The best dresses and tips on how to choose your wedding dress from an Elopement Photographer
So, I assume if you're here–it means you must be eloping! Congratulations!!!
This blog is going to be all about how and where to find the perfect elopement dress. My experience comes from research, talking with real life brides and of course photographing past elopements! Disclaimer: I shoot almost exclusively in Big Sur, California, so most of my experience comes from this magical location.
Before you start looking for the perfect dress, keep these shopping tips in mind:
- Make sure your dress is 100% elopement appropriate. Meaning: can you step up onto a chair? can you twirl without restriction? can you run? can you lift your arms? We will definitely be moving around A LOT, so the ability to move comfortably is key.
- Look at other elopements online to see what kind of styles you might like. This is the best way to get ideas. Then start shopping for a dress online. THEN decide if you want to buy online, or visit an actual store to try in. And if you do decide to shop online, make sure to check their exchange and return policy!
- Have a friend or family member go with you to try on dresses or come to your house if you ordered online. Often times we see ourselves completely different than the outside world does. That person can tell you what is working on your body, or what is not. Also ask them to take photos of you in the dress, that way you can get a feel for what the dress may photograph like.
- If you are going to an actual storefront, make sure to bring the correct undergarments and shoes that you will be wearing the day of your wedding.
- If you are doing an Adventure Elopement and you don't want your hiking boots to show, make sure you get a dress long enough to cover your feet. (Just FYI–hiking boots and a wedding dress are one of my very favorite combos!)
- Be open to trying on other dress styles. Just because you started out thinking you wanted a sleek, fitted, satin gown–you might actually fall in love with a flowy, boho style instead once you try it on!
- If you need to order a dress for your elopement day then you want to order AT LEAST 4 months before, 6 months before would be even more ideal. If you are shopping off the rack, still make sure to leave enough time for alterations.
- Don’t be afraid to shop online! Just make sure to read lots of reviews on quality, sizing, fit and exchange policy.
make the most out of that wind!
If you have chosen the beach or cliffs as one of your locations, a dress with lots of movement is magical! The more material, the better! Also, think sleeves with lots of movement, or a cathedral veil–both will add so much drama!
getting married in the redwoods?
Keep in mind, the forest floor picks up EVERYTHING!!! Crochet and lace dresses are notorious for picking up every branch, twig and leaf on the ground. It will happen regardless, but just remember, we'll pick them all out at the end, otherwise, we'll de doing it the entire time in the redwoods!
This should be a no brainer, but I do have brides ask me–"Will my dress get dirty?" The answer is 100% yes! And, honestly, that's part of the beauty of an Adventure Elopement! If you are not okay with your dress getting dirty, then I am probably not the right photographer for you. We truly are going on an adventure and there is no way for me to take you to some of the epic spots I have without getting a little dirty on the way there. If your dress has an ombre dirt train by the time we're done–then that means we've had a great time! Remember, you can always get it cleaned–it's just dirt!
What is the most important thing to look for in an elopement dress? That you absolutely LOVE it! I want you to feel like goddess in your dress on your wedding day. I want you to be comfortable and I want that to shine through on your wedding day.
So, Where to Shop!?
BHLDN is now exclusively sold online at Anthropologie. If you are looking for the most gorgeous boho dress at a reasonable price, this is the shop for you!! They even have a “last minute bride” section which is great if you are planning your elopement in a shorter time frame.
If you are looking for the perfect Big Sur boho dress, look no further! These modern dresses are stunning, with the most intricate of details, they are the perfect mix between glam and bohemian. These dresses were specifically designed with the adventurous bride in mind.
With hundreds of styles to choose from, this is the place to shop if you don't even no where to start. Everything from modern chic to flowy boho–there are tons of silhouettes to choose from. They also have a budget for every bride. Their dresses are also sold at numerous retailers across the United States so you may just be able to find one right in your town!
Other Amazing Online Dress Shops I Highly Recommend
These dresses are all one of a kind, and the designer truly puts her heart and soul into each piece she creates. You can also rent these amazing dresses, which I have personally had a great experience with!
