BEST Elopement Dress Guide for 2021 – What you need to know

So you are thinking about eloping outdoors, maybe having an adventure elopement in a national park, or thinking about travelling to another country and wondering…WHAT DRESS CAN I WEAR TO MY ELOPEMENT? It’s a fair question, right? There is no right or wrong answer here when it really comes down to it. You should choose a dress you are super comfortable in and feel like yourself in. With that being said, here are some tips for you when you are dress shopping for your elopement.

Northern Ireland Elopement Photography

WHAT IS AN ELOPEMENT DRESS?

So let’s start with what even is an elopement dress? There are no rules when it comes to your wedding dress no matter how you get married. If you plan to have an adventurous elopement, meaning you might be walking a lot, hiking, hopping over fences or something really super adventurous, then you will really want to opt for something more carefree and easy to move it and easy to pack.

HOW TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR ELOPEMENT DRESS

You need to consider how you are going to get your dress from your home country to your final destination safely. Most airlines are very accommodating and will store your dress upfront to keep it from getting creased. If this is not possible consider keeping it in its box and storing it overhead and arrange for it to be steamed once you arrive at your Elopement location. Arrange for this to be steamed the day before so you are not stressing about your dress on the day itself.

WHAT IS THE BEST MATERIAL FOR AN ELOPEMENT DRESS?

I am by no means a fabric expert, but I have seen so many stunning wedding dresses over the years and I can look at one and immediately see the setting that dress should be in. So a factor you should consider for your elopement is the material used for your wedding dress. There are some that will be just a bit impractical for hiking in, for example, Mikado. It is a type of silk fabric and is quite thicker than other silk blends. This type of material is usually for ballroom style Weddings,  for brides that want that structured look. it will most likely crease very easily so may be impractical to carry up a mountain etc.

Most materials are easy to work with, it just all depends on what kind of elopement day you have in mind. Tulle, Chiffon and Organza are very lightweight materials and can be wonderful for movement especially in windy environments.  I had Tulle material for my own elopement and it worked out perfect for photos. It was an incredibly windy day and quite hot, it kept me cool and the photos were insane. The light really works magic with tulle type dresses, especially if your ceremony or photos are taken at sunset.   These materials are super easy to walk in, mind you they do catch on to twigs and the odd fly here and there 🙂 but that is super easy to fix and I wouldn’t let that influence your decision making.

Lace is a very well known material and quite popular for weddings. They can be incredibly beautiful and give that cool bohemian look if that’s what you are after. For example, check out Reclamation, these dresses are a work of art.  These dresses are truly one of a kind. They can be very easy to hike in, get changed in ( if you decide to get changed up a mountain) and they photograph so well. As mentioned before about finding a dress that won’t crease, well these dresses shouldn’t crease too much, so will be very easy to travel with.

Elopement dress guide 2020
Couple eloping and walking over Irish fields with castle in the backdrop

HOW WELL CAN YOU WALK IN YOUR ELOPEMENT DRESS?

When considering what dress to get for your elopement, think about your location and surroundings first. Will you be doing a lot of walking/hiking? Walking through fields etc? Then I would highly suggest you test out the dress you are looking at and see if you can twirl, move easily in it, hold it up as high as you can and walk around in it. I know when I was shopping for my elopement dress, I wanted to make sure I could twirl, lift it up, walk easily in it, be able to put it on by myself without any problems. A little zip to the side and I was sorted. Avoid tight-fitting around the legs as they are difficult to walk in, especially if you plan to hike for a few hours.

Another suggestion is if you are having an adventure elopement is, try and hold your dress up to the side as high as you can then drop it. Would the wind be able to give it a bit of a lift for those gorgeous windswept shots? Here in Northern Ireland, I photograph a lot of elopements on the rugged, clifftops with castle ruins in the background, like Dunluce Castle. The type of dress I would always almost shoot are flowy, easy to walk in and the Irish wind loves them!

Elopement dress guide 2020
Elopement dress
ireland elopement wedding dress

CONSIDER YOUR SURROUNDINGS

If you plan to elope here in Ireland, you will be surrounded by a lot of greenery. Here in Ireland, we genuinely do have 40 shades of green. So you are most likely going to go for white which looks amazing against the Irish landscape.  If you are considering to opt for another colour rather than the traditional white.  Colours like yellows, burnt oranges, can look unreal, it can add a real pop of colour to the landscape. Another way to add that pop of colour in your wedding bouquet! Can I just say, the larger the bouquet the better 🙂 Try adding some bright colours as I mentioned above for a winter elopement. Or some pinks in the summer. It really does add another dimension to your photos. If you are worried about carrying around a larger bouquet all day, because yes they can get heavy, you can attach them to your backpack which also makes for some amazing photos. Also, that’s what I am here for, I am not just your photographer for the day, I will help you carry your things up a mountain 🙂

ireland elopement dress
Elopement dress
Elopement wedding dress guide 2020

DO I NEED TO HIKE IN MY ELOPEMENT DRESS?

