Let’s get real for a sec. The type of dress you’d wear for a traditional wedding is vastly different than the one you’d choose for a hiking elopement or hiking wedding. While traditional weddings take place in super controlled environments like wedding venues, hiking weddings require that you be amongst the elements and coexist with nature. Personally, we’re big believers that that’s one of the most amazing parts about eloping in the great outdoors. But, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, it definitely presents a challenge when finding the perfect hiking wedding dress.
What exactly should you be looking for in a hiking wedding dress? Well, as elopement photographers who specialize in outdoorsy hiking elopements and small hiking weddings, we’ve helping lots of couple sort out what exactly to wear when choosing to hike on their wedding day. Here are a few of our biggest tips and tricks we’ve picked up and shared along the way.
If you’re planning on having a hiking elopement or tiny hiking wedding in Colorado in the middle of January, the last thing you want is a lightweight hiking wedding dress with a thin fabric and no sleeves. Same goes for heavy-duty, warmer dresses for a hiking elopement in the Blue Ridge mountains of Georgia in the middle of August. But we’re willing to bet that you already knew this.
A little pro tip? Keep in mind that summer can look very different in the different regions of the United States. At 12,000 ft at sunrise in the Rocky Mountains, you might need a jacket for your hiking wedding. Meanwhile, in Florida, you’d look nuts if you dressed warmly. This same idea applies to pretty much any season, and it’s one of the many reasons we recommend you consult with your hiking elopement photographer about what the seasons look like in the place you’re having your hiking elopement or small hiking wedding. While you might think you can wear a springtime hiking wedding dress for an elopement in Aspen in late April, you might be shocked to realize that winter hasn’t quite ended yet.
While ultra-fitted dresses may be do-able for a traditional wedding where you’re not moving around too much, a hiking wedding dress should be a dress you can comfortably move (and hike!) in.
You’re likely choosing to elope on a hiking trail so you enjoy and experience nature. So if your hiking wedding dress doesn’t allow you to do that, it’s likely not a good fit, pun intended. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a dress that hugs you and looks form-fitted, but if you’re going for that vibe, possibly consider a dress that has some give at the bottom so you can take larger steps. Or choose a hiking wedding dress with a little give and stretch to the fabric to allow more activity.
While having a dress that can move around easily while you’re hiking is a logical decision, it’s also an aesthetic one. When you choose a hiking wedding dress that moves while you move, you’re also choosing a dress that will likely look awesome when blowing in the wind.
You’re choosing a dress that is dynamic and interacts with the environment of your elopement location. And to be honest, a dress that can adapt to its environment makes for some of the best hiking elopement photos. Another perk? When you can move around easily in your hiking wedding dress, it also means that the photos of you adventuring in your dress will have so much more variety and really show off that adventurous experience.
Ultimately, when choosing your hiking wedding dress for your elopement, you’re looking for the intersection between style and functionality. The whole point of choosing to hike on your elopement day is so you can experience the trail and have fun on it. If you’re stuck in a dress you can’t move around in, what’s the point?
One of the biggest pieces of advice we give to our hiking elopement couples is this: if you’re hiking more than 2 miles to get to your elopement destination (particularly if there’s more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain), pack your dress in your hiking pack and change when you get to the top.
The more strenuous the hike, the more you’ll be sweating. Most couples we speak to don’t want their attire to get too sweaty during the hiking process, so they opt to pack it and change at their hiking destination. This way also decreases the likelihood that your hiking wedding dress gets snagged or torn on the trail on the way up. We’re all for allowing your dress to experience the trail and collect some dirt (in fact, we’re big believers that dirty wedding dresses are the pretties wedding dresses), but most people want to wait until they get up the hiking trail before they begin that adventure.
That said, any hike in the 2 mile and under range can usually be completed in wedding attire. Of course, you’ll want to factor in the difficulty of the hiking trail you’re getting married on, but we use this as a general starting point.
Over the years, we’ve seen ALL kinds of wedding dresses, and we’ve kept tabs on which brands really stood out to us as awesome options for hiking elopements and micro hiking weddings.
When it comes to boho wedding dresses, our absolute favorite brand is Rue de Seine. Their dresses are truly one of a kind and because of their boho vibe, they have several options that are easy to move around in and flow beautifully.