Looking for that high end Paris couture dress? This is where you will find it! Bright whites, the most intricate details, and the softest, lightest material that will look amazing blowing in the Big Sur wind.
Launched in 2009, the Carol Hannah bridal collection is known for whimsical gowns with fluid movement, innovative textiles, and unique detailing.
Daci Gowns embody the spirit of a romantic, boho and adventurous bride. Daci Gowns are for the bride who is looking for something unique, effortless, sexy, relaxed yet detailed. It is an heirloom gown you will want to keep and will love forever.
Inspired by the earth's landscapes and it's elements, Nordeen is a bridal collection that reimagines classic wedding attire for the outdoors. Sounds like the perfect dress for Big Sur, right?!?
Liz Martinez is a young, Israeli bridal gown designer. In a matter of just a few years that can be counted on a single hand, she has evolved from sewing her own designs in her small bedroom at her mother’s apartment outside of Tel Aviv, to becoming one of the hottest brands in the international bridal fashion scene. Her dresses are incredibly well made and scream high-end fashion.
Her style of design is famous for being bold, sexy and modern, all while combining vintage materials and retro styles. According to the likes of ELLE and VOGUE, Berta is considered today as one of the world’s top-notch designers the bridal and evening wear scene. Berta dresses are sold both online and in boutiques.
A wedding dress for under $100!?!? Yep, you can definitely find one online at Lulu's. Gorgeous, affordable dresses all in a variety of styles.
Are you getting married in Big Sur and want to find the perfect dress locally? Magnolia Bridal in Monterey is my go-to bridal boutique. Every time I walk into the shop, I feel like I'm walking into a fairytale. Tina has handpicked dresses from all over the world of every type of style and silhouette. You will definitely fall in love with a dress by the time you leave!
LET'S NOT FORGET ABOUT THE ACCESSORIES!!!
Found the perfect dress?! Great! Now, let's talk about everything else you might need for that perfect bridal elopement look.
Big Sur can get very cold. We will most definitely adventuring on the cliffs or on the beach near the ocean, and when that wind picks up (which we want it to, because, hello drama!!) you will get quite cold. I tell all of my clients it's always a great idea to have some sort of jacket for the day, even if you don't end up wearing it!
You can choose from a leather jacket, suede, or even fur–there are so many choices these days!
Here are links to some of my favorites:
Now, this is a very personal choice. Are you a diamonds kind of girl? Silver? Gold? There are so many choices, but my main advice is to not wear too much. We want you and of course that amazing gown to be the center of attention. But if you are getting married in Big Sur, then you can definitely have some fun with accessorizing. I myself, am a huge fan of boho vibes.
Here are some of my favorite jewelry designers:
My number one choice will always be hiking boots. First, because I just love the juxtaposition of a girly glamorous wedding dress paired with a pair of cute rugged hiking boots. And second, because it just makes sense! You chose to elope in Big Sur for a reason! You are there for the adventure, and along with that comes all different types of terrain. Gravel, mud, dirt, rocks, sand - it's all there, and it can all be really dangerous if you don't have the right kind of shoes on. It’s best to skip the heels and wedges. I’ve had a lot of couples that bring extra shoes and plan to change, but ultimately just decide to keep on their hiking boots. We will be walking through forests, climbing on cliffs and running through wildflowers. If you are too worried about tripping on heels, or spraining an ankle, you will not be able to organically connect with your partner and that will shine through in your photos. So, trust me, start shopping for some hiking boots–there are SO many cute options to choose from these days!
Just Ask Me!
AS I ALWAYS SAY, IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS–ASK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!!! YOUR ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER IS HERE TO GUIDE YOU AND HELP YOU THROUGH THIS PLANNING PROCESS. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT DRESS IS BEST FOR THE LOCATION, THE WEATHER, HOW THE DAY SHOULD FLOW–NEVER HESITATE TO ASK. NO MATTER WHAT DRESS YOU CHOOSE, YOU'RE WEDDING DAY IS GOING TO BE THE BEST EVER!!!