Did you ever dream about your wedding dress as a little girl, playing dress-up when you were younger or saving photos on Pinterest as you got older?! Well now that you’re engaged, the time has come to pick your DREAM elopement dress!!
It can be really hard to find the right one for you, so I’ve laid out the most important things to keep in mind + pay attention to when elopement-dress-shopping. Keep on reading to find out the 10 steps to picking your elopement dress, plus a bonus guide to elopement accessories & FAQ’s about elopement dresses. Happy dress-hunting!
10 Steps to Picking Your Dream Elopement Dress
1. Match the style with the vibe of your day
The first step to picking your elopement dress is thinking through the vibe of your elopement day. If you’re dreaming of a fairytale elopement, you might want to look for bigger, fluffier dresses that feel like they’re straight outta a Disney movie. If your elopement is going to be super boho, look for free-spirited dresses with a boho flair and thick patterns. For a more classy, glam elopement, go with a more elegant style!
2. Envision the photos you want
It can be helpful to envision the photos you want on your elopement day and compare if the dresses you’re trying on will be conducive to that! i.e. If you want a lot of movement shots with your honey picking you up or piggy backing or anything of the sort, you may want to opt for a lighter dress that is easy to move in. And vice-versa: if you want epic twirling shots with a full skirt or a dramatic train or full fairytale vibes, then a ball gown might be what you aim for.
3. Think about elopement day activities
It’s super important to think about the activities you want to do during your elopement and what environment you’ll be in. You want to make sure that the dress you end up with will allow you full range of motion for any and all activities and that you’re not going to have to worry about too much with your environment, such as having your dress snag on something or get dirty!
4. Make sure you’ll be comfortable
Next, you’ll want to think about comfort and how you feel in the dress. Is it the right length? Can you move easily? Will the sleeves get in your way or slide down your shoulder? Is it itchy or does it rub wrong in some areas? Is it too loose or too tight?
Comfort is key: make sure it’s the right length, has comfortable sleeves, isn’t too loose or too tight, and fits your style.
5. Think about the material
Material is a really big part of the fit & feel of your elopement dress. It’s important to choose a dress with material that is super comfortable, thin enough to fold & pack if you need to, and flexible enough for you to move around in!
6. Keep weather in mind
Eloping in Alaska can be COLD, so it’s important to choose a dress that you can layer with jackets & other outerwear while still being stylish + feeling beautiful. Pick a dress that can get wet if it rains/snows, won’t be destroyed by some snow on the bottom, and WON’T make you absolutely freeze your butt off the entire day!
7. Plan to pack it
Make sure you don’t forget about how you’re going to pack your dress! If you’re going on a hike and you want to wear hiking clothes before changing into your dress at the top, your dress need to be able to be packed & put into your backpack. You can do this by either folding it carefully on its own, putting it in a garment bag & folding it, or attaching the garment back to the outside of your bag.
8. Be practical
You’ll want to be sure that your dress is practical for the environment you’ll be in! Don’t pick a super tight dress if you’ll be having to hike a little bit in it, and don’t wear something that would be super uncomfortable if it got wet in the rain. I know “pain is beauty” – but let’s try to minimize anyyyy possible pain/discomfort and think through practicality!
9. Bring the right people to your dress appointments
This one is simple: only bring people whose opinions you truly appreciate to your dress appointments. You don’t need unnecessary/unwanted opinions affecting your dress choice!
10. Pick what makes you feel like your best self!
And finally, make sure you feel beautiful in your dress and also that you feel like yourself! This is the key to picking the perfect elopement dress and will play the biggest role in making sure you’re confident + feeling great on your big day.
Bonus Guide: Choosing Your Elopement Outfit Accessories
Shoes are probably one of the LAST parts of your elopement outfit that you choose, but don’t underestimate the importance of picking the right pair(s) of shoes!! This is one part of your outfit you’ll want to stay pretty practical with. It’s likely that if you’re having an adventure elopement in Alaska, you’ll need a solid pair of hiking boots or tennis shoes to bring along on your elopement day – if not wear the whole day.
You have a couple options:
- Wear hiking boots on the hike, then change into “cuter” shoes for your ceremony if the terrain allows you to
- Wear hiking boots the entire day
It’s up to you whether you want to be carrying an extra pair of shoes in your backpack or if you’d rather just rock your hiking boots all day!
Keep a few things in mind when picking your elopement shoes:
- Temperature – we don’t want your feet to be chilly!! Foot warmers are always a great item to bring along.
- Terrain – make sure your shoes are appropriate for the terrain you’ll be walking on, whether it’s paved, gravel, sandy, wet, muddy, or just plain ICE. Check out this blog post for my top tips on how to safely elope on a glacier in Alaska, including what shoes to wear!
- Comfort – the last thing you want is to get blisters on your big day!! Make sure your shoes have been broken in fairly well already and that you know they’ll keep your toesies comfy all day.
Jewelry is one of my favorite ways to personalize & spice up any elopement look! Whether you want to keep your outfit pretty simple or you want to go alllll out, wearing jewelry can really make or break the vibe you’re going for. Maybe you want to add a little sparkle to your simple dress by wearing some dangly earrings, or maybe your dress is super eclectic & you want to stick to simple pearl studs – the options are endless!
Jewelry is also a beautiful way that you can honor family members, if maybe your mom/grandma/aunt/etc. has any heirloom pieces that you want to wear.
Here’s a list of the main jewelry items I often see brides wear on their elopement day, to get your ideas flowin’:
- Back jewelry/”necklaces”
I thought hairpieces deserved their own separate category, because they’re not always made of metal & considered “jewelry!” Hairpieces are sooo much fun and can really add some flair to your bridal look. You can pick a metal hairpiece that matches your jewelry, or a floral hairpiece of a variety of sizes to bring some garden magic to your hairdo!
Eloping in Alaska usuallyyyy means it’ll be fairly chilly, depending on the season & your location of course. So it’s important to bring along the right outerwear & jackets to stay warm! You could wear a faux fur throw, bring along your everyday jackets, or throw on a sweater when you need it.
FAQ’s About Elopement Dresses
How much should you spend on an elopement dress?
That’s completely up to you and how important your dress is to you! I’ve seen dresses range from $100-10,000, if not more. It’s important to set your budget by listing out your priorities; if your dress is one of your top priorities and you’ve intentionally set aside a larger chunk to put toward it, go ahead and splurge!! Or maybe your dress isn’t super important and you know you won’t use it again – go thrifting, head to Facebook Marketplace, or even rent one!
Does an elopement dress have to be white?
Nope!! Your elopement dress can be WHATEVER color you want it to be!
Do I have to wear a dress to elope?
No! You can totally switch it up with a jumpsuit/pantsuit, two-piece outfit, a blazer & trousers, literally whatever you want to do. Choose what feels most likey ou!
Do you wear a veil to elope?
Again, that’s up to you!
Where do I buy my elopement dress?
Lulu’s is one of my personal favorite online shops for buying wedding gowns at a lower price!
You can also check out local bridal boutiques near you, thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, & online bridal rental companies.
One of my recent brides wore a gorgeous gown from Bateau Bridal Boutique, a private bridal studio in Anchorage, and loved it!!
Real-Life Elopement Dress Inspiration
Boho elopement dresses
Winter elopement dresses
Long-sleeve elopement dresses
Simple elopement dresses
Two-piece elopement dresses
Lace elopement dresses
Strapless elopement dresses
More Alaska Elopement Resources & Information
Now that you’re ready to pick your dream elopement dress, check out more of my favorite elopement planning tips & resources below!