January 4, 2022
One of the things I love most about elopements is that you have so much more flexibility with your budget, and you get to decide what’s important to you on your wedding day! So many of my clients have been rocking some of the most incredible, affordable elopement dresses I’ve ever seen, and I want you to know that you don’t have to drop thousands of dollars to look like a million bucks.
In this guide, I’ll share some of my favorite wedding dresses under $500, some tips for finding the perfect one, and places to shop for affordable elopement dresses!
Before I tell you about affordable elopement dresses, what exactly is an elopement dress? It’s not just a wedding dress that you wear to an elopement – because while every elopement dress can be a wedding dress, not every wedding dress is meant to be an elopement dress!
With an elopement dress, it’s super important to prioritize comfort – because you’ll be moving around more on your elopement day than you would at a traditional wedding, so you need something that will let you walk, hike, climb, paddle, sit, or whatever else you have planned!
When you look for affordable elopement dresses, I recommend avoiding styles that are too restricting (I’m looking at you, mermaid gowns), and opting for dresses that have looser skirts and aren’t too heavy and bulky. A line, princess, and column dresses are all examples of styles that would be perfect for an elopement dress!
Some people opt for more casual dresses for their elopement, but you can choose anything from a cute sundress to a lacy, beaded wedding dress. Like all things elopement, choosing an elopement dress is about doing whatever feels right to you!
There are a few great reasons to get an affordable elopement dress instead of dropping three grand on a gown!
Elopements are all about prioritizing what’s important to you – so if you save on your attire, you can allocate more of your budget to other things! Whether it’s plane tickets, a gourmet meal, an epic adventure, or a great photographer, you get to decide what matters to you.
When you save money with an affordable elopement dress, you’ll be able to spend more on getting it tailored to fit you perfectly! Even small adjustments can be a game changer when it comes to the way your dress fits.
During your elopement, the dress will inevitably pick up dirt, mud, sticks, and all the other stuff that comes with exploring outdoors! I like to think of it as a sign that you had a great adventure, but if you spend a lot on your dress, it can be a little heart wrenching to see it go from pristine white to an ombre skirt. With an affordable wedding dress, you don’t have to worry as much about dirt and mud, and can enjoy the adventure to the fullest!
Once you’re ready to start looking for affordable elopement dresses, here are a few places where you can find gorgeous wedding dresses under $500!
The Flutter Dress Shop was started by a photographer, with gorgeous boho styles that are perfect for an elopement! You have the option to rent a dress, though I would highly recommend buying so you don’t sweat about getting the dress dirty while adventuring. Most of the dresses are under $500 to purchase! Custom dresses are available as well, and pre-made ones are one size fits size 2-16, designed with an adjustable waist.
The dress Camden is wearing here for her forest & beach elopement is the Beige Clover BOHO Dress (currently $440-490, depending on dress length).
Lulus is an online boutique with tons of options – and every wedding dress is under $500! Some even under $100! You’ll find a huge variety of styles, from casual boho styles to elegant gowns. Lulus is known for having a good return policy, so if you’re debating between styles you can order a few favorites then have an at-home wedding dress try-on!
Okay hear me out on this one! Yes, wedding dresses from Anthropologie’s brand BHLDN can range in the $1500-3000 range for their fancier finds. BUT there are also some amazing hidden gems with this brand that offer beautiful options for your elopement dress under $500! My advice – keep an eye on the sale section, and especially the “Shop Little White Dresses on Sale” as this category has almost exclusively under $500 dress options! One thing to note with BHLDN dresses – in contrast to traditional wedding dress sizing, BHLDN actually follows “street sizing”, meaning if you are a Size 12 in jeans you’d likely be looking at a Size 12 in their dress offerings.
The dress Sarah is wearing here for her Portland winter elopement is the BHLDN Belize Dress (currently $275).
Asos is a trendy clothing store that offers affordable elopement and wedding dresses under $500! There are tons of options for different styles, from shimmering, glittery gowns to more traditional dresses.
The dress Amanda (on right) is wearing here for her Oregon forest elopement is the ASOS Edition Amalie lace halter neck maxi wedding dress (currently $140)!
Another nod to the Lulus brand in this list, Meghan (on left) is wearing the Awaken My Love White Long Sleeve Lace Maxi Dress (currently $88)! Can we say adventure-approved?!
