It’s a year since our Iceland wedding. And I still marvel at the fact we pulled it off. Not only that, but it was the most amazing day. I couldn’t have asked for things to have gone better. I know Iceland is growing in popularity all the time as a tourist destination. And weddings are more frequent too. I’ve looked back and listed five things I wish I had known more about, when we were planning our own Iceland wedding.
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Iceland don’t have the same rules as the UK regarding where you can get married. No need for a freestanding structure or license.
We also included a Dr Zeus quote though so it wasn’t all that traditional!
They also don’t have any specific rules on what you can say. You don’t need to include anything to make it legal or follow a set format. The lovely man who officiated our wedding was an actor who did this in his spare time. And he was brilliant at it.
We had a Skype call with him so he could get to know us as a couple. We gave him information we wanted included. Along with quotes we liked. And he wrote up the ceremony. We decided to include the “I do” bit, but it wasn’t required to make it legal. We also included a Dr Zeus quote though so it wasn’t all that traditional!
I loved that we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted. It made it feel really personal.
In the UK we would have had to get married in a registry office. Before saying our vows at the glacier. It was a nice surprise that we didn’t need to do that.
In 2010 Iceland passed a bill making marriage gender-neutral. And the first person to turn their civil partnership into a marriage was the prime-minster at the time.
The Legal Bit
Technically the wedding was legal when our celebrant stamped the paperwork later that day. In order to make that happen, we had to do some prep back in the UK.
To make things easier, we used a company in Iceland who submitted our paperwork for us. It can be done by you, but if you’re worried about getting it wrong, it was very inexpensive. And took out all the hassle. We used Extreme Iceland, a company better known for taking people on action packed day trips in superjeeps. But why not? They were providing the car for our wedding day so I enquired and they couldn’t do enough to help.
I vividly remember nervously presenting it at the passport office. I was sure they would say it wasn’t legally binding. And we’d have to go to a registry office.
We had to send scans of our passports, birth certificates and some completed forms via email. The most confusing part was the statutory declaration. We had to prove we had never been married before. Something which seemed quite difficult to do! However thankfully my friend works at a solicitors and was able to get us in for a quick appointment. We sat in a room with a solicitor, who had quickly typed up an affidavit. We swore and signed it in her presence. Paid her in cash, then left. The whole thing was over in about 10 minutes. And I honestly had no idea if it was what we needed!
Thankfully it was and a month after the wedding, our marriage certificates arrived. I had imagined them to be like Hogwarts letters. Thick ivory card with gold embossed lettering. What actually arrived was an A4 sheet of printed paper. Signed with a biro. I vividly remember nervously presenting it at the passport office. I was sure they would say it wasn’t legally binding. And we’d have to go to a registry office. But it was absolutely fine.
We landed in Iceland a few days prior to the wedding. It was snowing and blowing a gale. Our families were petrified. But we didn’t let it phase us. Having been to Iceland before, we knew how quickly this could all change.
Go with the flow and remember even the worst weather can shift in a matter of minutes.
More importantly though, we genuinely didn’t care. We were getting married. And it would work out. We knew we had the stunning backdrop of blue ice. So figured we could crop the sky out of any photos. Having been back to the glacier a year later on a miserable day, I can now reflect on how hard this would have been. But we knew we had zero control over it. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. We took a chance on an outdoor wedding in a country known for it’s ridiculously changeable weather. And it paid off.
We awoke to beautiful clear skies and sunshine. You couldn’t make it up. Not a drop of rain fell all day. And the small breeze helped make my veil look dramatic in photos.
I can totally understand the appeal of a Winter wedding in Iceland. It’s just so beautiful. But personally I think the risk would be too high. With only limited daylight due to the Polar Night, on a wet day it really can be miserable. Chances of seeing the Northern lights in Iceland are lower than other places. And to time the whole thing would just be such a coincidence. I think it’s best to be realistic.
Whilst getting married in the snow would be absolutely amazing. Roads can get cut off and cars stuck. If anyone has done it, please send me the photos. Because I know it would look incredible! But my advice would be to make the most of the long days during the Midnight Sun and -slightly- more favourable weather.
Although in Iceland, nothing is guaranteed! Go with the flow and remember even the worst weather can shift in a matter of minutes.
When planning your day, especially if outdoors the first piece of advice I can give you is to listen. Our driver / glacier guide came via Extreme Iceland with the white superjeep we would be traveling in. I sent them an itinerary of the day, I had worked out using my memory and Google Maps. They were amazing in discussing it with me and pointing out flaws in the plan. The end schedule was very similar to the one I had asked for, but taking into account things like travel times. The weather. And toilet stops.
So whilst the big princess style Vera Wang gown and cathedral veil weren’t an obvious choice for an outdoor Iceland wedding by a glacier. It just had to work!
There are very few toilets dotted around in Iceland. And unsurprisingly, no facilities in a glacier. it’s not your average wedding venue. So we had to try and work out how best to accomodate and feed our guests throughout the day. Part of this involved carrying items to the glacier. I didn’t want to lose out on the chance to walk ‘down the aisle’ (or gravel path). So we had to walk in two groups. One carrying items and getting to the spot. With me and my party behind.
I’m so proud of how well we executed the day. Everything went perfectly because we had thought of every detail. It was a lot of work but it really paid off.
My wedding dress had already been bought when we decided to elope. So whilst the big princess style Vera Wang gown and cathedral veil weren’t an obvious choice for an outdoor Iceland wedding by a glacier. It just had to work! My bridesmaids did a great job of helping keep me up during the walk. And the petticoat bore the brunt of the mess. My dress is almost immaculate besides a bit of black volcanic ash on the train. I decided not to wash that off, as it’s part of the day and it’s not as if I’ll ever be wearing it again!
Iceland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Prior to the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull it wasn’t a popular holiday destination. Sadly with the hoards of tourists have come problems. There have been totally avoidable deaths. Damage, vandalism and rubbish left behind. Which has prompted some poor locals to want to shut off access to their land.
Instead of traditional wedding favours, we made a donation to the Icelandic Search and Rescue (ICESAR) on behalf of our guests.
Iceland is unlike any other place I’ve been in the North. It’s got the dramatic nature. Fire and ice. Glaciers, volcanos, Northern lights, hot springs, icebergs and whales. But in such a safe setting. The weather is relatively mild. And the infrastructure is fantastic. Wherever you go you’re only a phone call away from help. Their search and rescue organisation (ICESAR) is one of the best in the World.
I’m not arrogant enough to think that we are not contributing to the strain. We clean up our mess and try to be considerate tourists. But we are tourists all the same. We took safety seriously during our wedding. Whilst we got married by the glacier, we never went on it. And our driver was actually a glacier guide. Even so, had a big chunk of ice fallen off or Katla decided to erupt at that moment, I know who we would have called. Instead of traditional wedding favours, we made a donation to the Icelandic Search and Rescue (ICESAR) on behalf of our guests.
We used biodegradable dried rose petals for confetti. And made sure we left nothing behind. If you’ve chosen an Iceland wedding, I’m assuming the country -or it’s natural beauty- means something to you. Be mindful of your surroundings, the locals and any mess you might create on your special day.
Your Iceland Wedding
I hope these tips are helpful. I’d love to know if you or anyone you know has got married in Iceland. Or is planning an Iceland wedding? I’ve since met a few people and love looking at their photos. It’s such a magical place, I can’t think of a better place to have said “I do”.