The bride flicks her flowy skirt. A joshua tree silhouettes her wedding dress.

The Best Elopement Wedding Dresses

How to Pick Out Your Dream Elopement Dress

I’m not going to lie to you, I am STOKED to write this post. Ever since I was a little kid I have been a massive lover of pretty dresses and was 100% that person collecting wedding magazines at an early age JUST to look at the wedding gowns. I *still* love looking at new lines of dresses as they are released, so I’m extra happy to provide this resource for folks looking to wear an awesome gown on their elopement day.

Going wedding dress searching can be a ton of fun and it can also be overwhelming and stressful. There are SO many options out there and there are different considerations to be made when looking for the best elopement dress. This post is intended to highlight those important factors, and also give some inspiration to some of my favorite designers and places to get a rad as heck elopement dress. I want to make sure you get the elopement dress of your dreams- one you feel great in that won’t hinder you during your adventures.

Factor #1: Being Able to Breathe

This may seem obvious (like, don’t we always want to be able to breath?) but come with me on this journey. During elopements and adventure weddings, there is usually some amount of walking/hiking/adventuring. If you are not local to your elopement destination and/or there is an increase in elevation involved, you are going to get winded a *lot* faster than normal. You are likely going to be taking a lot more deep breaths because your body will be needing more oxygen.

Combine that with what we know about some wedding dresses. Lot’s of wedding dresses have a lot of internal structure going on (ie: boning) that helps keep the often heavy dress up. This can actually inhibit your ability to breathe or take a really big deep breath. I often recommend staying away from dresses that have a great deal of boning for this reason. No one needs to be passing out on their wedding day (and I, true story, say this as someone who has passed out from not being able to breath from too-tight a dress. It is something of a bummer). And if it’s hot? Forget about it. Seriously friends. Make sure you’ve got room to breath.

Factor #2: Being Able to Move

Questions to ask while you’re trying on dresses: Can you do a high step? Can you easily move from a seated position to a standing position? What about sitting on the floor? Can you lift your arms over your head? Does the dress weight 75,000 lbs? Is the dress strapless and you are going to have to hoik that thing up every 100 yards of walking? Can you climb rocks, hike, run, dance in this dress? Being able to move freely is pretty important on your elopement day, so have some fun in that dressing room and make sure it passes the movement test 🙂

So actually give these moves a try in your bridal salon! Step up onto a chair. Sit on the ground (or squat). Lift up your arms. Practice dancing. Do alllll the things to make sure you can move. The last thing you want on your elopement day is to feel inhibited by your attire.

Factor #4: Being Comfortable

Hello! This is kind of a combination of the previous two factors but this is so important when picking out your elopement wedding dress that I wanted to be specific. Is the dress comfortable? Does the lace itch? Does the zipper dig into your side? Is there a lot of beading on the bodice that chafes your arms? Does the dress need constant adjusting/hoisting up? Since you will be outdoors, usually somewhat active, these are things to consider.

Factor #3: (I want to highlight one very important thing) Wear What You Love. Full Stop.

Yes these are all important factors but the *most important thing* is you love what you are wearing. There are no expectations here or “shoulds.” If you want to wear a bright yellow dress, wear a bright yellow dress. If you want to wear pants, wear pants. If you want to wear jean shorts, wear those or if you want a huge Cinderella ball gown then heck yeah, do that thing.

Quite simply, wear what you want. On your elopement day, I want you to feel like the most bomb ass human to ever walk the face of this earth. The most *you* you’ve ever felt.

So! I can’t be talking about wedding dresses without actually talking about some places to get them! Wee!! Here is a list of my favorite wedding wear designers and places to get wedding attire.

Best Elopement Wedding Dress Designers

Note: most of these photos below are pulled from the designers site 🙂 Check out the links if you want to see more!

Sustainability First: Reclamation

Reclamation is amazing. All the dresses are one of a kind and hand made with reclaimed lace, so the environmental impact is waaaaay lower than a brand new dress. Also: they are completely stunning. They are a boho adventurers dream. And each one is unique. This entire post features one of these stunning dresses.

