A wedding dress hanging from a pavillion.

What To Wear At Your Elopement

Need some help to decide on what attire to wear at an elopement? I've got you covered: from dresses and suits to more unusual choices.
Rachel Sue Boehm, 5 star rated wedding and elopement photographer, holding a camera and posing under a tree.

I’m a wedding photographer with over 10 years experience. Based in Wisconsin, I specialize in elopements across the USA and worldwide.

As a certified drone pilot, I can offer aerial photography for a unique views of your wedding.

I’m also ordained through the Universal Life Church meaning that I can be your officiant and your photographer!

Get in touch with me to discuss your wedding or elopement photography.

Planning an Elopement?

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Once you’ve made the exciting decision to elope, it’s time to think about what you want to wear on your special day.

Unlike a traditional wedding, there is no set expectation to wear a wedding dress (although many brides still do), which opens up a world of possibilities.

So if you’re looking for some inspiration and tips to create a perfect elopement ensemble that will make your guests say, “wow,” then look no further.

Let’s dive in and get your elopement attire sorted.

Hiking Attire

I absolutely love the outdoors, so it’s only natural that I’m drawn to woodland hikes.

For your hiking elopement, you’ll want to choose attire that suits the outdoor adventure. Practical clothing choices are key to ensure comfort and freedom of movement throughout your hike. Not to mention safety.

Boots and Waterproofs

Start with a pair of sturdy hiking boots that provide ankle support and traction on various terrains. Layering options are essential, as the weather can change quickly in outdoor settings. Opt for moisture-wicking base layers to keep you dry and warm, such as Gore-Tex. Add a lightweight, breathable mid-layer for insulation, and top it off with a weatherproof outer shell to protect against wind and rain.

Of course, it may be that you don’t need all of this. But think of your hiking clothing options as being like an insurance policy: it’s better to have one and not use it than need one and not have it.

Other Essentials

Incorporate outdoor accessories that enhance both style and functionality. Consider a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face from the sun and keep you cool. Sunglasses are a must to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Don’t forget to bring a backpack to carry essentials like water, snacks, and a map.

Change For The Ceremony

The sensible clothing options above aren’t screaming, “this is the most important day of my life so far.” That’s understandable: nobody ever dreamed of getting married in thermal trousers.

This is why the couples I photograph and officiate for often bring a change of clothing with them. One set for the hike, another for the ceremony, and then change back again for the return hike.

It may sound like a hassle, but it’s much better than being cold, wet or sunburned during the most important part of your day: the ceremony!

A bride, wearing a wedding gown, walks through the woods. She has hitched her skirt up to protect it from getting dirty, which reveals her white cowboy boots.
You don’t need high heels to look great in boots.

Beach Wear

Beaches are one of the most popular elopement destinations. They’re easy to set-up, offer great backdrops, are inexpensive and there are plenty of them to choose from.

For me, beach elopements always say “we’re relaxed and carefree.” Wouldn’t it be great if your attire reflected this?

Traditional Gown

One advantage of a beach elopement is that you can wear practically anything, which allows those choosing a dress to have the spectacular wedding gown of their dreams.

The white of a traditional dress offers a beautiful contrast with the blue of the ocean, while also complemening the yellowy-brown of the sand. If you choose to include a first look, you may even get a spectacular sunrise to create a really memorable photograph.

Of course, you don’t have to wear a traditional white dress if you don’t want to. You could choose a bohemian-style dress that reflects the carefree and adventurous spirit of an explorer who’s chosen to go their own way with an elopement. Think lace, chiffon, or other lightweight fabrics that move gracefully in the ocean breeze.

A newlywed couple walk hand-in-hand along the beach.
You can still go for a traditional, formal look at a beach elopement. Here, the groom ditched the tie to create a more relaxed vibe.


Long full-skirted dresses, or a train, aren’t always practical for a beach. They can make it difficult to move around through the sand, and will get dirty or wet during the course of the day. Not ideal for an expensive piece of clothing!

Shorter, strapless dresses are ideal for beach elopements. You’ll still look great, and be able to make the most of the great weather without getting too hot. Not only that, but they won’t get dragged around in the sand and sea, so you’ll be able to treasure your dress with its precious memories forever, or even reuse it if you’d prefer.


Lose the heels. If you’ve never tried walking along a beach in high-heeled shoes, I suggest you don’t bother: it’s not a pleasant experience.

At your beach elopement, you could opt for a nice pair of sandals to compliment your outfit. Sandals will go with almost any outfit, dress or suit, and make it easy to walk around on the beach. If you’re getting married in the summer, you may have an aisle runner to protect your feet from the hot sand – you probably envisioned an elegant walk up to your partner rather than hopping from one foot to the other!

If the sand isn’t too hot, you could opt to go barefoot which many couples do. It opens up more possibilities, such as a paddle in the ocean, when you don’t have to worry about keeping your footwear clean and in-tact.

A newlywed couple at the beach.
Lightweight, strapless dresses and sleeveless shirts work well. This couple also went barefoot, but sandals and flats would also be an option.

