In a place where lava meets sea and waterfalls peek out of every nook, you can get married in one of the most beautiful countries in the world – Iceland! The welcoming, laid back attitude of the locals paired with the incredible scenery throughout the entire country make Iceland one of the best places for a destination wedding. If you elope in Iceland, you’re guaranteed an incredible, once in a lifetime adventure – so this guide is all about how to get married in Iceland, and everything you need to know!
Here’s what’s in this Iceland Elopement Guide:
- The Best Places to Elope in Iceland
- When to Elope in Iceland
- Getting Legally Married When You Elope in Iceland
- Iceland Elopement Timelines & Things to Do
- Iceland Elopement Packages
The Best Places to Elope in Iceland
The land of fire and ice doesn’t disappoint – from the black sandy shores to the ice capped glaciers, you’re sure to find the perfect ceremony location! With so many incredible places to choose from, it can be hard to make a decision, so let’s talk about some of the best places to elope in Iceland!
Iceland literally has countless waterfalls all over the island, but there are definitely a few notable ones that provide jaw-dropping backdrops for your elopement. You can stand at the base of them, see them from the top of a canyon, and even go behind some of them – just be ready to get a little wet!
Cascading from what used to be the coastal cliffs, Skógafoss is an impressive 82 foot wide waterfall that falls almost 200 feet into the Skógá River. At the base of the falls, the spray often creates rainbows when the sun hits it, making it a scenic background for your elopement! Check out N & M’s beautiful Skogafoss elopement here!
You can also head up the staircase to see Skógafoss from above with the coastline in the distance – and if you continue up the river, you’ll see many more waterfalls on the 14 mile trail, a popular hike called Fimmvorduhals Pass.
If you’re looking for a less busy spot just off the Ring Road, Kvernufoss might be the waterfall for you! Less than a 2 minute drive from Skógafoss, there’s a small canyon with a gorgeous walk-behind waterfall that’s just under 100 feet high. It’s a relatively flat trail that’s just a short .9 mile hike from the Skógar Museum parking lot, so it’s easily accessible and it’s less popular than Skógafoss, so there are fewer people around and you’ll be able to find a great spot to say your vows!
This waterfall is another popular attraction along the Ring Road. At an impressive 200 ft high, Seljalandsfoss is another one of those walk-behind waterfalls, but you can walk in a loop from one side to the other – how cool is that? Just a 5-10 minute walk down the trail, there’s a second waterfall that’s lesser known. Gljúfrabúi waterfall, which means canyon dweller, is named appropriately! Hidden inside a canyon, you’ll need to walk along the rocks in the creek to get to this beautiful waterfall. It’d be a stunning place to say your vows, as long as you don’t mind getting a little wet!
This iconic waterfall and mountain duo is a stunning backdrop for your Iceland elopement! Located on the Snœfellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufellsfoss is actually three waterfalls with the cone shaped Mount Kirkjufell in the distance if the weather is nice. Kirkjufellsfoss is best around sunset or at night, when you can often catch a glimpse of the northern lights if there aren’t any clouds.
The lava rocks in Iceland have created some of the most gorgeous black sand beaches in the world, though they do have a few red sand beaches as well! The interesting rock features on and off the shore, and stunning dark sand against the Atlantic make the beaches in Iceland the perfect place to say your vows. Here are a few of the best beaches in Iceland!
The most popular black sand beach in Iceland is Reynisfjara in Vik. It’s right off of the Ring Road in the south, so it’s easily accessible and close to a lot of other cool places. The basalt column cliffs are iconic against the black sand and the ocean is beautiful – but don’t get too close to the shore because sneaker waves can be very dangerous! Say your vows in the Hálsanershellir Cave or on the beach with the rock formations offshore in the distance.
The westernmost point in Iceland is the Latrabjarg cliffs! If you elope in the summer, you may be able to spot the many puffins that nest on the cliffs. The views you get when you’re walking along the cliffside trail are incredible and watching all the birds is such a cool experience! Because it’s a long drive through the Westfjords, you’ll likely find very few people there. If you come at night and the sky is clear, there’s a good chance you’ll see the northern lights because of how little light pollution there is! Rau∂saundur beach – which means red sands – is nearby if you want to take photos on a beach.
In the east of the Vatnsnes Peninsula is this beautiful rock formation just off the shore. Legends say that this rock formation is “the troll of northern Iceland,” but it also looks like a dragon or rhino drinking from the ocean! The trail down to the black sand beach is steep, but once you get down, there’s typically not very many people around and if you’re lucky, you might see some seals playing offshore, too.
