have with your elopement wedding dress!
Here is a helpful guide to help you make the best decision for buying your elopement wedding dress! Brought to you by elopement photographers who’ve been photographing weddings for 10+ years.
How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress:
- Decide on the style.
- Consider our pro tips.
- Consider your wedding day experience.
- Don’t forget your outer layers for your adventure.
- Do your adventures call for elopement wedding dress alterations?
- Where to buy your elopement wedding dress.
- Plus a video on how to pack your elopement wedding dress!
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How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress: Elopement Dress Vs Traditional Wedding Dress
Elopement Wedding Dress Vs Regular Wedding Dress
If you’ve made the beautiful decision to elope, first we want to say congrats on making a wedding day about your story versus a traditional wedding. (If you’re still not sure check out our Should I Elope Quiz!)
Second, we know things are different for you, you’re stepping into wedding planning that hasn’t been written with 101 guide books and a million magazines. This is exactly why we’re here as your elopement guides, helping you in all the new territory your elopement wedding day comes with!
(For more elopement planning tips check out our elopement planning tips page. There you’ll find What is an elopement, How to Elope, the best places to elope, Colorado Elopement Location ideas, Colorado winter elopement location ideas and so much more!
So, what will you need to consider for your elopement wedding dress that wouldn’t work for a regular wedding? First things first, you’ll most likely be outdoors, so you’ll want to take into consideration your experience.
Secondly, you’ll want to consider how you’ll use your dress in your chosen environment. Will your dress drag on the ground? Will there be bushes it may catch on? Make sure you’re ok with a dirty dress if you’ll be outside. In our opinion a dirty dress is a well lived dress!
How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress: Style
Style of Elopement Wedding Dress
We’ll be the first to admit we aren’t a bridal store, nor have we ever worked in a dress shop, but I mean doesn’t that sound fun?! Nah, we love our job taking you on adventures on your wedding day and documenting your day.
Back to our topic: Elopement Wedding Dresses. The first question to ask yourself is do you want an actual dress? Or would a wedding jumper be just as fun for your style?
Friend, it’s the 21st century, we are making the wedding rules and that means if you don’t want to wear a dress you don’t have to.
Start With Dreaming
While we could sit here sharing with you all the different styles (a-line, ball gown, mermaid, etc), we’ll leave that for a bit later and instead ask you to close your eyes and dream.
Dream about you, your beloved on your wedding day. For real, humor us, close your eyes and take yourself to your wedding day.
- How do you feel in your wedding dress?
- What’s the fabric feel like?
- Does it flow in the wind or hold its form?
- Is it snug on your body anywhere or loose?
- Are your arms, shoulders covered? Is any skin showing? A slit high or stunning back?
- Keep dreaming…
Now stop, grab a notepad or your phone notes app and write down what you just envisioned.
Start there. Even if your dream was in a non-traditional elopement dress, we encourage you to trust your vision!
Visit Stores In Person
Now, head to your local bridal store, share with them your desires and ideas, then try on dresses that fit that vision you just created.
It also cannot hurt to try on a few that may not initially seem right, but might fit you beautifully.
Friend, when else will you get to do this!? Enjoy the process.
Ok, wait but what if you don’t want to buy a dress in person? Because you know that it can take MONTHS to order dresses.
We know, we know. But trust us, you’ll want to try on different fabrics, different silhouettes, different shapes, in person to see how you feel in them.
THEN, you can head online and order that dress in time for your elopement! I mean unless you fall in love with one in the store and your wedding is far enough in advance, then you’re golden!
Types of Elopement Wedding Dresses
While we really want you to start with “envisioning” your wedding dress we also know how helpful it can be to explain the different types of dress styles before you head to a dress shop.
When I was a bride myself I felt completely overwhelmed as the bridal consults at the dress shops told me all about the different cuts, fabric types and styles.
Basically none of them were good sales people as I felt like a Looney Tunes character after getting smashed in the head with a mallet: chirping birds and colorful spirals swirling around my head.
So, to break it down simply, here are a few styles of elopement wedding dresses, the most popular style being a boho wedding dress or boho elopement dress that really can have most of these shapes except probably won’t have a ball gown shape.
A-line elopement wedding dresses are your most common type of dresses. They usually come in around the waist (just above your belly button) and then flow out in an A shape. Hence the name!
