If you are planning an intimate wedding in Hawaii, a Kauai elopement, eloping in Maui, or anything in between — chances are, the beach will be involved. The gorgeous beaches on the Hawaiian Islands are one of the biggest draws for couples who choose to elope in Hawaii.
Having some wedding dress inspiration can really help you narrow down your choices when you begin the dress buying process so I thought I’d share some of my favorite and most unique wedding dresses throughout my time of being a Hawaii elopement photographer 🙂 Here are my top 11 best wedding dresses for a Hawaii beach elopement!
Sure, veils are fun (although they may not play nice with the weather in Hawaii: more on that later), but capes are the new thing. Wearing a cape during your wedding day can allow for playful movement in your elopement photos: especially if you are eloping in Maui and want to take advantage of the winds on the North Shore!
Wearing a cape during your wedding in Hawaii can also give some variety in shots. Your cape can give an ethereal vibe and let you feel whimsical: and then removing your cape can allow for more flexibility with your partner. Peep the next section for another beach wedding dress idea that can add diversity!
We love a wedding outfit that can be changed up! Detachable sleeves on your elopement dress just might be it. My bride Jaimee had a wedding gown that boasted detachable sleeves. She had a few factors weighing in on her choice of wedding attire.
“I wanted a gown that was not only beautiful but also comfortable, a dress that would make me feel sexy and at ease throughout the entire day. With a summer wedding planned in Hawaii, breathability was a must.” says Jaimee.
Jaimee says she stumbled upon renowned bridal boutique Grace Loves Lace, and loved their unique appeal. “as soon as I slipped into the Poppy gown, I knew it was “the one.” I instantly got that feeling that there was no other dress for me.”
Dresses with detachable sleeves allow for breathability, a different look for photos, and just offer something special!
Corsets can be a super flattering look for your beach wedding. Contrary to popular belief, there are many corset style dresses that don’t leave you feeling constricted. These days, so many different designs and styles that incorporate a corset look are easy to move around in and breathable: perfect for a wedding on the beach!
Many corset wedding dresses will support your spine as well, ensuring you are standing up straight. And having a corset look for your beach wedding means that you can also take advantage of other styles! Your corset wedding dress can also feature a cape, fairy tale skirt, detachable sleeves, or other romantic features.
Bridal separates give both a traditional yet bold look. There are many kinds of bridal separates that look more like a one-piece dress, and others that show just a little bit of skin. My bride Karen originally wanted a short dress, but after speaking with her, she decided that long was the way to go! She also didn’t expect to fall in love with a two-piece set either, but says “as soon as I tried it on, I knew it was the one for me!”.
Karen had ordered about ten dresses from Lulus, plus her two-piece set that she ended up wearing for her Hawaii elopement. My advice? Don’t put yourself in a box just yet when it comes to choosing your wedding attire. You may have a few dresses in your shopping cart, but try on some bridal separates: they just might be THE outfit you wear when you elope in Hawaii!
Jenna also rocked a crop top and flowy skirt for her Hawaii engagement session and I just love the simplicity that a two piece set can offer. It allows the dynamic mountains of Oahu and Hawaii landscapes to integrate seamlessly into your photos!
Vintage dresses can be a perfect choice for a beach wedding in Hawaii. You can even find many of these styles mentioned in this post: but vintage! Check out your favorite vintage or thrift shops, browse eBay or Craigslist, or check in with local bridal shops on if they carry vintage bridal wear.
Going the route of a vintage wedding dress allows for sustainability, something unique, and also can be easy on your wallet. Vintage wedding dresses can span decades: think art-deco or flapper-inspired from the 1920s, or a full skirt dress akin to the 1950s! The 1960s brought us shift dresses and mini dresses, and there are some stunning boho gems straight from the 1970s.
Wearing a jumpsuit on your wedding day can be a fun alternative to a wedding dress! You can wear a jumpsuit during your whole elopement day, or change from your wedding dress to have more options for photos with a laidback feel. And as a BONUS, you have way more mobility with pants! As an example, bride Elly wore a stunning silk jumpsuit during her beach elopement. Bride Allison wore a different dress for her elopement ceremony, and changed into a gorgeous jumpsuit for their helicopter tour.
Bridal jumpsuits can have full sleeves, corset tops, or be combined with a cape to complete your wedding day look. If you prefer a laidback approach to your beach wedding, a jumpsuit could be something to consider! Once you step away from a world of only dresses, you’ll be surprised at how many gorgeous and flattering pieces you can wear for your elopement or wedding.
Repurposing a look for your wedding day can be similar to going the route of a vintage dress. For many brides, repurposing a dress means taking an outfit with special meaning (such as a family heirloom) and tailoring it to suit their wedding day vibe.
Repurposing a dress for your Hawaii elopement can bring a special element to your day. Adrienne wore a traditional Chinese dress for part of her elopement day, which she hopes to pass down to her daughter, as it was passed down from her mother!
