“Elopement Dresses” are no different than regular wedding dresses. It has nothing to do with being a designer dress vs a non-designer dress or being a “cheap” dress vs an “expensive” dress. Nor does it have anything to do with it being a white dress or a colored dress. Elopement dresses have nothing to do with any of those things! Elopement dresses are all about the style and how it fits the body. Certain styles are better for adventure elopements because specific cuts and fits give your hips more breathing room, and particular fabrics will wrinkle less and show less dirt. Since adventure elopements involve hiking, running, jumping, rock hopping, and plenty more, not all wedding dresses will make an ideal elopement dress.
Since I get many different emails asking the same questions; “what is an elopement dress?”, “What should I wear for my elopement?” etc. I thought I would just sum it all up in this blog for you, the bride, as a guide to help you choose the perfect dress for your elopement!
Table of Contents
1. A-Line Dress
What I love about A-line dresses is the fact that they don’t constrict the hips, giving you the ability to move around if you are doing some hiking and even riding a horse! It’s a classic elopement dress that pretty much looks good on every body type! The A-line dress has a fitted bodice with a silhouette that flares out at the waist creating the shape of an “A”, hence the name. A-line dresses are also extremely easy to pick up including the train, you can just swing it around your arm and do as you please! You can do nearly anything in this style of dress. It may even be safe to say you could do cartwheels! Plus there are many different styles for A-line dresses from, long sleeve, off-the-shoulder, vintage, boho, spaghetti strap, mid-sleeve, or quarter sleeves. There’s no doubt that you will find one that fits your style!
Ball Gown dresses, especially ones with a tulle skirt giving it an airiness, are another one of my favorite elopement dresses! Don’t let the traditional style of this dress fool you because when photographed on top of a mountain peak overlooking majestic scenery, these dresses can look incredibly epic! They are very similar to A-line dresses because the design doesn’t constrict the hips! This is because they are made of very loose fabric from the waist-down, unlike mermaid-style dresses. Since they are so loose you can easily move around. Due to the longer trains on these dresses, ballgowns will pick up dirt and nature when left unbustled and hiking around. But most brides either swing their train around their arm, or embrace it and love the “dirt ómbre” the dress gets. It gives it personality! A true elopement dress!
Many brands offer two-piece wedding dresses nowadays. Two-piece dresses are normally a crop top and a matching skirt both made from the same fabric or have the same sort of style. Two-piece dresses have plenty of options from lace, boho, plain, vintage, embellished, and more, something you will likely love if you are into the fun style of a two-piece! What’s so fun about two-piece dresses is the fact that you can mix and match. The top and the bottom don’t need to be the same if you don’t want them to be! Why not wear a simple tank top and pair it with a flowy skirt or wear a lace teddy and pair it with a princess skirt, the options are endless. Whatever you choose for your elopement dress I always recommend choosing a skirt that has a lot of movement, something flowy and lightweight.
If you have the desire to have your elopement during the colder seasons a long sleeve elopement dress might be a great option for you! Long sleeve dresses will make sure to keep you warm while still looking stunning. The best thing about long sleeve dresses is that they are pretty versatile and can be worn year-round! So if you like a little more coverage you can still wear it even during the warmer months.
Mermaid dresses are more constricting than other dresses, probably one of the most form-fitting dresses out there, it’s perfect for brides who love to show off their curves! But keep in mind since they constrict the hips they are more difficult to walk in and may constrict your ability to get from place to place. If you are doing your elopement in an adventurous spot where you are doing some hiking, try to stay away from tight fits from the waist down. You can still do a mermaid-style dress, but consider one that has a slit for easy mobility or one with stretchy material!
Off-the-shoulder elopement dresses are one of the most elegant dresses due to the neckline! It throws in a little bit of flirting which adds some spice to the overall look while having simplicity and elegance. Plus it has many different neckline options, sleeve types, and silhouettes whether you like the vintage mermaid dress look or a boho sheath vibe there’s bound to be something perfect for you! Just remember though, these types of sleeves will restrict your arm movements and limit the number of poses you’ll be able to do. Ie, you won’t be able to wrap your arms around the groom’s shoulders, etc.