These dresses fit most body types.
Mermaid elopement wedding dresses are fitted all the way down to usually mid calf or below your knees and spread out to the ground.
Mermaid style dresses are best if you want to show off all your curves.
Trumpet elopement wedding dresses are a variation of A line dresses but have a little more snug around the hips and thighs, though not near as much as a mermaid.
A lot of boho wedding dresses have this type of shape. Max dresses also usually follow this shape. It’s what the name really is, a dress that has no flare at the bottom and is as wide at the top as it is at the bottom when worn. Column style dresses make a column shape. This style of dress is also good for casual wedding dresses.
Tea length wedding dresses are short elopement dresses or short wedding dresses. They usually come below the knee and are great alternatives to making sure you don’t catch anything on plants or bushes on your elopement wedding day.
Think Cinderella, these dresses are usually fitted around the bust and then flare out just below in a really big circle. Often ball gown elopement wedding dresses have layers underneath them that help keep the shape of the dress. These dresses are usually very heavy, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you’re having to do any walking or if dealing with any heat.
If you love ball gowns but are adventuring consider finding a two piece ball gown with a removable skirt. We think these elopement wedding dresses are pretty awesome!
There are many other niche styles of wedding dresses but these are the basic shapes.
How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress: Pro Tips
Top Tips For The Perfect Elopement Wedding Dress
- Find a dress that fits your vision of how you want to feel in an outfit on your wedding day.
- Don’t be afraid to try dresses on in person even if you plan on ordering online
- Consider your elements and comfortability levels in the outdoors
- If you’re adventuring and getting dressed at your remote location, make sure you can pack your dress.
- Make a statement with an alternative dress color.
- Why have one dress? Have different looks for each experience, because why not!?
How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress: Consider Your Layers
Consider Your Experience with your elopement wedding dress
Elopement weddings are ALL about the experience. (Not sure what we’re talking about, head on over to our what is an elopement page to find out what we mean.)
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that your dress can go with you on your experience too.
Here are a few considerations for choosing your elopement wedding dress.
Elements & Season
When you’re getting married outdoors you’ll be in the elements, rain, sun, heat, snow, wind, etc. You’ll want to consider will you be cool enough in the ballgown? Will you freeze in that thin strapless chic boho dress in the dead of winter?
Don’t worry friend, we have some hacks we’ll share too but take time to consider these things too!
Winter Elopement Wedding Dress Hacks
Layers, layers. As with anything in the winter especially if you’ll be in the mountains you’ll want to add layers.
We must also mention hand warmers. These are a must have item for ALL winter weddings to survive. Toe warmers are also amazing too. A long sleeve elopement dress may keep you slightly warmer but don’t’ skimp on layers just because you have sleeves.
SpanxsWhile not the most comfortable piece of clothing they do add an extra layer of warmth. If you’re not comfortable being squished like Bugs Bunny in the grip of an abominable snowman then consider a skin colored tank or tub top or other piece of clothing to keep your stomach area warm.
How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress: Consider Your Experience
Consider adding some outer warm layers like cute gloves, a thick winter shawl or our personal favorite: a blanket. We particularly love this letter blanket where you could pre-write your vows on it and use it to keep you warm too!
Don’t forget a full winter coat, snow gloves for in between photos or photos where your photographer is far away.
Who doesn’t love boots?! Adorable white snow boots are thankfully an easy find and your feet will thank you later. Consider saving those adorable heels for when you’re getting ready or for your indoor catered meal with your new spouse!
If you’re coming out to Colorado for your elopement head on over to our Colorado Packing List to make sure you have everything you need for your trip!
Summer Elopement Wedding Dresses
Being outdoors in the summer can go a few ways, if you’ll be in an high alpine area you’ll want to make sure to scroll back up to our winter suggestions and have enough layers to stay warm. In high alpine locations (aka the mountains) the weather can get chilly very quickly even in the middle of summer. Make sure you have enough layers and consider that extra tight layer we suggested above.
You’ll also want to consider how much skin is showing and how quickly you sunburn. No one wants to start their honeymoon off with a sunburn. If you do love those bare looks make sure to pack easy to apply sunscreen throughout the day!
