At one time or another, we’ve all thought of where we’d like to get married. Our daydreams take us to ceremonies on beaches, vows exchanged in cathedrals and eloping under the stars. Well, if you’ve heard anything about Iceland, you’ll know it has some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. The fire and ice landscapes here provide the perfect backdrop for wedding ceremonies. Here’s the information you need for an Iceland wedding.
Can Foreigners get Married in Iceland?
Yes, but there is some administration to complete before arrival to make sure the wedding follows Iceland marriage requirements. You must send the required documents to the National Registry Office at least three weeks in advance. The documents must be originals and are as follows:
Passports of both parties
Birth Certificates of both parties
A certificate of Marital Status to prove you are not currently married (can be obtained here). This can be no older than 8 weeks.
A Marriage Notification (see the link above) which must be signed by two witnesses and the person who conducts the ceremony.
Divorce papers, if either party is divorced
Death Certificate of a previous spouse if applicable
You also need to be in Iceland at least two days before your wedding, to obtain the Iceland marriage license. Another option is to have the legal ceremony in your home country, and just have the celebration in Iceland.
How Much does it Cost to get Married in Iceland?
Make no mistake, an Iceland destination wedding will not be cheap. Wages are much higher here than in the US and UK, as are food prices. If you wish to have a simple, civil marriage ceremony at the Registry Office, they cost ISK 10,000. Details can be found in this website.
Another option is to arrange your wedding through Siðmennt, the Icelandic Humanist Association. You are not limited to a location in the city center, and their ceremonies have no religious content. In 2019 the cost of a wedding through them was ISK 65,000, not including travel expenses. Whether it’s a small wedding in Iceland you’re aiming for or a large one, they will cater to your needs. Here you can find some details.
That’s the ceremony, but then there are of course venue hire fees, catering, photography, and flowers among other things. These vary hugely, so it would be best to hire a local wedding planner to assist you.
Best Places to get Married in Iceland
Iceland wedding venues are as diverse as they are anywhere else. We have some spectacular churches, both large and small. Iceland’s most famous church is Hallgrímskirkja, which at 74.5 meters (244 feet) high is also the largest in the country. It towers over every other building in the city center and can be seen from miles away. The interior is well-equipped to cater for a large number of people. Visit their official website for more details.
There are also a number of small churches close to the Capital Area that are perfect for smaller ceremonies. Búðakirkja, the tiny black church in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, is in a serene location and conveniently has a hotel nearby. If you do get married in a church, you would have to conform to that church’s religious practices. The predominant religion here is Lutheran Christianity, but there are other Christian churches as well as a mosque and synagogue.
Your wedding doesn’t have to be in a church. You could make use of the incredible scenery here and have an outdoor ceremony in rural Iceland. Here are some popular locations:
Þingvellir National Park, a huge expanse of lava fields, rivers, and untouched beauty.
Gullfoss (translation: Golden Falls) the massive waterfall in the Golden Circle
Seljalandsfoss, another beautiful waterfall on the south coast surrounded by rich grass-covered hills.
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, either in a boat or next to it on the famous Diamond Beach.
Keep in mind, when getting married in Iceland, you have to contend with the tourists who frequent these beautiful locations. Before COVID hit the world, Iceland welcomed over two million tourists per year. The country has quickly recovered and is already welcoming tourists again. When the rest of the world catches up, Iceland will return to having high numbers of visitors. A wedding along the Golden Circle would be spectacular, if you’re fine with tourists passing by.
Iceland Wedding Traditions
Iceland elopement bears many similarities to traditional English and American weddings. The bride wears a white dress, she is walked down the aisle, the Minister speaks. One difference is that the couple don’t usually exchange personal vows. Instead, the Minister takes the lead and asks the couple yes/no questions. If the ceremony is a humanist one, the Minister make take it upon themselves to make a few jokes. Additionally, in traditional Icelandic weddings, the guests are seated by gender. The men will sit on the groom’s side and the women on the bride’s side.
Some Icelanders today choose an Ásatrú wedding; Ásatrú is the old Norse Viking religion. This involves the couple sipping from a drinking horn and having a pagan priest bless their union. The groom also presents his wife with a sword.
After the ceremony, if everyone feels up to it, in traditional Viking fashion they will raid a local village. Just kidding.
Dressing for an Iceland Wedding
The land of fire and ice has a fairly mild climate. The winters are reasonably cold, with most days generally sitting on or around zero Celsius in the south. The summers are not much warmer, with an average July temperature of 12-14°C in Reykjavík. It would be wise to remind your guests, and yourselves, to dress appropriately. You’ll of course want to have on your suits and dresses, but bring along a warm coat and solid footwear. For outdoor weddings, or even just outdoor photos, the temperature can drop suddenly if the wind picks up. And at some point, you’re almost guaranteed to be walking on jagged lava rock, as Iceland is composed of it. A decent pair of shoes would come in handy to get to the ceremony and photoshoot spots.
An Icelandic Honeymoon
What kind of honeymoon are you planning to have? If you want to spend it lying on a tropical beach, don’t pick Iceland. If, however, you want one full of adrenaline activities, connection with nature and silence in which to connect, pick Iceland. The Nordic nation has some of the world’s best hikes, and opportunities to ski, snowboard, scuba dive and more. It additionally is one of the safest countries and has some of the cleanest air and water. With the population concentrated around the coast, the interior (the highlands) offer weeks of exploration. In addition, there are both luxurious geothermal spas and wild hot springs everywhere. These are the perfect places to relax and unwind as a couple.
Fancy an Iceland marriage? You’re making a great choice. This country contains vast swathes of untouched beauty, beautiful hotels and churches, and local experts ready to assist. Not only that, you’ll already be in a fantastic honeymoon spot, with a whole country waiting to be explored.
Samuel Hogarth, Cars Iceland.