If you are looking for more of an edgy or boho look for your elopement dress I’d highly suggest the bell sleeve gowns. They are the characteristic of a free-spirited style and there are plenty of choices to choose from since they are mixed into many different wedding dresses. Bell sleeve gowns can be for a beach dress or a hiking dress, whatever you choose it adds in that boho or edgy vibe you might be looking for! Furthermore, it provides you with more coverage for your arms. If you are worried about your arms looking big, consider a dress with sleeves. Sleeves will make your arms look slim by default of being covered. You will feel so elegant with the flowiness of this design!
In my opinion, boho elopement dresses are the perfect dresses for if you want an earthy vintage look. Why not dive deep into your inner hippie and be one with nature while wearing a long flowy lace dress at the top of a mountain or wear a colorful dress that fills your heart with joy and happiness! There are so many choices when it comes to the style of boho elopement dresses so choose what your heart desires. You really can’t go wrong as long as you choose a dress that has movement.
If you’ve chosen your elopement location to be on the beach you are more than likely looking for a beautiful flowy elopement dress that will flow off the wind-driven waves. Keep in mind that your dress will most likely get wet and sandy especially if you are spontaneous and want some water shots! (Which by the way I LOVE to do!). The best type of fabric for this would be polyester, silk, or any type of fabric like chiffon where sand will fall right off. And by the way, I have photographed every type of dress at the beach, and they all look good. There’s no “wrong” dress to wear at the beach.
10. Dress Suite
Maybe you’re not into elopement dresses and would much rather wear a suit but still feel and look absolutely incredible! If that’s the case I would recommend going with a jumpsuit, custom-fitted suit, or go for the laid-back vibe with pants, spenders, and a button-up! You can even add in your own style with some accessories such as ties, jewelry, or boutonnieres. Just remember the number one rule, wear something that will be comfortable and easy to move around in, try to avoid any stiff fabrics!
A few things you’ll want to keep in mind when deciding on an elopement dress;
Packing Your Wedding Dress
Packing your elopement dress can be very difficult depending on how you will be traveling with it, so think about if you are going to take a flight to your elopement location or drive? If you are taking a flight do you plan on fitting your dress in your suitcase? Are you bringing a second suitcase for your dress? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may want an elopement dress that is made from a lightweight fabric like tulle and chiffon. You’ll want to avoid a really heavy dress with lots of jewels and beads because you don’t want to be lugging that around everywhere.
Not only that but, you’ll want to consider the material you choose. Certain fabrics wrinkle very quickly as well as collect lint and dirt easily. These fabrics are less ideal, for example, silk satin fabric because it wrinkles and creases very easily. It’s also a very heavy fabric because it tends to have a high thread count.
Choosing Your Dress Based On The Setting
Try not to get too in your head about this because first and foremost, you have to choose the dress that’s most flattering to your body type and personal style, but consider your environment. Does your dress fit the “vibe” of where you are eloping? Are you having a forest elopement? Or a beach elopement? Are you eloping at a small venue or a national park? There are so many places you could elope and so many dresses that can fit different vibes and aesthetics so always make sure to ask these questions to yourself when trying on dresses.
We can’t forget about accessories! Think about accessories that you would like to pair with your dress or outfit! Maybe a simple Long Cathedral Veil or a Customized Denim Jacket with your new last name on it. This is by far one of my favorite things my couples do. It’s so fun and unique and adds some character to the outfit. Plus if it gets chilly out it provides you with warmth!
Going with a boho-style dress? Consider getting a wide-brimmed fedora hat to go with! Here in Southern California, it’s always sunny and these hats can come in handy in places like Joshua Tree National Park, Catalina Island, and the beaches in Malibu and Los Angeles. Not only that but, grooms can also wear these hats to change up their look.
Elopement Dress Cost
The cost of an elopement dress can vary since there are so many options to choose from so while you are on the search for dresses you want to ask yourself how much are you willing to spend on your dress and if you are okay with it getting dirty. If you are spending way more than your comfort zone and it makes you nervous to get your elopement dress dirty, try looking for a more cost-effective elopement dress that still looks amazing on you! When you choose to elope in the great outdoors, your dress WILL get dirty. There’s no way around it, so it’s best to expect that it will get dirty and embrace it!
Picking an elopement dress can be hard and confusing but the number one rule to always remember is to find something that is comfortable! After that, it all falls into place. No matter what you choose as your elopement dress whether it be a princess ball gown or a dress suit, choose something that will make you feel 100% confident and 100% happy, a dress that will light up your face when you put it on. Don’t settle for less and get the dress of your dreams!
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