How to elope to Iceland in 2023 - The Ultimate elopement guide.
Your step-by-step planning guide: everything you possibly need for your dream elopement in Iceland. Best locations, travel tips and more!
Do you dream about eloping in Iceland? Who can blame you? Iceland is such an amazing country with endless black sand beaches, epic mountains and let’s not forget: the northern lights. Trust me, eloping in Iceland won't disappoint! Don’t believe me? Here are some reasons why you should elope in Iceland:
- Vulcanos, geysers, glaciers and so much more!
- It's easy to travel; most highlights are easy to reach by car!
- You can have a wedding ceremony in the most incredible landscapes
- You can get legally married in Iceland!
Aren’t you getting excited yet? Well, this guide is going to help you plan everything step-by-step.
The difference between a wedding and eloping in Iceland!
WHAT IS ELOPING
Eloping is a very intimate experience between you and your lover. If you look in the dictionary you’ll find text like “running away to get married” or something along those lines. Obviously, this is no longer the meaning of eloping. For a full-fledged wedding, you have to deal with a lot of stuff like planning the guestlist, fancy locations and lots of vendors to deal with. You most often will have a tight schedule to keep the day going smoothly and in the end, a lot of the wedding day is about entertaining everyone from your family and friends.
Eloping is completely different. Eloping is all about you and your other half. You choose the location you both love, you have a chance to invite only your dearest and nearest family and friends or you can choose to not have any guests at all. It’s a stress-free day where you do exactly what you want and with who you want. Together with your photographer, you can choose an epic location to take those photos that reflect your personal vision.
Eloping is an experience, so it's not just a small ceremony with a few photos. Most combine it with cool activities like hiking, waterfall chasing or whatever you like to do!
Did I already mention eloping is all about you and your partner? 😉
Why you should Elope in Iceland?
Honestly, this is probably the reason why you want to be eloping in Iceland: its pure beauty and incredible landscapes. The land of fire and ice is truly one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been. The country is so versatile with landscapes ranging from stunning mountain scenery, Geothermal hot pools, volcanoes and rugged coastlines. Where ever you go, Iceland changes every few miles from the scenery! With lots of adventures to be had Iceland makes for the perfect adventure elopement country!
This is another no-brainer as to why you’d want to do your adventure elopement in Iceland. It offers one of the best possibilities in the world to see this natural phenomenon. The northern lights are most visible during winter and as you roam further away from the cities, the darker it gets and the more you improve your chances of seeing the northern lights. In spring or autumn, there is also a good chance of spotting them, but as it's less dark during these periods your chances will get less.
INSANELY GOOD SEAFOOD!
Being an island in the middle of the ocean, it is no surprise that the main supply of food comes from the sea. Icelanders have perfected hunting and fishing because they were so isolated as a country and as a result, their seafood dishes are on a whole other level. If you love fish, you love Iceland. P.s.: for those that don’t like fish, they make some mean hotdogs as well (trust me, I have rigorously researched this subject for you! 😉 )
What do you need to get legally married in Iceland?
Getting legally married during your elopement in Iceland is super easy! But there are some things you need to do and take care of before your trip. Most of it needs to be done at least 3 weeks in advance. So let's get started with the things you need to collect
- Passports for both of you
- Birth certificates for both of you
- The Icelandic marriage notification form (this one: https://www.syslumenn.is/media/onnur-eydublod/A-204-marriage-notification-1-.pdf)
- Widow certificate (if applicable)
- Divorce documentation (if applicable)
And of course, you can't elope in Iceland without a photographer to capture all the beautiful landscapes and romantic moments of your Iceland elopement adventure.
You need to show up in Iceland at least 2 days before your wedding date to get all the needed documents. I would always recommend using a wedding planner local to Iceland to help you with this process. It's even easier to get legally married in your own country and have a symbolic ceremony in Iceland as this is the easiest and stress-free process you can get!
You will also need an officiant and at least two witnesses to elope legally in Iceland.
