Holding an Iceland wedding or and Icelandic elopement is a super exciting decision! You were probably drawn in and mesmerized by the dynamic landscape. Then you undoubtedly found yourself dreaming of how amazing your Iceland wedding photos are going to look… Am I right?
Before you pop the champagne in celebration of choosing a destination wedding location and become totally intoxicated with the idea of getting married in Iceland, there are a few things you should know before you start Iceland Wedding Planning. Today, we would like to advise you on 15 Things You Should Know Before Having a Wedding in Iceland…
- Unpredictable Weather – No joke folks, Iceland is easily the most unruly weather place in the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting married in Iceland on December 1st, July 1st, or October 1st. You can have an Iceland wedding or elopement full of rain, sun, sleet, snow, sand storms, 15mph winds or gale force winds, who knows! The weather being so unruly through is part of the reason why you have such a vibrant landscape scenes, especially in Southern Iceland. You will need to come to terms with the possibility of challenging weather (and go out and play in it so you can get those AMAZING Iceland wedding photos, okay?), because there is a high probability that it may happen. So please be prepared (IE, Rain gear, Hot Hands, Have your Iceland Hairstylist super pin your hair back/up, use MAC cosmetics – HELLO waterproof Iceland wedding makeup, and an Iceland Wedding Coat)!
- Icelandic Holidays and Events– There are MANY. Why does this matter to you? In the countryside, many times restaurants will have limited hours or be closed. Also, if you will be having an Iceland Wedding or Icelandic Elopement, you will need to get your marriage paper work / license from the regional District Commissioner and they are closed on Icelandic Holidays and only work M-F (outside of holidays) typically from 9-2pm GMT. Likewise many times Icelandic celebrants will not work on the National holidays so keep that in mind when choosing a Iceland wedding date. Have a look HERE to peruse the dates. It is also very important for you to know what events may be happening during your desired wedding date… The last thing you want to do is pick a day/weekend and location that is going to be way over populated and filled with people EVERYWHERE or worst yet, sharing your wedding space with another couple! Note: Our clients need not worry because we do not plan weddings at mainstream locations where this happens.
- Driving in Iceland: We have a fantastic previous blog post HERE on that topic. If you don’t want to read then at least click on the below:
- Iceland is not a cheap country, regardless of how cheap your plane ticket is. It is in fact one of the most expensive in Europe and most certainly in the world. Remember: Iceland is an ISLAND and most of everything is imported (including most food) making it high priced to eat, adventure, and shop. Examples: Rental cars here in summer for an economy car range between $80-100 USD per day; Breakfast for 1 person $18 USD; lunch for 1 person: $28-35 USD; Dinner $48-65 per person. There are only 4 American fast-food joints here also, KFC, Taco Bell, Subway, Quiznos and they are still fairly expensive to American terms (no dollar menus like you’re use to). So unless you only want your diet to consist of hot dogs, I would urge you to be ready and save up.
- Credit Cards (VISA / Master Card) are accepted 98% of the places you’ll go and most restaurants will also take AMEX. No need to exchange money (ISK – Iceland Kronurs) unless paying people on your Iceland wedding day (Celebrant, Iceland Hairstylist or Makeup Artist) or unless you want to buy a Pylsur from the famous hot dog stand or a snack from the downtown Reykjavik food trucks.
- Icelandair “My Stopover” – This is one tidbit I wish was happening way back when I was first married here in Iceland (way back when before it was cool) because I think my guests would have LOVED to take advantage of it. What is Icelandair’s offer of a “Stop Over?” They allow you to do a practically “free” stop in Iceland for up to 7 days on the beginning of your trip or after it. Which means you could fly from NYC to Iceland (hold your Iceland wedding or elopement) for up to 7 days and then go honeymoon in some other awesome European destinations (like to Norway, France, Scotland, etc).
- Natural Wonders in Iceland can be Dangerous! No joke folks and that perfect Instagram photo or selfie is not worth your life, okay? Examples of where to take heed:
- Fjadrargljufur Canyon – Heed the roped path okay? The place is often a mud slip-and-slide and falling 200 meters isn’t on the Iceland wedding agenda.
