So you're thinking of hiking for your elopement day, and that's why you've stumbled across this blog post. Am I right? Hiking on your elopement day can be SO rewarding for many reasons. If you are an avid hiker, or you love the mountains, then getting married in this way just makes sense. Just imagine being up in a place you feel at peace, where you feel alive, and your best selves on your wedding day.
Not to mention, you can always make that hike a fun anniversary trip each year! So fun!
Let's get into the ultimate guide to a hiking elopement where I share all my best tips and secrets!
How to Prepare: Hiking Elopement Tips
It's no secret hiking elopements are my JAM! I love getting to be out in nature with my clients as they explore together on their wedding day. I've documented dozens of adventure elopements in New England and beyond, and I'm so passionate about properly preparing my clients so they can have the least stressful day possible! Here are some hiking elopement tips to help you prepare for your adventure!
Depending on the length and intensity of the trail you're choosing, training can be a lifesaver! Even if you've been hiking, consider climate and elevation differences in the area! Break in the shoes you will be wearing, choose the socks and gear and make sure it's comfortable, and practice packing your backpack! AND make sure your partner is on the same page! Hiking with all of your wedding attire, plus water and snacks, can be a bit more of a challenge. So trust me when I say, start your training so you can fully enjoy the hike on the day!
Do your research on the area
Get to know the location you've chosen, either virtually or in person. I like to check out the trails and area I'm shooting at to be an expert guide. If that's not possible to do in advance, or if you're traveling and haven't been there before; Google Earth is your friend! Google just in general can help you gather lots of important info on the area you're heading to. Parking, permits, weather, sightseeing, cafes, etc. You may stumble upon some important info that will make your experience that much better!
Check the weather
It's basic but important! Research the average weather conditions in advance, and keep checking the conditions leading up to your day! Knowing whether it has rained on the trail, or if there are windy conditions can help you be better prepared.
Make a packing list
This is something I offer to my elopement clients in the planning process, and it's so important! Write out a detailed list of all of the items you will be packing, and where you're packing them! This will save you the brain space later on as things get closer, and you may be a little frazzled! Create a list well in advance of what you'll need, and then start packing at least a week in advance so you can have time to run out and get any last-minute items as needed!
What to pack for your hiking elopement
- Hiking gear (poles, backpacks, boots, sunglasses, hat)
- Layers (socks, pants, jackets)
- Water/Snacks (hydration packs, electrolytes, high-calorie snacks)
- Formal attire (wedding dress, suit, tie, veil, shoes)
- Vow books, rings, champagne
Where do you change?
Most often there are no restrooms at the final destination of a hiking elopement. Typically couples get ready out in the wilderness, sometimes under a blanket or behind a bush! You can also pack a small pop-up tent for changing if you won't be hiking in your formal wear. The biggest question I always get is, "do I have to hike in my wedding attire?" and the simple answer is, no!
I generally recommend to pack all of your attire in a plastic bag neatly and put it inside of your hiking backpack. Then we will find somewhere secluded to change. You can change together, or separately.
How to choose your wedding attire for your hiking elopement
There's lots of room to be creative here! You have the option to choose whatever style of attire you'd like. However, there are a few factors that can help you decide what type of wedding dress/suit would be best for a hiking elopement. Even if you won't be actively hiking up in your dress, it's important to consider the terrain of the location (rocky, sandy, steep, etc.) Having a really long lace train on a windy rocky cliff may prove to be hazardous for walking around. Also, consider the climate and time of year! Typically choosing something lighter for a summer elopement can be more enjoyable. And then choosing warmer, thicker fabrics and layers for cooler months.
Leave no trace
As a true outdoor and world lover, I have to mention Leave No Trace. And I'm assuming since you are here, you love the outdoors too! With many people enjoying the outdoors nowadays (which is AMAZING!), it is also important that we educate ourselves. We want to make sure that we can enjoy the outdoors, and so can our future humans! In simple terms, Leave No Trace is making sure you keep the land as clean and natural as possible. There are seven main principles to follow, so it's a quick read! You can learn about them on the Leave No Trace website here. Make sure to send your family and guests these guidelines as well so everyone is on the same page for your day!
BONUS: Winter Elopement Hiking Tips
Eloping in the wintertime can be a beautifully unique experience, but with the snowy wonderland comes a few extra steps in preparation! As the temperature drops and the snow clouds loom, it's important to bring a flexible and adventurous spirit to the table when planning your day. Here are a few tips for a winter hiking elopement:
Buy all of the necessary gear in advance! Don't wait til the last minute to purchase important items like boots, crampons, poles, etc. You may run out of time to find what you need, and you want to make sure everything fits and works for you! Giving yourself time to properly plan and pack will make the experience so much more comfortable as well.
Prepare for the worst
You never know what kind of weather you're gonna get in the Winter, especially out here on the East Coast and in the Mountains! It is better to overpack and not need to use something than risk showing up unprepared! This also means having backup plans. If your desired trail or location becomes impossible to reach: have alternate options to choose from.
Hire an experienced elopement photographer
The most important thing for planning a winter hiking elopement is to hire a professional with experience! Hiking out in the snow is a lot different than a summer elopement. Not only is it a lot riskier, and more difficult physically, but knowing how to prepare and use camera gear in winter conditions can also be a factor!
For more tips, head to my post on How to Elope in the Winter! And be sure to follow me on Instagram for more Hiking Elopement Tips and stories from real couples!
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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