Eloping in Iceland has become wildly popular in recent years and there’s a really, really good reason for it. Iceland is one of the best places for an adventurous destination elopement. With shooting geysers, vast ice fields, black sand beaches, a chance to see the northern lights, and cheap flights from all over the U.S., Iceland is pretty much the PERFECT place for an adventurous couple to say their vows.
But eloping in the land of fire and ice can present some challenges (like ever changing weather, a sometimes-too-booming tourist economy, and expensive food). Iceland is one of my favorite places on the entire planet and I am SO excited to help make eloping in Iceland just a little bit easier!
Iceland Covid Update 3/29/2021
As of March 18, 2021, Iceland has opened it’s borders to tourists from the United States who are fully vaccinated with no additional quarantine required! This means that if you’ve gotten your shot (or will be getting it soon!) Iceland is open to you! Woohoo! I received my first vaccine on March 24, 2021, and will be ready to travel to Iceland for your elopement in mid-May!
Why You Should Elope in Iceland
Y’all. Iceland is INCREDIBLE. I’ve traveled a lot in my time on the planet and I’ve never been anywhere like it. While the scenery is legendary, it’s not the only reason to elope in Iceland!
1. It is easy to get to from just about anywhere
Iceland is situated between North America and Europe and is easy to get to from just about anywhere. From the Denver airport I can be drinking a strong shot of espresso at Joe + the Juice in Keflavik airport in less time than it takes me to drive from our house in Boulder to Telluride. It takes about the same amount of time to get from Colorado (or most cities east of the continental divide) to Iceland as it does to get to Hawaii or Alaska. As far as international flights go, it is a BREEZE! If you’re coming from Europe getting to Iceland is even easier!
2. It makes a perfect stopover en route to another location
Iceland Air’s stopover program makes it SUPER easy to continent hop! If you haven’t heard of this program, when you book a flight between Europe and the U.S. on Iceland Air you are allowed to extend your layover in Iceland for up to 7 days at no additional cost. This means that you can get married in Iceland and spend a few days seeing the country before hopping over to mainland Europe for your honeymoon. One of my couples did this (they got married in Iceland and honeymooned in Paris!) and said it was the best of both worlds!
3. Iceland’s tourist infrastructure is top notch
Whether you’re a novice to international travel or someone who has been around the globe a few times, you’ll find traveling in Iceland to be SUPER easy. From dealing with car rental companies to reading signs on the road, everything in Iceland is super clear and tourist-friendly. While it may seem like a really remote place (it is!) it also has that Scandinavian simplicity and modernism – things just work in Iceland. The Icelandic people are welcoming (as long as you aren’t being an ass but I’m sure you’re not going to be an ass, right?!) and generally speak impeccable English and you’ll have no time getting around.
4. The food and drink options are fantastic!
I was REALLY surprised by how good the food and craft beer scene was in Iceland. Yes, it is very expensive but trust me when I say it’s worth it. We saved a ton of money by renting a campervan (which was THE BEST!!!!) and cooking a lot of our own food but when we did splurge on a restaurant? It was so worth it. I had the best meal of my life in Reykjavik. And I love food so that is saying something!
5. Have I mentioned that it’s beautiful?
I don’t think the beauty of Iceland can be overstated. This is a country that is just drop. dead. gorgeous. There are more waterfalls than you could possibly count, geysers, black sand beaches, roadside hot springs, and my personal lifelong obsession, THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. It gets no better than that. Trust me.
How to Get Married in Iceland
Getting married in a foreign country always presents some unique challenges but it is very much doable. There are two main ways to get married in Iceland:
Legal Marriage in Iceland – If you choose to go this route you will need to fulfill the Icelandic government’s requirements for marriage in Iceland. In advance of your elopement you will need to submit certain documentation (passport info, birth certificates, etc.) to the government so that your marriage may be made legal in Iceland. You can read more about how to get married in Iceland here.
Symbolic Marriage in Iceland – This is what I suggest to all couples thinking of eloping in a foreign country because it is just so. much. easier. If you go this route you will be legally married back home (i.e. go to the courthouse …) and what you do in Iceland will be purely ceremonial. It may sound a little weird but, in my opinion, you are married when you say your vows, NOT when you sign the paperwork! It also just makes things SO much easier
Is Iceland LGBTQ Friendly?
YES!! Iceland is generally known as one of the most LGBTQ friendly countries in the world and regardless of what you look like or who you love, you will be welcomed here. Same sex marriage has been legal in Iceland since 2010.
Leave No Trace Considerations for Eloping in Iceland
Being a good visitor in a place is always important but that’s especially true in a place with a fragile ecosystem and robust tourism industry! If you are going to elope in Iceland, it is really important to remember that you leave it as you found it!
For Iceland this means staying on designated trails (and OFF the fragile moss!), camping in designated campgrounds, only driving on designated roads, and generally leaving things better than you found them!
Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland
I’ve been obsessed with the aurora borealis for as long as I can remember and the first time I saw them was in Iceland. I had big plans to take amazing pictures of them but instead I just sat down and sipped from a flask of whiskey and cried. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen – I’m still obsessed (and I still cry every time!)!
Seeing the northern lights requires two things: 1) clear, dark skies and 2) a generally high KP Index. For anyone hoping to see the aurora I recommend traveling during fall through spring (we saw them in Iceland in September!) and planning your trip so that it overlaps as much as possible with the new moon. Download the My Aurora Forecast App to keep an eye on the KP Index and then cross everything you’ve got that the stars align! Trust me, it’s worth it!
