Stunning wedding photo from Dynjandi waterfall in Iceland's Westfjords

Getting Married in Iceland

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Do you want to have your marriage in Iceland? What do you need to do before throwing a wedding in Iceland? Are you planning on an elopement wedding, or searching for Icelandic wedding packages? Read on to find out why Iceland is the perfect country for a destination wedding.

Landscapes out of this world, black sandy beaches, cute wooden churches, fields of green next to towering volcanoes and glaciers, long summer nights or dancing Northern Lights - Iceland truly sells itself as a fun and different destination wedding.

Not only that, it's also a good location for a marriage proposal, or a honeymoon. Many people choose to have their wedding ceremony in Iceland, and then spend their honeymoon exploring the countryside.

Iceland is ideally situated between North America and Europe, with a free stopover package for up to a week when flying between the continents. That makes Iceland especially ideal if the couple is from both Europe and North America and want to meet in the middle, or if coming from North America and planning on spending the honeymoon in Europe, or vice versa.

Summer wedding at Þingvellir National Park in Iceland

Photo by Stefán Ingvar for Love Iceland.

Reasons to get married in Iceland? Iceland's wedding requirements are very straightforward, you can get married within every religion or lack thereof, same-sex marriages are legal and your wedding photographs will look stunning!We at Guide to Iceland would, of course, recommend hiring local photographers, as they will know about all the best locations in each area. A few local photographers were kind enough to give us permission to use some of their stunning wedding photos in this article.

So read on to learn more about tying the knot in Iceland.

Marriage Laws in Iceland

Iceland is great for a destination wedding

Iceland makes it really easy for foreigners to get married within the country. However, there are some laws around it, and some paperwork will always need to be filled out.

Both parties need to be at least 18 years old, and not already married. If one, or both have been married before then they will need to provide proof of divorce. All documents that are sent in will need to be original, and only need to have an accompanying translation if they are not in English or any of the Scandinavian languages.All the documents must be submitted at least 3 weeks prior to the date of the wedding, but to make things easier it's possible to e-mail the documents first and hand over the original documents in person, no later than 5 days before the wedding date. If you hire a wedding planner, they can do this for you.

If documents do not arrive within this timeframe, the marriage is considered cancelled.

Black church at Búðir in west Iceland is a popular location for wedding ceremonies

Photo by Kristín María for Pink Iceland, at Búðir church on Snæfellsnes peninsula

Documents That are Needed to Get Married in Iceland (Must be Sent 3 Weeks Prior to Date of Wedding):

  1. Marriage notification (Hjónavígsluskýrsla)
  2. Birth certificates of both parties. Originals can be returned after the wedding ceremony.
  3. Certificate of marital status, that needs to be issued within 8 weeks prior to the wedding date.
  4. A divorce decree, if either party is divorced.
  5. If bride/groom is a widower, a document detailing that the estate of the deceased has been divided/finalised.
  6. Valid passports of both parties.

After the ceremony has taken place it is possible to obtain a wedding certificate in English from the National Registry, Þjóðskrá. Find out further details at the National Registry's website.

Wedding Venues in Iceland

Onto the fun stuff. Where should you have the wedding ceremony in Iceland?

For the adventurous ones, you don't need a church to get married in Iceland, since you can choose to get married anywhere within the stunning nature. That includes on top of a mountain, inside an ice cave, right by an impressive waterfall, in a meadow, in one of Iceland's National Parks or on one of the country's iconic beaches.

White sand beach wedding at Snæfellsnes peninsula in West Iceland

Photo by Stefán Ingvar for Love Iceland.

Iceland is literally covered with stunning waterfalls, too many to count them, so many people choose to have their wedding photos taken by an impressive waterfall, or even hold the ceremony there. Just take into consideration that the grander the waterfall is, the noisier it is as well, so for the ceremony you might want to be at a little distance away in order to hear the vows of your loved one.

Stunning wedding photo from Dynjandi waterfall in Iceland's Westfjords

Photo by Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís, by Dynjandi waterfall

The sky isn't even your limit when it comes to tying the knot in Iceland - as it's probably also possible to have the wedding ceremony conducted within a helicopter! Or at least you can rent one to take you from one mind-bogglingly beautiful location to another, such as into the Icelandic highlands, for some truly impressive wedding photos.

It's possible to get married inside an ice chapel in a glacier in Iceland!

Photo by Kristín María for Pink Iceland, inside Langjökull glacier's ice tunnels

Or if you want a mix between a church and nature, you can combine the two - why not have an ice cave wedding? There's a chapel made out of ice inside Langjökull glacier, accessible all year round. 

Winter wedding at Þingvellir National Park in Iceland

Photo by Stefán Ingvar for Love Iceland.

