Bride and groom go on a wedding hike together in Colorado.

A Wedding Hike – How to Hike in Wedding Attire

A wedding hike. That could have seemed like a very unusual concept just a few years back. But with the rise of elopements, adventure weddings, & all sorts of other outdoor wedding days, hiking on your wedding day may be unconventional but is a bit more common than you might think! And it can be fun! Of all the adventurous activities couples do for their wedding & elopement days, having a wedding hike is probably the most common activity I see couples include in their day. A wedding hike doesn’t necessarily have to be a big, hard hike either. Your wedding day should be enjoyable so choose a hike that you’ll enjoy. I myself enjoy a bit of “type 2 fun” but you do you!

Bride and groom are surrounded by a field of yellow wildflowers in the Grand Tetons during their wedding day hike.

“Should I Change or Hike in My Wedding Attire?”

This is by far the most common question I get asked by all sorts of couples! The decision is really up to you. It will also depend on the exact location you go to, the attire you choose, & how you feel about getting your attire “broken in” by nature. There are basically three different options you have when your wedding day involves a hike. You can either hike in your wedding attire along the whole length of the trail, hike in regular clothes until you reach the destination you want to be at then change into wedding attire & hike back down in wedding clothes, or hike up in regular clothes & change at the location & then change back into regular clothes for the hike out.

Bride and groom standing in front of a waterfall in the San Juan Mountains with yellow wildflowers in the foreground.

Hiking in your wedding attire along the whole length of the trail… If you want the most amount of photos as possible in your wedding attire & you don’t have clothes that are too restrictive & the trail isn’t dangerous to hike in the attire you have, I recommend doing your wedding hike in your full attire. We’ll stop along the way for some photos & I also take photos all along the way. Do expect to get a little dirty along the trail. But that just means you did something fun for your wedding day! Or if you’re ok with it, just go all out & get dirty after your ceremony along the trail– jump in a puddle, wade in the water, sled down some sand dunes, trek through the snow, or get red dirt from the desert all up in your dress.

Hiking in regular clothes until you reach the destination you want to be at, then change into wedding attire & hike back down in wedding clothes… This scenario is one of the most common for couples that I work with. If the trail gains elevation until you reach the main destination, it can be easier to hike up in regular clothes but then coming back down is easier, so wedding clothes are ok to keep wearing on the hike back down. Or if you’re hiking in the dark before sunrise, you may not need to be in your wedding clothes just yet unless you want something like star photos in your wedding attire. Or if you want to keep your clothes pristine until after your ceremony, this is a good option for hiking in wedding attire.

Hiking up in regular clothes & change at the location & then change back into regular clothes for the hike out… If you have a really hard sketchy hike you’re doing with lots of exposure, you’re having a climbing wedding, there’s lots of exposure, or your wedding attire is a bit restrictive or tight to hike in then hiking in changing, taking photos, then changing back & hiking out may be the best option for you. You can also do this if you prefer to keep your wedding attire cleaner & in the best shape possible. I’d say this is the least common of the three options here & usually couples with very very long hikes or hard or steep hikes do this. But it is totally up to you & what you feel the most comfortable with!

Bride in a pink dress and groom in a blue suit hike down a trail in the forest during their wedding day in the mountains.

How to Hike in a Wedding Dress

To hike in a wedding dress, first be sure to choose the appropriate dress. Dresses with the mermaid, trumpet, or column styles can be too tight around the hips. A dress with an A-line, ball gown, or tea length style can be better options for hiking in. But it isn’t just about the style of the dress, you also have to consider the weight & material of the dress. Dresses with a lot of beading or rhinestones can be heavy & harder to move around in for a hike, even if the style of dress isn’t too tight on the hips. Ball gowns can be a decent option but be sure you’re aware of how much material is there & how much all of that material weighs.

Bride in a hat twirls around a mountain overlook at sunrise.