How to get to Iceland for your elopement & travel tips
FLY TO ICELAND
The best choice is to fly into Reykjavik, Keflavik Airport. This is the main airport for Iceland and a great starting point for your elopement adventure. Iceland is different compared to other countries. So here are some tips for you:
You NEED a rental car. Iceland is best discovered during a cool road trip and it's a lot bigger than most people think it is. Make sure you have a rental car reserved before your trip. Especially after Covid, there is a huge shortage of rental cars. Summer is the busiest season and prices skyrocket as there are fewer cars available. Most people choose a 4x4 so they can easily conquer the F-roads. (beware: some F-roads are not advisable for tourists!) This link is by far the most useful article on the subject of rental cars, insurance and gas prices.
Another very important thing to remember is the weather. No matter what season you visit Iceland, the weather can change in an instant. Icelanders often say: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes”. There are several websites which will help you with weather forecasts, roads closing or opening etc.
Most notorious is the wind as it can be very strong. So be careful when you open your doors. So in short, always be aware of the weather and watch out! And also: if Icelanders say to not go on the road, don’t be stubborn and ignore that advice!
LEAVE NO TRACE
Iceland is well-known for its beautiful green moss, wildflowers, and overall uniqueness. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that moss is extremely fragile and can take thousands of years to fully heal. In order to keep the country looking beautiful for years to come, please practice ‘leave no trace’ principles during your elopement. We practice the Leave no Trace principle during all our activities and are a proud members of the Leave no Trace community
NORTHERN LIGHTS / AURORA BOREALIS
The northern lights can be seen from September to March. This means that autumn and winter are your best chances of seeing them. To see the northern lights you’ll need a few things:
- Darkness, in the summer Iceland experiences midnight sun which blocks seeing the northern lights. In the winter it gets darker every day and less daylight means more time to see the northern lights. This is why the winter period is the best time to see the northern lights.
- Clear skies, Iceland has notorious weather and it changes super fast. For the Aurora Borealis to be visible you need clear skies, so keep a close eye on the weather apps and northern lights apps.
The light show we see from the ground is caused by electrically charged particles from space entering the Earth’s upper atmosphere at a very high speed.
When is the best time to plan your elopement in Iceland?
Honestly, Iceland is amazing all year round! Depending on your wishes, of course, different seasons would fit your elopement better as they all have their unique features and epic activities you can do.
If you want the best weather, then summer is the obvious choice. Summer is when the flowers bloom, and the days are at their longest (midnight sun anyone?), but it is also the busiest time for tourism. So, there are people everywhere and it will be harder to find those epic locations just for yourself. If you do decide to go in the summer, then think about changing your sleeping schedule as the sun does not go completely under. There is a sunset/sunrise that lasts incredibly long at night. Also, there are fewer tourists during these times as most people follow regular biological rhythms.
If you still want decent weather, most roads are still available (yes, a lot closes down in the winter due to the weather) and fewer tourists than the spring or autumn are for you. During these times there is still plenty of daylight for your outdoor activities and as long as it still gets dark at night you have a small chance to see the northern lights! Most tours and activities are still running. So you can go whale watching, and horseback riding and have plenty of daylight for all those epic hikes and photo locations! It goes without saying that these are our favourite times of the year to go eloping in Iceland.
Wintertime is perfect for winter wonderland lovers and is the best time to see the northern lights. The northern lights are truly a beautiful experience and can make your elopement that romantic! Things to take into account while planning, is that your daylight is very limited. Average daylight time is 5 hours a day, and a lot of roads to the more remote locations are closed and not accessible without special tours with huge 4x4 vehicles
Best Iceland elopement locations
Seljalandsfoss is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland. It’s a huge waterfall that is around 60m high (200 ft). A really cool feature is that you can walk all the way behind the waterfall for some epic photos. It’s a unique experience, but also a very wet one so don’t forget to bring a raincoat! You can find Seljalandsfoss just outside of the golden circle, about 2 hours and 15 minutes of driving from Reykjavik. Want to know more about Seljalandsfoss and a waterfall elopement? Read our blog here.
