You’re thinking of eloping! These days, eloping doesn’t mean you’re running off in secret to the courthouse or Vegas. An elopement can mean anything from having a simple, intimate wedding in a beautiful outdoor location in Arizona with just the two of you, to having a small wedding with 20 of your closest friends and family. Definitions of elopements compared to small weddings vary, but in general, as an Arizona elopement photographer photographing both elopements and weddings for the past 4 and 10 years, respectively, I consider an elopement to be 20 or less people, and a micro wedding/intimate wedding/small wedding to be 50 people or less. Martha Stewart Weddings agrees too! The huge benefit of eloping is you can do your wedding your way! Want a colored dress? Go for it! Want to wear something wild? DO IT! There are no rules (beyond what constitutes a legal wedding ceremony) for elopements, so you have total freedom to do whatever you want.
Beyond the big question of an awesome scenic location in Arizona to elope, your next big question is probably what to wear. Here are some beautiful elopement options, along with some suggestions for what to wear for guys, and options for LGBT couples!
Elopement Dress Ideas
The first big question you need to ask yourself when you are deciding on what to wear for your elopement is what type of elopement are you planning?
- Are you planning a simple elopement without a lot of hiking, or indoors?
- Are you planning an adventurous elopement with a lot of hiking or walking? How packable are your outfits? Do they need to be steamed or ironed?
- What season are you eloping? What will the temperature be?
- What overall style are you going for? Something simple & casual? Or is this your chance to shine with something fancy and glamorous, or themed?
- What’s your budget?
After answering those questions, you can begin your search for the perfect elopement dress! Here are some of my favorite across all styles and budgets!
A note on cheap dresses: buyer beware! Amazon dresses, or cheap Etsy dresses are likely coming from China. Always check reviews, order with AMPLE extra time in case of delays, AND have a back up in case the sizing is off or it’s not the right color or it’s not what you expected.
What fabrics are best for elopement dresses?
This is a big consideration, perhaps moreso for elopements than weddings. I recommend lightweight fabrics such as tulle, organza or chiffon for movement and breatheability. They also tend to pack decently, and do well in hotter temperatures like in Arizona. Lace is also a good choice, as you won’t need to worry about wrinkles and it’s beautiful and romantic. Heavier fabrics, such as satin or silk or polyester are ok options, but best for winter months in northern Arizona and won’t have the movement of lightweight fabrics.
Build Your Own Wedding Dress
My mind was blown when I saw this website! You can design your own wedding dress through Anomalie.com. They are not cheap, more on the traditional wedding dress side of the budget starting around $1400, but if you’re planning on eloping then having a traditional reception, this is a fun option.
Colored Elopement Dresses
Personally, one of the biggest benefits of eloping is being able to wear a colored wedding dress! For those non-traditional brides, you have NO RULES saying you have to wear white. Wear whatever color makes you happiest! Here are some of my personal favorites.
Azazie has great bridesmaids dresses (which can make great simple elopement dresses), but they also added some great white wedding dresses too! Reviews are all over the place, so be sure to check them before deciding on anything!
This beautiful blush tulle gown was purchased at a traditional bridal shop, but is absolutely perfect for a romantic Sedona elopement! The groom carried the dress up to the top of the Cathedral Rock trailhead, and they quickly changed for the ceremony. See their gorgeous Cathedral Rock elopement session here.
Sara had her wedding at Cloth & Flame in the Superstition Mountains, but her dress is absolutely perfect for an elopement too. Her dress is actually 2 different BHLDN dresses sewn together by an expert seamstress. BHLDN is my favorite place to find colored dresses- their bridesmaids dresses can make perfect colored elopement dresses.
Anna got her dress on Etsy! This blue tulle number with a lace bodice is stunning.
This black number by Angellure on Etsy is to die for! $889
Two Piece Elopement Dresses
Two piece wedding dresses are a big trend in recent years and are a wonderful option! You don’t have to show off your midriff if you don’t want either.
BHLDN has a whole section of fashion forward separates! $200 Top Only
Boho Elopement Dresses
I love bohemian style dresses, and they are so popular especially in the desert. Here are some great options if you’re looking for romantic boho dresses!
The ultimate boho elopement dress is Reclamation, an Etsy shop that uses vintage lace in her creations. I’m dying to photograph a Reclamation dress! $1000
BoomBlush on Etsy has some AMAZING, super boho dresses that I’d love to get married in again! $1590
Angellure Bridal on Etsy has some fantastic finds! $812
This sparkly stunner has great movement, making it fantastic for an elopement dress! From BHLDN $1400
David’s Bridal has had a bad rap for a while, but their recent dresses are pretty great! There are lots of affordable, great options.
Amazon has a few boho elopement dresses that look great! Buyer beware as most likely these are coming from China, so prepare for extremely long shipping times, possible mis-sizing and of course, unknown quality.
Illusion Lace Wedding Dress on Amazon
Casual Elopement Dresses
Perhaps one of the big reasons you’re eloping is to avoid all the frilly wedding-ness. You just want something simple! There are a ton of simple dress options that are affordable, including some on Amazon and Etsy. Check these out!
BHLDN has an entire casual elopement dress section of their site which changes constantly. Check it out! And always check their sale section for awesome affordable deals!
Yisel got her dress on Lulu’s, which is a favorite among eloping brides!
Elopement Outfit Ideas for Guys
In some ways, outfits for guys might be even harder to figure out when you’re eloping. Some people opt for a suit, others might opt for a more casual dress shirt & tie, or vest, shirt & tie combo. Sometimes it’s a question of the minimum amount of dressy you can talk your fiance into. I recommend trying to match dressiness level- if you’re in a super fancy wedding dress, and he’s in shorts and a t-shirt, that won’t result in fantastic wedding photos. Keep in mind all of the above points with your fiance as well- what’s your overall style? What’s the weather going to be like? How much hiking are you doing?
Check out some of these places for affordable suits & clothing options for eloping for men!
LGBTQIA+ Elopement Outfit Ideas
You have so much freedom if you are gender non-conforming or an LGBTQIA+ couple. Have some fun with it! Here are a few outfit inspirations if you are eloping as an LGBT couple.
Perfect for EITHER the LGBT couple or nontraditional bride looking for chic, high fashion feel for her elopement, I am HERE for wedding jumpsuits. ASOS and Lulu’s has some great ones, or you can rent on from Rent the Runway, as we did for this Neon Demon Styled shoot.
Kristian & Carter opted for matching outfits- white dress shirts and black dress shorts with bow ties & suspenders and they are ADORABLE AND I LOVE IT!
Have some fun! Pick a theme (Gatsby, etc!) and roll with it! Find that outrageous suit or dress and base your attire for your elopement around that.