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As cliche as it sounds, adventure elopements come in all shapes and sizes. Some couples opt for multi-day backpacking elopements and others choose to tie the knot on a mountain overlook a short walk from the parking lot. And each type of elopement has its own clothing and gear requirements, especially when it comes to choosing the right elopement shoes. One of the most common questions we get asked about as adventure elopement photographers is about the best type of shoes to wear during an adventure wedding.
Contrary to popular belief, not every adventure elopement requires hiking boots, and honestly, you have way more options than you might think. There are a few key questions we recommend you ask yourself when figuring out which elopement shoes work best for you adventure elopement. With these questions, narrowing down your elopement day shoe choice should be easy as cake.
First things first, is hiking even a part of your adventure elopement day? If not, you can likely opt for a pair of comfortable flats or even a chunky heel, assuming the ground where you are standing can sustain a heeled shoe. Definitely don’t choose a thinner heel (you can pretty much nix stilettos) if you’re going to be standing on soft dirt or grass. You’ll just sink right in. Instead opt for a sturdy, short heel that can handle a little more movement.
On the other hand, if your adventure elopement requires a good bit of walking on a trail, you’ll probably want to bring a pair of hiking boots along as your elopement shoes of choice. If getting married in your boots isn’t your thing, though, don’t worry. You can always wear them up the trail and then change out to your shoe of choice once you get to the elopement location. That being said, make sure your elopement shoes work with the terrain you’re in. Also, keep in mind that you can also wear cute boots with traction that also don’t look like conventional hiking boots. There are lots of options when it comes to choosing the ideal elopement shoes for an outdoorsy wedding.
For example, you definitely want shoes with some traction if you’re eloping by a glacial lake, with ice and snow around you. Or maybe opt for a close-toed shoe if your adventure elopement happens in Aspen in the summer months. Why? Let’s just say fire ants like to make a guest appearance during this time of year, and you definitely don’t want itchy red feet on your elopement day. Yuck.
The season you’re eloping in can honestly have the biggest impact on your shoe choice. If your adventure elopement is happening in Rocky Mountain National Park in the middle of January, you’ll definitely want to wear some warm boots (we love Kodiak for their thermal, waterproof boots), with water resistant sock linings and maybe even a pair of ski socks. If your elopement is happening on a trail at higher elevation (e.g. the ceremony spot near Bear Lake), you might even want to bring snowshoes, in case you want to go for a little hike after you say “I do.”
With warmer month elopements, you have a lot more flexibility. You can hike up to your adventure elopement in a pair of Teva sandals, assuming the hike isn’t too strenuous. In some places — like Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park — shoes may not even be necessary at all during some months (Note, you definitely don’t want to go barefoot in Great Sand Dunes during the hot summer months, unless you want to burn your feet on the scalding sand. No thank you!).
The terrain at your elopement location will play a big role in the shoes you end up choosing. The conditions for a snowy mountain adventure elopement will require gear like snowshoes or crampons (or even skis if you’re having your elopement in the mountainous backcountry), while a beach elopement allows for sandals or even going barefoot.
We recommend scouting out your adventure elopement location beforehand, if possible, to get a feel for what you’ll be dealing with on the day of. If you’re not local to the spot and are having a national park elopement, you can also contact the park rangers to get their advice on what they recommend.
When in doubt, we recommend always packing a pair of back-up hiking boots. The last thing you want is to be unprepared on your elopement day or run into a spot on the trails where you wouldn’t feel comfortable continuing without the proper footwear.
At the end of the day, it won’t matter if you’re wearing the right shoes if they’re not comfortable. When picking the proper footwear, you’ll want to ensure that you’ll be ok potentially wearing your elopement shoe of choice all day long.
If you’ll need to wear hiking boots, make sure they are thoroughly broken in before your elopement day — otherwise, you’ll be spending your day hiking with blisters. If you’re going the sandals route, don’t wear ones that irritate your toes or are likely to cause blisters on the back of your heels (y’all know which ones I’m talking about!).
It’s easy to just focus on the way a shoe looks and not really consider comfort, especially when it’s your wedding day. But trust us, you don’t want to do this. You CAN find a comfortable and good looking shoe. For example, I have a pair of Teva lace-up boots with a small heel that I bring with me when I shoot outdoors adventure weddings. Not only are they super cute, but they have great traction, so I don’t have to worry about slipping and falling in the mountains. I’d link to them for you guys, but they no longer sell this specific boot (however they have some other cute options, like this boot)!
If the choice in elopement shoes is important, consider your sock selection to be crucial. Dress socks tend to be extremely thin, and hiking even a short distance in them can severely irritate your feet. Especially if wearing boots, intended to be worn with thicker socks, your choice in elopement day socks can be a major difference in your comfort all day long. I recommend Darn Tough socks as the best option for comfort, and they also have great cold-weather socks that are good for winter elopements or hiking to or from an alpine location in the pre-dawn or post-sunset cold. They have a lot of options, so I’ll link to my top picks for both women and men. I personally wear my Darn Tough socks whenever I go hiking, and they’re on my feet at basically every elopement I photograph. Hands-down my favorite socks to pair with elopement shoes, and worth every penny.
P.S. As adventure elopement photographers, we make it our business to help our couples with all the little details of planning their adventure weddings, including figuring out which elopement shoes work best for the type of adventure elopement they’ve chosen. While we pride ourselves on taking epic photos of epic couples in epic places, we do so much more than that. We’re there to guide you through the adventure elopement planning process. And we’d love nothing more than to help you plan yours.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
Not everyone loves tradition, but that doesn’t make your adventure wedding or elopement any less important.
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