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8 Things to Know When Planning
An Adventure Elopement / Vow Renewal In Iceland

We just got back from our week in Iceland where we did our vow renewal! Iceland was amazing but traveling there in the winter made us thankful we prepared! If you are thinking of doing a travel elopement or vow renewal in Iceland, here are eight things we are glad we did, or wished we had done to be as prepared as possible!

1. Be Prepared for Cold Weather (and I mean, COLD weather)

Unless you normally live in a cold weather climate, I suggest doing some research on what to pack and how to efficiently layer. Though I grew up in Ohio, I’ve lived in Florida for the past decade and have forgotten much of my cold weather knowledge. I HIGHLY suggest buying good quality thermal base layers!

Here are the ones I used:  Thermal Base-Layer Long Sleeve Shirts

Here are the leggings I wore under my wedding dress: Fleece Lined Thermal Leggings

I liked these ones a lot since they are nude-colored there was no risk of them showing through my dress and the stirrups kept them pulled down so my ankles didn’t get cold. Buy good boots! This is an area I skimped on and regretted it. I thought my regular Florida hiking boots would cut it – I was wrong. Next time I go somewhere cold, I’ll invest in truly waterproof boots. Thank heaven for my crampons (Click Here)! They saved me! These were literally the best purchase I made. I was able to get a good grip on solid sheets of ice with these bad boys! The only times I ate it was when I got too lazy to put them on.

Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear

2. Think of Extras

I’m not sure I would have made it without hand warmers. Once again, I wish I would have bought better (and a half size larger) boots so I could have put some inside them too. We
bought a big box and still have some left over.

Say it with me: PACK EXTRA SOCKS AND BOOTS. 

I did not  anticipate my feet getting soaked as often as they did and trust me, it’s not fun to have wet feet in minus 10 degree weather! Since I rarely sweat, I would have been better off packing fewer shirts and pants and packing extra socks and shoes.

I’m so glad I packed hair extensions! They added volume when my curls fell or my hair got wet (happened a ton near waterfalls). Wish I would have brought waterproof mascara – I ended up not wearing it after looking like a raccoon the first few times.

3. Invest in Wi-fi

Many rental car companies will give you the option to purchase Wi-Fi, ours did not. As such, we couldn’t communicate except when we were at our hotels. This proved to be dangerous when we encountered a blizzard and it hindered communication with our photographer. Since then, we’ve found out about this bad boy: Skyroam Solis X Smartspot. You pay for the device and then either daily or monthly service. We will 100% be purchasing this before our next overseas trip.

Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear

4. Plan your wardrobe changes ahead of time
It was WAY too cold for me to just wear my wedding gown!

Every day, I would don my thermal leggings (see link above), thermal non-wool socks, strapless bra, and hoodie that I could unzip (so it wouldn’t ruin my hair or makeup taking it off over my head). I would also put snow pants over my thermals so I would stay toasty until it was time to change. I put on jewelry, did hair/makeup prior to leaving so that we could jump out and immediately start snapping pictures or hiking. I also had a bouquet (thank you Garden & Grace florals), a cape (thank you Julie), and cheap faux fur shawl off Amazon so I could quickly change up my look.

I’m so glad that prior to my trip I had a cathedral veil transformed into a removable tossing train. When we were in a windy place with lots of drama, we could attach the train. When we were hiking, I could remove it and not drag an extra 10 yards of fabric with me. Definitely one of my better ideas! My biggest complaint with my dress was that I didn’t have it hemmed – I like the drama of the long skirt. However, I can’t tell you how many extra holes I put in the bottom of it because it kept getting caught in my crampons!

5. Talk to Locals

I can’t stress this enough! Locals know the area like the back of their hand and can help make your trip epic! Talk to people – I promise it is worth it. In addition, you’ll get to learn about a new culture and hopefully make some lifelong friends. When we were in Australia, the guy who owned our motel told us to meet him at his truck at sunset. While we slightly sketched out, we used our best judgement and decided to go. He took us to a spot only the locals knew about to experience seals and whales – it was one of the most magical moments of our trip! People love to share about their home – show an interest and you might learn a lot!

