The Perfect Wedding Adventure: A 3 Day Dolomites Hike
Traditional weddings are usually just a couple of hours, but planning an elopement gives you plenty of options to consider, including a 3 day Dolomites hike for your wedding! Check out all the details to help you plan a similar adventure together.
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About This 3 Day Dolomites Hike
Unlike other wedding days, this couple didn’t have a whole lot of details during their day. Instead, they took things slow, explored together, and enjoyed every moment together.
“Shayna and Jake’s multi-day elopement in the Dolomites in Italy combined everything you could want for an adventurous elopement. On their elopement day, they chose to have a sunrise first look, which meant hiking to a spot on a beautiful mountain pass as the sun was illuminating the mountains around them. They wanted their ceremony to be near water, so we continued to hike together to a beautiful mountain lake, where they exchanged vows with one another. While they were saying their vows, their wonderful elopement planner, Jlenia, had set up a beautiful breakfast picnic for them just a few meters away. Once they had enjoyed some coffee, prosecco, and pastries (the best Italian breakfast) and cut their wedding cake, it was time for us to head off for a day of adventuring.
For the day of their elopement, I had planned two shorter hikes in 2 different areas close to one another, and both accessible by mountain lifts. This was so that we could explore as much of the area as possible on the day, but without getting too hot and sweaty. That would be saved for the following days…
Shayna & Jake knew they wanted to do lots of hiking in the Dolomites, but didn’t want to do anything too challenging on their elopement day, so they decided to book 3-day coverage and let me plan two surprise hikes for them on the following two days, since I’m a local expert and hiking guide as well as a photographer.
The following two days after their elopement, we headed out into the Dolomites for some serious hiking. Since they had told me about their love of water, I had planned their hikes around some spectacular alpine lakes. On the first day, we hiked up to a crystal clear lake where Shayna changed into a second wedding dress and they sat by the water and read all the letters from their friends and family. This alone was a special moment, but it became even more memorable when a herd of sheep wandered though.
Day two was a long hike; 13.5 miles with just under 4000 ft in altitude gain but Shayna & Jake were excited to hit the trails and get going. We hiked up onto a beautiful plateau that passed streams and lakes, stopped for lunch in a traditional mountain refuge and climbed all the way to a high mountain pass before a final steep descent back down to the valley where the hotel was.” [Cat, the photographer]
Planning a Dolomites Elopement
None of these locations for Shayna & Jake’s elopement in the Dolomites required permits. In general, you don’t require permits in the Dolomites, but in some cases, you may need to ask permission from the landowners if you are on private land.
Cat shares some things you should keep in mind:
Some of the areas they visited belonged to protected areas of “Naturpark/Parco Naturale” where the following LNT principles should be observed:
- Take all rubbish home
- No camping
- No fires or flames of any kind
- No picking of wildflowers or plants, or taking any rocks or minerals
- Do not disturb wildlife
- Flying drones in nature parks is NOT allowed
For their elopement day, and the subsequent days, they were prepared for the trails, and made sure to plan ahead and prepare including:
- Wearing suitable footwear with good tread and ankle support (make sure to break them in beforehand)
- Carrying plenty of water
- Having sun, wind, and rain protection
Check out our Dolomites elopement guide.
Photographer’s Top 5 Tips for Eloping in the Dolomites:
Visit Outside of High Season
The Dolomites only has a short summer season, from late June until the end of September. July and especially August can be incredibly busy, really hot, and have some pretty big thunderstorms. September is my favorite month, but October can also be spectacular with the fall colors of the larches in many areas adding a golden glow to the landscapes.
Plan A Multi-Day Elopement
The Dolomites cover such a huge area that you’ll almost certainly have so much that you want to see and do during your trip. I recommend staying in the area for at least a week so that you have plenty of time for hiking, climbing, skiing if you come in winter, and experiencing as much as possible. It also means you’ll be able to have some flexibility in your schedule if the weather for your elopement doesn’t look so great.
Don’t Underestimate Distances Between Locations
One of the biggest mistakes I see people making when they want to elope in the Dolomites is trying to visit too many locations in one day, and choosing locations that are too far apart from one another (including their hotel). Working with a knowledgeable vendor team should help you avoid this (see my next point), but before you book any accommodation or decide on your elopement locations, just do a quick Google Maps travel plan to see how long the driving distances are.
Work with Local Vendors to Avoid the Tourist Traps
The Dolomites has a “hotspot hit list” of famous locations that tend to be the first ones many people discover when researching the Dolomites. And while these locations are stunning, many have become overcrowded and can have the complete opposite feel to what you’re looking for on your elopement day. When you’re looking for your Dolomites elopement photographer and vendor team, I recommend working with people who are local, who can take you to locations that may not be as well known (but still just as beautiful) and really give you an authentic experience of the area.
When you’re in the mountains, the weather is something you really have to respect. I’m not taking a few clouds and some light rain – that’s not something that you necessarily need to change plans for. But heavy rain, thunderstorms, avalanche danger, or high winds may be things that mean your original plans can’t safely take place, and you’ll need to change plans. When you’re working with local, experienced vendors, this is nothing to worry about, as they’ll have plenty of backup plans ready to spring into action depending on exactly what the situation is. But you’ll also need to come into your whole elopement with the mindset that plans might change, and that no matter what happens, you know you’ll have an incredible time.
Trust Your Vendors
“Shayna and Jake trusted their team of vendors to put together something amazing for them. Jlenia planned out an incredible week of activities for them around the Dolomites, from helicopter trips to food experiences in Michelin Star restaurants. I planned out their post-elopement day hiking itineraries. They simply told me what they were able to do and wanted to see, and I guided them on two incredible days exploring locations they never would have discovered by themselves. They fully trusted us to create something incredible for them. They were also just a blast to hang out with for 3 days!” [Cat, the photographer]
Memorable Moments During This 3 Day Dolomites Hike
From The Photographer:
“Their first look – Shayna hiked up to meet Jake on the trail up to the lake where they were planning to say their vows. Not only was the area and the light stunning at sunrise, but his reaction to seeing her for the first time was simply priceless. His jaw literally dropped!
I’ll never forget the many attempts at popping champagne (they tried three times) – it still has me giggling to myself to this day. Talk about Instagram vs reality!”
Not Sure If You Want an Adventure Packed Elopement?
“If you’re torn between a more adventurous elopement, and having a more relaxed elopement, Shayna and Jake showed that you can do both. That you can have a day where you get your hair & makeup done, get all dressed up, take it slow, spend the day exploring easy to reach places and finish up with a wonderful dinner. And then you can have the adventurous part where you get to go on longer, more challenging hikes to places you really want to see but wouldn’t have been able to reach on your elopement day.” [Cat, the photographer]
Photography | Wild Connections Photography
Planning | Jlenia Costner
Florals | Florales Atelier
Wedding dress | BHLDN Milano
Hairpiece | BHLDN Twigs & Honey Brooke Hair Comb
HMUA | Viki Aichner
Groom attire | Suit Supply
Hotel | Hotel Fanes
Wedding Day Dinner | La Stüa de Michil
Photos From This Elopement Hike