Another awesome brand for boho hiking wedding dresses is Reclamation. If you’ve been looking for a lacy number that looks epic in the mountains, forest, desert, or wherever you’ve chosen to elope, these dresses are amazing.
Our go-to for more modern and simple wedding dresses for eloping is the Reformation. They have everything from non-traditional wedding dresses of different colors to simplified and sleek options. If you’re looking for a no-frills hiking wedding dress or elopement dress that also looks epic, Reformation is an amazing place to look. Their dresses are typically pretty flowy too, which makes them easy to move around in.
If you’re debating between boho, modern, or a more classic look, you’ll want a shop with plenty of choices. When you’re still trying to find an awesome hiking wedding dress, but aren’t quite sure what style speaks to you, definitely take a look at Anthropologie’s BHLDN line. They’ve got every style under the sun, and you’re sure to find an awesome selection of dresses that are perfect for hiking in..
We get this question A LOT. Almost every single couple we work with asks this question at some point. And the answer. We absolutely LOVE trains for hiking weddings. Not only do trains make for some of the most epic hiking elopement photos, but they really allow your outfit to experience the trail too. Personally, we think there’s nothing more epic than a dress that’s collected some dirt.
We totally get that buying a hiking wedding dress isn’t always an inexpensive endeavor. But the reality is when you’re choosing to elope outside, as hard as you try, your dress will not stay pristine. And honestly? Same goes for traditional venues. Your wedding dress takes on a lot during the course of a wedding day. And that’s totally ok! In fact, we think it’s a sign you’ve had an epic day. It’s normal, and nothing to be worried about. We love a dirty hiking wedding dress. It just goes to show how much fun you had on the trail.
Yes and no. The truth is, it depends. What do you value for your day? Is there a dress you’ve been dreaming of that you couldn’t imagine eloping without? Perhaps splurging isn’t a bad idea then. But if your hiking wedding dress isn’t a high priority to you (and that’s totally ok if it isn’t!) you don’t need to splurge on it. It’s all about what you do and do not value. And only you can make that call for yourself.
When it comes to choice of shoes to wear during your hiking elopement, you’ve likely asked yourself if you should wear a wedding dress with hiking boots. And while traditional hiking boots might not seem like the most glamorous shoe choice for your elopement day, they are definitely going to help you get up that trail (and do so safely and comfortably).
If wearing traditional hiking boots during your hiking wedding ceremony doesn’t sound like your vibe, no worries. There are awesome boots with excellent traction that, frankly, we think look better than any heeled traditional wedding shoe out there (we’re personally big fans of Kodiak boots). You can always wear your normal hiking boots up to the ceremony location and then swap out for a different pair of boots when you arrive.
That said, we think there ‘s something so awesome about keeping your normal hiking boots on during your ceremony. It’s a testament to the adventure you had on your wedding day, and we think hiking boots looks pretty damn awesome underneath a hiking wedding dress.
Don’t worry, boo. We’ve got you covered. Need a checklist that goes over all the nitty gritty details of planning your hiking elopement? Our Ultimate Elopement Guide covers it all. This is the exact checklist we used to plan our own elopement (yup, we eloped too, so we personally know what you’re going through!), and it’s also the one we guide our couples through when they plan their own hiking elopements.
Not sure if you should pair hiking boots with your wedding dress or opt for something a bit more formal? We’ve also written a guide on which shoes or hiking boots you should be wearing on your elopement wedding day.
As hiking elopement photographers, we’ve been around the adventurous elopement block a time or two, and we’re here to be a resource to you during this time, whether it’s finding the perfect hiking wedding dress or locating the best trails to say your vows on. So if having elopement photographers who do more than just take adventurous photos sounds like your vibe, we’d love to chat with you about your hiking wedding. We’ll see you on the trails.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
The Colorado Rockies are our home. We know these mountains like the back of our hand, and we love helping our couples plan their Colorado adventure elopements. Our land is your land, peeps. so let’s get you mountain married!
We specialize in photographing small adventure weddings in the great outdoors. We believe small weddings empower couples to be themselves on their wedding day, which is what makes us so honored to be a part of them. There’s nothing better.
We like to say we’re adventurers first, photographers second. Which frankly, is what we think makes us good at what we do. We live and breathe the outdoors lifestyle, and we make sure our adventure wedding photos show off your adventurous side too.
Not everyone loves tradition, but that doesn’t make your adventure wedding or elopement any less important.
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