Of her repurposed dress, Adrienne says: “It was custom made to my mother when she got married in Hong Kong, and she wore it as an evening dress. She had a large collection of traditional Chinese dresses she had brought over when she immigrated to Canada. It was not meant to be a traditional wedding dress, which is typically red or gold with long sleeves and an ornate crown and jewelry. I wanted something lighter for my wedding, because I’m not so into formalities.” I love how Adrienne was able to take something traditional and make it fit in perfectly for her wedding day.
Princess vibes are always a good choice for a potential elopement dress. These types of dresses look beautiful if your Hawaii beach wedding includes a forest, which can really invoke a storybook feel. Fairy tale dresses usually have whimsical and flowy characteristics, such as sheer and lightweight materials and layers.
Many fairy tale dresses can be fun to play around with, because the materials allow for movement in your wedding photos. They can also look effortless dressed both up and down, pairing gorgeously with flower crowns and natural flowers from your florist.
Brands like Anthropologie and Free People have the fairy tale wedding dress vibe down seamlessly. Later on in this blog post, I touch upon some of my fave elopement and wedding dress designers to get you started on your search for the perfect beach wedding dress!
Who says you can’t have a dress with a long train for your adventure elopement in Hawaii?! Long trains add so much drama and movement in photos, and play particularly well with the wind that the islands have. Lindsey was one of my brides who opted for a long train for her Hawaii elopement.
“I went wedding dress shopping with my mom, mother in law, and two of my sisters. I didn’t think I would get my dress that day, since I’m usually an online-type girl. This dress was everyone’s favorite, and since I was stuck between two, I chose this one.” she says. Lindsey didn’t like the original neckline the dress came with, so she hired a seamstress that vowed to do whatever she could to get Lindsey the elopement dress of her dreams! Lindsey then got her own personalized dream gown, complete with a long train.
Silk dresses offer a classic look that still remains timeless. Silk dresses can be tricky because some may not be as lightweight as you’d want for the humidity in Hawaii, but when done right, are absolutely stunning. The simplicity of silk dresses allows your florals and the Hawaiian scenery to really shine. & honestly, their timeless look and stunning fit, make them an absolute FAVORITE of mine to photograph!
Bride Adrienne selected her silk wedding dress from a local-to-her store in Toronto, Canada. She wanted a sleek, simple dress that would be easy for her to dance in! This was especially important because Adrienne and her husband Mike danced to their own choreography — which made their reception even more special. “I think I felt the most at home and myself in this simpler dress, and I felt like it worked better with the atmosphere of the reception and sunset photos. With it being so simple, it didn’t feel as formal nor contrived as a wedding shoot as it may with a bigger, stiffer gown. I was able to maneuver and move more freely”, Adrienne says about her silk dress.
Not all beach wedding dresses have to be white! In fact, not all wedding dresses have to be wedding dresses…or even have to be dresses, period! The amazing thing about eloping in Hawaii is that you get to do things YOUR way. If that means a whimsical fairytale dress, go for it! Alternatively, that could mean going in a totally different direction with something unique.
Bride Miran chose a floral, Polynesian style dress on her wedding day on the beach. She saw an image of the dress online at Eimeo and instantly fell in love! “I guess I’m the type who never really liked the “norm”: the white dress, the “what you’re suppose to do in a wedding”…I just wanted to be all about us and nothing else to distract us or stress us about the wedding day from us,” she says. Eimeo is a South Pacific lifestyle brand that seamlessly weaves the nostalgia of Tahiti into modern designs that flow with tropical living!
Think about what you gravitate towards in terms of dresses or outfits in your everyday life. Would wearing a white dress feel too out of your comfort zone, if your closet tends to have darker clothes? Are you a sucker for floral patterns, or different designs? How can you incorporate that into your beach wedding day dress or outfit! Think of what can give you the perfect balance of being true to you, and feeling like royalty on your elopement day!
Bride Jessica wore a green velvet dress for her beach wedding. She says, “I wanted something other that white, that went well with the landscape and colors of Hawaii without being traditionally tropical. The dress was a dream when I put it on; comfortable, light, and held up in a surprise rain shower! My advice to brides would be not to have the tropical landscape limit you to think you have to wear something beachy!”
The perfect wedding dress for your Hawaiian elopement is out there, I promise! Here are my tips on how to find THE ONE that matches your elopement day vibe.
Here are some of my favorite designers for beach wedding dresses to help get you started on your dress shopping journey:
No matter where you’re thinking of eloping in Hawaii, there are also many boutiques on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Oahu, and Kauai to select a gorgeous beach wedding dress!
If you’re wondering what to wear for your engagement session in Hawaii or Hawaii adventure session, check out this helpful blog post as well! Remember that these guides are here to provide some structure and advice, but I am happy to help you select your wedding attire that makes you feel gorgeous and fits your Hawaii elopement backdrop. Let’s chat and get started!