Tips When Trying on a Wedding Dress

When you are trying on a wedding dress, move in it, & move in it a lot! I want you to jump around, raise your arms over your head, squat down in it, take big steps, sit down in it, go up & down some steps if possible, toss it around, twirl, pick up the skirt if it’s longer & walk, & just do all the things! If you need to have the dress altered, be sure to do all of this again when you get it back from alterations to make sure it still fits right & doesn’t fall or move around in a way you don’t want it to.

How to Hike in a Suit or Tuxedo

For hiking in a suit or tux, choosing the appropriate one for you is also an important step. Did you know they know make suits with stretch that are more athletic? They make dress shirts & pants like this too! You don’t have to get a suit with stretch, although they are comfortable & it can make a difference. I know slim-fitting suits are in but be sure you don’t get one that is too slim fitting, especially if it doesn’t have any stretch to it. These suits can more easily rip because they are tighter, especially on steeper or harder hikes. A tailored suit that is adjusted to your body can really elevate your look though so be sure not to get something too loose either!

Groom with a boho style boutonniere and leather suspenders.

Tips When Trying on a Suit or Tux

If you’re trying on a suit or tuxedo, I want you to also move around a lot. Raise your knees, stretch out your arms, notice how the suit fits in the shoulders & notice how it fits & buttons in the front around your chest & stomach. If your body is built for it, having a slight taper inwards at the stomach can make the suit look really good on you.

Hiking in Alternative Wedding Attire

I get it, not everyone wants the traditional wedding attire of a white dress or black suit. You do you! You could wear a jumpsuit, a colorful dress, or even a colorful suit. It’s best to have some sort of hiking shoes or boots when hiking, but if you want to change shoes, you could also bring high heels or some other fun dress shoes or something fun, funky, or creative! Instead of a veil & a bouquet, you could do a floral crown. Instead of traditional rings, you could get tattoos together, or do something for your wedding day that feels like you!

Bride in a jump suit writes her vows on a colorful couch before her hiking wedding day.

Being Prepared for Weather & Temperature Changes

One of the most important things to be prepared for during your outdoor wedding or elopement day is the weather & temperature. Different landscapes can have drastically different temperatures at night than during the day. You can always dress down a bit if it is hot, but you can be just miserable if you’re too cold & don’t have the appropriate clothes. Where layers under your wedding attire such as long underwear, leggings, or other base layers. And I always try to tell couples to to bring warm clothes that they are excited to be photographed in. Buy something special for your wedding day if you need! It’s always great to be able to continue with photos even when it is cold & I want you to be stoked on all of your photos & not have a jacket that keeps you warm but that you don’t like the look of in some of your wedding day photos.

Bride and groom have a snowball fight during their wedding in Grand Lake, Colorado.

How & Where to Change When Out on the Trail

Another question I get a lot is how & where to change when out hiking in nature. Well, the short answer is, you kinda just go behind a bush, rock, tree, or ridgeline & just get naked outside & change! You can take a changing tent with you (I do have one for you to borrow if needed) but even though changing tents fold down, they are still bulky to carry on a longer hike. So my advice is to usually just change out in nature!

Packing List of What to Bring for a Wedding Hike

When you are hiking for your wedding, there are a few things besides the normal wedding things that you’ll want to bring. As an experienced adventure elopement photographer, I’m always there to help you with knowing what to bring!

  • comfortable hiking shoes or boots that have been broken in
  • additional change of clothes as needed
  • extra socks, changing out of socks that get sweaty or wet helps prevent blisters
  • plenty of water in water bottles or a water bladder
  • bandaids & ibuprofen to help with blisters or swelling that can happen at high elevations
  • food & snacks to keep you nourished along your wedding hike
  • layers & layers, even during summer higher elevation locations can be quite cold & even snowy
  • the 10 essentials for backcountry hiking
Groom gets ready out in the aspen trees and puts his suit jacket on.

If these tips were helpful be sure to check out the rest of my blog! And did you know that couples that book with me get *exclusive access* to over 100 pages of guides with more tips, specific shops to buy from, & so much more?! Contact me & let’s talk about hiking for your wedding day!

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