Ivy City Co. is a woman-owned company that creates dresses for any occasion! You can shop for white dresses and jumpsuits, or get creative and find an elopement dress with a fun print or color. The dresses are affordable, and all under $500. Another cool option available with this company are “Minis” which are identical dresses available in sizes for children!
The dress Joelle is wearing here for her forest elopement is the Verona Dress (currently out of stock with an original price of $95.99, but you may be able to find it on Poshmark until it comes back in stock).
One of the best places to find affordable elopement dresses is Brides for a Cause, which collects and resells used wedding dresses (at a fraction of the price) – so it’s budget friendly, and great for the environment! Since 2012 they’ve also donated over $1.2 million to various local charities! There are in person boutiques in Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, and Sacramento, so you’ll be able to try on the dresses in person to find the right one for you. Be sure to check their website for the latest policies on their in-store appointments!
Cherie’s dress here was from Brides for a Cause and looked stunning through her elopement adventure of muddy hiking trails, sandy beaches, and even a plunge into the ocean with her partner!
If you want even more bang for your buck, check out their annual Dress Dash which features a variety of gorgeous wedding dresses for $150 each!
Needle & Thread is a contemporary brand that offers a ton of amazing and unique dress options under $500! They’re a great brand to check out if you’re drawn to tulle dresses, embroidered details, the cottagecore trend, or colorful ruffles! Both ASOS and BHLDN also carry this brand on their sites, but going straight to the source of the N&T site will likely give you the widest selection and best deals!
The dress Jen is wearing here for her Crater Lake elopement is the Emma Ditsy Bodice Cami Maxi Dress (currently $209).
Poshmark is designed for reselling, so each piece is listed by an individual person. It’s a great place to look for more affordable, second-hand wedding dresses, and if there’s a dress you like that’s out of stock, you might be able to find it here!
The outfit Ragan is wearing here for her Tillamook Forest Wedding includes a BHLDN maxi skirt and a white lace top she found on Poshmark! Mixing and matching separates can be a creative way to have an affordable wedding outfit under $500 that feels unique too!
When you’re shopping for your elopement dress, here are a few things to keep in mind!
Like I mentioned earlier, comfort is the most important thing. Eloping is all about the experience you have – and you want to be able to move freely and stay comfy the entire day! The style and fit of your elopement dress is huge, but considering the fabric it’s made from can be helpful as well.
For warm weather or hiking elopements, a dress with lighter fabrics (like tulle and chiffon) is usually more breathable and can help keep you cool through your adventures. When it’s cold, a dress with thicker fabrics (like silk) can help you stay warm, and you can always add layers – a jacket, cape, or shawl is always a good addition!
If you’re hiking on the big day, another thing to consider is whether you want to wear your elopement dress the entire way, or if you want to put it in your pack and change when you get there.
For shorter hikes, I usually recommend wearing your attire on the way up – but for longer hikes, this can get uncomfortable. If you plan to pack your dress, you may also want to think about the fabric it’s made from, and the wrinkle-resistance it offers. Don’t worry – I’ll show you the best way to pack a dress, but the best wrinkle prevention is a fabric that holds up well.
Lace is the best option, as it doesn’t wrinkle at all! But, tulle and crepe are great as well – they wrinkle a little bit, but they have some texture already and won’t show wrinkles too much.
Emily’s wildflower-embroidered black dress from ASOS weathered a 1000ft elevation gain trek up rocky trails during her Oregon Sunset Mountaintop Elopement!
There are no rules when it comes to your elopement – so don’t hesitate to branch out from white wedding dresses! You can wear fun colors, jumpsuits, unique styles, dresses from your favorite store… anything!
A good way to find affordable elopement dresses that are a little outside the box is to look in the bridesmaid’s section of dress shops – these will usually have different colors and some unique styles, are more affordable, and still formal for an elopement.
A fun tip for choosing an elopement dress is to coordinate with your location! For example, a casual, boho dress would look incredible for a sunny beach elopement. A flowy lace gown or a dress with embroidered or beaded details would look so ethereal in a forest setting. A black dress would look moody and dramatic, a pop of color would be fun, and you can even choose colors that complement the landscape! Warm colors pop against blue lakes, and cool colors pop against red deserts. Choosing a color based on your landscape, if you decide not to wear white, can bring an extra pop to your elopement photos.
As an elopement photographer, I’m here to be your adventure buddy and planning assistant – and if you need more tips for finding your affordable elopement dress, or have questions about which skirt will photograph best and which colors go with the landscape, I’ve got you covered!
Contact me to start planning your adventure elopement!