Picture this: You and the love of your life are standing at the edge of a magnificent waterfall. The sun shines across your face and illuminates the mist of the falls, revealing a radiant rainbow. Plush fields of grass nearby ripple with the breeze, and the gust kisses your skin. You face your partner, grab their hands, and take a deep breath. Icelandic air fills your lungs as you say your vows to your partner.
Whether I just convinced you to elope in Iceland or reaffirmed your choice, I’ve written an all-encompassing guide that’ll teach you all you need to know about eloping in Iceland. Keep reading for a full list of all my must-do’s, tips, and experiences as a seasoned elopement photographer!
When Should You Elope In Iceland
The Best Seasons To Elope In Iceland
Beauty can be found around Iceland during any season. In Winter, you can catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Springtime showers bring Iceland’s luscious green landscape back to life. In early Fall, you’ll experience comfortable temperatures and low crowd levels. In Summer, sunny days and a plethora of outdoor activities. While Spring and Winter offer fun and unique activities and sighting-seeing opportunities, the weather can be unpredictable.
Summer (June – Mid August)
Summer is the season that gets my vote for the best time of year to elope in Iceland. Although Summer is considered the “busy” season, crowds can be planned around by arranging your elopement experience at sunset, Sunrise, or even MIDNIGHT during a weekday. While activities like camping, hiking, puffin-spotting, and glacier exploration are plentiful, less rainy days and warm temperatures make Summer the perfect time to elope in Iceland.
Early Fall (Late August – October)
Early Fall is a runner-up to my vote for the best time of year to elope in Iceland. During this season, crowd levels are significantly lower than in Summer. High prices and even higher demand for accommodations dip. Traffic around Iceland is considerably less, AND popular locations like Skógafoss aren’t as crowded. You’ll also be able to see some pretty epic autumn colors. One of my favorite Fall activities in Iceland is berry picking! If you plan to elope in Iceland in late September, you may catch a glimpse of some of the first showings of the Northern Lights.
The Best Time Of The Week To Elope In Iceland
Let me let you in on a little secret; weekday elopements ensure your ceremony will be as private as possible and may help you secure your favorite popular vendors and accommodations. If you’re not yet convinced about eloping on a weekday, here are a few of my favorite perks:
Low Crowd Levels
The first perk to eloping on a weekday is lower crowd levels. If you plan to elope in Iceland in Summer, prepare for popular locations to be crowded.
By eloping in Iceland on a weekday, you’ll still get to go to popular locations AND experience a private vow ceremony.
The second perk to eloping on a weekday is less traffic. If you plan on hitting up a few popular tourist locations for your elopement in Iceland, sitting in traffic can be a mood killer, especially when you’re on a timeline. Booking your elopement on a weekday avoids heavy weekend traffic.
The third perk is vendor availability. Weekends are popular for vendors, especially during peak seasons. If you’re planning an Iceland elopement and all your preferred vendors are booked out on the weekends, consider switching your elopement date to a weekday!
The fourth and final perk of eloping on a weekday is accommodation availability. Now there are some seriously beautiful hotels, a-frames, cottages, and homes available for rent in Iceland. Beautiful accommodations tend to be fully booked and more expensive on the weekends in Iceland, especially during Summer. You can book popular accommodations that may otherwise be booked by eloping on a weekday. They’ll also likely be less expensive.
To learn more about how weekday elopements offer a secluded and stress-free experience, read my blog, Why You Should Elope On A Weekday.
The Best Time Of Day To Elope In Iceland
Many factors go into selecting the perfect time of day for your intimate wedding or elopement ceremony; time of year, are you and your partner early risers or night owls, and what locations/activities you include in your wedding plans.
In the Summer, Iceland days are LONG. I’m talking about 20-hour days throughout June and July. While there is still a Sunset and Sunrise in Summer, Sunrise is usually around 2:00/3:00 AM and Sunset around 10:00/11:00 PM.
As Iceland shifts into early Fall, days are shorter, and the option of a Sunrise or Sunset elopement becomes more available at “normal” times. You can expect Sunrise to be around 6:00 AM and Sunset around 8:00/9:00 PM.