Just an extra 30-minute drive from Seljalandsfoss you will find probably the most famous waterfall in Iceland: Skogafoss! With a 60m (200ft) drop and a width of 25m (82 feet), it's also one of the bigger waterfalls in Iceland. This impressive waterfall is a perfect location for epic photos of you and your lover, but be aware that this is a very touristic location so getting there at sunrise or sunset is best to get fewer tourists. There is also a path next to the waterfall that allows you to climb up to the waterfall for some really cool views!
Gullfoss is translated into ‘golden waterfall’ and is located within the golden circle. It’s a dramatic and powerful waterfall about 1 hour and 40min drive from Reykjavik. As it is part of the golden circle route it can be very crowded, especially during high season.
DYRHOLAEY SEA CLIFF
Dyrholaey aka a hole in the door is another famous location and is the most southern location of Iceland. This epic lava rock cliff is formed by the seawater that is breaking down the rocks for years and years giving an incredible rock formation and heaven for birds and photographers! A gravel road leads you to the top of Dyrholaey where you will find a lighthouse and some of the most epic views of the black sand beaches and Reynisdrangar (another really cool location). If you look inland, you will see the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull.
THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK
This is an amazing national park to hike through. It is located around active volcanic areas. It is surrounded by mountains and features lava fields. A highlight is its natural lake that’s lying towards the south.
SOLHEIMASANDUR DC-3 PLANE WRECK
You probably already know this location from the photos on Instagram. It's one of those locations that on paper sound pretty boring, but in real life, it all comes together creating an incredible atmosphere. This is a plane wreck dating back from 1973 when a US navy pilot crash-landed on the black sand shore on the south side of Iceland. Surprisingly, everyone survived the crash. The US collected all subjects that they needed and left the wreck. In the years it became a very popular location for tourists. This is no surprise when you see this wreckage lying in the black sand in the middle of nowhere creating epic views and images. Please note that to get to this plane wreck requires a 4 kilometres walk one way.
REYNISFJARA BLACK SAND BEACH
The most popular black sand beach in Iceland is located in the south of Iceland close to Vík. Its beautiful black sand makes a great contrast with the waves crashing into the beach. This is one of those locations that is just perfect to combine with an epic wedding dress! It's very popular among tourists and is therefore a location where you need to pick the right time to visit. But it's not the only black sand beach in Iceland as there are many all around the country. I can help you find more remote and less populated locations. Keep in mind that it can be very windy and wet in this location so make sure to bring extra layers.
Also known as the Justin Bieber canyon. This beautiful canyon is just off the ring road and offers really cool views and a cool hike leading into the canyon where you can see a waterfall. It’s a great location to take some really cool pictures but beware this location is very popular ever since JB recorded a video clip here.
One of the most colourful locations in the Highlands of Iceland. It’s a geothermal nature reserve known for its hot pools and colourful mountains that are blue, green, pink and black. It’s a unique and absolutely gorgeous location. It will take a bit more effort and you need a 4x4 to get there as it includes offroading and crossing rivers but you will be rewarded once you arrive. Good to know is that this is mostly a summer location as the roads to Landmannalaugar close when the weather gets worse.
The Vestrahorn, also known as Stokksnes, is my personal favourite location in Iceland. It has everything you would possibly wish for. An epic mountain backdrop, with a beautiful black sand beach and a little Viking village. It’s a small 10-minute drive from Hofn and it’s a private piece of land, so a small fee is charged. This is a great location all year round, with flowers that bloom in the spring and summer, the greens turning brown in the autumn and the snowy ragged peaks in the winter. It will be an awesome location no matter what.
This is probably one of the most off-the-beaten-track locations in Iceland. In a country this beautiful and full of tourism, it's hard to find a remote and tourist-free location like this one! In the west fjords you can drive through valleys, stunning glacier landscapes everywhere you look and the best part is that you can wild camp almost everywhere!!! How about we turn your elopement into a camping road trip through wild and remote locations?!
