bride and groom on top of the crashed plane site in Iceland

How to plan an elopement in Iceland

February 13, 2020


So you have been daydreaming about eloping in a stunning place and you don’t know where to go? Well, let me convince you about eloping in Iceland and if you have read my Iceland 101 post, then you are already a pro about Iceland plus you know a pro who knows a lot about Iceland (AKA me). 

When I first visited Iceland, I had no idea what to expect or what I was getting into. And then I got out of the airport. My first impression was “crap it’s cold” lol but once I got past that and started driving around, I just couldn’t believe how stunning everything was but that was also after I napped in my rental in the parking lot of a grocery store lol. The landscapes are stunning and I promise you, you have never seen a place quite like it. The ground changes from bumpy lava fields to plush mosses that you just want to put your foot on or lay down (don’t though lol).

There are mountain in all directions, some covered in moss and some covered in snow. You will be driving around and think that thick fog surrounds everything which sometimes it might be but other times it’s just the steam coming out from the geothermal pools. And then there are the reasons why a lot of people go there, Iceland’s majestic WATERFALLS just happily trickling down every mountain or cliff you see in all directions. Do go chasing them lol! Iceland has everything from fields to mountains to waterfalls to stunning black sand beaches and that’s why it’s a perfect place to elope. Have I convinced you yet? If I have that’s awesome and you should take me with to take your epic Iceland photos. 

Getting married in Iceland is like being on an adventure of a lifetime. Driving through the ring road, you will feel as though you have stepped into another world. After reading all this, you probably have tons of questions about Iceland like what is the cheapest way to get there? What is the weather like? How expensive it is? You want to be in an epic place and have a one of a kind experience when you finally say “I do” to the love of your life but you don’t know what to do and where to start? 

Well, my friend, I got yo back! And you can even check out my Iceland 101 post for literally EVERYTHING about traveling to Iceland.


Beginner’s guide to eloping in Iceland


How to get there?

Wow and Icelandair are Icelandic airlines that fly directly from Europe (London 3 hours) and North America (New York 5 hours). There are other airlines such as American & Easyjet that also fly into KEF. Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik.

If you have read my other “How to elope” posts, you will see that I am all about traveling on a cheap airline. If you haven’t here is my suggestion. Hopper is the app I use to look for cheap flights. I start looking for flights months in advance. Once the flight prices go down, the app notifies me and that’s when I book it. There are certain flights that go directly from major airports and they are pretty cheap.

Because Hopper’s main goal is to get you a cheap flight, these flights don’t include luggage and sometimes they also aren’t the fastest, they have super long layovers and if you are okay with that then you will be saving couple hundred bucks. If you also know how much luggage you need to travel with then you can purchase that ahead of time instead of on the airport and save money on the luggage fees as well. 

The airport you will be arriving is Keflavík International Airport (KEF) which is in Keflavík, a town 45 mins outside of Reykjavík. I think a car rental is necessary unless you want to take the bus from the airport to the hotel or the taxi which could get a tad expensive. 

Pro tip: If you want to buy alcohol, I suggest you do it at the duty free before leaving the airport. You can only buy alcohol at certain government licensed alcohol stores and those are sometimes only open 2-4 hours a day or at restaurants/bars but that can be pricey.


Where to stay in Iceland?

I suggest you look for an Airbnb so you can have some place to get ready before your ceremony and maybe even take some getting ready photos. I prefer privacy and don’t want to deal with a ton of people all the time lol so I always stay at airbnbs. But if you want someone come and make you every day then you could even get a hotel, after all you are on a vacation so do what your heart desires. A good area to stay in would be either in Reykjavik or Vik depending on your itinerary.


What is the best time for eloping in Iceland?

You can literally get married in Iceland whenever you want, that is if you are okay with the brutal cold in the winter months. Below are some of the pros and cons (but mostly pros) of each season:

Summer (June-August)

June: The tourist season begins in Iceland in June which means everything is slightly more expensive. The temperatures are pleasant and an average of 1.8 inches of rain. But the best thing about this season is so many hours of daylights. You can totally get married at one of the waterfalls at 9 PM if you wanted to. There are no gated entrances to the site. No one is going to kick you out of there.

