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Picking the Best Hiking Wedding Dress + Hiking Tips

There are so many different styles of wedding dresses out there, and you might not even know which style is your favorite yet! You might be asking yourself, "But what would I wear?!"

There are so many options of wedding dresses...which dresses and materials are better suited for adventure elopements? Look no further as I will help you out with picking the best hiking wedding dress, along with some tips on hiking, picking the best hiking boots, and veils.

A few things to consider right away are:

  • How much or how long will I be hiking?

  • How long or how steep is the hike?

  • What time of year are you eloping in?

How much or how long will I be hiking for?

Is hiking going to take up the majority of the day, or are you just gonna do a short hike at the beginning or end of the day? Or are you able to drive up to your location without hiking at all?

If you're just gonna do a short hike that won't take up hours of the day, then you can probably get away with wearing the dress the whole day without having to change once you get to the location. This also works if you can just drive up to the location with minimal or no hiking.

If hiking is going to take up the majority of the day, you'll definitely want a dress that is comfortable enough to wear for several hours.

How long or how steep is the hike?

If the trail you are hiking on is going to be relatively flat and short, then you can definitely hike in your dress if you want to! You might want to consider changing once you get to the location if the hike has a decent amount of elevation gain, and if it's a longer hike as well (especially if you chose a more fitted dress). Most wedding dresses aren't very breathable so it will help keep you cooler as you hike too if you wait to change once you arrive to the location. But you can definitely hike in your wedding dress if you want! That also makes for epic photos and it shows how amazing you are to hike a big trail in your dress!

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What time of year are you eloping in?

This means you need to keep in mind the type of material the dress is made of and what style of dress would be best for hiking.

Again, if you aren't doing a huge hike during the day, or if you can drive up to the location, then you can probably get away with wearing a dress in a style that is more fitted. But you will also want to keep in mind the kinds of photos you might want. Do you want to be able to throw your dress and let the wind flow through your dress, or do you want photos of you picking it up while hiking? Things like that will help you envision what dress type will be best specifically for your elopement.

Usually if you hike a big portion of the day, I always recommend dresses that allow movement, so more flowy dresses versus more fitted ones. You might have to scramble over some rocks along the route, or you might have to cross some water. So being able to pick up your dress will be easier.

If you want to hike in your dress, here are some other questions you can ask yourself to see if the dress allows for good movement:

  • Can you bend over in the dress, sit, walk up steps (imagine climbing over rocks or walking up a steep trail), or dance?

  • Does it not feel too heavy? If you can do all these things in your dress and you still feel comfortable, then the dress should be good for hiking!

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Let's talk about the best types of dress materials!

Now we are going to talk about what the dress material is! This combines what's most comfortable for hiking as well as what's best for the time of year your elopement is.

If you are hiking a lot, you probably won't want a dress with several layers underneath, like tulle. This makes the dress warmer since there are more layers, and if you hike in a thick, fluffy dress during the summer, you're probably going to cook in it. But if that's what your dream dress is, I definitely won't stop you! If you really want this dress style, it might be best to change at the top if it's a strenuous hike. Unless you are doing a short hike, or if you're having an elopement in the late fall or winter, then this kind of dress will help you stay warmer.

Dresses with less and lighter material will be better suited for summer elopements, like lace or organza. Check out this wedding dress fabric and material guide for more info on different material types!

Another thing that is helpful for summer hiking elopements is getting a dress with extra support, like straps. You can totally go strapless, but when I got married (and I had a traditional wedding), I was afraid of my dress not staying up and I didn't want to have to keep adjusting and re-adjusting it all day. So I would imagine for hiking and more outdoorsy elopements where you are doing a lot of walking or outdoor activities, then I would maybe try to get a dress with straps of some sort. You can always have an alterations specialist add on some straps for you if the dress you picked doesn't have any. They can be thinner straps, or you can get a dress with short sleeves as well.

I also think a dress with a lace up back will help it stay on tighter and better compared to a zipper. But if you decide to change at the top, you also might want a dress that's easier to get in by yourself, especially if you're doing a first look. But I am always there to help as well! If you want to change all on your own, I would think a dress with a simple zipper would be easiest (without all the added buttons on the back).

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One last tip for picking a dress in the summertime: if the main location where we are taking photos at is on the top of a mountain, keep in mind that the temperature drops the higher in elevation you go. So I would always carry a light jacket in my backpack (a cute personalized jacket or a light puffer will do the trick) to put on just in case you get chilled! It can be more windy at the top as well, so keep that in mind. Or if it might rain (the weather also changes quickly in the mountains), bringing a light rain jacket is another great option.

