Not every destination elopement takes place in a tropical environment! Personally, I love moody weather, which is why I love Seattle, and why I love the idea of an elopement in Iceland! Eloping in Iceland as a foreigner is actually much easier than you think (and the country recognizes marriages of all religions and sexualities), so I wanted to take the time to walk you through how to plan an elopement in this beautiful country.
We’re going to cover:
Iceland is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. There’s glaciers and volcanoes, making it the perfect storm of fire and ice. There’s also giant waterfalls, canyons and valleys, so much green!
If you and your partner are the type of people who love lands that are still rugged in their beauty, and largely untouched by humanity, then Iceland may be the place for you.
I’ll cut right to the chase — Iceland is not a low-budget destination. However, if you still compare the cost of an Iceland elopement with the cost to throw a traditional wedding back home, you come out on top with the choice to elope.
How much you spend for an elopement in Iceland depends on how many days you intend to be there, how many elopement vendors you decide to hire to help with your day, and any other special activities you tack on while you’re there.
At a minimum, with airfare, lodging, vendors, car rental, food, and other activities, an elopement in Iceland might cost between about $8,000 USD and $15,000 USD.
It is my firm belief that some traditional wedding vendors are not needed when you elope. And, at the same time, others absolutely are. I believe that you should never skip on having your day documented by a photographer (and maybe a videographer, too!). With a destination elopement, photography and videography is probably the vendor you’ll invest the most in, and spend the most time with, so it’s worth making that a priority in your budget!
Other things you might want to have to elope are the right attire, whether that’s a suit or a dress, possibly flowers, and hair and makeup if you don’t feel confident doing it yourself. Catering, music, additional decor, etc., are all more optional, or may not be allowed at certain elopement locations.
One of the more daunting parts of planning an elopement overseas is how to take care of the legal parts of it. But rest assured, getting legally married in Iceland is not a super complicated process. And, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to!!
One option you always have available to you is to complete and turn in your marriage license at your county courthouse stateside before you elope. Legally, you’ll have already tied the knot, and then you can just focus on the ceremony and celebration of it later. If the idea of getting married overseas is especially daunting to you, this is a great option instead. Your elopement is no less “legitimate” when you do things this way.
If you are okay with making it legal in this beautiful country, here’s what you’ll need:
You can contact the Registers office in Iceland to see about scanning everything in before you travel to Iceland for your elopement. When you arrive, you’ll have to go to an in-person appointment to review all your documentation and be issued your marriage license.
Like I said before, if this process seems stressful, you can always take care of legalities at home. Another option is to hire a wedding planner in Iceland who can help you with all this documentation.
Let’s talk about the seasons! Technically, you can get married anytime in Iceland. But there are trade offs to each season, so let’s go over them now.
June through August is the warmest time of year in Iceland. Don’t get mixed up though — you could still experience snow or rain at this time! Iceland is known for pretty harsh weather, so “summer” doesn’t mean the same thing here that it does in the states. The average summer temperature is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit!
If you’re looking to hike or access more remote areas, summer is going to be the time to do it. A lot of roads are closed or covered by snow until summer, so at any other time of year, you might not get to see certain things. Of course, summer is also the busiest time of year in Iceland. You’ll be met with more crowds, but it isn’t unmanageable! A weekday elopement always helps with this.
You may be worried about the cold and dark with a winter elopement in Iceland, but hear me out!! Technically, you may only get about 4 hours of daylight in the winter. But, your chances of seeing the Northern Lights at your elopement are much, much higher in the winter because the nights are so long.
Spring in Iceland is likely going to be cold, and probably rainy. But everything will be starting to turn green after winter, the summer crowds won’t have appeared yet, and you can enjoy some time in the hot springs found around the country.
Eloping in Iceland in September may be the best choice of all the seasons. The summer crowds will have started to disappear, but the weather will be just starting to turn chilly. You’ll still be able to access most places in the country, without battling other tourists for a spot.
This is the famous Black Sand Beach on the south coast. Local legend says that the large basalt columns on the sand were once trolls, trying to pull ships onto the shore from the sea. This beach is right next to the little fishing town of Vik. **Keep in mind that the waves on this beach are incredibly dangerous. Do not get near the water; the tide is very powerful and will pull you under in a split second.
This is one of the more remote locations in Iceland, which means even during the height of tourist season, the Westfjords will be more private. You can camp just about anywhere in this region, if a truly rugged adventure elopement is your vibe.
The Black Church on the south coast is one of the most-photographed locations in the entire country. You could have a more traditional ceremony in the church itself, or just take epic portraits nearby. If you’re lucky, you might see the Northern Lights here.
Church Mountain is another of the most-photographed locations in Iceland. It’s a super unique mountain peak on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall is just a stone’s throw away.
This is the Glacier Lagoon — one of the greatest wonders Iceland has to offer. Big blocks of ice are often breaking off the glacier as the area warms up due to climate change, creating this gorgeous lagoon. You can explore ice caves, take boat tours, and exchange your vows in front of the best backdrop in all of Iceland.
Of course, where you stay for your elopement in Iceland does depend on the location you decide to have your ceremony, and any other activities you plan as well. So I’m going to give you just a couple of options in some more well-known areas.
Of course, you can’t elope in Iceland and not take advantage of all the hot springs, food, city exploring, and more! And part of the reason I love elopements so much is because you can make them an incredibly unique experience. Adding in activities you can’t do back home makes getting married so much more memorable.
Here’s a quick list of things to check out in Iceland while you’re there:
And there you have it — a destination elopement in Iceland, ready to go! I cannot wait to see what you and your partner have planned for your epic trip. Reach out to me here to have me photograph your elopement!