This all depends on where you decide to elope to and what time of day you decide to elope can also be a factor. For example, if you need to hike for say two hours for that perfect location to exchange vows, and you decide you would like to do this at sunrise, then you can get changed that morning. Bear in mind, you will most likely be hiking back down in your dress for photos along the way. Hiking down can be so much easier anyways. I shoot a lot of elopements here in Northern Ireland and the good news is, it is very easy to get around in your wedding dress. Don’t be afraid of getting your dress dirty, it’s gonna happen, let it happen. No matter if you will be hiking in your dress or not, you will be doing a lot of moving around. Climbing over fences, walking through fields and trying to avoid sheep poo, running through fields to twirling on the beach. All of this makes for an epic experience you will never forget. As mentioned previously, when shopping for your wedding dress, make sure you can lift it up easily and walk in it. If your dress has lots of material, like a long train, it can be easy to lift up and throw over your arm.

ELOPEMENT DRESSES FOR WINTER

Many of my couples that elope here in Ireland during the colder months, tend to either wear long sleeves or bring along a nice shawl or throw. Having some throws or shawls or a cute jacket can add that extra dimension and look amazing in your photographs.  If you are really wanting to wear something light, you are best to elope in the Spring and Summer months.

If you do choose to elope in Ireland during the colder months, then here are some quick tips to keep you warm and happy on your day.

  1. Wear thermals or leggings under your dress. There is so much choice out there, you can get some to match your skin colour so they don’t show in your photographs or look as obvious if you wish.
  2. Hand warmers. These are a lifesaver, you will be so grateful you brought them. They work wonders, you can stick them anywhere including your boots to keep those toes warm.
  3. Bring a warm jacket or shawl, you can take this off between shots if you don’t want them in your photos. It will help for those longer walks in between. If you bring along a shawl or throw, I would try and choose an earthy colour that blends in with the landscape rather than something bright that might be outdated in a few years to come. These can make for some serious romantic photos, especially if you bring a large enough one to snuggle with your partner.
  4. Bring a flask with a hot drink. I always advise my couples to bring along some food for a picnic so they don’t have to rush back for dinner. That way they can stay a bit longer and enjoy the sunset.  Bringing a flask with a hot drink can be just as important as food!! Believe me, you will be so happy you did.
  5. Hiking boots. Make sure when choosing your shoes for your elopement, that you get a pair of waterproof walking boots. Wear them in before wearing them on your elopement day to break them in so your feet are super comfortable on your day. Just like hand warmers, you can also get foot warmers, so as well as having waterproof boots, your feet with thank you.
Elopement wedding dress guide 2020

TOP FIVE PLACES TO SHOP FOR YOUR ELOPEMENT DRESS

BHLDN – I could scroll through their site for hours. They range from Bohemian to beach & destination and romantic to modern. If you are not into dresses, they have unreal suit options. FYI, this is where I found my own elopement dress. Once I saw it on their site, I searched where I could actually try it on near me.

RECLAMATION – Holy cow, I am in love with every dress on this site. I am trying to figure out if I can just get a dress from reclamation and wear it in my normal everyday life. The dresses here are perfect for boho dreamers.

GRACE LOVES LACE – Grace loves lace is an Australian brand but has stores all over the US and Europe that will stock these beautiful dresses. They even have a sample sale section. These dresses are truly stunning. As Megan Ziems says A WOMAN SHOULDN’T HAVE TO SACRIFICE STYLE FOR COMFORT. I am inclined to agree with 100%. Especially as you are eloping, you want a dress that makes you feel like a million dollars but you need to be 100% comfortable to you can adventure around your chosen elopement destination with ease.

CHANTEL LAUREN – There are some incredible designs by Chantel. Ranging from boho, hand-painted, classic, romantic. So many to choose from that would fit your surroundings perfectly. Here is an example of a perfect adventure elopement dress. https://www.chantellauren.com/wedding-dresses/mae Easy to put on looks great with the wind, easy to walk in.

ROLLIN IN ROSES  – There is an amazing selection of dresses and two pieces here on Rollin in Roses that would be perfect for an elopement dress. This shot below the bride is wearing one of their dresses.

Elopement Dress

TOP FIVE BUDGET PLACES FOR YOUR ELOPEMENT DRESS

ETSY – Who hasn’t bought something from Etsy? They have some incredible yet affordable wedding dresses. You can actually research elopement dresses on the Etsy site and you will see so many stunning options, ranging from, boho, lace to suits.

ASOS –  Believe it or not, Asos can actually be a great place to look for some affordable, yet gorgeous wedding dresses. The best part is, you can try them on for free from the comfort of your own home, as they offer free delivery and returns. What’s not to love?