If you and your partner are down for a unique Sunset or Sunrise elopement experience, you could also take advantage of the Midnight Sun on or around the day of the Summer Solstice. Around mid-June, Iceland’s longest day of the year (the summer solstice) sees a midnight Sunset and a 3:00 AM Sunrise.
Where Should You Elope In Iceland?
As your photographer, this is where I come in. I’ve hung out with and photographed couples all around Iceland. I’m familiar with Iceland’s most popular destinations and have some super secret off-the-grid locations up my sleeve. From beaches to glaciers, basalt columns, and waterfalls, I’ll help you pick the perfect place and capture all your elopement’s authentic, love-filled moments.
A 2.5-hour trip down to the southern coast of Iceland will bring you and your partner to Skógafoss, an astounding 197ft (60m) waterfall. While you can walk near the base of the waterfall, this area also includes an observation deck and a 527-step staircase. This magnificent cascade is a breathtaking backdrop for your vows. From the mist of the falls on your face to the sheer awe in your heart, you and your partner will get goosebumps and feel all the feels if you elope at Skógafoss.
Black Sand Beach
A short 30-minute drive from Skógafoss will bring you to Black Sand Beach. While this isn’t your typical tropical beach, it’s a unique location and makes for a stunning vow spot. The moment you step on Black Sand Beach, you’ll feel coarse, granular pieces of black volcanic rock beneath your feet. Along the beach, you’ll see basalt columns formed from overflowing lava. Off in the distance, you’ll see some rock structures called Reynisdrangar.
Reynisdrangar is this collection of massive basalt sea stacks in the middle of the surf. Science proves they were formed by a fancy term called Erosion via Hydraulic Action. However, there is another theory on how Reynisdrangar formed in Icelandic folklore. The legend goes that some trolls saw a ship out to Sea at night. They went out to Sea to gather the ship, but dawn swept over Iceland, and the trolls and ship were frozen into stone. I like the legend because it’s enchanting, much like the location.
While Black Sand Beach is a literal movie-worthy elopement location, it’s recommended that couples don’t wade into the surf for photos, as sneaker waves and rip currents are prevalent at this beach location.
Glaciers – Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach, & Vatnajökull
While there are many wonders in our world, Glaciers are one of the more spectacular sights. These larger-than-life ice structures glow a magnificent blue when sunlight hits them just right. There are 269 glaciers in Iceland just waiting to be explored, so here are a few of my favorites!
The most popular glacier in Iceland is Vatnajökull, located about 200 miles (320 km) from the capital. Vatnajökull is 3204 sq. miles (8,300 sq. km), more square miles than Delaware and Rhode Island COMBINED! Vatnajökull is located in a National Park (Vatnajökull Glacier National Park) and offers visitors hiking, boating, and ice cave excursions. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Dettifoss Waterfall, and Asbyrgi Canyon are all popular destinations within the park.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is near Route One, just about 230 miles (370 km) east of Reykjavík. This lagoon is the deepest lake in Iceland, formed by the melting of Vatnajökull glacier — Europe’s largest ice cap. While glaciers float along the lagoon, you and your partner can say your vows against one of the most special backdrops in the world.
Diamond Beach gets its name from the glittering shards of ice that glisten along its black, sandy shores. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon feeds into the Sea at Diamond Beach, scattering pieces of the glacier along the shoreline. You can walk from the lagoon’s shore to the beach in two minutes! The glistening coastline littered with ice fragments makes unique and fun elopement photos.
The Icelandic Highlands is a volcanic desert landscape located at the heart of the country. Due to a lack of paved roads and harsh winter conditions, the Highlands can be inaccessible until June. The best time to elope in the Icelandic Highlands is June – September. Hiking and off-roading trails become accessible, allowing couples to escape to remote, rolling valleys with mountainous peaks, lava fields, and wild traverses. Expansive, panoramic views await any couple adventurous enough to hop in a 4×4 and trek to one of the most impressive areas of Iceland.
Iceland is known for its dramatic landscape, yet this location is a structure that stands out amongst the country’s incredibly diverse scenery. Búðakirkja is one of the oldest churches in the country. Volcanic cliffs, green grass, a cemetery, and a lava field are found near the bold, black-painted structure. A road leads to the church and ends at a parking lot, making it one of my favorite accessibility-friendly locations to elope at in Iceland.
