In your search for the perfect wedding venue in Iceland, you may decide on the option of a cave wedding. After all, in a country known for its wild weather, it certainly makes sense to choose a venue that will keep you dry and out of the gale force winds! A cave wedding can offer you the best of both worlds – the chance to exchange your vows in the midst of Iceland’s dramatic landscape, whilst sheltering from it at the same time. Genius!
What Are the Different Types of Cave Wedding Venues?
Iceland is known for many things, and our vast number of caves is certainly one of them. The wild terrain that makes up much of this country creates a perfect environment to form a cave; lava flows from volcanic eruptions, glaciers recede down the mountainsides and every year, new caves are revealed when winter breaks its icy grip on the landscape. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to different types of caves, from natural to man-made, from those that are public to those that require permission to access, from the secluded to those on the tourist trail, we have them all.
If you’re keen to find your own perfect cave, we would love to introduce you to some amazing options. So let’s dive in and find your perfect cave wedding venue!
A Natural Cave Perfect for a Large Wedding, Or Just for Two!
Hjörleifshöfði (Hjorleifshofdi) is one of our favorite cave wedding locations in Iceland, so where better to start our tour! Whether you’re planning to bring 40+ of your nearest and dearest along for the (Super Jeep!) ride, or íf you’re planning a sweet and simple elopement, this is one versatile wedding venue. Oh, and did we mention that access to the cave is available exclusively via Iceland Wedding Planner?
Hjörleifshöfði is a spectacular cave that sits within Southern Iceland on a black sand desert. The cave runs deep within Iceland’s history and believe it or not, it actually used to be an island in the middle of the North Atlantic. But since the ocean recedes from the Icelandic shores each year for the past 1,000 years, it is now one of the largest natural caves in Iceland. Truly, an ideal location to hold your Iceland wedding or elopement ceremony, big or small. We have easily held 100+ guest weddings inside the cave, right down to intimate wedding ceremonies comprising just the couple eloping.
There are a few important things to know about this amazing spot in Iceland however … The mountain / cave / surrounding area is all on private property so you must have permission / a permit to hold any wedding related event or wedding photo session (including proposal, engagement session, pre-wedding session, honeymoon session, anniversary session, styled sessions, portfolio work, and wedding models, etc).
Our team, Iceland Wedding Planner is the only wedding planning and photography team in Iceland allowed to hold weddings in this cave. We have a contractual agreement with the landowner to exclusively handle any and all interest and bookings in regards to anything wedding related at the Hjörleifshöfði Cave area.
If you wish to plan an Iceland wedding ceremony in this cave… You must contact us for more details to see if your date is available and what costs may apply. If you are a photographer photographing a couple on their wedding day or shooting pre/post wedding photos in Iceland, you also must contact us in advance for availability, permission, and applicable costs. In order to keep the cave exclusive, pure, clean, and in perfect condition, this is a strict requirement.
Real Weddings and Elopements in Hjörleifshöfði Cave
Do you remember Rachel and John’s recent elopement inside this gorgeous cave? Or what about years ago when Paul + Marc’s large wedding was the very FIRST wedding to take place inside of the cave? Or how much fun Christophe and Mary’s Iceland wedding was, complete with a hot dog bbq and champagne sing-along inside the cave?
Weddings in Ice Caves
Ice caves are one of the most interesting caves that we have in Iceland. Mainly because we never know until the start of the ice cave season (November-April) what type of caves will be accessible or how long they will last. This year our team was quite lucky and we had ice caves exclusively accessible for our Iceland wedding and elopement clients all summer (which is not typical, but we are always hopeful when we scout!).
It’s also important to understand that all ice caves are not created equal… Other wedding planners and guides will take you to the sides of glaciers that will be filled with tourists, not providing you with the same intimate experience that our Iceland Wedding Planner team does. We’ll take you to the more offbeat sides of glaciers (where tour busses can’t reach), and we also take the extra steps to ensure that we obtain permission from the private landowners, towns, and governments ahead of time to secure exclusive use of our ice cave wedding locations. I mean, who wants to share their big day with a random bunch of tourists?
If this sounds like your kind of wedding venue, take a look at our complete guide on How to Plan an Ice Cave Wedding.
Real Elopement in an Ice Caves (and a Honeymoon too!)
But what an amazing thing to be able to say to your friends and family back home… “The ice cave we were married in no longer exists because it melted away!” Imagine being the only ones that eloped or explored it during an Iceland wedding day! Pretty freaking special if you ask me!
