ELOPING IN ICELAND by an Iceland Elopement Photographer- (PT. I)
So, you want want to Elope in Iceland but don't know what to do next??
You have been day-dreaming of an elopement in Iceland and having a real, whimsical, life altering adventure and because doing the traditional walk down the aisle just isn't your style. But, you don't know where to start?? It's ok, I got you.
When I first visited this country, my mind was actually blown. I had never seen anything even remotely like this place. The landscapes are vast and ever changing with giant lava boulders sticking out of every direction. The mountains vary in shape and size, some jet black, and some covered in moss or snow, some pointy and some leveled. The ground will go from flat to bumpy lava fields with plush, thick, gorgeous green mosses covering the surface. The earth will crack, break, and split where you don't know where the valley ends. There will be parts of the ground that is so active with geothermal energy under it that hot water and steam shoot out of holes it made in order to escape. The sea surrounding you is the most unique grey-blue you have ever seen where the waves seem to have their own personality that you just don't want to mess with them out of intimidation. AND THE WATERFALLS! WATERFALLS EVERYWHERE! It is purely magical, like scenes straight out of Lord of the Rings, and there is no other way of describing it. This is why It is perfect to elope in Iceland, hands down. No questions asked.
Since then, I am in Iceland every few months for epic shoots and to revive my soul. I get asked just about daily from friends telling me they want to venture here and dream of being able to elope in Iceland, but don't know where to start, what to look for, or where to go. What is the weather like? What is the currency like? What is the food like? How expensive is it to get there? My wedding clients also ask the same questions, as the couples that book me are adventure seeking, Mother Nature loving, not into the traditional wedding setting kind of people. They want to have a dreamy, whimsical, unique-time-of-their-life elopement in Iceland, but have NO IDEA where they need to start. How do you even do something this epic and life changing while you confess your love for your partner and celebrate becoming as close as you can be in a land you have never been?
Well, daydreamer, I got you covered.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I like to travel on a budget. Life is expensive, so when I can save a dollar here or there, I do it. If my clients are not paying for my flights over here because I am traveling solo, I use two main airlines. Though, keep in mind, they are 'budget' airlines which means: you pay for extras. Personally, I am ok with this. I travel light and when I can't, I am pretty amazing at packing smart. Plus, I have gotten to Iceland for $200 ROUND TRIP before, so I understand some features might be a tiny compromise in order to save a few hundred dollars. The airlines I like to use are WOW Air or Norwegian. You can find some really cheap, awesome flights by using their 'fare calendar' feature where you can see for an entire month what days are the cheapest to fly in and fly out. (I also like to search skyscanner to grab some possible deals on major airlines.) Again, these are budget airlines, so keep in mind that you will also have to pay for any additional luggage you need (past the free hand luggage that comes with your ticket). For WOW, you have to pay for an additional larger carry on and checked bag. Norwegian allows you the carry on + hand bag for free, the checked bag is an additional charge. PRO TIP: if you know how much luggage you will need at time of purchase, like you just KNOW you will need a checked bag because honey, you like options, then you can purchase a ticket that includes this bag in its price to save a little dough. EXTRA PRO TIP: You can find some really good package deals from all of these airlines that include hotels, excursions, car rentals, and more.
Both of these airlines, once on board, any drinks or snacks you want, you pay for. For me, its no big deal as most of the flights I book are red-eye so I can sleep and not lose a day from travel. You also can bring food and snacks on board, so I just buy something beforehand and bring it on to eat later. Entertainment is provided on Norwegian planes with a seatback TV (plus a USB plug for your charger YASSSSS), but WOW you can purchase an iPad that is stocked with movies and games for $16 USD. If you really want to treat yo' self and not deal with any of these rules, or possibly even want to stop in Iceland to elope, stay a week or so, then fly to another country to honeymoon some more, you can get a flight with Iceland Air and use their 'stop over' feature to have an extended layover in Iceland before you head out to another destination. PRO TIP: As of right now, citizens of the U.S. do not need a visa in order to travel to Iceland if you are staying for under 90 days. All you need to do is fill out some paperwork for customs that the airline will give you or you can pick up at the airport before you get put through customs.
The airport you will arrive in is actually in Keflavík (KEF), which is a town about 45min outside of Reykjavík (RVK). So, keep that in mind when planning your travel and stay. You can get a flybus from the airport for 2.500 ISK ($23.75 USD) that will take you into RVK, and if you are staying in one of the main hotels, or close to one, they will drop you off where you are staying. You can purchase this ahead of time, on the flights, or at the desk at KEF airport when you arrive. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. EXTRA PRO TIP: if you want some boozy drinks to celebrate with after you're married- before you leave the airport to head to RVK, pick up a few bottles in the DUTY FREE STORE located at baggage claim. Alcohol is expensive here, and also only sold by the government from alcohol stores that are open only 2-4hrs a day sometimes or from a restaurant /bar that serves it. It will save you some (a lot of) money and guarantee you will have it later when you want to give a toast to your love.
If you don't want to take a bus to RVK, you can go the route I take (and suggest) and rent a car. You can reserve it online and pick it up in or within walking distance / shuttle bus from KEF. I suggest doing it with ample time before your trip to save on the price and secure availability. PRO TIP: there are limited number of automatic transmissions available as a majority are manual, so if you don't know how to drive a stick-shift, make sure you DOUBLE CHECK your booking is automatic. Automatics are a bit more expensive and will run about $30+ USD a day versus a manual at around $25+ USD a day. My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE part of being here in Iceland is just driving and soaking in the landscape. I love the freedom of doing what I want. However, it is not needed, and gas will run you about $70-$90 USD to fill the tank. If you do not rent a car, you can still get out of RVK really easily by booking day tours that are guided by awesome Icelandic guides who give you all sorts of fun Iceland facts.
The downside to the tours: you are usually in a bus with lots of other people. So if that is ok with you, some of the excursion companies I have personally been on and shot for that I can give my stamp of approval are: Create Iceland, who is more of a unique tour that is based on creating art while being inspired by the landscape. It's quite fun and quirky and the owner is a gem of a human. Reykjavik Excursions, BusTravel Iceland, and Grey Line are all solid tour companies that range in the type of tour you can take, from large buses to smaller vans, from a few hour tour to 12hr tour. Depends what you want to see and what you want to do. They all make plenty of stops for food, coffee, snacks, and bathroom breaks, so if a 12hr seems crazy, you will not go hungry and the sights are ALWAYS worth it.
Ok lovebirds, now you know HOW to get to Iceland and HOW to get from Keflavík to Reykjavík, so now what? Where do you stay? What do you wear? What even is a foreign country?? Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will share some more of those details and point you further in the right direction.
I hope this ignites your adventurous fire to start planning your elopement in Iceland, because you can TOTALLY do it. It is not as hard as it seems, and this country is just begging for you to explore it. You can sign up for my newsletter at the bottom of my site to have the next blogs dropped right into your inbox! I make it easy for you. If you have any specific questions on planning your elopement and are interested in having me document your love and adventurous ways in your Iceland elopement while guiding you through the most epic landscape to make as the background of your beautiful wedding photos, please reach out and say hi right here!
Talk to you soon, daydreamer!
<3 Steph, from Seyðisfjörður, Iceland
Is there anything you would like to know on an Iceland elopement that did not get answered?? Please leave a question in the comments and I will either answer it right then and there, or if it is lengthy I will write a blog just for you.