Spring & Fall Elopement Wedding Dresses
Again, depending on your location, you’ll want to consider adding in some winter layers to your elopement wedding dress or having outerwear to help you stay comfortable if the environment changes quickly as the seasons are in transition.
Matching Your Landscape
One key to beautiful imagery is consistent and just enough variance in color.
If you’re super artistic you may want to consider the colors of your landscape and how you can compliment them with your elopement wedding dress choice.
Maybe you even feel bold enough to choose a non-traditional wedding dress color! Many of our winter brides have loved the contrast of a red wedding dress against the white snow.
What about a black wedding dress against a beach setting or desert landscape? Let’s break ALL the “rules” together and make weddings about YOU. You can totally choose that non traditional elopement dress!
Heck, you could even have a white dress for your ceremony then a statement dress for portraits or adventures later. Who said you have to have just one dress? Especially when you can find very cheap wedding dresses at many online stores or second hand shops!
Navigating An Outdoor Wedding Dress
If you dreamed of a wedding dress then you’ll want to consider how your dress will handle the environment you’re in.
While lace and tulle fold up well in a hiking backpack if you’re having a more adventurous wedding you’ll want to consider being able to hold your dress if you walk through some bushy areas so your dress doesn’t get caught.
Checking to see if your dress has a silk, polyester or satin lining can help it not get caught on outdoor objects as it will glide a little better when dragging the ground.
Looking for a wedding dress for beach elopement? You’ll want to consider sand and if your dress would collect it as you stroll along the beach with your beloved. Some fabrics or layers may collect sand under your skirt as you walk which may not be super comfortable.
Bustles: The What's?
Bustles: are a way to make a dress that has a long train short so you can get around better in it!
Elopement wedding dresses with long trains have a bustle, which if you’re anything like me having a train is important because who doesn’t want to feel like a princess on their wedding day!? Haha. Anyway, make sure YOU know how to bustle your dress if you do have that.
Even in my days of traditional weddings you’d be surprised by how many times I helped bustle a dress because no one knew how.
If you buy your elopement wedding dress at a local store or have it made to have a bustle by a seamstress take a video of how they bustle it and practice at home so you know how to do it yourself or show someone else, like your photographer or spouse how to help you!
When you’ll get your outdoor Elopement wedding dress on
If you’re having an outdoor wedding adventure then you may be hiking or exploring before your actual ceremony. Basically, you’ll have to bring your dress with you. Or you can wear your dress hiking too.
Friends, you do you, but consider your options to plan ahead of time.
If you love those big ball gowns you may consider adventuring in your dress.
Or have you heard of two piece wedding dresses? Say what?! I know, they are SO awesome. They come with this gorgeous one piece that you can wear with whatever cute pants you want then pack your ball gown skirt and throw it on after you’re at your location.
Check out this snowmobile elopement to see how we did just this!
How to pack your elopement Wedding dress
If you’re adventuring ahead of time, maybe to catch an alpine sunrise, because they are freaking amazing, and you need to pack your dress, consider a fabric that doesn’t wrinkle much (Crepe, lace, tulle – aka a lot of boho style weddings dresses won’t wrinkle).
Step 1: Hang your dress up on a door or rack. Grab a hanger that has a Triangle shape with a bar in the middle. (We’re fans of these adorable wedding hangers because who doesn’t love these fun details!?)
Step 2: Fold train up to the top of the hanger so it drapes on the middle bar like pants.
Step 3: Put the dress into a garment bag if yours didn’t already come with one.
Step 4: Carefully remove your dress to lay on a clean bed or floor.
Step 5: Under the garment bag, fold left and right sides in so you make a nice rectangle shape.
Step 6: Roll dress up or fold in half, then in half again until it is the desired shape for your pack. Consider removing the hanger and pack separately if you’d like to hang your dress on a tree or some other durable surface before you get dressed outdoors.
How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress: Alterations
Elopement Wedding Dress Alterations For Your Adventures
If you’re having a more adventurous wedding like this rock climbing elopement then you’ll want to work with a seamstress to modify your dress for you.
Lauren, the bride, had her dress cut up the center to allow her to wear her rock climbing harness. She then found white tights shorts underneath her dress.
We’ve also worked with a bride who had her dress modified so the skirt could come off and she had cute shorts underneath which allowed her to “unzip” her skirt and ride off on a motorcycle!
