It feels surreal to have my wedding dress hung up in our wardrobe.
It’s actually tattered beyond understanding and still has remnants of Icelandic volcanic beach, grass, mud and flecks of what I (sort of) hope is my own blood clinging to the hem of a formerly spotless frock.
It was only a short few months ago that I was standing at the alter repeating my vows and since then I’ve cosied into married life pretty well; getting used to my new surname (it’s now only 2 in 10 times I’m crossing through the ‘wrong’ signature) and not getting all squirmy and embarrassed at prefix of ‘Mrs’!
Anyway, with ‘2016’ no doubt heading for the history books with Trump / Brexit and the rest of it, for me 2016 and my epic destination wedding is certainly a year I’ll look back most fondly on ’til I’m grey and wrinkly!
I was in two minds about writing this post, which is my poor excuse for how late I’m publishing this! My wedding is obviously a personal occasion, and in truth it felt a little self indulgent writing about this, but you know what, more and more of you are opting for destination weddings and when I was researching for my own there wasn’t a play by play account of what to expect, so here it is, here’s mine!
The ‘Boring’ Bits!
When we first started dreaming of an Iceland wedding, I instantly batted away the idea, dismissing it as a far-fetched fantasy. You’ve watched the Bridezilla-type programs on the box, right? According to them, weddings are 2% romance and 98% stress, and that’s organising a wedding in your own country, where everyone speaks your language and the rules are clean-cut.
But a wedding abroad? That stuff’s hard! It must be right? It’s added hassle, you just don’t need it… ‘What’s the number of the local church again?’
Actually, I’d love to tell you it was super difficult and we battled for months on end, slaving through the night, ripping our hair out over 600 page Icelandic documents, hiring translators and involving the best wedding planners money can buy. That might have been a more interesting story, and I’d love to think of you all getting to the end of this blog post, open-mouthed in wonder; ‘Jeez, she managed all that?!’ and crown me ‘Super-Bride’. (thank you, thank you!)
In reality it was a lot easier than I imagined.
Once I’d scored the email address of the pastor for Vik church (via the very helpful Icelandair hotel next door! Forever thank you!) it was simply a case of introducing ourselves and asking him what our next steps were. His response was straightforward, with a few easy-to-follow bullet points and a two-page PDF document to complete. Seriously, just two pages!
We just needed to add in a few things that were to be expected; like copies passports, birth certificates and a notice of no impediment which we had to get in our local town and then email everything over to the South Iceland marriage office within a (admittedly tight) set time-frame.
I then verified everything I’d been told by ringing up the Icelandic embassy in London, who admittedly were a bit grumpy but were still able to confirm that everything was above-board. So yeah, essentially that was the bulk of it.
And don’t tell anyone, but my cute Icelandic church was actually a fraction of the cost of a cookie-cutter registry office service back at home!
*So very smug*
One of the awesome things about our destination wedding was that instead of binge watching Netflix at home, I could spend almost a week prior to our big day exploring my most favourite country in the world!
After an initial meeting in Selfoss a few hours after landing to get the hard copies of our paperwork stamped and verified, we could fill our days however we chose.
Before our guests arrived we spent a long day road-tripping the Snaefellsnes Peninsula which was bliss! With the majority of the tourists still occupied with touring the Golden Circle or coasting down the South (two insanely beautiful drives), there was a distinct lack of other humans on the Peninsula. We picnicked in front of a lava field, took selfies with Icelandic horses, traced Walter Mitty’s footsteps at Kirkjufell, trekked up a hillside to reach a waterfall, experienced a natural hot pot and chased waves on a secluded black beach.
After greeting our guests at the airport, it was a continuation of laid-back road tripping (taking our first-timers to Iceland to experience Thingvellir and Gullfoss) and whittling the hours away in Reykjavik’s many geothermal pools. We’d already had our ‘hag-do’ (joint hen and stag) a couple of months ago in Brussels, so our few days in Iceland was all about taking it easy and enjoying Icelandic life!
The ‘I Definitely Do’s’!
Happy to keep it low key on the morning of our wedding, it was breakfast of Skyr (duh! When in Iceland!) and half an hour to tame the mane, brush a bit of makeup on and don the dress. I’d sensibly opted for glittery silver vans to get me from A-B which turned out to be the best damn decision of the day when you consider Iceland’s crazy terrain!
Driving to the church convoy-style we managed to squeeze in a few stops including one at Seljalandsfoss waterfall for some wedding photos, before suffering from heart failure over the time resulting in an anxious mad dash to the church!
Pulling up to the church there was barely 5 minutes to spare, so there was only just enough time to straighten the dress out, ‘ooh-ahh’ over the views, head-count the guests and finally usher everyone inside.
As agreed, the lovely Haraldur was there to greet us and conduct the ceremony, which was almost identical to a Christian wedding that you’d see back in England. Haraldur had emailed us over a PDF of the format so we knew we wouldn’t have any surprises! We had the option to be flexible over the running, and could have supplied vows of our own which we weren’t altogether fussed about, but we had chosen to make a feature of a couple of poems read by our guests.
The ceremony was short and sweet, and both plain and personal, which was pretty perfect and really, exactly what we both wanted!
Continuing with a relaxed approach to our wedding we responded to hunger pains with a stop at the local gas station for takeaway Icelandic hot dogs (pylsur) before heading to the black beach to play with the waves and take some of the most kick-ass wedding photos I’ve ever seen.
*Again, so very smug. hashtag Sorry, not sorry.*
What do you think? 🙂
We’ve always been a low-key couple that personally didn’t lust over a local church wedding that could cost well into the thousands. I’m in no way bashing on that idea, it just wasn’t ‘us’, and your wedding, whoever you are, has to reflect your vibe.
We wanted to make the best day of our lives something altogether very special, but we were also keen for the day to be a little out of the ordinary, erring on the ‘non-traditional’; hoping to make our wedding something amazing for both us and our handful of invited guests.
In reality, it was wasn’t the huge ball-ache to organise as you’d think; after getting the venue secured and the legalities pinned down, there wasn’t a whole lot else to do. It was just more than handy that Iceland offers up waterfalls, black beaches and incredible landscapes as standard; mother nature took care of the ‘wow factor’ all on her own!
I haven’t regretted a thing. To say our vows in a place that we both loved?
Planning your own wedding either at home or abroad? Already made the leap over to married life? Inspired for your own Icelandic Wedding? Let me know in the comments!