Lava Tube Cave Venues
Lava tubes vary in age, size, and length. There are a handful you can explore publicly on your Iceland wedding day (like Gjabakkahellir in Thingvellir National Park, which is public), whereas others require a 4×4, an experienced guide and proper gear for safety (such as our Lava Tube Cave Weddings, which are held on private property). Many times when you get down into the lava tubes there is an eerie silence, it’s super cold, and pitch-black dark. A wedding day experience that you won’t soon forget!
Tip: Make sure your Iceland wedding photographer is prepared in advance with proper lighting gear, like the gear that we always use.
Real Wedding Ceremonies in a Lava Tube Cave
Canyon Caves for your Iceland Wedding
Who knew canyons bore secret caves? This fun fact is one of my favorite surprises that I’ve encountered while planning weddings and elopements in Iceland! At times, they can be quite challenging to get inside (ie, intricate river crossings or rock climbing / bouldering to get inside). Then once you get inside, you might find yourself even more surprised by the structure, texture and tones inside too. Let’s just say that the effort will be worth the view! The canyon cave below for example shocked me with the amount of ferns growing inside. This certainly makes for a very uniquely textured Iceland wedding portrait! The canyon caves we use for our Iceland weddings require special permission / permit for exclusive use, but are sooo worth it!
A Real Elopement Complete with a Canyon Cave
Remember the epic Iceland hiking elopement of Matt and Elita?
More Natural Cave Wedding Venues
We spoke at the beginning about one of our favorite natural caves, Hjörleifshöfði cave. But with so many other natural beauties in Iceland, we wanted to take a moment to explore a few more, and to explain just why we love these natural wonders so much.
You have heard us talk about the unpredictable weather that happens in Iceland, right? Well the extreme weather is both friend and foe to us, because water/rain/ice/wind can take mountain walls and hollow them out creating incredibly beautiful caves for Iceland weddings! I mean seriously, look at these amazing Iceland natural wonders, just begging to hold your ceremony in them! Exploring a cave during your adventure wedding in Iceland is a super fun activity! Why? You get to touch, feel, and witness the birth of a new landscape here in Iceland. That cave was discovered, maybe used for shelter for the sheep, or handcrafted by nature herself! I often feel like I’m a part of history when I scout or enter inside of one (::Geek Alert:: I know )!
On that note, here are a few more natural cave wedding venues to inspire you …
Glacier Caves Crafted by Glaciers Receding
O.M.G, my most favorite kind of cave EVER, like ever ever! Think about this topic folks… A cave that didn’t exist like 5 years ago now only exists because a glacier has receded back to reveal it! Magic! Okay, so now think about being one of the very few to EVER step foot inside (let alone have your Iceland wedding ceremony in the cave!), like it’s such a new landscape that there is ASH still on the floor from previous eruptions. Watch out, I might geology geek out on you again… The cave below literally took my breath away, still does, and I think always will.
Intimate Caves Created by Overhanging Lava Flows
This kind of cave is understated. It sort of provides the best of both worlds because you might like the shelter that a cave provides but want the airiness of the scenery around for your Iceland wedding day adventure. How are these caves formed? Short Story: Hundreds or thousands of years ago, a volcano erupted in Iceland, cooled, and then stopped forming. Result: stunning hidden gems like this throughout the countryside.
Thank you, Iceland.
Iceland Sea Cave Wedding Locations
Say what?! How can you have a wedding in a sea cave you ask? By boat, of course!
Imagine, all of your Iceland wedding guests board a sailboat or speedboat and embark on the first adventure of the day which just so happens to be your gorgeous wedding ceremony!
Iceland, and specifically the Westman Islands and Westfjords have countless sea caves for you to choose from for a truly unique wedding location! And oh la la folks if you have a guest who can sing… the acoustics are AMAZING! Our Iceland wedding planner team is always up to the challenge of unique logistics for cave weddings, so contact us for more information!
A Word About Man-Made Cave Wedding Venues
So you want to have a cave wedding in Iceland… Awesome! But, I urge you, please don’t plan your wedding inside of a hokey man-made one!
A man-made cave in Iceland is kinda like slapping nature in the face after traveling so far to see her! Iceland Wedding Planner does NOT do weddings in man-made ice caves (like those ‘Into the Glacier’ experiences, sorry!). Our team will however plan Iceland weddings in caves that have just had the entrance to the cave crafted (but the cave itself still fully exists on its own before), like several lava rock / tuff / limestone caves that exist or the Inside the Volcano experience.
If You Don’t Mind Tourists at Your Cave Wedding . . .
