The hotly anticipated Green list of no restriction travel was announced on Friday in the UK, signalling a hopeful return of holidays, exploring new cultures and of course, the possibility of a destination wedding.
Whilst the list had its omissions causing disappointment (rumour had it that the Balearics and one of our faves Ibiza would be on there but alas, not to be just yet), it does contain some wonderful options if you want to elope or have an intimate wedding, and in particular our beloved Iceland is ready to welcome us all with open arms!
The Land of Ice and Fire
Many of you may know we hold Iceland very dear to our heart, having been a number of times and even getting engaged there. Iceland is an incredible option for your destination wedding, honeymoon or holiday. Most people who travel to Iceland for the first time are completely blown away by the majesty of its landscapes, the warmth of its people and it’s surprisingly delicious yet quirky food culture!
A trip to Iceland might require a little more research and planning than the norm if you’ve never been, and one thing to consider is that the weather can change very quickly, especially in the winter. Taking the recommendations of people who have already been or working with a specialist planner is definitely the way to go for your first visit, so hopefully we can help you here with some key tips we have discovered along the way!
Get married in Iceland
With the publication of the Green list, any couples who were wanting to elope abroad but have found it too difficult to workout a wedding in Italy or Spain right now, should seriously consider Iceland so they can fulfill their dreams of being married this summer in a beautiful location. With rolling landscapes that seem to change at every curve of the ring road, from black volcanic beaches to glacial terrain, you have a wealth of absolutely stunning locations to choose from. Your ceremony can be on a grassy hilltop like you’re in Game of Thrones; or maybe taking a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier is more your style? Whatever you are into, Iceland will have an option to suit you.
We spoke to fantastic Icelandic wedding planner Vigdís Björk Segatta of Luxwedding Iceland, about how couples can proceed with their wedding planning in Iceland now that it is on the Green list, firstly asking her how the feeling was on the island about welcoming tourism and especially weddings and eloping couples back in.
“We at Luxwedding are so thrilled to announce that Iceland is now open to people that have vaccination. The past year has been challenging for us but we are so optimistic and happy now when we see so many people that want to get married in Iceland. There is a limit of 50 people gathering together which covers weddings.”
Why would it be a good option for a couple who originally wanted a destination wedding in the traditional European choices such as Spain and Italy to change to?
“Iceland is the perfect country to get married, we have so much space and so few people so it’s very easy for people not to be in crowded places. The Icelandic nature is magnificent for wedding photos and it’s easy for couples to drive around and explore the countryside and open spaces.”
We can absolutely confirm that Iceland is a stunning place for wedding photography, both for a wedding or elopement itself, but also fantastic as a location for an Engagement Shoot or a Post-Wedding Adventure shoot – which is what we did! So we asked Vigdís why if a couple had been putting a destination wedding on hold, should they now consider going for it in Iceland instead?
“Working with us is very easy, we help you with everything you need for the wedding. We can also do the paperwork for people with short notice so it’s easy for people to get legally married in Iceland. This means if you want to get married this summer we can still help you out! It will also be less tourists in Iceland compared to 2019 so there will be less crowds in touristy spots. However restaurants and activities are still open and there are so many thing to do in Iceland.”
One thing we have discovered is that the longer this all goes on, the more our wedding couples seem to want to go for it, with elopements or micro weddings, choosing to postpone the big party until a later date. After all, the marriage is what it’s all about right? And if you feel like you don’t want to wait any longer, it sounds like engaging Vigdís and her team to wrap it all up for you to get married in Iceland this summer could be a no brainer.
But you may be thinking, Isn’t Iceland all about hiking and ice? How can a wedding in Iceland still be luxurious? No problem says Vigdís!
“Luxury we can definitely do. You can take a helicopter to a private place in nature, enjoy a beautiful ceremony, maybe have a small picnic with champagne and then go take some magnificent pictures with a* photographer! Right now of course, you can get married by the volcano eruption! You can also stay in the Blue Lagoon Retreat Hotel and have dinner at one of our finest restaurants in Iceland. Enjoy the retreat spa and relax like never before. That is all luxury AND adventure!”
When you put it like that, we wish we weren’t already married!
*you know that means bring us right? 😉
What Vigdís points out here is that Iceland gives you incredible variety, and all in around three hours flight time from London – what more do you need for an incredible wedding day?
Another beautiful thing about getting married in Iceland is that it’s honeymoon-ready. Spend a week there after your wedding and explore all the best bits. Give yourself three and you can road trip all around the ring road and discover the best of it ALL. If you’ve had a small wedding during Covid but have had to postpone a honeymoon, Iceland is an incredible option for you to get away from it all and celebrate your marriage. Whilst you are there, an Adventure Shoot is a perfect way to celebrate your marriage in this incredible landscape
Here’s our top tips of things to see
and do in Iceland on a first trip
Arriving/Leaving with a Spa!