Boho Dreams: Rue de Seine

For those wanting to channel their inner Stevie Nicks- Rue de Seine. The dresses are super unique (lots of texture, color, and movement) and basically scream bohemian, adventure bride. The atelier is actually located in Aukland NZ, and as someone in love with New Zealand I’m basically obligated to love these gowns. They are a bit on the pricer side, so if you have your heart set on one and they are out of budget you may need to look at a preowned dress (more on that later!)

Lots of options: BHLDN

The Anthropologie Bridal Brand, BHLDN offers up lots of options at various price points (from a few hundred dollars all the way up to $2,500) from various designers. They have so may options, from frothy ballgowns, to sleek suits, to lacey bohemian wonders. A bonus: Depending on the dress it’s also possible to get a dress with a fast turn around time.

Pro Tip: They also have a GREAT sale section, and frequently run additional discounts.

For the twirl factor: Leanne Marshall

Ohhhh I adore these Leanne Marshall dresses. For someone who wants a more simple design but still a big wow factor, these dresses. Holy cow. I can’t with these skirts. They have SO MUCH MOVEMENT. If you dream of epic photos of you and your love on a mountain top, skirt swirling around you, then these are the gowns for you. These are also a bit pricier, so if that’s a limiting factor then….keep reading 😉 Note: Leanne Marshall has stopped making wedding gowns- but still makes really stunning dresses that would be perfect for someone wanting a little color/non traditional vibe. You can also get lucky and find some on preowned wedding dress sites, which I talk about below 🙂

Dresses on a Budget/Fast Turnaround

On a budget/short timeline: There are lots of strategies to get a killer dress on a budget or very quickly. A lot of designer dresses spend weeks in production limbo and if you’re planning an elopement on a short timeline, ordering a dress from the designer is often not an option. My first suggestion is look for your local consignment shop. I actually found my wedding dress at a consignment shop and it was a designer dress at a significantly discounted price that I got to try on and walk out of the store with. You can also get a preowned wedding dress on websites such as preowned wedding or once wed. I know I already talked about BHLDN but their sale section can have a lot of gems that are a) super affordable and b) ships pretty fast.

Also Preowned Wedding Dresses and Once Wed are great places to get new or gently used designer dresses for a fraction of the cost. These sites can be overwhelming if you don’t have an idea of what you want- but they are amazing for hunting down a specific kind of dress or getting elopement wedding dress inspiration.

Okay. That was probably more fun for me than it should have been (I can’t help it, I still love wedding dresses). But seriously, the most important thing is that you love what you wear on your wedding day. Whether that’s a poofy white dress, a suit, hiking pants, or something else entirely, my hope for you is that you are just CRAZY about what you’re wearing. That you feel the most like you that you can. 🙂

And stay tuned for my post on suits!

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— Ryan + Styhiln

Ready to have your own adventure of a lifetime?
I'm Aimée Flynn, Southwest based adventure wedding and elopement photographer, mega nerd, former therapist, and taker of the epic pics. But don't think I'm here just to take pretty photos (though there will be pretty photos a-plenty) I’m here to guide you through every step of your elope elopement experience; I’m your location scouter, gatherer of all in info, formal wear wrangler, & hype committee. 

I’m also a storyteller. Your storyteller. And while I'm here for the epic, magazine-cover-worthy, totally bananas moments, I'm also here (and to be totally honest, live for) those goofy, silly, unexpected moments that adventure always seems to bring. I'm here to tell your story in the honest and epic fashion it deserves.
Hey friend, I'm so stoked  you're here!

  1. These dresses are amazing – Rue De Seine has always been my favorite, I’m obsessed with them!!

  2. Katy Homan says:

    Oh, man! These dresses are all just to die-for! Such great elopement inspiration…

  3. I love the variety you found here, it’s always fun as a photographer to capture something a little different!

  4. Carissa says:

    Love all of these tips! You are so right about finding a dress that is comfortable, seriously so important!

  5. katie bergmann says:

    These dresses are so incredible! Can I just have all of them please?!

  6. Nicole R Thomson says:

    I loved reading your recommendations! I know brides need this especially right now!

  7. Kristen says:

    The movement of the dress in the first photo is everything!

  8. Jacob Oliver says:

    I’m really happy to say it was an interesting post to read. I learned wedding dresses information from your article, you are doing a great job.

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