A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust
Photos by Kristín María

The Offbeat Bride: Becky, Software Engineer

Her offbeat partner: Michael, Systems Administrator

Date and location of wedding: Dynjandi Waterfall, Westfjords, Iceland — July 7, 2016

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

We simply wanted to have a relaxing, agenda-free day together in a beautiful place we already loved, so we returned to Dynjandi, our favorite spot in Iceland since a trip there together in 2012, to have a civil elopement with just the two of us. We got ready together in our Airbnb, and the day was spent driving around the fjords, picnicking, encountering Icelandic ponies, and then having a communal dinner with strangers at the best fish restaurant in the country and a traditional Icelandic kransakaka for dessert.

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

Tell us about the ceremony:

We already were wearing what we considered our engagement/wedding rings. (Michael had proposed with a vintage Georgian forget-me-not ring, and months later I co-proposed with vintage gimmel ring). So I decided to incorporate a handfasting into a simple, civil ceremony. I think I've seen Braveheart too many times and still fantasized about the secret forest wedding.

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

I found a vintage crewel (basically embroidery with wool yarn) floral bellpull pattern online that was the perfect size for a handfasting cloth and had many of my favorite flowers — bleeding hearts, violets, clover, daisies — on it. For about four months I learned embroidery and sewed the cloth on my train commute and at lunch at work, and I backed the linen cloth in ivory silk for contrast and sewed the lace from my wedding veil into the seams.

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

Neither of us wanted to write vows, so we used the standard civil marriage vows in an Icelandic wedding, and the ceremony was officiated by an officer from the Westfjords Magistrate's office. We even have an Icelandic marriage certificate, which is valid internationally. We brewed and bottled our own mead for the wedding (and for anniversaries to come) and smuggled it over in our checked luggage.

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic Westfjords elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

After the ceremony, we stopped at a smaller waterfall we'd seen during our first visit to Westfjords and had a little picnic there to finally taste our mead and have meats and cheeses and hjónabandssæla ("happy marriage cake" — kind of a rhubarb jam and oat pie) for dessert.

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

Tell us about your reception:

Our helper Haffi from our coordinator Pink Iceland's office drove us all back to Ísafjörður (the main city in the Westfjords where we were staying) and we had dinner at Tjöruhúsið ("tar house"), an excellent restaurant offering a buffet of freshly caught fish dishes, who also surprised us with a bottle of champagne. We ate communal-style at long tables, which was a nice contrast to a private day together, and met both tourists and locals. We didn't want a traditional cake so the local bakery, also a favorite of ours from our previous trip, delivered a delicious tiered marzipan dessert called a kransakaka to the restaurant. It was wonderfully cozy and the food was amazing.

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

Originally we just wanted a backyard wedding where we could celebrate with friends, so when we returned from Iceland our friends, who own a beautiful Bungalow-style house, threw a party for us in their backyard, and we were able to share our homebrewed mead and cupcakes with our friends. We sewed bunting from old curtains, tied long colorful ribbons to the trees, hung three long strands of warm white globe lights traversing the yard, and I DJed a playlist I made. The whole night was magical and we got everything we wanted — the vacation elopement AND the low-key party.

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

What was your most important lesson learned?

Neither us of were excited to wedding plan and found it hard to buy into the whole venue/catering/hotel formula, but wanted something more than the courthouse. Just the prospect of avoiding the formula by renting a house and organizing things ourselves was exhausting. I happened to come across several photosets of couples eloping on the Isle of Skye in Scotland and I completely fell in love with the idea of an intimate ceremony somewhere breathtakingly memorable. When we bought plane tickets, it was like a weight was lifted, and there was also no longer this feeling of "keeping up with the Joneses" that feels a little inevitable when you're on the wedding parts of Pinterest.

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

While we were excited, there was some guilt to overcome about not conforming to family expectations or going through the expected motions. Also, having a wedding abroad was logistically tricky, so we worked with the travel agency Pink Iceland to help book ferry tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, etc. Any advice I could give after going through planning an elopement is that you should read yourselves and ask whether your decisions are leaving you feel excited or exasperated, and if you can swing it, change your course and plan things you're excited about. Also you need to visit Iceland. And more people should elope because it's actually FUN.

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

A majestic Icelandic elopement that will tickle your wanderlust

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  1. <3 <3 <3 Lovely! These Icelandic weddings are breathtaking. Maybe I should set up shop in Iceland (though I like the idea of the Isle of Skye too). Wonder if there's a need for secular wedding officiants in those places. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. So so lovely. A beautiful idea & I wish I had your confidence. Just one thing… don't let an Icelander hear you call them "ponies"!

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