Where Should You Stay When You Elope In Iceland?
Álfasteinn is a private cabin accommodation near Kirkjufell Mountain in Snæfellsnes. It’s an ideal spot for couples looking to wrap their accommodation and ceremony location into one! At this cabin, Kirkjufell Mountain is practically in your backyard. You’ll get to look at some seriously incredible views while enjoying your coffee in the morning. The best part of this location, however, is the privacy. Álfasteinn stands on private land right next to the ocean. Need I say more?
Kolsstaðir – Piece of Heaven
This cute cottage in Northwestern Iceland features a modern wood stove to warm up near after a day of exploring. With multiple large windows, you’ll have a front-row seat to an endless Icelandic horizon. Kolsstaðir is a great accommodation for couples wanting a secluded, peaceful elopement experience amongst Iceland’s beautiful landscape. The cottage and surrounding land can also double as a ceremony location!
If you and your partner are looking for luxury hotel accommodation on the south coast of Iceland, look no further. Umi Hotel is a beautiful lodging option near all the best elopement locations and activities the south coast of Iceland offers. The hotel features a first-class restaurant, deluxe rooms, majestic coastline views, and a nearby volcano, Eyjafjallajökul. The best part is you can venture to Skógafoss in less than 15 minutes!
Glamping at Original North
Original North is on the banks of the glacier river, Skjálfandafljót. Their luxurious glamping tents feature electric heaters, king-size beds, and thermal blankets. An excellent choice for any couple looking to spend some time out in nature and unplugged (with a few modern-day perks). Original North also has another lodging option called the Country House. The Country House includes a hot tub and sleeps up to 8 people. If you invite family and friends to be a part of your intimate wedding or elopement, this cute, cozy lodging option will make everyone feel at home. Original North also offers E-Bike tours to nearby sighting-seeing destinations like Ullarfoss waterfall.
What Should You Do On Your Elopement Day In Iceland?
Iceland has over 500 hiking spots. With such a wide variety of terrain, there are paths, routes, trails, and strolls for all needs, desires, and skill levels. If I had to pick just one hike, it would be The Glymur Waterfall Hike. Glymur is Iceland’s second-highest waterfall and an incredible sight to see. The trail to the waterfall is a moderately challenging 4.3 miles (7 km) loop with some incline and located just an hour northeast of Reykjavik.
Over 20 different whale species gather off the coast of Iceland each year. Depending on the time of year and port you’re departing from, you and your partner can share a once-in-a-lifetime close encounter with some of the most fascinating creatures on Earth. While going in and out of port, you may also be able to spot some Puffins near the shoreline or on coastal cliffs!
Consider this place nature’s spa. Relax in a geothermal seawater pool with a drink and mud mask while you take in the beauty of Iceland. You can also upgrade your experience to include a bathrobe and a glass of wine. Besides the steamy mineral-rich water and soft white silica mud, the Blue Lagoon also features restaurants, a day spa, and two hotels. If you and your partner want to leave your Iceland elopement trip feeling rejuvenated, Blue Lagoon is the perfect balance of romance and relaxation.
Route 1 Road Trip
If you’re traveling from the U.S. to Iceland, you may be considering an extended trip to the Nordic nation. A great way to see the entire island is by renting a car and making a Route 1 road trip. Route 1, or “Ring Road,” circles the country, passing by some of Iceland’s most popular locations.
Whether you’re driving on Route 1 to get to your elopement location or planning on circling Ring Road in its entirety after your elopement, you’ll probably need to fill up on gas and grab food at some point. Widely considered the “food of Iceland,” Icelandic hot dogs are my go-to gas station grab. These hot dogs are a must-try for many different reasons; 1) they’re cheap, 2) they’re an easy “grab and go” food, and 3) they’re delicious.
Now Icelandic hot dogs aren’t just ordinary hot dogs. The sausage is a blend of pork, beef, and lamb. It’s laid on a perfectly steamed bun and dressed with white onions, crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and a remoulade. I could go on and on about these things, but you’ll have to trust me when I say they’re a delightful local eating experience you don’t want to miss.
If you need more activity planning inspiration, read my blog, 100 Things To Do On Your Elopement Day.