A little bonus tip: close to the Seljalandsfoss is another cool waterfall that a lot of people skip but it's really cool. The entrance is a bit further down the road and it's hidden between the rocks. You need to enter through a sort of cave and get your feet wet inside the cave where you find Gljúfrabúi waterfall. If you’re not afraid to get wet, this is definitely worth a stop!
ANOTHER BONUS LOCATION: KVERNUFOSS WATERFALL!
This is probably one of the best-kept secret waterfalls in Iceland. It's RIGHT next to Skogafoss but overlooked by the big crowds and most tours. As beautiful as Skogafoss is, Kvernufoss is perhaps even prettier and best of all is that you are likely to have this waterfall all to yourself! It’s a small hike, but definitely worth the effort. You can even walk behind this waterfall and it is perhaps a better and smaller alternative to Seljalandsfoss.
What to do after you said yes during your elopement in Iceland?!
So you said yes to the love of your life, you read your vows and are ready to start your life together… What better way to start that new life than with some epic adventures? Why else elope in Iceland right?!
So the short answer to this question is ‘whatever the F… you wanna do!’. The day is all about you and your other half, so whatever you like is a good choice! Since we are eloping in Iceland, I've got some cool activities which you could do.
Did you know it's even possible to do the Elopement ceremony in a glacier ice cave?! How cool is that? Just a side note on this: ice Caves are ever-changing and are very dangerous for the not professionals, so do not enter them without guides! So if you want to plan your elopement ceremony in an ice cave: contact the local wedding planners to help set this up for you! And now back to ice caving!
It’s a super cool experience and most caves are only accessible when it's cold, so only in wintertime. This is because in the summer the caves melt and become very dangerous. But oh boy, are these caves a beauty to see? When we travelled through Iceland we did one of these ice cave tours and it was an experience to never forget. The deep blue colours and crystal-looking tunnels and caves create an out-of-this-world atmosphere.
NORTHERN LIGHT HUNTING
A must-do when you're eloping in Iceland in the right season, this is a must-do pretty much every chance you have. If you are lucky enough to see this magical natural phenomenon then I would recommend going outside and enjoy!
HELICOPTER / AIRPLANE TOUR
Helicopter and aeroplane sightseeing flights are a very unique and special way to explore Iceland giving a bird's eye view. You do not need to sit for hours in a car or a bus and you will have more available time to enjoy the beauty of Iceland. And more quality time with your loved one. Did you know you can also book a helicopter to bring you to your epic and secluded elopement location? Check here for more options: https://adventures.com/iceland/tours/activities/airplane/
ICELANDIC HORSEBACK RIDING
Discover the beauty of Iceland in a unique way, by horse! Imagine you and your brand new husband or wife riding those cute Icelandic horses into the sunset over a black sand beach with some epic mountains or glaciers in the background?! How cool is that? Let's be honest: have you even eloped in Iceland if you don't have photos of these horses? You can check out more here: https://guidetoiceland.is/book-trips-holiday/adventure-tours/horse-riding
If you're in the right season you could also hop onboard a ship and go and find whales! There are many different species swimming in the Icelandic oceans. The famous humpback whales or orcas, and you even have a chance to see a blue whale (but it’s a very very slim one). To be up close with these gentle giants is a unique and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most. The size and power of these creatures will leave a lasting memory! Whale season runs from April to late September/early October.
GO OFFROADING IN A 4X4 LANDROVER!
Iceland has loads of off-road routes to drive with river crossings and steep climbs. This way you be able to reach more off-the-beaten-path locations and enjoy the pure beauty of Iceland. These land rovers really match the landscapes and create very cool photos, so be sure to bring along your photographer to capture the epic adventures.
SPEND YOUR HONEYMOON ROAD TRIPPING AROUND THE RING ROAD!
The perfect way to end your elopement and start your honeymoon is to get a rental car and take 7 to 10 days to make an epic road trip around Iceland following the ring road. All the major sights and things to do are close to the ring road. We have done such a road trip ourselves and it was truly one of the most beautiful and fun experiences we have done! You can find a blog about our trip along the ring road here!