Grooms Can Be Less Formal

Because beach elopements tend to be super relaxed, the groom often “dresses down,” a little in comparison to a traditional wedding.

Shorts and a short-sleeved shirt are common for beach elopements, allowing you to stay cool and comfortable, but also stylish, for the duration of the day.

If you do elect to go for a suit, consider a lightweight material such as linen and a light color such as tan or beige. This makes an excellent accompaniment to the sand, and will contrast with the blues of the ocean and sky to create a striking visual. Leaving out the jacket, tie, or both, can add to the relaxed vibe.

Winter Elopement

As a photographer, I love taking pictures in the winter with snowy conditions.

Winter elopements offer unique lighting conditions that can create stunning and ethereal photos. Imagine standing in front of a snowy backdrop, with the soft winter light illuminating your love for each other.

Some destinations tend to attract fewer crowds during winter, which allows for more intimate shots, capturing the pure and genuine moments between you and your partner.

I love the challenge of capturing love in cold conditions. It pushes me to get creative with compositions and find unique ways to showcase your connection. I’ll use the snowy landscape to my advantage, incorporating it into the composition to create visually captivating images. The cold weather may seem daunting, but it actually adds a sense of coziness and romance to the photos. The way you snuggle up together, the warmth of your breath in the air, it all adds to the story of your love.

Mountains and Snow

Cozy outerwear is a must for combating the cold temperatures. Opt for a stylish wool coat or a trendy puffer jacket to keep you warm, but still looking great.

Layering options are key to staying comfortable throughout the day. Start with a thermal base layer, add a cozy sweater or cardigan, and top it off with a waterproof and insulated jacket.

For your winter elopement footwear, choose boots that are both stylish and functional. Look for options that are waterproof, insulated, and have a good grip to prevent any slips on icy surfaces. We don’t want any brides or grooms being air lifted off a mountain on their wedding day!

Partners who wear a suit can add thermal layers underneath, allowing them to keep warm while still looking the part!

Don’t forget to accessorize with winter accessories like scarves, gloves, and earmuffs. These won’t only keep you warm but also add a stylish touch to your outfit. They may not be for everyone’s tastes, but done right they can be really cute.

A couple hold hands and smile at one another.
You can stay warm and look great when eloping to a snowy location.

Desert Elopements

Desert elopements offer a unique charm. Their unique, rugged settings speak to the spirit of adventure that eloping couples often share. Added to this, their seclusion and remoteness allows for a truly intimate ceremony; the exact opposite of a large-scale wedding.

Desert-Inspired Dresses

Deserts offer the opportunity for a traditional white wedding gown. It will offer a nice contrast to the earthy tones of the desert, standing out against the reds, oranges and browns of your location.

Alternatively, you could go for earthy tones in your dress, harmonizing with the desert landscape.

Whatever colors you choose, it’s important to make sure it’s appropriate for the setting. I’d suggest something light and flowing. Fabrics like light chiffon or breathable linen will offer comfort in the desert heat.

You may wish to incorporate a light bolero to protect your arms, back and neck from the harsh desert sun. Likewise, a stylish hat can complement your attire and also protect your head.

Footwear For A Desert Elopement

The desert usually won’t be as precarious as a woodland hike or a mountaintop, but you’ll still need to ensure your footwear is appropriate.

Flats are definitely the way to go. Sandals, pumps, or hiking boots all work well and will allow to move around the desert in comfort. You’ll need a sturdy material, so avoid velvet and silk which will stain easily. Some heels may be wearable in the desert, but opt for a thick, chunky heel that will be easier to walk in than a stiletto-style heel.

If you want to really embrace the desert, you could opt for cowboy boots. Not only do they look great, but their sturdiness is perfect for the landscape and you’ll really embrace the history of the early cattle drives, where those super adventurous souls just like you used to do their work.

If you’re wearing a suit, it’s fairly easy to pair it up with some stylish shoes. Flat, leather shoes work well and will endure the harsh desert conditions. You can even wear sneakers, many of them look great with a suit!

A newly wed couple holding hands at their desert elopement.
Lightweight clothing, and flat shoes like these boots, are key to enjoying a desert elopement.

City Elopements

City elopements are a really cool way to explore a new location. In a city, you have a whole range of options to choose from, whether you hold a ceremony in a park, a hotel or close to a national monument, there’s no shortage of choices.

There’ll also be no shortage of choices for your wedding attire. Simply put, you can choose anything you want and it will probably work. With paved surfaces, and plenty of shelter around, there’s not as much need to plan for different eventualities and you’ll likely be able to move around just fine in whatever you choose to wear.

A newly wed couple kiss in front of the Capitol Building
A bride in front of the New York City skyline

Need Some Help With Planning?

Planning an elopement isn’t easy. If you want help from someone with experience, fill out the survey below and I’ll be glad to help you out. I have over 10 years of experience in photographing elopements, and I’ve helped countless couples to plan the day of their dreams!

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