- Geysir – Stand behind the designated ropes because I promise, 3rd degree burns will ruin your Golden Circle tour.
- Gullfoss Waterfall – In winter (December-March) the path down to the waterfall is closed for a reason and the reason is because it is ICY and you could plummet to your Niagara Falls style death. But then during Spring/Summer/Fall – Don’t take silly risks either. The other day I saw a photographer on Instagram post a photo of a couple standing on a moss cliff edge inches from the powerful waterfall (search the “icelandwedding” hashtags for around May 11th 2016 and you’ll see it). Moss/Dirt piles are unstable and dangerous and that is why you should not venture off the roped path. Too many tourists before you have made that area unstable and you could now be the one that serves as the risky example. Think about consequences, not “the perfect shot,” okay?
- Godafoss / Dettifoss Waterfall (Northern Iceland waterfalls) – Be careful here too folks. The above warning applies to these waterfalls too.
- Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon – So we all know ice melts and is generally unstable, right? Only hop onto ice that is fully stable on LAND, not with water under it. Otherwise you could be a laughed at news article and face fines if the Iceland Search and Rescue team have to come rescue you like these silly tourists.
- Reynisfjara Beach – This beach is gorgeous, yes. However during the winter months (November-April) this location has limited accessibility because of the strong currents/waves. So the cave or the basalt rocks will not be accessible to you, so just come back in summer okay? But know, even in summer venturing out into the water at this black sand beach is not a good idea. Remember what I said about strong currents? I’m not joshing.
Don’t tempt fate and respect nature.
- Arctic Char: It’s more delicious than salmon, order it wherever you go and never ever be disappointed.
- Best Places to see Icelandic Wildlife:
- Reindeer Deer – Egilsstaðir (Eastern Iceland)
- Puffins – Vestmannaeyjar or Dyrholaey (Southern Iceland)
- Whales – Husavik (Northern Iceland)
- Arctic Foxes – Hornstrandir /Ísafjarðardjúp (Westfjords)
- If you’re planning on going the budget route and camp around Iceland, I encourage you to get the “Camping Card.”
- Duty Free Upon Arrival is one of my favorite things about flying into Iceland. Why? Mainly because the alcohol sold there has a better selection and a fraction of the cost of what it costs in stores around the country. Second, because you can order online and in advance. So for someone who HATES shopping, I can place my order online, give them the reference number upon landing and then they have it ready and ring it all up for me right then and there. You should try it out, HERE. Also see a calculator for how much alcohol you can purchase upon arrival HERE. Remember though, you still must stay within the usual customs boundaries if you do not wish to pay duty. See those rules again HERE.
- Tax Free Shopping all around the country! Most of the places you’ll want to buy Icelandic wool sweaters, blankets, souvenirs, etc, have a Global Blue sticker outside of their door which means you’ll get money back (if you spend more than 6,000 ISK per purchase). So make sure you ask for the form / receipt upon check out if the location participates! Fill it out and then when you’re leaving Iceland, you will follow the signs to “Tax Refund.”
- Will your phone work in Iceland? Check with your provider before you come here. Otherwise… If you’re not going to be doing “f-roads” or offbeat adventuring and you have a GPS with Icelandic maps installed, then you can get away with just using your cell phones on wifi. Best option: If you have “unlocked” phones you can buy a SIM card to put in your phone (they sell in the Duty Free Shop nearby to where you get your checked luggage). Otherwise another option would be buying a cheap prepaid phone at duty free upon arrival, but I would suggest you pre-buy to ensure they have ready and in stock when you arrive. See HERE.
- Grocery Stores in Iceland:
- Buying Alcohol in Iceland: Where can you buy Icelandic Beer, Spirits, Wine, and Champagne? There is only one company allowed to sell outright and that is as follows: Vinbudin. Note: You can not buy alcohol in grocery stores (sorry my American friends).
I hope this informational post has helped you begin your planning for your Iceland wedding!