For an outdoor wedding just be aware that the weather may not always want to collaborate, so it's good to either have a house nearby or erect a tent for some shelter from the elements. Always have a Plan B for an outdoor wedding in Iceland. And if it isn't just the two of you eloping and you're having your wedding ceremony outdoors, you will most definitely want to have your wedding reception sheltered (otherwise you'll end up with cold and weather-battered guests!).

Stunning landscapes in Iceland for your wedding photos

Photo by Kristín María for Pink Iceland, near Glymur waterfall.

Iceland is full of stunning locations to choose from, both popular tourist tick-off destinations, as well as hidden and more intimate getaways.

Iceland is predominantly a Lutheran country, but still caters to people of every religion as well as atheists. If you have your eyes set on a church wedding, then you can choose between dozens of churches. There are big ones, tiny ones, picturesque ones, old ones and traditional ones; there is even one that moves from location to location.

Multicultural wedding in Iceland's nature

Photo by Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís fot PInk Iceland, Indian groom, Turkish bride, Icelandic Pagan officiant

The churches are mostly Lutheran Christian, but there are also a handful of Catholic ones to choose from. Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Paganism also exist within Iceland to a small extent (and Hinduism to a very small extent), but currently, there are no impressive Mosques, Synagogues, Buddhist temples or Pagan temples to be found within the country, only smaller venues. There are plans to erect both a Mosque and Pagan temple within Reykjavík in the upcoming years.

Hallgrímskirkja church is Iceland's most iconic church, and a fantastic wedding venue

The most iconic church in Iceland, and the country's tallest one, is Hallgrímskirkja, which fits around 750 people sitting, whereas some of the smallest churches in Iceland may only sit around 10 people. So you're sure to find one that fits your party, no matter the size!

Perhaps the most popular churches in Reykjavík for wedding ceremonies are Dómkirkjan and Fríkirkjan, situated right in the city centre, and close by is one of the most popular venues to throw the wedding reception, IÐNÓ, overlooking the city pond Tjörnin.

If you're Catholic, then no need to despair, there's a gorgeous Catholic church right in Reykjavík city centre, as well as other smaller ones in several locations around the country, including Akureyri and Ísafjörður in the Westfjords.

'Hobbit' like Hofskirkja church in Iceland is a very cute wedding venue

In the countryside, you can take your pick of cute little churches, such as Hofskirkja church in southeast Iceland, ideally located close to the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón where you can get some truly magnificent wedding photos.

Búðir black church is popular for wedding ceremonies

The iconic black church by Búðir is, however, one of the most popular ones. Right next to it is a boutique hotel, perfect for a small or large wedding reception, and the surroundings are stunning.

For the wedding reception there are several venues you can choose from, including charming or sophisticated countryside hotels, museums, theatres, music halls or concert venues as large as Harpa Concert Hall. Alternatively, you can rent a large tent and set up your wedding reception out in nature, but sheltered from the weather.

So no matter if you're looking for a giant but sophisticated hoo-ha, a romantic getaway elopement, an adventure wedding or a small countryside charming reception, Iceland caters for it all.

What to Wear for an Icelandic Wedding?

Make sure you wear something warm for a winter wedding in Iceland!

Photo by Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís

Indicated in the name, Iceland can be a bit on the chilly side. That, of course, is especially the case during winter, but also something to keep in mind for a summer wedding.

Be sure to dress warmly for a winter wedding outdoors in Iceland. Even if you choose to wear a beautiful white gown, make sure you've got a warm coat to put on top, and remember that no-one will see the thermal leg warmers underneath (and you'll be happy to wear them!). The same goes for the men, of course.

Icelandic summer weddings can be mild and sunny

Photo by Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís

Summers are mild, with temperatures hovering around 15°C (59°F), and you might have some wind or rain. Note that the daylight is endless in the summer, with the constant midnight sun lighting up the nights between May and August.

Summer is the high season, and can, therefore, be pricier for weddings than the winter season. 

Icelandic adventure weddings may leave your wedding dress a little dirty!

Photo by Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís

It's also good to keep in mind that if you are doing an outdoor ceremony, and if you're looking to get some spectacular photos on top of mountains or behind waterfalls, it's very likely that your shoes and the bottom of your dress will get muddy and dirty. Many of Iceland's most spectacular attractions take a little effort to get to, with earth trails that can get muddy after rain (and the trails around the waterfalls are almost always muddy due to the constant spray).

Bringing an extra pair of shoes is a good idea, or simply wear a sensible pair of shoes for the ceremony. 