11% of Iceland is covered in glaciers, which is quite a lot for such a small country. So if you’re looking for a unique ice cap experience, Iceland would be the place to go! There are plenty of hikes, snowmobile tours, ice caves, and more to explore on Iceland’s glaciers, so here are a few of the best places to elope on a glacier in Iceland!
Covering 8% of southeast Iceland is the Vatnajökull glacier, making it the largest ice cap in Iceland and the second largest in Europe! Underneath is the tallest peak in the country, Hvannadalshnjúkur, at almost 7,000 feet high. Elope in an ice cave, on the top of the glacier, on a snowmobiling tour, or by one of the many glacial rivers that flow from the glacier!
In the west of Iceland on the Snæfellsness Peninsula is another one of the three national parks in Iceland, Snæfellsjökull National Park! The glacier covered volcano is one of the lesser visited national parks in Iceland, but Snæfellsjökull is such a beautiful, serene park. Say your vows on the ice cap, or from the Londrangar Basalt Cliffs with the glacier in the distance, or get married in the Vatnshellir Lava Cave, or nearby at the famous Búðir black church!
Though not a glacier itself, the Jökulsárlón lagoon is the result of glacial runoff and chunks of glacial ice that float through the lagoon to the black sand beach on the Atlantic. The ice washes onto shore, giving it an almost diamond look and that’s where the beach gets its namesake – Diamond Beach! You can have your ceremony on the shores of the Atlantic at Diamond Beach, or you can even take a boat out into the lagoon or ice caves to get a closer look! Look out for the seabirds and seals that like to hang around the ice structures, they make great witnesses to your wedding. Check out Leah & Darin’s Glacier Lagoon Elopement!
The Best Time to Elope in Iceland
Deciding when you want to elope in Iceland makes a big difference on how the weather will look and whether or not you can reach certain parts of the country. Regardless of when you decide to elope in Iceland, there’s one thing to keep in mind! No matter what the weather forecast says, always prepare for it to change in a second. Rain and wind are common in Iceland, so you’ll always want to have waterproof and windproof clothes with you in case you run into rain or want to go behind a waterfall. Now, let’s talk about what you can expect in each season.
Though Iceland is pretty cold most of the year, the summers are generally fairly comfortable. Also, being so close to the North Pole, summers are usually pretty long and, close to the equinox, you can experience the infamous Midnight Sun! Because of the long daylight hours and mild weather, summers are the best time of year for going on adventures and hiking when you elope in Iceland because you’ll have more time to explore all that Iceland has to offer! F-roads (Iceland’s 4×4 Highland roads) usually typically open up by mid-July after the snow melts, so if you’re comfortable with rocky backroads and river crossings, you’ll be able to reach some of Iceland’s incredible summer attractions, like Landmannalugar and Askja!
The days are still long, but you’ll get more chances to see the Northern Lights starting in September. You can typically avoid the snow and ice until October, but it’s still cooler than during the summer. It’s especially chilly at night and in the higher elevations, so the F-roads begin to close as the temperatures drop. This is a great time to visit Iceland since you’ll get decent weather and find fewer crowds!
The best time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is in the winter! The dwindling daylight hours provide a perfect darkness at night if you can happen upon a night with no clouds. There’s a lot of snow, so you have to be prepared for the cold! Winter is great for soaking in the hot springs, exploring glaciers and ice caves, and snowmobiling. The F-roads close in the winter because of snow – some even close as early as September – so be sure to make sure the location that you want to go to is accessible in the winter. You’ll also need to be okay with a change of plans, since weather can be really unpredictable and things can change at the last minute!
As the sun starts to melt the snow and some F-roads start to open up again, you’ll see the color return to the landscape. People start to return to Iceland in May when the sun starts to come back for a little bit longer, and many of the lodging and attractions that were closed for the winter open back up again! Late spring is a great time to elope in Iceland before the summer crowds return.
Avoiding Crowds when you Elope in Iceland
Chances are you don’t want to have a bunch of strangers crowding around you while you say your vows! Luckily, I have a few tips for avoiding crowds when you elope in Iceland.
The biggest thing you can do to avoid crowds is plan your elopement for a shoulder season. When you elope in fall or spring, you avoid much of the summer crowds but miss the cold, dark days that winter brings.
Another way you can avoid a crowd is eloping mid-week. Weekdays are less busy than the weekend, and definitely try to avoid a holiday weekend! Sunrise and sunset also tend to be not as busy as mid-day, so try to plan accordingly. If you elope in the summer, you can consider eloping late at night when you can catch the special Midnight Sun!
Choosing a less popular location for your elopement is another way to miss the crowded attractions! The farther you get from Reykjavik and from the Ring Road, the less crowded places will be.