Pro Tip: If you are staying at a hotel some hotels will actually call and wake you up if the northern lights make an appearance! Since we mostly campervan and AirBnB it in Iceland I have yet to experience this magic but if you’re staying at a hotel, definitely ask!
(Confession: This picture is actually from Norway … NOT Iceland! I was too much of a hot emotional mess to get any glorious aurora photos in Iceland! I managed to hold it together a little bit better in Norway!)
Things to Do in Iceland
There is absolutely NO shortage of ways to stay busy in Iceland – you could spend many months there and STILL not do everything! Having said that, here are a few suggestions for your trip! Whether you incorporate these as part of your elopement day or just do them at some point while you are there, these are a great place to start!
If you have enough time (8+ days, minimum!) this is the perfect Iceland road trip. Rent a camper van and go have an adventure!
2. The Blue Lagoon (or other hot springs!)
The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most famous spots and its an easy trip from Reykjavik or Keflavik airport … but Iceland has tons of hot springs! My favorite were the little unmarked hot pots you’d randomly stumble across. They were heaven on earth!
Yes, Skogafoss is one of the most popular spots in Iceland but there is a REASON, y’all. It’s epic. Go early to beat the crowds and definitely go to the top of the waterfall and go for a hike!
It’s kind of a boring hike but it’s an iconic spot and worth the walk. Get enough drinks in me and I’ll tell you about the time my husband and I got lost out there in the middle of the night in a rain storm … 😉
Yes, there is a penis museum. If you’re into strange museums, you will LOVE this! View preserved penises of just about anything you can imagine. It’s weird and also oddly educational. If you’re killing time in Reyk, it’s worth it.
6. Splurge on Dinner at Grillmarkdurinn
Remember when I said I had the best meal of my life in Iceland? This is where it was. Real talk: this meal was NOT cheap. But even several years after that dining experience we STILL talk about it. I would subsist entirely on hot dogs and Skyr for my entire trip to Iceland (which is basically what we did …) if it meant getting to have one ten course meal there.
If you’ve ever wanted to dive in between two continents, this is your chance!
It’s a decent drive from Reykjavik (if you’re not doing the whole Ring Road) but it is SO worth it!! Chunks of ice on a black sand beach … what more could you ask for?
Tips for Eloping in Iceland
1. Expect the Unexpected
For all of its beauty (and seriously? there is SO MUCH BEAUTY), eloping in Iceland isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s a reason Iceland is called the land of Fire and Ice. It’s a harsh climate where the weather changes by the minute. I recommend to all of my Iceland elopement couples to have a plan for the day – but to also not be afraid to abandon it if things start to change. I feel like the best thing you can do when planning an Iceland elopement is jot down the places you’d like to go (do you want to do a first look? say your vows on top of a cliff? spend the day hiking to somewhere awesome?) and then have some backup plans. Maybe you were planning on eloping on the beach in Vik but then saw that the skies were going to be favorable for seeing the northern lights on the north side of the island. Don’t be afraid to change plans!
2. Don’t be afraid to get dirty!
This is something that I talk about a lot with all of my wedding and elopement couples but in Iceland its especially important. This is a country that gets ample rain and is covered in black volcanic sand. It’s also a country where the best stuff is found off the tourist trail (more on that later). Don’t be afraid to get your dress dirty. You don’t want to miss out on some of those killer photo ops (or just the amazing scenery) because you were worried about staying pristine. Embrace the elements in all of their glory – even if it means that that dress doesn’t stay super white!
3. Expect to be Cold and Wet
It probably comes as no surprise that a place called Iceland isn’t exactly warm. While the weather there is more temperate than you might expect, its still not exactly a tropical elopement destination. The truth is that at some point in the day you are probably going to be wet and cold. I recommend bringing warm blankets, a change of clothes, and maybe your warm (or better yet, warm and alcoholic!) beverage of choice. Bring a rain jacket. Wear warm boots under your dress. Do what you can to stay comfortable.
4. Don’t Forget Why You’re Here!
It’s so easy to get caught up in the magic of the place and the kick ass photos you’ll have to show for it (believe me, I get it!) but I think its important to remember why you’re here. This isn’t just a photoshoot. This is the beginning of one of the biggest commitments of your life! Don’t rush through the vows to get to the fun stuff. There is plenty of time for photos later. Remember why we’re doing all of this.
5 Leave the Parking Lots Behind
The first time I went to Iceland I was a little bit stunned by the number of tourists, especially along the Golden Circle. They seemed to be everywhere! It didn’t take long to realize, however, that most of them never ventured more than a few hundred feet from the parking lots. What this means for you is that with just a little bit of effort you can get away from all of those people and have a little slice of paradise all (or mostly …) to yourself. It’s worth it, trust me!
6. Be ready for an adventure!
Eloping in Iceland is one of the BEST wedding decisions you could possivly make!. If you go into your Iceland elopement with a sense of adventure and leave your expectations at home you will have the experience of a lifetime! Do something that scares you. Get outside of your comfort zone. Meet the people, eat the foods, drink the beer (they seriously have great beer). Be ready to have your mind blown by the rugged landscapes and harsh people. Marriage is one of life’s greatest adventures and you’ve picked one hell of a way to enter into it!
Thinking about eloping in Iceland? I would love to help you make your crazy dreams a reality! Helping couples have the laid-back, adventurous elopement of their dreams is my passion. Get in touch and lets plan something incredible together! Iceland elopement packages including *all of my travel* costs are available!