July: This is Iceland’s busiest tourist month and therefore more expensive as well, so if you are planning to elope during this month then I suggest you start planning early so that you can get your bookings done ahead of time. Because this being the busiest month, the popular sites will be crowded with tourists which could hinder your plans if you plan to get married outside but you can also find some stunning hidden gem locations where there will be no people. The daylight also starts to decrease a bit but no as much that it would affect anything and there is more rainfall than the previous month. 

August: Weather wise, this is best month to get married in Iceland. It’s still considered tourist season though. Plus there is greenery EVERYWHERE!

Autumn & Spring (April,May & September)

April: April marks the beginning of spring in Iceland and there is still time to see the Northern Lights. All the popular sites on the Southern Coast are still open for you to hold you ceremony. There is also less amount of tourists in spring. 

May: May is also a great month to elope in Iceland. All the roads to the Northern Highlands are accessible which means that you can say “I Do” in any of the gorgeous places on the Northern Coast such as Godafoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. There is about 16 hours of daylight and temperatures are in the high 40s. 

September: September is Iceland’s shoulder season and therefore it’s slightly less expensive than the high tourist season. There is still 13 hours of daylight and slightly colder temperatures. We went in September and the temperature fluctuated from slightly warm to super cold at night. This is also the highest rain month so expect it to rain almost every day when you are there. If you are lucky, you will even get to see the Northern Lights. If you can brave little bit of cold, then seljalandfoss, Skogafoss as well as the Budir Church would be amazing places for your elopement. 

Winter (October – March)

October: It’s fall in Iceland but not like States so there will be some color changes flowers and grass but there are not many trees. The days get shorter and the temperatures get colder in the high 30s. It starts to snow in some parts mainly the highlands and some roads become inaccessible. You can still get married at some places on the South coast or at an Ice cave. 

November & December: The start of the winter is in November. And if you can brave the colder temperatures you can still get married at the waterfalls or the glaciers. 

January: It is not advisable to get married in January because there isn’t enough daylight maybe 4 to 5 hours and the weather is brutal. There is a possibility of a lot of roads being closed preventing a lot of travel. If you still want to get married in January, a good place would be inside one of the beautiful Iceland churches or an Ice cave. 

Pro tip: Reynisfjara beach is also particularly dangerous this time of the year with waves reaching 10 ft or higher

February & March: These are also considered winter months and there is a very good possibility of snow and rain. You can still get married in these months if you are okay with the cold or have an inside wedding. 


ICELAND MARRIAGE LICENSE AND LAWS

It is so easy for foreigners to get married in Iceland. There is no need to translate any legal documents as documents in English is accepted. But there are still some paperwork to be done. In order to obtain a marriage license you will need to prepare and send your paperwork to the National Registry Office in Reykjavik at least three weeks prior to the wedding date. You can also do this via email first and hand over the original documents in person 5 days prior to your wedding. 

All the documents must be originals and if the documents aren’t in English or Scandinavian then they need to be translated. Both parties need to be 18 and not married. You will require a proof of divorce in case of a previous marriage.

Legal Documents

  • Marriage notification (Hjónavígsluskýrsla ) – this form is provided by Sýslumaðurinn í Reykjavik.
  • Birth certificate
  • Certificate of Marital status, that needs to be issued within 8 weeks prior to the wedding date.
  • If bride/groom is divorced, a divorce decree — a document to prove that previous marriage has ended with a divorce
  • If bride/groom is a widow/widower — an official document showing that the estate (assets and liabilities) of the deceased spouse has been finalized/divided
  • Valid passports of both parties 

You can always get married in your country of residence and have a symbolic ceremony in Iceland where you can say your vows to one another in an epic location in case you don’t want to go through the headache of legal paperwork. 