AMAZON – Amazon actually has a range of cheap boho dresses. Here is an example of some stunning dresses for crazy cheap. If you dive deep into amazon you could find some amazing options for a great price.

EBAY – eBay is a great place to find either pre-loved wedding dresses or you might even find one that has never been worn. Again, there are so many real deals here if you dig deep and keep your eye out.

WISH – If you are on the hunt for a cheap elopement dress and are happy to do a lot of research, then you can find something on wish for way less. I have seen styled editorial shoots in the past with the model wearing a dress from wish and it was incredible and it was bought for so little.

BLACK ELOPEMENT DRESS

For the adventurous, rebel brides. If you are not that into wearing a white Elopement dress, then don’t.  There are so many other options out there. If you only wear black in your everyday life, then maybe a black Elopement dress if for you. Another great thing about Black Wedding Dresses, they can be significantly cheaper than a white Wedding dress. 

Check out this example from  Wtoo by Watters Clarinda Strapless Lace Gown

This style of dress is perfect for those wanting to hike or walk in their dress. A style like this is light enough to lift up and long enough to cover your hiking boots ( assuming you want them covered ) FYI, I personally love seeing brides hiking boots. 

Or maybe you would like to add a little bit of colour like this two-piece from Stylish Accs Brides on Etsy, a black lace top with a mulberry colour skirt. This look is incredible and would photograph incredible in any landscape.

PINK ELOPEMENT DRESS

If white or black isn’t on your radar, and you fancy a pink, blue, green or heck a rainbow dress. Then go for it!! As long as you are super comfortable and truly feel like yourself, you really can’t go wrong no matter what colour you choose.  Check out Olivia’s pink wedding dress below, bought from Maria Lucia Hohan it’s incredible. So easy to walk in, the wind loved it, and it photographed so well against the Irish scenery. Check out more from Olivias Intimate Ireland Elopement here, and see more of her stunning pink dress.

Pink Elopement dress

DESIGN YOUR OWN WEDDING DRESS

Maybe you just haven’t found the perfect dress, at least none that match up to your idea in mind. So why not collaborate with a dressmaker? This bride designed her own wedding dress and cape, then had a local dressmaker and designer do her magic.

wedding cape

ACCESSORIES TO COMPLEMENT YOUR ELOPEMENT DRESS

I have seen over the years some incredible elopement dresses and accessories. One of my favourite things about elopements, and you have probably seen me say this a lot, is, you can do and wear whatever you want. You are getting married your way, so you can do whatever you please and wear whatever makes you smile.

As Ireland can be quite cold, especially in the winter, and if you come from a very warm climate, Ireland will most likely be cold for you even if it’s super warm for us. So you might want to factor that in. Some of my favourite accessories for elopement dress are as follows.

  • Shawls – shawls are perfect for the spring and summer months, in case there is a slight chill in the air. They can look incredible for your photos.
  • Jackets – A cute jacket. Maybe there is something that really represents you both. Maybe you both love to ride motorbikes and wear leather, then try incorporating that into your elopement. Not only will it look amazing, but it will also keep you warm.
  • Jewellery – Some statement jewellery can really add a bit of pop to your dress. Just like below, Alyssa opted for a gold piece that really matched the gold in her elopement dress.
  • Hats – Hats are another great option for adding to accessories to your dress. They can look so fun in your photos. Plus you can easily remove if you wanted. There are so many amazing accessory options you can choose from to help you with your perfect elopement dress.
Elopement Accessories
elopement dress accessories

So here are a few takeaways to think about here before you purchase your elopement dress so it’s easy to move around in.

  • Twirl around in it and see how easy it would move in. Does it move well in the wind/air?
  • Lift it up to your knees and walk like you would on your actual elopement day, it is comfortable to do so?
  • Sit on the floor and or sofa. How easy is it to sit down and get back up again?
  • Have some fun with it, dance, jump up and down, raise your hands in the air

There is nothing more exciting than planning for your elopement. I applaud couples for taking the brave step and doing exactly what they want to do and feels right for them. Elopements are such a powerful and emotional experience as you are choosing to get married in a way that is true to you both without the stress and anxiety that large traditional weddings can sometimes bring.  There is so much significance and connection with elopements and it’s of the most incredible ways you can get married. You can truly be yourselves at the moment.

If you are thinking about eloping here in Ireland or Northern Ireland, do get in touch for more information. I would love to hear from you and what your elopement plans look like. CONTACT 

Also, if you want to follow me along on Instagram for more adventures, just click here 🙂

Here are links to vendors that were involved in each of these elopements:

Check out my other resources below to help you with your elopement plans. if there is anything else you would love to know then please do get in touch here  CONTACT I would love to hear from you! Happy elopement planning 🙂

Elopement Photographer Ireland
Dunluce Elopement

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