Last Updated on September 14, 2021 by vowsandpeaks

How to Have a Hiking Elopement


If you and your lover would rather be outside exploring than inside four walls when you say your I do’s; then a hiking elopement might be exactly the right way to go for you!

Even better, you can choose just the hiking path that’s right for your wedding day and your vows to each other. The trail and the sky are the limits!

Family Hiking Near Waterfall Hiking Elopement


Your first step is to map out your hiking elopement! At this stage, you can put it all on the table and dream big. Once you have all of your ideas out, then you can work together to decide the details before setting out on your big hike!

Some things to think of for your hiking elopement might include:

  • What do you want your hiking elopement photos to look like?
  • Are you up for a sunrise hiking elopement?
  • What kind of scenery do you enjoy?
  • How many miles do you want to hike? How are you with elevation?
  • Do you have a preference on season for your hiking elopement?
  • Do you want friends or family joining you for your hiking elopement?

Bride and Groom at Sunrise Hiking Elopement


Even if you’re experienced hikers, a hiking elopement is a bit of a different animal. Having someone experienced with the local hiking trails, familiar with what a wedding day entails, and someone who is an avid hiker is your best resource for finding out more about a hiking elopement. It also helps if that person happens to love photography, people, and the great outdoors; I’m here for it all!

As an experienced hiking elopement photographer, I’m pretty involved with helping my couples plan their hiking elopements. Where I am from in Colorado, we see many people coming here every year from out of state to get married, some who have been here before, and some who are coming for the first time. If you’re from the area, you may have a little more “insider knowledge” than the average bear, but there are always things that people are surprised by when we dig down and begin to plan the hiking elopement and what they are looking for from their photographs from their day.

Helping couples plan their hiking elopement accomplishes many things; it helps you gain a deeper understanding of what the day is going to look like, how many miles they really want to hike, the different scenery options, the times for the best lighting and so much else!

Bride Getting on Cliff Hiking Elopement


Before choosing your spot, let’s talk a little bit about how hiking elopements are a bit different from an average day on the trails. 

This is not the day for an all-day endurance hike. As much as you might love to hike, you don’t want to be doing it all day on your wedding day! Your hiking elopement will be more than just hiking; it will also include things like changing clothes, saying your vows, and taking photos; sometimes in more than one location. Exploring the surrounding areas and drinking some beers! As a rule of thumb, a 3-5 miles round trip hiking elopement is perfect.

Even experienced hikers can get out of breath here! If you’re from a place that’s just above sea level, you can be unprepared for what the change in altitude means. Headaches, nausea, and lightheadedness can happen even at our lowest elevations if you’re not acclimated. Plan to arrive at least a few days (a week is even better!) Hang out, enjoy the beauty and drink a lot of water.

Scenery to think of when choosing your hiking elopement:

  • Bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans)
  • Flowers
  • Cliffs & edges
  • Forests
  • Waterfalls

Bride Hiking in Fall Hiking Elopement


Let’s be real. No one wants to have a hiking elopement during post-hole season! Choosing the correct season for your hiking will go a long way in making sure you’re happy! I would suggest gravitating towards the warmer months for your hiking elopement where the trails are clear and the weather is more predictable. Trust me: hiking through snowfields for hours on end isn’t the way you want to be spending your time!

Bride and Groom Hiking Elopement


You’ve gone your own way with your wedding day plans, so you can be just as creative with your wedding attire. Just remember that everything you need has to be packed in on the hike, so consider the weight of the fabric. Wedding dresses especially can be heavy!

Hiking in, you’ll be in your regular hiking clothes, so wear whatever you are comfortable in and is right for the weather conditions. Weather is changeable, and it can be considerably colder in higher elevations, so make sure you pack accordingly. Once we get on-site, you’ll change into your wedding duds; it’s time to get married!

Bride Getting Ready for Hiking Elopement


If you are hiring someone to do your hair for your hiking elopement, then a practice run is a great idea. Let them know exactly what your plans are, and have them style it for you and see how it holds up. Maybe even take a practice hike! 

If this isn’t possible, then the simpler the hairstyle, the better. Braids can be really awesome! I’ve also seen many clients favor the “half up half down” styling, which gives it a little bit of glamour but still allows for some hair movement in photos (which I love!). 

If you have a veil, make sure you have clips or bobby pins to secure it tightly, it can be windy up in the mountains. Veils can make for dramatic photos!

Bride Getting Ready for Hiking Elopement


Sunrise and sunset are the two most popular times to do a hiking elopement because these photos’ results are epic. Let’s take a look at the difference it makes in your photos.


If you are willing, morning person or not, sunrise results can be spectacular. First, the trails are generally pretty quiet then, and so is the traffic getting to locations. It can be cold, but there is usually less wind at sunrise. Low fog may hang, and that can add dramatic effects to the hiking photos.

Sunrise light is soft, ethereal, and more pastel than sunset. The sun’s rays are shorter, producing those pretty blue and violet tones you see in the early morning. If you love the idea of watching the world come alive on the very first day you marry your person, well, sunrise hiking elopements are pretty amazing.

Bride and Groom Under the Stars HikingElopement


The light at sunset is what photographers call “more directional,” meaning that the rays are longer. Remember when you were a kid, and you first noticed your big, long shadow on the ground? That’s caused by directional light!

Sunset photos can be absolutely killer and are much more colorful than sunrises. It also has a longer window of light in general, which we sometimes refer to as “the golden hour” but will vary by the time of year and the altitude.

They also tend to be more popular, so trails will be busier, and if you’re coming from a distance, we have to be mindful of travel time. As they say, sunrise and sunset wait for no man!

Bride and Groom at Sunset Hiking Elopement


Absolutely! This is your golden opportunity to trash the dress! Unless you plan on framing your wedding dress in your house, then you should absolutely hike in your dress! Not only does it make for awesome photos, but it allows you to be free and roam the beautiful landscape like you’ve never done before. I would still suggest hiking up in regular clothes but use your time at the top to hike and explore, because this is your hiking elopement, and you might as well go all out!

Bride and Groom Hiking Elopement


My name is Sean, your hiking elopement photographer! I’m a Colorado-based free spirit who has dedicated my life to exploring this wild world and connecting to the people in it.

I know firsthand what an important and personal decision this is—my wife and I eloped to Northern Ireland. You’re trusting me to capture this amazing day, and I make it my responsibility to make sure you have an incredible experience from start to finish.

My passion has led me here, where I can follow my heart and share my love for the outdoors with others on their wedding day. It’s truly an awesome experience, and I’m stoked every time I get to document your day.

When I’m not photographing couples, I love to go exploring with my wife and our corgi. Our dream is to own an Airstream and take Vows and Peaks on the road!

Sound like the perfect match? Reach out if you’re ready to get started on your hiking elopement!

Adventure Elopement Photographer