Someone will need to officiate your wedding and the officiant doesn’t have to be a priest. There are however priests available from all belief systems, including a Nordic religion Goði (chieftain), as well as a humanist or a judge overseer if you would like to have a completely non-religious ceremony.


WHERE TO GET MARRIED IN ICELAND? 

For the adventurous people, the sky’s the limit. You can literally get married anywhere out in the stunning nature. That includes under a waterfall, in an ice cave, on top of a mountain or on one of the country’s gorgeous beaches. If you are planning on getting married outside, it would be good to have a plan B. Iceland’s weather is very unpredictable. It can be sunny now and rain 5 minutes later.

Iceland is full of stunning locations to choose from. Below are some of my absolute favorites very well known destinations. There are also some secret locations and hidden spots to be discovered and having gone there multiple times, I can help you with that. 


1. Seljalandfoss

*Drive time: Reykjavik – Seljalandsfoss: 1 hr & 40 mins

This is one of the most popular tourist locations so expect it to be many people here at any time during the day but you will still come back with the most gorgeous photos! Plus a good photographer knows how to avoid those. There are some hidden spots around here that would also be absolutely beautiful. Allot yourself time to explore here a bit and make sure to go behind the falls to get some epic photos of the water falling behind you! 

Pro-tip: There is a parking fee of 700ISK per car for the whole day. What I have seen people do is hand in their parking ticket to someone that has just arrived while they are leaving since it’s valid for 24 hours. Be sure to get a hot chocolate at the little snack stand outside and maybe even socks at the garment place right next to it. Seriously, the warmest things ever! And keep your eyes peeled coz you might just run into a game of thrones character. 

2. Skogafoss

*Drive time: Reykjavik – Skogafoss 2 hrs & 5 mins

This is one of my most favorite locations and even though there are also many people here If you go in the tourist season, there are tons of ways to avoid that. Best is to go later during the day or super early in the morning. My favorite part about Skogafoss is the sound of the waterfall as you get closer but don’t get too close coz you will get soaked. Also, while there be sure to eat at the Fossbud restaurant and order a burger with fried egg inside. You won’t regret it. 

Pro tip: If you plan to use the restroom here, make sure to have cash. If you can and are the super adventurous time, make this spot your last and camp at the base of the falls one night and wake up to the majestic site of the gorgeous waterfalls. I promise you won’t regret this! 

3. Reynisfjara beach (Black Sand Beach)

Drive time: Reykjavik to Reynisfjara beach – 2.5 hrs

Volcanic Ash covered beach and large basalt columns are truly a magnificent sight. Black sand beaches are everywhere in Iceland and you don’t necessarily have to go to this particular one. If you go in summer there will be tons of tourists on the beach. 

Pro tip: Keep walking on the beach towards the rocks and on the other side of them and you will reach a pretty secluded area where there aren’t a lot of people you could have some privacy. It does require you to climb over some huge rocks so make sure you have climbing shoes. The beaches in Iceland are pretty dangerous as they can produce waves up to 10 ft in height, so be careful not to go too close to the water. 

4. Solheimasandur Plane Wreck:

Drive time from Reykjavík – 2 hrs

This site is about 5 mins from Skogafoss and is one of the “must see” places on every tourist’s list. The first time I went there, you had to walk about an hour each way to get to the plane because driving right up to it was not allowed but now they also have a shuttle that runs every hour from 10 AM until 5 PM and costs 2900 ISK for a round trip per person from the parking lot to the wreck and back. Be sure to carry cash if you plan to take the shuttle as they don’t accept card. I know this is just an old navy plane but still pretty cool for photos. 

5. Diamond Beach:

Drive time: Reykjavik to Diamond Beach – 5 hours

This gets its name because of the icebergs from the glacier that washes ashore. This is truly a magnificent place to be at if you go to the right one lol. The first time I went there, I didn’t go to the right place and thought all the icebergs had melted. It’s also close to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where you can go for some boat tours that takes you around to look at the icebergs as well as check out the seals playing around in the water. 