Where to stay during your adventure elopement in Iceland
Iceland can be expensive but there's good news, there are plenty of options for all budgets. It all depends on what kind of experience you want whilst eloping in Iceland. Would you love to cruise the country in a campervan and camp under the stars? Or do you prefer luxury hotels with hot tubs and great views? Iceland has it all! We have taken the time to gather some cool and unique locations for you to stay at.
THE BLACK HOUSE
Situated at the base of mount Hafnarfjall right along the shores of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, this traditional timber house was built in the authentic 18th-19th century style of country houses of the region and gets the tone and style just right. Just north of Reykjavik on the western side of the island, you are situated in a diverse and peaceful landscape of fjords and volcanic peaks along with vast stretches of rugged coast and sea cliffs in a rare and ancient forest from the time of the first settlers.
Built entirely of timber, the country cottage is painted in a deep black pitch originally derived from natural tar to withstand the elements. The simple clapboard silhouette is dwarfed by the amazing mountains in the background and matches its environment perfectly.
MODERNHOUSE WITH EPIC VIEUWS – AKUREYRI
This two-bedroom home is located in Vaðlaheiði, near Northern Iceland’s capital city of Akureyri.
With accommodation for up to four guests, this house for rent is the perfect countryside getaway. After a long day of adventuring, guests can sit back with a glass of wine on the private patio and take in breathtaking bay views of Akureyri.
LAKEHOUSE IN MOSFELLSBAER
View the sunset over the lake or see the Aurora Borealis, when the conditions are right, from the wooden deck wrapping around the house or even from the hot tub. This secluded home situated in a mountain valley offers wooden accents throughout, a hot tub with geothermal water, and comfortable amenities. It feels far away from any city, and yet it is only 40 min. drive from downtown Reykjavik.
THE GLASS HOUSE
Located in the south of Iceland near the town of Hella, this glass cottage offers the ultimate stargazing and Aurora viewing experience. And bonus, there’s also a hot tub!
THIS REYNISFJARA BEACH COTTAGE
This cosy cabin on a farm is just a ten-minute walk from a black sand beach. Close to some dramatic basalt columns, its remote south coast location makes it a great place to hole up away from the crowds.
With no light pollution nearby, there’s also a good chance of getting some great views of the northern lights in winter.
THE ION ADVENTURE HOTEL
Less than an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of Reykjavík and set against a backdrop of majestic mountainous lava fields, ION Adventure Hotel is an unforgettable experience. Whether you are seeking a quiet, soulful soak beneath the Northern Lights, a challenging trek across an ancient glacier or a day of fly-fishing in plentiful icy rivers
THE FOSSHOTEL GLACIER LAGOON
A luxury 4-star hotel you will be close to Fjallsarlon and Skaftafell offering great views from their hotel rooms and relaxing hot tubs where you can chill and take in the adventures of your day.
THE BUBBLE HOTEL
Forget the city, forget work and enjoy being out in pure nature. Listen to the birds and see the butterflies fly by. Enjoy the Northern lights and stars scenery or if it rains then listen to the drops falling on the bubble.
THE BLUE LAGOON HOTEL
If you’re a spa lover, then this is the perfect hotel for you. The famous blue lagoon, a geothermal hot pool with beautiful surroundings, now has a great and luxurious hotel. It's close to Reykjavik and a great place to explore the golden circle from. A luxury experience with a dreamy atmosphere.
Iceland adventure elopement packages
We are Vantastic Photography and we specialize in adventure elopement Photo. We help you plan and enjoy elopements and small weddings all over the world. To learn more about us you can click here and to learn more about our packages you can check here. Below you will find a short summary of what you can expect when booking Vantastic Photo for your elopement.
ICELAND ELOPEMENT PACKAGES – PRICING
- A personalized custom experience
- Location and tips advice
- Vendor & accommodation recommendations
- Custom timeline
- Permit assistance
- Unlimited planning assistance
- Adventure buddies and a new friend
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