Getting Legally Married When You Elope in Iceland
Sometimes when you have a destination elopement, it’s easier to do the paperwork at home and then leave the exciting adventure parts of eloping for when you get to your destination! But, if you really want to sign your papers in Iceland, it’s pretty easy, just make sure to get those timelines down so you don’t miss any deadlines. If you want to get legally married in Iceland, you’ll need to submit some official documents at least 3 weeks before you want to pick up your application. If you’re traveling from overseas, you can send the documents by email, but you’ll have to bring the original copies to the office in person at least 5 days before your ceremony!
Here are the required documents that you’ll need to turn in:
- Marriage Notification – an Icelandic marriage license.
- Original birth certificates of both parties – you’ll get these back after you get married.
- Certificate of marital status – your home country (in the U.S., it’s determined by state) must issue this certificate up to eight weeks before your wedding date. If they don’t issue certificates of marital status, you’ll need to bring a certified confirmation that they don’t and both of you will need to give a formal declaration of marital status when you arrive in Iceland.
- A divorce or widower decree – this can be divorce papers or documentation that the estate has been settled.
- Valid passports of both parties – you’ll already need this to get there!
You’ll need to have an officiant or celebrant and two witnesses sign your marriage notification when you get married in Iceland. You must hire an officiant or get married in front of a judge, but anybody over the age of 18 can be your witness!
Timelines and Things to do when you Elope in Iceland
When planning your Iceland elopement, the only rules or “shoulds” you should be worrying about is that the day you say “I do” should represent you and your love! Don’t worry about trying to fit all the “typical” wedding day activities in – just think about what you want to do! Your elopement adventure can be anything you want, so whether you want to go scuba diving, go on a hike, have a picnic, or just soak in a hot spring all day, make your elopement feel perfect for you.
To give you an idea of how an Iceland elopement can look and to help with some inspiration, here are a few sample elopement timelines!
Iceland Elopement With Family
9:00 Together, you cook a hearty breakfast of eggs and pancakes – complete with your favorite coffee or tea.
10:30 Before the day gets going, you and your partner head out to take a little walk around the Airbnb to get a little one on one time together.
11:30 Your hair and makeup begins, and you and your partner split up to get ready.
1:30 You both get dressed, putting on your elopement attire.
2:00 You do a first look outside the Airbnb and you get to see how amazing you both look!
2:30 After we take a few photos, everyone piles into the car to head to your ceremony location.
4:00 You arrive at Kirkjufellsfoss and have a quick snack before heading down to the waterfall with your family while you wait for your officiant.
4:30 Everyone takes a walk to your ceremony spot with an amazing view of the Kirkjufell mountain in the distance, then you and your partner exchange vows with a ceremony.
5:00 Congratulations – you’re married! After a lot of excitement and happy tears, you take photos with your family.
5:30 You, your family, and your officiant head back to the parking lot, where you sign your marriage license.
6:00 Your family goes back to the Airbnb to get dinner ready, and the two of you explore a little, taking some couples photos as the sun begins to set.
7:30 You drive back to the Airbnb to celebrate with dinner and cake!
“Just Us” Waterfall Elopement
8:00 You wake up at the Hotel Skögar and have coffee and breakfast in your room, starting the day slowly.
10:00 Hair and makeup begins, and the two of you get ready together.
12:00 Hair and makeup is done, so you walk over to Skögafoss to take some photos in the mist of the huge waterfall! You walk up to the top to take photos and check out some of the other waterfalls along the river.
1:50 You hop in the car and head to the Skögar museum parking lot to get to the Kvernufoss trailhead – only 2 minutes away!
2:00 You walk .9 miles to Kvernufoss with your officiant to have your ceremony behind the waterfall!
3:00 You’re married! You head back to the car to sign your marriage notification and have a picnic lunch.
3:30 Get in the car and drive to the ferry dock to head to Vestmannaeyjar to spot some puffins and have dinner
4:00 Hop on the ferry and enjoy views of the Atlantic
5:00 Arrive at Vestmannaeyjar and head to Slippurinn for a delicious dinner on the coast
7:00 After dinner, start heading back to your hotel!
Iceland Elopement Packages
If you’re thinking about eloping in Iceland, I want to help make it happen for you! Planning a day that’s perfect for you is my favorite part of being an elopement photographer and, as someone who is always down for an adventure, I’m ready to tag along on any activity you want to do on your wedding day. From giving your personalized recommendations for every part of your elopement – like the best locations and things to do – to creating a detailed timeline to help you get through the day, I want to make your elopement the best day ever! For more inspiration, check out my post 10 reasons to elope in Iceland!
If you want to know more about my Iceland elopement packages or are ready to start planning your elopement, get in touch!