6. Budir Church (Búðakirkja)

Drive time: Reykjavik to Budir – 2 hours 

Budir is a small town located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland where the church is located. Búðakirkja is the most photographed church in Iceland because of the contrast it’s black color creates with the Snæfellsjökull glacier as the background. After your ceremony, if you plan to have a reception, you can consider Hotel Budir which is in the vicinity. 

Pro tip: If you plan to head North towards Snaefellsnes , you should also check out the Landbrotalaug hot spring. It’s a tiny hot spring for two and could be super romantic to soak and spend some time with your boo!


What to wear for your elopement?

The weather in Iceland is very temperamental and unpredictable. It can be snowing or raining one moment and then the sun will be out the next. So you could experience all 4 seasons in one day. Think about that while planning your outfits and packing. You should wear your wedding attire but also be prepared with a jacket or a raincoat. And if you are planning on wearing heels, I suggest bringing comfortable shoes or boots to walk/hike in as well. Depending on the time of year, I would even suggest bringing a pair of fancy gloves if you are okay with having them in the photos. 

As far as the dress goes, I highly suggest wearing something flowy. The wind in Iceland mixed with the dress and hair flowing really does make for some stunning photos. 

I have written a post about best elopement dresses here, if you need some inspiration!

What does it cost to get married in Iceland?

It’s usually less expensive to have a wedding ceremony within one hour from the city and then have the reception in the city. This gives guests the opportunity to stay wherever they want. The average cost of a wedding meal in Iceland without wine is from ISK 9.000-12.000 per person. A meal in a restaurant is very similar to this but high-end wedding venues can be more expensive. Unless of you have the budget, I would purchase the alcohol at the duty free. Since most of the alcohol is imported, it is quite expensive to purchase elsewhere. I would also consider an alternative to fresh flowers as they can be expensive as well.


WHAT TO DO IN ICELAND? 

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the fun things you can do pre or post your wedding. There are so many exciting things to do in Iceland so I suggest coming for few more days. Some activities are however seasonal but there still are enough things to tickle your fancy. 

1. Waterfalls: If you went to Iceland and didn’t see the falls then what did you do right? A lot of the popular ones are only few hours from Reykjavík. You can either drive to yourself or take one of the tours. Some of the popular ones are Gullfoss, Skogafoss & Seljalandsfoss. Remember to bring cash so you can pay for the parking fees. 

2. The Golden Circle: The Golden circle is very popular among tourists because it includes South Iceland’s most popular natural wonders. You can do this all by yourself driving at your own pace or you can take the Golden Circle tour. 

3. Snaefellsnes Peninsula: Drive up the West Fjords to Snaefellsnes and see the amazing sites there or on the way. If the Budir church wasn’t in your elopement plans then you can do check that out. Do plan to hang out with your boo at the Landbrotalaug hot spring. 

4. Reykjavík: Check out the capital city and spend some time here. Walk on over to Hallsgrimkirkja church because it is truly a must see at least once. I suggest exploring the city on foot to truly soak up the culture. Check out the market streets as well as food scenes in downtown. My favorite part is the all year long Christmas store lol. Check out this article for things to do in Reykjavik.

5. Geothermal pools: You must experience these AT LEAST once if you go to Iceland. The most popular one is Blue Lagoon be sure to make reservations online ahead of time. Since it is so popular, there are always tons of tourists there. There are several other ones you can also go to such as The Secret Lagoon and the Seljavallalaug if you would like to avoid the crowds. Seljavallalaug is a must see because it is out in the nature and smack dab in the middle of the most gorgeous scenery.


I know there is a ton of information in this regarding everything. If you want more on the Dos and Don’ts of visiting Iceland, you can check out my Iceland 101 post. Iceland is a beautiful country. All the tourist influx in the recent years is really impacting its environment. We, therefore need to try to protect it and keep it beautiful. So that we can keep going back and enjoy the gorgeousness of the country. And of course, no matter what you decide to do or go see, be safe!

And if you need a photographer for your own Iceland elopement, then reach out to me. Let’s plan your rad Iceland adventure.

Xoxo,          Ruzin

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