A Wedding on Ice

An American couples dream destination wedding in Iceland

It's hard to believe it's barely been a year since we set off from California to get married, in Iceland. A mere 6 months before that, my then-boyfriend surprised me with a trip to Alaska - and then surprised me again, with a ring, on a glacier, on a dogsled. Ladies and gentleman, that right there, is what you call a keeper.

Man and woman kissing on wedding day with glacier background in Iceland

The thing that made this all the more special is that Dan, my then husband-to-be, is a beach boy. All sun all the time. But he knew Alaska, in all its glacial and mountainous glory, would speak directly to my not-so-cold heart. So imagine my surprise and elation when we started brainstorming where to get married and he actually genuinely liked the idea of Iceland - in the winter!

Yes Californians, we chose to get married in Iceland instead of our then hometown of San Diego. Crazy, right? Yes. Well, kind of. As Dan is originally from Germany and me from Boston, we justified it by saying looking for a place that would be convenient and affordable for our loved ones to travel to. The reality was that we wanted it to be somewhere epic, somewhere different, somewhere that we felt embodied the kind of dramatic and awe-inspiring lives we hoped to look back and see in the rear-view one day. And really folks, where else could that be other than Iceland?

Video by: You Rock・We Drone (aka the hubby!)

So began our research journey. We chose early March to ensure all of our friends and family could be there. We were also secretly hoping that we would be able to see the Northern Lights with everyone else in tow too!

Photos by Pretty Branch Photography: https://www.prettybranch.com/

Of course, early March is not exactly the ideal time for an outdoor ceremony - yet it was very important to us that we felt like we were out in nature. That meant we were looking for a hall or at least a big restaurant somewhere in the Icelandic countryside (which is pretty much all of Iceland aside from Reykjavik). Herein lay the problem, "big" can really only describe the natural wonders in Iceland. The fjords, the geysirs, the waterfalls - not the buildings. As almost all the construction materials are imported given that there are not even forests there, big buildings are not really the norm. Not like back in good old 'merica.

Man and Woman embracing in the snow in Iceland on wedding day

Photos by Pretty Branch Photography: https://www.prettybranch.com/

Luckily, we found Pink Iceland and our Icelandic hero Haffi. Pink is a travel agency that cameos as a wedding planner from time to time. Typically, people who want to get married in Iceland are eloping. The few that don't primarily have their ceremonies and festivities in Reykjavik where all the facilities are. We had to be difficult, er - I mean - different.

Happily, Haffi heard our pleas for the drama and nature and found us a place beyond our wildest dreams as well as a wonderful officiant, decorator and even horses. A few months later we were on route to Hveragerdi (sight unseen might I add). To a little country hotel we went and eventually to an honest to goodness Viking Hall, Ingolfsskali - named for the first Viking to settle in Iceland (and conveniently including my name).

Photos by Pretty Branch Photography: https://www.prettybranch.com/

A mere 45 minutes, but in actuality a world, away from the hustle and bustle of Reykjavik and indeed the rest of the world. The little town was the gateway to the Golden Circle - the home of some of Iceland's most well-known destinations: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gulfoss. The Kerid crater is also there which my father and brother attempted to see and accidentally mistook a construction hole for it instead. In their defence, it sounded like a big hole. Meanwhile, our friends nipped down to the beautiful black sand beach at Vik and its nearby waterfall Skogafoss as we got ready for our big day.

Witnessed by friends and family from New Zealand to the UK, the US to Germany, Switzerland to Canada, we said our vows and toasted the Viking Horn. With the traditional circle binding we were married and that night the northern lights came


Photos by Pretty Branch Photography: https://www.prettybranch.com/

The year that was to ensue, unbeknownst to us at the time, would be the most difficult of our lives yet. To have the night, these moments, and this time to hold on to - has been invaluable in helping us remember what life is all about. What travel can be, what a place can hold.

Man and Woman embracing amongst rocks on Reynisfjara, Black Sand Beach in Iceland

Photos by Pretty Branch Photography: https://www.prettybranch.com/

For us, our wedding was not something about wanting to recreate from a magazine or even about the impressive photos I share with you now. It was a moment we decided to make for us and for those we feel most connected to in a place that represented the kind of life we want to live. It was a time we decided we would do what we truly wanted because if not "now" then when? Your union, your travels, your choices in your life - they are yours to make. I urge you to make them consciously, no matter how crazy (Iceland in winter, drama for drama's sake, horses because we could).

Crazy is waiting, crazy is hiding, crazy is saying no to yourself.

So don't.

Woman and man in silhouette with sun rising standing on horizon in Iceland

Photos by Pretty Branch Photography: https://www.prettybranch.com/

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