Who To Hire To Help Bring Your Iceland Elopement To Life
When hiring vendors for your elopement in Iceland, it’s really important to pick either local vendors or vendors with a lot of experience with Iceland elopements.
One of the best things about Iceland is the sheer expansiveness of the country. Hundreds of miles of wide-open space help to disperse tourists. However, popular locations will most likely be crowded at peak hours on weekends. As your elopement photographer, I have top-secret knowledge of some quiet, off-the-beaten-path locations that are just as epic as all the landmarks. I also have access to an Iceland-preferred vendor list full of seasoned professionals.
How To Prepare To Elope In Iceland
With the Greenland Sea to its North, the Norwegian Sea to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean on the south and west coastline of the island, flying is the easiest way to get to Iceland. Keflavík International Airport is just 30 miles (48 km) west of Reykjavik, the country’s capital and largest city. Many major US cities have direct flights on airlines, such as Icelandair, Delta, American, United, and Lufthansa.
Most international flights connect at Keflavik. However, Iceland has a few smaller airports, like Reykjavik Airport, which hosts flights to other parts of the country. If you plan to elope on the other side of the country and want to drive less, a connecting flight out of Reykjavik may be a good option.
While popular elopement locations like Skógafoss are under 3 hours away, you’ll still need a rental car to reach most elopement locations outside Keflavik. Keflavik International Airport has rental car locations on property like Hertz, Budget, and Sixt. Since a car is required to explore most of Iceland’s most popular attractions, I recommend booking your rental car well before your elopement date. During Summer, rental cars become unavailable due to limited supply and high demand.
I recommend booking your Airbnb, hotel, cozy cabin, or cottage well in advance, as these places book up fast, especially during Summer. As soon as you know your elopement date, search for your lodging accommodation(s)!
Make The Marriage Official
I recommend getting a marriage license in your home state or country before or after you and your partner elope in Iceland. This cuts a lot of unnecessary stress while on your trip. You won’t have to figure out how to navigate Icelandic marriage laws and can enjoy your trip stress-free.
If you’d like to have a vow ceremony and are considering inviting family or friends to be a part of your elopement experience, one of your loved ones can serve as an “officiant.” If you’re planning a more intimate elopement, you don’t even need an officiant! That’s the beauty of eloping. You get to choose your way of celebrating, and a vow ceremony with your partner is just as magical!
Depending on the activities, length, and time of year you’ll experience during your visit, being comfortable and prepared for your Iceland elopement is all in the packing. Here is an Iceland elopement essential’s list to help you get started with the packing process:
- Boots (Hiking, Rain, and/or Blundstones)
- Base Layers
- Windproof/Rainproof Jacket
- Coat (Heaviness of coat depends on season)
- Swimsuit/Swim Gear
- Elopement Outfits
- Garment Bag
- Vow Books
- Boarding Pass
- Credit/Debit Cards/Króna (Icelandic currency)
- Drivers License
- Electronics & Adapters
Why Should You Elope In Iceland
There are so many reasons you should elope in Iceland, but here are some of my top whys:
- Most people in Iceland speak English fluently, so if you have never traveled outside your home country or aren’t exactly fluent in Icelandic, you’ll still feel right at home.
- One of my top priorities as an elopement photographer is ensuring my couples feel safe, loved, and included before, during, and after their elopement experience. Iceland is a great wedding destination for LGBT+ couples. The country was at the forefront of legalizing same-sex marriage in 2006. In 2012, they began putting laws into place in an effort to protect and advocate for trans individuals.
- Unplug and unwind. Iceland is VERY nature-focused, with roughly 130 volcanoes, 269 glaciers, 10,000 waterfalls, 45 hot springs, and over 500 hiking trails. This means you can unplug and unwind with the love of your life while experiencing one or many of the dozens of activities that involve these natural wonders.
Are You Ready To Elope In Iceland?
From the moment you begin to drive along Route 1 in Iceland, you feel like you’ve just been dropped into an epic adventure film. Iceland’s dramatic landscape and enchanting, romantic mystique make it ideal for your elopement or intimate wedding. If you’re excited to begin the planning process and need help planning, you can check out my travel page and contact me here. Once we’re in Iceland, we can sit near a waterfall, eat Icelandic hotdogs and talk about how lucky we are to be sitting in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.