How To Find Your Elopement Wedding Dress: Buying
Where To Buy Your Elopement Wedding Dress
Now to the fun part: Where to shop!
First, don’t forget to hit up a local bridal store to try on dresses in person and see what you like and don’t like after you’ve cast your vision. Who knows, you may find one on the sales rack you love!
In Person Elopement Wedding Dress Shops
For a list of our favorite local Denver and Portland Vendors head to our Vendors we love page. (If you’re in Little Rock, AR we love The Bridal Cottage too)
Most in-person dress shops require an appointment to come in, so don’t just show up to these shops. Call ahead or look up on their website. Some even have fun parties you can make of it with you friends!
If you’re planning to elope without some of your friends actually attending your wedding this can be a fun way to celebrate with your besties! To know what to expect at your wedding dress shopping appointment, check out this guest blog one of our favorite stores in Denver did for us!
Other stores you may want to consider are thrift stores or second hand bridal stores. You usually don’t need an appointment for these wedding dress shopping experiences.
Online Elopement Wedding Dress Stores
We personally love Lulu’s dresses and so have many of our brides! Lulu’s wedding dresses are usually very affordable and able to be shipped very quickly (at least in the US). For the price, the quality is very good! The only limitation is not being able to try them on at an in-person store!
Here are some lulus wedding dresses.
Eco Friendly Elopement Wedding Dress Options
We’re big fans of Etsy bridal dress stores. Why? Because you can find handmade dresses that are absolutely stunning! This is also a good place to find vintage elopement dresses.
Ebay also is another great option if you’re concerned with your carbon footprint and want to find a used dress. There are also new dresses on there as well!
While we wish more wedding dress shops disclosed their practices to take care of the environment we know that these stores below do practice some eco friendly practices. If you know of more, please mention them in the comments so we can add them to this list!
- Leanne Marshall
- Rolling Roses
- Celia Grace
- Lost in Paris
- Honey Punch
Poshmark is another great used store to look at, it’s a bit like eBay but only for clothing.
Other Online Elopement wedding Dress Stores
Finally, here is a list of other online dress stores that have great elopement style wedding dresses. We haven’t had brides wear all these dresses so we cannot promise their quality, so make sure to check reviews!
- Nasty Gal
- Boutique 1861
- Chic Boho
- Forever 21
Considering Colorado to elope? Check out our how to elope in Colorado guide!
Or still looking for places to stay? Check out our Airbnb wedding venues in Colorado and Airbnb wedding venues in Oregon
Photographer + Guide
We’re here to be your elopement day BFF’s and share our expertise through the entire planning process.Schedule a call with us to get this party started!
We believe in intention over tradition and that your wedding day should feel like you!
Let’s craft a wedding day experience that lets you run wild.
Learn more about hiring us as your dventure elopement photographer, Colorado elopement photographer, Albuquerque, New Mexico elopement photographer or Oregon elopement photographers.
NEED HELP PLANNING YOUR ELOPEMENT?
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Now, wondering where to to elope? Check out our best elopement locations guide from 20 adventure elopement photographers! You don’t want to miss this one!
Ready to start crafting your elopement timeline? Check out our elopement timeline guide complete with samples and an easy step by step instructions to create your own elopement timeline!
- 🧐Should I Elope Quiz
- ✨How To Make Your Elopement Special
- ⌚️Elopement Timeline
- 👗Elopement Wedding Dress For Your Outdoor Wedding
- ☑️Elopement Checklist
- 🏠Eloping with Family
- 🧳Elopement Packing List
- 💦Waterfall Wedding Venues
- 🏞Best Places to Elope
This is such a great resource for brides who are eloping! Thanks for taking the time to put all this info together Emmy!
You bet! Glad it was helpful for you too!
Omg this is the most informative article EVER about elopement wedding dresses! I love all your detailed information and helpful, organized tips! I would totally share this with my brides – so freaking good and your photos are stunning too!!
Oh my goodness thank you so much for your kind words! Yes its a topic not talked about a lot that SO needs to be shared. Glad you enjoyed it and hope your eloping brides do too!
This is so informative! Tons of great information. My favorite shot is of the couple jumping – I love the way the bride wore her top with leggings + boots! So fun & cute!