Hiking Elopement Tips and Tricks - karenagurto.com

Hiking Elopement Tips and Tricks

A hiking trail on your elopement day is an exciting adventure to add to your wedding plans. Couples who love the outdoors can’t imagine leaving it out on their wedding day. If you’re choosing to connect with nature during your elopement, you’re sure to find tips on how to create a successful hiking elopement.

Couple holding hands and wearing backpacks while overlooking the canyons.

Wedding Dresses 

A HUGE factor in your adventure wedding (and maybe one of the most crucial hiking elopement tips) is considering if your attire is ready for a trail. One of my favorite things about adventurous weddings, is that there tends to be a good amount of wind to play with! Definitely keep that in mind when looking for a dress. Flowy skirts look absolutely amazing on camera and create so much drama in wedding photos.

For longer hiking elopements, the best idea is to pack your dress away in a backpack and change when we get to the ceremony spot. So consider getting a lightweight gown style dress and avoid heavy materials like corsets with boning or huge amounts of tulle in a puffy skirt. 

But more than anything else – it is most important that you feel absolutely beautiful, comfortable, and happy. There are no rules. Whatever you love, that best fits “you” and who you are will be perfect.

Tips & Tricks:

Dresses really do make quite different shapes when moving & being blown around vs just standing still…so loving how the dress looks & feels when you’re moving is important. A very simple, thin skirt can look crazy epic & dramatic if it’s moved in the right way, so sometimes the best “windblown” look comes from a dress that may look a bit boring on the hanger or when standing still. 

  • Try picking it up and twirling it around.
  • Raise both hands and twisting & twirling around.
  • Have someone twirl you like you’re dancing.
  • Pick it up in one or two hands and try running & skipping.
  • Pick it up in one hand and hold it up high over your head and then drop it.
  • Grab a handful of the dress from the bottom (like you’re picking it up to start walking) and then hold your hand straight out at about waist level or higher and swish it around (up & down and side to side).

If you don’t have a dress yet and are curious about good places to look. Here’s some of my favorite places and designers to check out.

Close-up of bride lace dress and backpack waist strap.


Pick something that best fits your style and the environment. Make sure you give yourself room to wear an extra layer underneath if you need the extra warmth in cold locations. Move around like you would if you were hiking and lifting your significant other to ensure the best fit. 

Tips & Tricks:

  • Shopping Guide: A great explanation of suiting terms, suit construction, and fabrics to look for, Gear Patrol

Men's pants and shoes.


Good solid footwear with actual tread is very important when walking and hiking on your elopement day. There may be some very epic photo spots on top of rocks & boulders that will require good stable footwear with tread. I highly discourage heels of any kind… and also strongly discourage men’s dress shoes that are completely smooth on the bottom.

For a longer hiking elopement, I highly suggest wearing the best pair of hiking boots you can find (make sure you break them in if they’re new!). You can keep them on for your photos, or pack a different pair of shoes in your pack to change into. If you opt for changing shoes – they still need to have tread!

If you purchase a new pair of hiking shoes for your day, be sure to break them in ahead of time!

Tips & Tricks:

  • Toe Warmers: Trust me, extremities are usually the first to get cold, and I highly suggest putting toe-warmers in your boots.
  • Wool Socks: Wool will wick moisture away from your skin and provide better insulation even when wet. I recommend Darn Tough, Smartwool, and Wigwam
  • A spare pair of socks: To double layer in cold temps or to switch into if your socks accidentally get wet.


Making sure you are prepared with layering options is a must! Weather can be very unpredictable in the mountains, especially above treeline.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Under wedding dresses: I highly suggest wearing leggings, long underwear, yoga pants, etc. Even more than one layer depending on the time of year at your location. If the top layer is nude, it actually blends in very well for photos.
  • Under suits: Wearing a base layer such as a wool long sleeve shirt or long underwear is suggested for colder locations and in the winter. My go-to; Smartwool, Icebreaker, Fjallraven.
  • Outer layers: The weather can be unpredictable and it is always a good idea to have outer layering options! A packable rain shell to block wind and/or unexpected rain. And something warm – depending on your season and location this may be a down jacket, a fur wrap, a chunky sweater, or a wool shawl. Brands I love; Fjallraven, Patagonia, Arcteryx.
  • Accessories: If having a winter elopement or hiking at sunrise/sunset at high altitudes, I highly suggest gloves/mittens, a beanie or ear warmers, and a scarf or buff to keep you warm. 
  • Blankets: These are super great to warm you up between exploring and are amazing for cuddly photos. Some beautiful and warm blankets; Rumpl, Pendleton, Woolrich.
  • Handwarmers: These are lifesavers! I HIGHLY recommend having some of these to stash in pockets, and in gloves and mittens.
  • Rain Gear:  Consider packing some lightweight rain gear or even a poncho, just in case!

Backpacks & Gear

Some adventurous elopements call for a bit more gear – and I’ve got you covered! If you’re hiking you may want to consider a backpack to hold your extra layers, water, snacks, vow books, etc. A headlamp is also necessary if you are hiking before sunrise or after sunset. Use these hiking elopement tips to ensure you’re packing the essentials and checking off on your list as you pack your bag.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Backpack: Get one with sturdy hip straps to help take the weight off of your shoulders. 
  • Headlamps: A must if hiking in the dark! And so great for star photos. 
  • Water: Drink plenty of water! Staying hydrated will also help keep you from getting altitude sickness. Bring it along in a hydration pack or nalgene. For longer hikes, I recommend bringing along a water filtration system such as the Sawyer Mini.
  • Food/Snacks: Don’t forget to pack tons of snacks to keep your energy up. I find for early morning hikes when I don’t have much appetite, that runners gels or energy chews are a great options to get quick calories & energy. Also consider packing a picnic to enjoy and celebrate after saying your vows. I recommend Clif Bars, Bobos, Honey Stinger, Oloves, Patagonia Provisions.
  • Thermos:  Warming up from the inside out in cold conditions is always a treat!  Consider bringing along some warm soup or drink in a thermos.
  • Backpacking Stove: This is a great option for doing some light cooking in the backcountry. Boil water for a hot cup of tea or coffee, or cook up some oatmeal, scrambled eggs, or a backpackers meal! Good To Go Food are my personal favorite backpacking meals. 
  • Trekking Poles: Recommended for long hikes to save your knees. 
  • Skin Protection: Sunscreen is so important when at high altitudes and especially on sunny days when in the snow. Depending on your location, bug spray may be a lifesaver as well. 
  • Camp Bathroom: When on long hikes, it’s important to be prepared if you find yourself needing to relieve yourself in the woods. I recommend always following Leave No Trace Principles and Wag Bags.
Couple holding hands and looking at each other with canyon background.

If you found these hiking elopement tips helpful or have other tricks not mentioned here, leave a comment below to help your fellow hiker make sure they are most prepared for their hiking elopement.

I’m Karen, a California elopement photographer who empowers couples to create memories that will last a lifetime. I am dedicated to providing the tools you need to push the boundaries of tradition and create an unforgettable experience. 

I help all couples worldwide by providing personalized location lists, planning resources, vendor recommendations, permits, timeline-curation, and much more to curate elopement days that will be cherished forever.

here's to co-creating an unforgettable elopement experience


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