bride and groom on Hawaii mountain

How to Plan Your Hiking Adventure Elopement

If you’ve been following me for a while (or even just recently), you know that I am really passionate about helping couples with having a hiking adventure elopement!

Everything I do with my couples typically takes place outside in a beautiful location, and I am beyond grateful for that-(how is this my job?!) Many of those beautiful locations for their adventure elopement are only accessible by a hike!

Today, I’m going to walk you through the key things to do when planning your hiking adventure elopement. A hiking elopement is a very niche way to celebrate your marriage, so there are certain things you need to prepare for that you may not have to for a typical elopement. Let’s dive in!

bride and groom hiking

bride and groom in hawaii


1. Choose your location wisely


If you’re opting for a hiking adventure elopement, you and your partner are likely somewhat outdoorsy. You love spending time together in nature, so you figured the outdoors would be the perfect setting for your elopement! But what should you keep in mind when choosing your hiking elopement location?


Do your research on trails: 

If you’re hiking for your elopement, make sure you do your research on potential trails you’re looking at. Pay attention to things like how long the hike takes, the difficulty level, what the incline is like, how smooth/rough the terrain is, etc. You need to know that the hike you’ll be going on is realistic for you and your partner, and that you’ll be excited to hike it – not dreading an exercise level that doesn’t exactly suit you! And remember that you’ll have to come back, too – keep in mind that if the hike has some downhill spots, you’ll have to go uphill on your way back.


Remember that you’ll be carrying gear: 

Since you’ll be tying the knot at the spot you’re hiking to, you’ll likely be carrying a lot of extra things with you! This might include vow books, bouquets, extra sets of outfits (more on that in a minute), water, etc. You’ll probably put it all into something like a backpack, so when deciding on the hike you’ll be doing, remember that you’ll be carrying that weight. Be realistic about what you and your partner will be physically able (and wanting!) to do on the big day.


Think about your adventure elopement outfits + shoes: 

Outfits are a huge thing to take into consideration when planning your hiking elopement. When deciding on where you’ll be hiking, be sure to take into consideration what you’ll be wearing and how that’ll affect your ability to walk/hike/move freely.

Most of the time, my couples choose to wear active gear on the actual hike, and change into their elopement outfits when we get to their spot. But if you’d like to hike in your elopement clothes (as long as they’re comfortable enough for you), make sure the trail you choose will still be accessible for you! If you’re not wanting to get your outfits dirty (especially the train of a dress or your nice shoes), consider wearing something else while you hike to minimize that. I am somewhat partial though to the beautiful ombre earth colors that dress trains pick up throughout the day!


Allow more time than you think:

When planning out how much time you estimate the hike will take you, allow yourselves more time than you think! Your photographer and/or planner should help you with this as far as the day-of timeline goes. But it’s important to build in some extra time in case the hike is harder than you thought, ends up being pretty busy, stopping for extra vantage points, hair/makeup touchups, etc.

bride and groom kissing

bride and groom hiking


2. Look at the weather forecast & prepare for anything


Here are my top tips for making sure you plan to embrace any + all of Hawaii’s weather, because hey – it can be a little unpredictable. The last thing you want is to plan for a sunny summer day & end up in a torrential downpour, unprepared, and allow it to ruin your day!


The first one is simple: expect it!

If you plan and expect to experience some showers, it’s a lot easier to embrace and not get caught unprepared or disappointed!


Have appropriate gear.

It doesn’t get too cold on most of the island if you are at low elevation. The gear you will want to have (for lower elevations) is a light rain shell, umbrella, extra towels if at the beach, and an extra reusable bag to stash wet/sandy/muddy clothes and shoes. Ensure that it will still be safe to do your planned hike if it rains, and that you have appropriate footwear – something with more traction than sneakers.


Make sure your chosen hike is not in a flash flood zone if it might be stormy.

And that the hike you’re doing will still be safe with some weather. A lot of the steeper hikes get sketchy really quick – picture clay mud on steep incline, and wet, narrow ridges, and you don’t want to put yourselves in danger.


Have some backup options for your adventure elopement.

in case the weather looks really bad at your original spot! We can get big storms that are island-wide, but more often than not, you can still find some sun somewhere on the island, or at least places that are still really beautiful (and safe!) to shoot during a storm.

bride's veil blowing in the wind groom lifting up bride bride and groom cuddling


3. Finally, pack accordingly!


Packing the right stuff is super important for your hiking elopement, so here’s a list of items you’ll want to consider bringing along. It all depends on the location you’re going to, so not all of these may apply.

Elopement Things:

  • Elopement outfits
  • Any hair/makeup items to touch up with
  • Elopement footwear
  • Vow books – or any items that will be involved in the ceremony
  • Accessories – any accessories (e.g. hats, jewelry, hairpieces, etc.) that you’ll want to put on for your ceremony
  • Rings – keep them in safe boxes so you don’t lose them!

Hiking Gear + Random Things:

  • Hiking clothes (maybe even 2 sets of outfits if it might be rainy/muddy)
  • Appropriate hiking footwearsome hikes you can get away with slippers, others you will want hiking boots or something with good traction. Moleskin is super handy to have if your shoes aren’t really broken in yet.
  • Snacks + water
  • Mints/gum – if you want to be a little fresher after your hike
  • A towel – or something for some privacy to change at the top of your hike if there are other people at the summit. Turkish towels or pareos work great because they are thin and lightweight.
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant
  • Toilet paper – if there won’t be a restroom nearby
  • Water gear – if you’re going somewhere where you might take a swim, don’t forget swimsuits, towels, & appropriate shoes
  • Hand towels or baby wipes – great to blot sweat with and to wipe off any mud from the hike, especially on humid days
  • Depending on the hike/time of day, rain gear – shells are typically enough for Hawaii weather
  • Headlamps – if we’re hiking at all in the dark
  • A backpack – so you can carry all your things hands-free! A lot of our hikes in Hawaii you may need your hands to hold onto roots/rope/rocks etc, so it’s really important to have your hands available.
  • Bug/mosquito repellent

bride and groom hiking bride and groom runningHiking Adventure Elopement

And there you have it – my top tips for planning your hiking adventure elopement! Choose your location wisely & do your research, prepare for any & all types of weather, and pack accordingly. Book me now for your own hiking elopement at and let’s go on an adventure!

Check out more free elopement tips + resources below:

Hey friend!

Hi! I’m Emily, a couples, elopement and brand photographer based on Oahu, Hawaii.
You want a stress free, meaningful, and inspired approach to photography-something creative but still refined. Comfortable, but still elegant. I deeply value every couple that I get to create with, and can’t wait to hear your vision and collaborate with you!