Iceland's national costume is a popular wedding dress

Photo by Daníel Rúnarsson

Above you can see the Icelandic national dress, worn by Iceland's former Lady of the Mountain (an incarnation of the nation's identity). The dress is traditionally black with gold trimmings, but it's also possible to find bright blue or white versions of it, with gold or silver trimmings. 

The Icelandic national dress can be rented, if you feel like going for a very traditional Icelandic wedding. Another touch of Icelandic authenticity is to wear the woollen jumpers called lopapeysa. These can be custom-made into a design, pattern and colours of your own choosing (perhaps to match a pattern on the wedding dress or the suit) if you contact a knitter in Iceland

Is a Priest Needed for a Wedding in Iceland?

Háteigskirkja Church in ReykjavíkHáteigskirkja Church in Reykjavík

Someone will need to officiate the wedding, but that someone does not need to be a priest. There are priests available from all belief systems, including a Nordic religion Goði (chieftain), as well as a humanist or a judge overseer if you would like to have a completely non-religious ceremony.

There has been a large increase in following of the Nordic Pagan religion Ásatrú in recent years, and it's possible to have a traditional Pagan ceremony for those that want to do something different. Only in Iceland, Denmark and Norway does the Pagan religion have all the same rights as other religions and you can be lawfully wedded by a certified Pagan chieftain.

Wedding vows being said in an Icelandic Pagan Nordic Religion style

Photo by Kristín María of Pagan wedding vows

It's up to you to choose where a Pagan wedding ceremony takes place. It can be either indoors or outdoors, and you have some say in the style of the wedding by consulting with your chieftain in advance. Each wedding ceremony is influenced by its surroundings, and no two Pagan wedding ceremonies are the same. 

Iceland is the perfect destination for a Game of Thrones themed wedding

Photo by Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís for Pink Iceland

At the start of each ceremony, the area is blessed, and then selected verses from the Edda Prose are read before the chieftain gives a ceremonial speech. The primary powers of the Earth hold a significant role in the ceremony, often with a circle of fire surrounding the ceremonial location. The couple will also drink mead (or a drink of your own choice, such as champagne) from a Viking horn, and say their vows while holding a brass ring.

You can even decide to style your wedding in a Game of Thrones style, drinking from horns and making it take place in one of the settings where the famous TV series was filmed.

Same Sex Marriages in Iceland

Beautiful wedding ceremony by one of Iceland's stunning waterfalls

Photo by Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís for Pink Iceland

Iceland does not discriminate against sexualities, and same-sex marriages have been allowed since 2010 when the Icelandic parliament unanimously agreed to the new law. Shortly thereafter, Iceland's prime minister at the time, the openly lesbian Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, was the first head of government in the world to take advantage of the new law and married her longtime partner. 

Iceland is regarded as one of the best countries in the world for gay marriages, and the LGBTQ+ culture in Iceland is thriving.

Two brides in Iceland's winter wonderland

Photo by Kristín María for Pink Iceland

Yearly there's the Reykjavík Pride festival in August, with about a third of the nation attending. This is a huge celebration, one of the largest in the country, and very family-friendly. Iceland is a very queer welcoming destination, and many gay and lesbian couples have opted to travel to Iceland to be wed in the past years. Some choose to do so because same-sex marriages are not allowed in their home countries, but others simply want to have a stunning destination wedding in a very welcoming and including society.

All wedding planners in Iceland welcome queer people with open arms, whether they have a special focus on LGBTQ+ or not.

Day Activities Before or After the Wedding

Ice caving is possible in winter months in Iceland

Iceland is full of exciting choices when it comes to things to do around the wedding. So if you decide to come for a few days, or you have a large guest party joining you, you won't run out of things to do.

Some activities are seasonal, such as ice caving, only possible between either mid-October or November and March, depending on your operator, and Northern Lights hunting, only possible when it gets dark at night (it never gets dark between mid-May and mid-August). Activities such as river rafting, however, are only done during the warmer months of the year.

Horse riding in East Iceland

The Icelandic Highlands are also only accessible during the summer months (unless you take a helicopter in wintertime).

But then there are also all year round activities, such as horseback riding, snorkelling, ice climbing, snowmobiling, ATV biking, caving, flying in helicopters and whale watching. Sightseeing, of course, is not limited by season.

Kerlingarfjöll is an area of stunning beauty in the Icelandic highlands

One of the most popular options is to rent a car and go on a self-drive tour of the country, where you simply drive between stunning locations - including driving the famous Golden Circle, Iceland's South Coast, up north to Lake Mývatn or along Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland is a romantic destination for honeymooners

Last but not least, you and your guests won't be disappointed with pampering yourself in the Blue Lagoon Spa, or numerous other hot springs or spas found within Iceland.

Contact Guide to Icelandif you want help planning your wedding in Iceland!