The Drawhorns
 
 
 

What to wear for adventure elopements

 
 
 
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When you’re balancing looking good and being comfortable outdoors for your elopement, choosing what to wear can be a little daunting – here’s some help!

 

The problem

Elopements are important events, and people like to dress formally for important events

Unfortunately, dresses and suits weren’t designed for the great outdoors.

Dressing incorrectly at best can make you uncomfortable or limit what you can physically do during your session, and at worst can be super dangerous.

On with the tips to keep you comfortable, safe, and having fun during your elopement.

 
 

General Considerations

Looking good

It’s your wedding day! Who doesn’t want to look their best? When you get married outdoors though, there’s more to consider.

Weather/conditions

Cold temperatures are the biggest hurdle our couples face outdoors – when you’re cold, you’re not gonna be able to relax and enjoy yourselves. You’re gonna want to be anywhere else but outside, you’ll be shivering, barely able to feel/move your fingers (think rings) and you’re gonna wish the session would just be done. Not exactly a recipe for a fun time with your partner in photos!

We do our best to show the behind-the-scenes reality of couples getting married in the mountains in late fall/winter, and the short version is this: unless they’re properly prepared, there’s a good chance they’re freezing their asses off.

Snow is another big one – in Colorado it can snow in late June, potentially putting a damper on the beautiful summer elopement you might be envisioning. Keeping your feet warm and dry, and (it seems simple) having enough traction on your shoes to walk, are all really important.

These big open epic expanses become so much less explorable when your feet are slipping around, freezing and every step in the snow makes them colder and wetter.

Activity level of your session

If we’re all hiking out for your elopement, there are many more factors to consider than if you’re looking to jump out of the car for a quick and simple session. For example, dress shoes miiiiight work for the latter, but you’d kick yourself for wearing a formal shoe on any sort of hike or through snow. Seriously.

Duration of your session

Maybe you can tough it out!

Some folks say to hell with the elements for a quick elopement, that they want to wear what they want, and they’ll brave it for the photos. That’s …alright, and we’ll do our best to help out. Just know that you’ll be braving it in front of two very properly-dressed, warm, dry, super-cozy, comfortable folks (Jess and I) as you do it!

If we’re going on a hike, or staying outdoors for a longer session, or it’s gonna be really damn cold, I kindly ask you to reconsider – the elements can wear on you quickly, and ignoring our guidelines could very well end up making the session kind of a bummer for you instead of super fun.

Carrying what you need

It’s a great idea to carry a backpack or tote bag with you, even for shorter elopements – you often need to carry more than you think!

  • rings

  • vows

  • marriage license

  • snacks

  • water

  • makeup for touch-ups

  • hair clips

  • snacks

  • lip balm

  • sunscreen

  • sunglasses

  • a small umbrella or two

  • keys

  • phones

  • wallets

  • traditional items for the ceremony

  • traction cleats

  • headlamps

  • hats/gloves/scarves

A few key things about Colorado:

Elevation – you’re probably gonna have a tougher time hiking around than you’re used to! The air’s much thinner, especially up at higher elevations. Taking it slow is a good idea! Altitude sickness is a very real thing.

Dry air – there’s a reason most Coloradoans have lip balm with them at all times! The air’s super dry out here. In some ways it’s great: no mold! Great for some folks’ hair! But your lips are gonna chap easy, and your skin’s gonna be a bit dry. Balm and lotion.

…which also means if you’re like me, you’re gonna need to drink water like all the time to keep from getting parched. Especially on hikes, it’s crucial.

Intense sun – no joke, we’re closer to the sun and it gets INTENSE. I thought I was crazy when I first moved out here, thinking the sun seemed extra bright and hot. Wasn’t crazy. If you’re super pale like me, this means tons and tons of sunscreen, every time. Jess has me on an almost daily sunscreen regiment and gotta say, it’s working well.

 
 

Suggestions for a bride

Footwear

Comfort and traction are the key here.

Some brides do wear heels for outdoor elopements… and it rarely lends itself to having some fun during an adventure elopement. You can literally get stuck in the mud, slip on the snow, or simply be unable to walk – kinda key when you’re moving around having some fun outdoors.

Suggestion: pairing hiking boots with a dress is always a great look. They’re practical, make sense with the surroundings, and let you move around all sorts of terrain and have fun during your session. If boots are a no-go, consider flats!

Tip: under some wedding dresses, your shoes aren’t visible. In this case some hiking shoes/boots are your best friend. Some folks have struggled in heels that weren’t even visible in most photos… not fun.

Bonus tip: micro spikes (and to a lesser extent, YakTrax) help A TON in icy/slippery conditions. Seriously, it can be the difference between falling on your ass every few steps or just… walking. Total game changer and Jess and I never leave home without ‘em in winter.

Base layers

Getting married in cold weather? Throw on some leggings or other base layer under your dress! Wearing a dress + leggings + hiking boots completes the adventure bride look and keeps you comfortable, your feet dry/warm, and lets you move around and explore. Win-win-win!