And for the opposite of warm months like late spring and summer, what's best for colder months like winter? Like I mentioned previously, a dress with more layers will keep you warmer! You likely won't be hiking a ton since most trails are inaccessible, unless you are going to snowshoe, snowmobile, or something like that!

You could get a dress with sleeves too, that will help keep you a little warmer, and it's beautiful in photos! For winter it's best to add accessories to help keep you warm, like a faux fur shawl, or to wear nude fleece lined leggings under your dress. You can refer to the wedding dress fabric and material guide above, as it tells you what materials are best for colder times of year!

You can also check out this blog post on planning a winter elopement! I go more into detail on what suits are best for the guys, as well as more ways to stay warm while being out in the elements.

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Learn how to pack your dress if you want to change at the top.

If you've decided to change at the top, great! Here's some tips to keep in mind if you decide to go with this option.

  • If you change at the top of the mountain, you can use a tree to help you keep your balance if you're changing by yourself. If we are in a more popular spot where we might run into people, you can either hike in your dress, or grab a changing pod tent off of amazon so you can change in private! Again, keep in mind what's required to get in your dress (zippers, buttons, or lace up back) and if you are going to need help or not getting into it.

  • If you are going to pack your dress either in a garment bag and tie it to your hiking backpack, or if you want to pack your dress in your backpack, dress material and weight plays a part! Lace is a great material because it's lightweight, and it doesn't wrinkle. So if you're gonna put your dress in a bag or backpack, make sure the material doesn't wrinkle easily, because you can't really haul a steamer up the mountain.

Here's a video tutorial by Adventure Instead on how to pack your dress into your hiking backpack. In short, here are the steps:

1. Roll the dress in vertically (rolling helps wrinkles from forming versus folding it).

2. Roll the dress downwards.

3. Put the dress into a waterproof bag or a garbage bag. Then squeeze out any excess air from the bag.

4. Lay it in your hiking backpack either horizontally or vertically.

Let's talk about some more hiking tips and information!

  • Don't be afraid to get your dress dirty! You are already being untraditional by adventuring for your wedding day, you can expect your dress to get a little dirty. If you're worried about it, here's a video tutorial on how to clean your dress at home. This way also saves you money!

  • If you want a train on your wedding dress, then by all means do it! Trains are so beautiful and make for stunning images! To help your train collect less dirt, you can bungee cord your dress train to your hiking backpack to hold up all the excess fabric. This also makes it easier to hike with and opens up a spot so your feet can move more freely, hence making it easier to hike.

  • There are a ton of online sites to buy beautiful and affordable wedding dresses from if you don't want to spend a fortune on your dress. You can definitely splurge on your wedding dress since you're likely saving money by eloping anyway, and you can also have that wedding dress shopping experience with your friends and family if you don't want to miss out on that. But if you want to save extra money, check out some of these websites where you can order beautiful gowns for more affordable prices: Lulu's, JJ's House, BHLDN, and even David's Bridal has great sales! I got my dream dress from them for under $500!

Also feel free to get creative with your dress! Find one with cool sleeves, get a pretty bohemian dress, or really anything that suits your vision best for your elopement!

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Now that we have talked about dresses, what about shoes and veils?

Shoe choice is gonna play a huge part into how comfortable you're going to be. You'll want nice hiking boots, ones that you have worn a few times. This will help keep you from getting blisters from buying brand new boots that you haven't broke in yet. I personally like the boots that come up around the ankle because that's meant to help keep your ankle protected if you accidently were to roll it. Also if they're waterproof!

A few popular brands of hiking boots are:

These brands of boots are a little more expensive, but it's for good reason! Cheap and cuter looking boots aren't always going to cut it. They won't keep you as warm, dry, or comfortable. Moving on to socks, the best socks to wear with these are wool hiking socks. Wool helps to wick out moisture and keep your feet warm and dry. All in all, invest in some good boots, and nothing looks better than hiking boots paired with a wedding dress!

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What about veils? It's totally up to you on whether or not you want to wear a veil with your dress. Personally, I think they're super pretty in person, and in photos! You can also take your veil off so it doesn't have to be in every photo. You can also get creative with veils in photos, and if you want a pop of color or if you want to add in some pretty designs, veils are a great way to add that!

Bridal capes are also another great option if you don't want to keep readjusting the veil all day.

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I hope this guide on picking the best hiking wedding dress helps you pick out the perfect dress for your adventure elopement! Be sure to use the included hiking tips as well for a seamless day in the outdoors. If you want to book me for your adventurous elopement in the mountains, you can contact me here! Happy dress shopping!

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