6. Be a Good Tourist

This should be common sense, but I’m going to say it anyway. Respect local culture and our planet. Stay on designated paths, don’t litter, and don’t risk your life for a picture. It’s not worth it. If you don’t have proper gear and a high enough skill level, don’t attempt challenging hikes. Just in the week we were there, Will and I had to help two separate groups of tourists. One group had hiked very far and were unable to get back to their car in the challenging weather conditions. Another had attempted to climb a waterfall while wearing only sneakers, no boots or crampons. Will literally pulled her back from the edge of a cliff! Your life is NOT worth an experience. Please be a good representative of your homeland and ask a local when you’re unsure. And remember, practice LNT (Leave No Trace) – resources here: Icelandic Mountain Guides: Responsible Tourists

Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear

7. Hire an Expert

We did a lot of research on the photographer we hired. I wanted someone who not only took gorgeous images, but that I trusted could keep up and not be a liability. She had been to Iceland previously and made great suggestions, plus she did additional research to fill in any gaps she had. I didn’t want to hire someone who just wanted a free trip, but someone who I knew could deliver! If you have questions about hiring a wedding photographer, please check out my blog post on questions to ask your wedding photographer! (Read the Blog Post Here). Having our photographer and her assistant along was one of the best experiences. I got to be a client for once and could relax and focus on experiencing this new place with the love of my life. Our assistant helped me balance in my wedding dress and would hold my coat between shots, so I stayed way warmer. Plus, the jokes and stories we told really helped my anxiety driving on some of those snowy mountain roads! I honestly don’t have words to explain how much these images mean to me; we have always dreamed of epic images of the two of us, and now we have a whole house full!

8. Make a Plan, but be Prepared to Pivot

We had a solid plan for each day of our trip. We checked the weather, rented a 4 wheel drive SUV, had a GPS, and packed appropriately. None of that prepared us for the insane weather we encountered complete with road closures, next to zero visibility, and icy roads! We were
fortunate that the 4 of us (me, Will, our photographer, and her assistant) were all adept travelers and on similar fitness levels. We substituted out planned adventures for new ones, and it made our trip just as awesome as the original one we had planned (maybe even more so).

There you have it! Our list of must haves if you are planning a travel elopement or vow renewal in Iceland! Iceland is a fantastic country with so much to see, we can’t wait to go back!

Water Bear Photography a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear

When you’re in a new country, that is NOT the time to take risks. When roads closed, we went in the opposite direction so that we stay as safe as possible. We combined forces in our 4 wheel drive SUV and their Wi-Fi capabilities, so that we had a capable vehicle and a means to communicate. Even if you don’t encounter freak weather like we did, having an open mind will definitely help make your day the best it can be. After shooting a lot of weddings, I’ve found that my brides and grooms who say they had the best wedding day ever weren’t the ones where everything went off without a hitch- they were just able to roll with the punches! They saw every hiccup as a great future story and didn’t let it get in their head when things went amiss. I’ll be honest, I was bummed when our original ice cave tour was canceled due to road closures. We had had it planned for months. However, a few emails introduced us to the wonderful owner, Gudjon, of KatlaTrack, who threw together a private tour for us in an area where it was safe to get to. Next time, we’ll make sure to finally do that tour with Heading North – it just gives
us another reason to return!

Water Bear Photography a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear
Adventure Travel Elopement, Wedding, Vow Renewal, Iceland Photography, Water Bear

5 thoughts on “Planning an Adventure Elopement / Vow Renewal in Iceland

  1. Wow. Stuff I didn’t even know I needed to know. I never would have guessed there was a workaround like that for the wifi! I’ve done some shoots before where it was hard to communicate because of how remote we were. Good to know!! There is so much knowledge in here from first hand experience, it’s really comforting to know you guys have the experience to back up the advice!

    Side note, you guys SLAYED–you both look so good!!

  2. What a great blog with such description on how to plan an adventure elopement or vow renewal in Iceland! The pictures are the perfect compliment to describing every detail you described. ESPECIALLY layering!

  3. Soooo many good insights here, and SO much stuff I wouldn’t have ever thought about! What a great resource for anyone eloping in Iceland!

  4. You both look incredible! Also these tips are so helpful for couples considering an elopement or vow renewal in Iceland. I hadn’t even considered how critical wifi connection could be with your rental car or having a portable one. I so appreciated your advice for respecting the local culture, environment, and respecting your own limits as a hiker! My partner and I had to cancel our Iceland trip (originally planned for later this month), but I’ll be saving this post to remind me of what to pack when we do finally make our way there!

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