Keflavik Airport is around 30-40 mins by car/bus from capital Reykjavik, and rather perfectly the famous Blue Lagoon Spa is right near the airport. So what better way to kick off your whole trip than a few hours in this deliciously relaxing spot, and chill with a yummy Blueberry Skyr smoothie with a natural mud mask all over your face. Also excellent just before you leave too!
If Icelandic wasn’t so damn hard to learn, we’d be writing this from our apartment on the outskirts of Reykjavik for sure. This small but perfectly formed capital deserves at least two days of exploration, but maybe in a different way to a typical city break. For us, Reykjavik is about it’s many excellent coffee shops, just sitting and relaxing in between wandering around the boutiques on the Laugavegur. And if you’re foodies like us, you won’t be disappointed, from a quirky brunch at The Laundromat Cafe, sampling the local delicacies at Cafe Loki, one of the best steaks you will ever have at Grillmarkadurinn or enjoying a special Michelin Star meal at the exquisit Dill – Reykjavik will cater for everyone. We can’t also not mention the incredible Icelandic Hot Dogs, so head to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – serving Islanders since the 30s!
The Golden Circle
Yes you are firmly on the tourist trail here but there is a reason why it’s popular, some of these spots will blow your mind! The first time we stayed in Iceland it was at Hotel Ranga, the perfect place to base yourself if you’ve only got a few days and the Golden Circle is your location of choice. You need to hire a car in Iceland if you are going to do anything other than stay in Reykjavik. If visiting in the winter, many tours come from Reykjavik chasing the Northern Lights to Hotel Ranga’s car park as it is in the perfect place (i.e. middle of nowhere) to view the aurora. But stay there and you get to walk out the door the minute the phenomenon shows up. The staff even have a ‘wake-up call’ service if the aurora shows up when you are in bed!
There are bus tours to do the Golden Circle but instead go for a private tour to get around at your own pace. We have previously used Southcoast Adventure who are based near Ranga and they picked us up in a massive 4×4 SuperJeep each day. We were lucky enough to be the only ones on the tour and it still ran, so it was very personalised. It’s definitely worth signing up for this tour at least. If your base is Reykjavik, there are some companies local to Reykjavik you can use.
If you have limited time, head to Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Field and the Gullfoss Waterfall, but if you can go further south you’ll experience the beauty of the black sand beach at Vik too. One of our favourite waterfalls is Seljalandsfoss – it is lit up at night too and it looks so beautiful.
You can snorkel between two continents!
Ok so technically this is also Golden Circle, but it is such a unique experience it deserves it’s own section. The continental rift in Thingvellir National Park offers up the only place in the world where you can swim between two continents at Thingvallavatn Lake. When you put your mask on and go in, the beautifully crystal-clear water reveals the most incredible rock formations at more than 100-metre visibility. As the water is very cold you’ll be in a Dry suit, and all gear is provided by the tour companies who can take you down. Do note you need to be able to swim as at one point you need to swim against the current (it’s fairly easy though!) and you need to be moderately fit to cope with all the stuff you’ll have on! But the views are absolutely magical and it’s one experience you won’t forget in a hurry. Check out this little video we made whilst snorkelling.
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lake
If you’re making a road trip of it, heading South East to the coastal glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón is well worth the effort. This stunningly beautiful lake is Iceland’s deepest, and you can watch chunks of ice that have fallen from the Vatnajökull glacier bob around the water and listen to the peaceful cracking sounds they make when they gently collide. You can also see seals playfully dancing in the water (especially in the winter) and nearby the jet-black beach called Breiðamerkursandur is strewn with beautiful crystalline ice sculptures (ice chunks that fell into the sea and were polished by the North Atlantic waves) that glisten in the sun, giving it the nickname Diamond Beach. Bond fans will love that it was featured in Die Another Day and A View to A Kill, as well as many other film projects.
The Northern Lights
Of course we couldn’t talk about Iceland and not mention the Aurora, as it was under Mother Nature’s light show that we got engaged! The best chance of seeing it is between late September and late March when there are only five or so hours of daylight. As the weather changes in Iceland so quickly it’s almost impossible to guarantee if you might see them, but Iceland is such a fab place you’ll want to return again and again anyway regardless of whether you manage to see the lights or not. But if it’s a priority, plan for the Winter, which incidentally is our favourite time to be in Iceland. Less people around and gorgeous low golden sunlit days, but you do have to be prepared for the changing weather!
So there you have it, Iceland is a perfect destination wedding and elopement location, and perfect for your honeymoon or holiday this year. If you’re considering it, we’ve even put together a handy shopping list** of suggested gear you might need for your trip.
Just remember winter equals more layers and you’ll be fine!
Convinced by Iceland for your wedding or elopement yet? Just remember to get in touch and secure us to shoot the magic of it all for you!
Have you been to Iceland? Did you get married in Iceland? What would you add to this list?
**this shopping list is hosted as an affiliate link, which we hope you don’t mind, just gives us some teensy pocket money towards the recommendations for our time. Aw thanks, we didn’t think you would.