If you are dying to have your wedding in a cave or you need to seek shelter during your adventure wedding in Iceland (and you didn’t hire Iceland Wedding Planner, so you could delight in one of our secret/private wedding cave venues), there are still some options for you, don’t worry! For example, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach Cave can be an option for you during the Spring-Fall wedding season in Iceland (but only during low tide times, you can check tide levels HERE). There are actually three caves within the one location (see the Iceland wedding photo images below). Just be aware that, more often than not you will be joined by dozens to hundreds of onlooking tourists, and potentially other wedding couples, at any given time inside the cave.
Caves Aren’t Just for Weddings . . . How about a Cave Proposal!
As well as being crack Iceland Wedding Planners and Wedding Photographers extraordinaire . . . we have also been known to pull off the odd super sneaky surprise wedding proposal!
Take a look back at Matthew and Anita’s swoon-worthy cave proposal, which started as an offbeat adventure tour (or so Anita thought …) and ended with a Tiffany diamond ring!
Can You Hold Your Wedding Reception in a Cave?
Short answer, yes … but in Iceland at least, it’s not for the faint-hearted! This is an expensive option, not to mention a logistically complicated one.
The interior of a cave can be colder than the outside temperature, so bringing gas-powered heaters is a must no matter what time of year your wedding reception is taking place. Further, caves are naturally dark so artificial lighting is a must – anything from basic lighting for the cave walls to more elaborate overhead twinkle-type lights can be arranged.
You’ll also need to consider how you’ll get power to the cave. Obviously, caves don’t come complete with electricity, so everything will need to run on gas, battery, or a generator. Catering is another challenge that you’ll need to consider. Options include bringing in food trucks, or arranging a truck that has a kitchen a chef can cook in.
Finally, everything else for your wedding reception will need to be brought in like tables, chairs, linens, glassware, cutlery, etc. And don’t forget the porta potties too!
Overall, the experience is very earthy. Remember, the floor of a cave is dirt, which can easily end up on you and your guests after a little bit of wind. So a cave wedding reception won’t be for everybody, but it can certainly be done for the right couple and the right guests.
10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Cave Wedding Venue
- Many caves in Iceland are located on private land. In this case, you will need to obtain permission (and pay any applicable fees) in advance, in order to get married there.
- Don’t presume that you’ll have exclusive use of your chosen cave. If you work with Iceland Wedding Planner, we’ll ensure that the wedding cave is yours alone, but be aware that many other wedding planners in Iceland will not do this, and you will most likely end up sharing your wedding ceremony with a group of onlookers. (This popular cave at Reynisfjall is one such example)
- On that note, some caves are located in highly trafficked tourist areas and it’s important to be aware of just how busy, loud and crowded your wedding venue might be.
- It’s also important to think about how you will reach your cave on the wedding day. Many caves can only be reached via Super Jeep, and some also require specialist hiking or climbing equipment to enter.
- Safety matters! Make sure that you have an appropriately experienced and trained guide if required, especially when entering an ice cave.
- Choose the right-sized cave for your wedding party. For example, Hjörleifshöfði is one of the larger venues that can take up to 100+ guests.
- Think carefully about your choice of wedding attire. Will you need to climb, hike, cross streams, etc, to reach your cave on the day?
- Will you need to arrange any special lighting or audio equipment, to ensure that your guests can see you inside the cave, and hear you over the sound of the ocean or wind?
- On the topic of lighting, is your wedding photographer experienced at shooting in the low light inside of a cave, and do they have the appropriate gear to capture your wedding portraits in these conditions? You’ll need a photographer who can shoot ‘off camera flash’ (as our team is fully capable of doing), otherwise you’ll end up with silhouette photos! (Take a look here, to see the difference.)
- Finally, not a very romantic topic, but are there toilets available onsite or nearby? If not, you may have to either bring your own or arrange for a few ‘bathroom breaks’ along your wedding day itinerary. (Note: Bathroom breaks at a gas station can take a lot of time for a group . . . imagine a 40 person bus, only 3 stalls, other groups also using it as a stop . . . this could take an hour or more – not where you want to be spending your precious wedding day! It’s far better to bring your own for a larger group).
More Real Cave Weddings to Inspire You
Looking for more inspiration? Here are a few more of our favorite cave weddings from the blog;
Mike and Alli’s intimate wedding ceremony with guests inside a private cave, followed by an expedition into an ice cave!
Tee and Eddie’s elopement in a natural cave, complete with blizzards and frozen waterfalls.
Anna and Daniel’s Wedding Anniversary photo shoot inside an ice cave, with one very unique décor item …
Tara and Josh’s ice cave wedding day with blue ice caves, black glaciers, a private beach and more.
Hundreds of natural caves can be found throughout every part of Iceland. So no matter if you plan to marry in the South of Iceland, or the North, East, or West, there is an incredible cave waiting for you! We hope today you have found your cave wedding location in Iceland!