Finding a wedding dress is easy – head to any bridal shop and you’ll have tons of options in different styles, different fabrics, and different shades of white. But shopping for your elopement might be a little more complicated – because while every elopement dress is a wedding dress, not every wedding dress is an elopement dress!
If you don’t know anyone who’s eloped (most couples don’t – so if you’re in the same boat, good for you for being the one to break the mold!), it can be difficult to know where to start, what to expect, what to think about, and how to do the whole elopement thing. But don’t worry, when it comes to finding the perfect elopement dress, I’ve got your back! Here are my tips to help you get started.
This will be one of the most important things to consider when you’re dress shopping. Most elopements require a little more walking, a little more climbing, and a little more exploring than the average wedding.
So those tight wedding dresses that make it impossible to sit down? Not going to fly on your elopement day.
The first thing you should look at when you browse through elopement dresses is the style. I recommend staying away from mermaid or ball gown dresses, because while gorgeous, they do make it very difficult to move around. Comfort is key on your elopement day – I want you to have a blast, and there’s nothing worse than having to wear an uncomfortable dress all day!
A line, empire, and princess style dresses work best for elopements – they’re usually lightweight, and easy to move around in!
Since you’ll likely be spending your elopement day outdoors, the fabric of your dress will also make a huge difference. If you’re planning on hiking, a heavy fabric like silk or velvet can really weigh you down. It may not seem difficult walking around the bridal shop, but when you start hitting the elevation gain you’ll start to feel it – especially if you’re packing your dress in your backpack. But, for cold weather elopements, heavier fabrics will be amazing to keep you warm!
If you’re eloping somewhere warm or tropical, stick to lighter fabrics like tulle, chiffon, and organza. These will keep you cool, and as an added bonus, look amazing blowing in the breeze.
If you’re hiking to the perfect spot, you’ll have to decide if you want to wear your dress on the hike, or pack it in your backpack and change when you reach your destination.
Most people choose to wear the dress on shorter hikes – but if you’re going more than 5 miles or so, it can definitely get pretty cumbersome to hike in a gown. If you decide to pack your dress, I recommend getting a garment bag so that you can safely store your dress, and strap it to your backpack.
While I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to prevent wrinkles, the best way to avoid them is to pick a fabric that is less prone to wrinkling. Lace is the best option for this – zero wrinkles! Crepe and tulle hold up well too, but it’s best to avoid fabrics like rayon and linen.
When it comes to elopements, the sky’s the limit! You could spend the day hiking, kayaking, rock climbing… no idea is too crazy! So when you’re shopping for your elopement dress, think about what you’ll actually be doing, and make sure your dress works for that activity. Lace gowns are perfect for the beach, but won’t be very warm in the snow. Velvet is gorgeous and will keep you warm, but might be too hot for hiking. Before you start dress shopping, think about what kind of dresses you want to look at, and make a plan!
The best thing about eloping is that there are no rules! You get to decide which traditions you want to keep, and which ones don’t feel right to you. So if you want to wear a dress that’s black, or pink, or tie dye, you can!
You can definitely hit up bridal shops to find the perfect dress – but if you’re looking for something out of the box, or something a little less expensive (elopement costs can definitely add up), here are some unique ideas for where you can find elopement dresses.
Bridal stores like BHLDN usually have bridesmaid and bridal party dresses as well! You can find tons of different colors and styles, and they typically cost significantly less than a wedding dress. Especially if you’re looking for something a little less extravagant, if beading and lace isn’t your thing, taking a peek at the bridesmaid’s section can lead you to some awesome finds!
Sometimes wedding dresses don’t have to be actual wedding dresses! Stores like Forever 21, ASOS, and Lulus often have white dresses that are perfect for a casual beach wedding. Even Amazon has these convertible dresses that you can wear in different styles. And this way, you can wear your dress again!
There are lots of options online for elopement dresses like Etsy. One of my personal favorite Etsy shops is WeAreReclamation
which has gorgeous dresses that are perfect for elopements.
The most important thing to remember when you’re looking for your perfect elopement dress, is that you can wear anything you want! You’re breaking free from the traditions and expectations of big weddings by choosing to elope, so don’t stop there!
As an elopement photographer, I’m skilled in the art of packing dresses for hikes, and strapping garment bags to your backpack – so if you need help figuring out the logistics of your elopement dress adventure, contact me!