Dress

Picking a dress (I imagine) is like getting a wand in the Harry Potter world: there are a million different styles and options, there’s no one answer, and it kinda picks you. But there are some considerations that lend themselves to an outdoor elopement.

Main takeaway: Plan your dress around your wedding experience, not the other way around.

Length: long gowns look great trailing behind you on floors indoors – outdoors, they snag shrubs, sticks, pine cones, collect freezing snow, and present a great opportunity to trip with every step. Super annoying. Kinda nice for collecting souvenirs and grooming trails, not so nice for moving around – and we definitely move around a ton in our sessions.

Suggestion: choose a dress that you can walk comfortably in. If the length reaches the ground, many of our hiking brides tie/belt them up around their waist while hiking and let them down for the ceremony. Looks just fine, works great.

A tip on fit: namely, you should be able to move your arms. You just might want to hug your partner on your wedding day, and to not be able to because your dress is restricting would be kind of a bummer. Besides that, you could do some light scrambling while hiking, and you’ll need your arms for that too.

Suits

Planning to wear a suit instead?

When buying a suit, the way it fits is top priority (design and durability tied for second).

Here’s a great start for how a suit should fit: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/good-fitted-suit-visual/

And here’s how to tie a tie, just in case (I’m a half-windsor guy myself) https://www.tie-a-tie.net/

Pocket squares: they’re simple, they’re classy. I always wear one with a suit. You fold ‘em up and jam them in your pocket and you’re good to go.

Base layers

Wearing a suit outdoors becomes way more practical when you throw on some long johns or other base layers (top and bottom) under your suit when the temps drop.

You’ll never see them, and you’ll be extra warm. That’s a win. Stick with synthetics, silk or merino wool if you can (Austin wears/swears by silk base layers from REI).

Veil

Veils look super cool! They give this great movement with the wind and add some drama. And they’re fun to incorporate in photos.

Considerations: They frequently fall out (from hugs, from the wind) and require adjustment. They’re tough to show off with any sort of layering/wrap. Long veils also get snagged on stuff.

Suggestion: if you go with a veil, keep it short! And consider taking it off if it gets annoying for you.

Wrap

There are no negatives here – they look great and help keep you warm!

Suggestion: simple shawls/big scarves are timeless.

Gloves/hat/scarf/overcoat

Not that you need to wear these during the ceremony (you can!), but they’re great to have with you before, between, and after.

 
 

Suggestions for a groom

Footwear

Alright, I’m gonna be frank here: dress shoes designed for men suck.

They suck indoors, and they suck extra outdoors. They’re never comfortable to walk in, they have zero traction (they’re meant for the dance floor), and they don’t keep your feet warm. In the summer they might not be too bad, but in the winter? You’ll be slipping around while your partner helps you not die, and they get snow in them easily. The cold goes right through them. You’ll want to move around to keep warm, but walking in them hurts your feet.

Suggestion: practical hiking boots or really any boots with traction. If you’re wearing a suit, it looks great and makes sense with where you are. Your feet will be (more) warm, you’ll be able to walk and climb onto rocks and walk through brush, and you won’t have blisters when it’s all said and done. Thumbs up.

For couples with a bride and groom: very, very often the bride will wear boots and the groom will wear regular dress shoes — why this happens I do not know. Guess who has an easier time getting around outdoors?

Bonus tip: micro spikes (and to a lesser extent, YakTrax) help A TON in icy/slippery conditions. Seriously, it can be the difference between falling on your ass every few steps or just… walking. Total game changer and Jess and I never leave home without ‘em in winter.

Base layers

Wearing a suit outdoors becomes way more practical when you throw on some long johns or other base layers (top and bottom) under your suit when the temps drop.

You’ll never see them, and you’ll be extra warm. That’s a win. Stick with synthetics, silk or merino wool if you can (Austin wears/swears by silk base layers from REI).

Suit tips

When buying a suit, the way it fits is top priority (design and durability tied for second).

Here’s a great guide for how a suit should fit: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/good-fitted-suit-visual/

And here’s how to tie a tie, just in case (I’m a half-windsor guy myself) https://www.tie-a-tie.net/

Pocket squares: they’re simple, they’re classy. I always wear one with a suit. You fold ‘em up and jam them in your pocket and you’re good to go.

Gloves/hat/scarf/coat

Not that you need to wear these during the ceremony (you definitely can and I would when it’s cold!), but they’re great to have with you before, between, and after.

 
 

Suggestions for elopement guests

These tips aren’t just for the couple getting married.

Whether it’s the folks you’re inviting, or for the elopement you’re attending as a guest, all of these tips are equally important!

We hate to see the bride and groom follow our tips and then another guest be miserable (or slipping around!) because they didn’t get the memo on dressing correctly.

Bonus: you get more of a pass as a guest than as a bride/groom to wear what makes you comfortable, because hey, this day isn’t about you. You can dress formally, and you can dress extra warmly.

 
 

Knowledge is power

Eloping outdoors is seriously the best

There’s just a few key things to consider to help you have your best day and it always helps to be informed!

If there’s anything we missed that you have questions or need some help with, feel free to shoot us an email.

 

- Austin