When I first met Helen she told me all about her wedding and the incredible location she had chosen. I had a picture in my mind of what she had envisioned for her special day with Danny. It turns out that what I had pictured couldn’t come close to the real thing. Helen’s wedding photographs by Bragi are really beautiful. From her beautiful bouquet, to the stunning backdrop of waterfalls and a sunset, everything came together perfectly and Helen and Danny got their dream wedding.
For anyone considering getting married in Iceland Helen tells us all about how she went about organising her special day from another country.
When did you get engaged and did you always want to get married in such an incredible location?
We got engaged on a trip to Iceland in 2013. We had been there once before for Danny’s (my husband’s – still feels weird to say that) 21st birthday. We totally fell in love with the place – the scenery, the people, the food, the night skies… and when Danny proposed it was a total surprise.
We had initially planned to get married here in the UK and had picked out a traditional British manor house as our venue. We were very close to putting our first payment down when we realised that planning the wedding was feeling like a chore and we were not 100% excited about the idea. We both felt a lot of pressure and stress about planning it, we didn’t know where to start and on the whole were just putting it off. After Skyping Danny’s sister in Australia, she asked us what would make it exciting. We joked about getting married in Iceland and she said “well why not”. The idea stuck with us from there and in the end, we realised that it was totally what we wanted. It was a big decision to make, mostly because we realised that it would be a big ask of our family and friends if they were to join us, but it just felt right and a lot more “us”.
How did you organise your wedding? Did you have help and would you recommend hiring a wedding planner.
There is no way that we could have had the wedding adventure that we did without the help of a wedding planner. We realised this pretty early on into the planning process so a big part of our early planning was to find the right planner. We settled on an amazing company called ‘Pink Iceland’. They are a gay and lesbian specialist that also do straight weddings too. When we first Skyped our wedding planner, who was called Sigga, we knew that it was 100% the right thing to do because she had so many amazing suggestions, ideas and contacts that made the process so much easier for us. She set up one big shared document where we would discuss all of our ideas back and forth, so it fit perfectly into our daily schedules. We’re both professionals who work full time, so it meant that we could sit down together when we had time and write down our ideas or paste in some images that had inspired us for Sigga to look over. We planned a 4 day adventure, which included our wedding day, to give our guests a real taste of Iceland. Sigga guided us through the whole process and worked with us to give everyone the best experience of Iceland – we couldn’t have done it without her.
We went over to Iceland in October 2016 to meet with Sigga and view the venue that we had picked from the portfolio of venues that she had sent over. It was a converted three storey farmhouse in the Icelandic countryside where all of our guests could stay for a couple of nights, including the wedding night. It had an external barn, where our evening wedding reception could be held and a huge hot tub for relaxing in. After viewing the venue, and totally falling in love with it, we went to meet Sigga in the Pink Iceland office in central Reykjavik. It was great to go through everything with her face to face. One thing we knew we were really keen to do is to not have the “traditional” wedding and feel pressure to do all of the traditions that it entails. It just wasn’t really us and we wanted to do things our way so we picked the traditions that we liked – white dress, cake, speeches and ignored the ones that we didn’t. Sigga helped us to realise this and then to bring it to life.
I would absolutely recommend a wedding planner to any future brides – whether they are getting married abroad or not. At the end of the day, they are the professionals and have done this a number of times. You may not have planned anything like it before so why not get the help, advice and expertise of someone who has? It will take some of the pressure off you so that you can sit back and enjoy the process. It also gives you piece of mind that, thinking worst case scenario…if something does go terribly wrong on the day, it is not your job to fix it, it is theirs! I was so lucky – everything on the day went amazingly and this really was down to the level of detail that we had planned with Sigga.
What was your favourite part of the wedding?
This is a really hard question to answer! Like I said, we had planned a little adventure that was built around our wedding day – almost like a sampler of Iceland – and I absolutely loved every second of it.
We had some exploring time and then a meal in our favourite restaurant in Iceland. Danny and I had created a map that highlighted all of the fun places in Reykjavik that we thought people would like to visit (within walking distance). We all had our own time to explore before being picked up by our private coach at the Pink Iceland offices. We had arranged our own tour guide to stay with us for two days. We went for a trip to the Blue Lagoon before heading to our wedding venue for a welcome meal and some down time. We stayed together on the night before our wedding (none of that old tradition of sleeping separately!) and it was so nice to wake up next to each other and say “we’re getting married today!” We got ready separately and then when I was ready we met in our bedroom before heading downstairs to see everybody together. Our ceremony was outside (in -7 degree weather!) by an arch and was so relaxed, intimate and personal. We shared fun stories about our relationship and our family members read quotes from Sex and the City and Game of Thrones. Afterwards, we had arranged for our guests to go out with the tour guide on the coach for some sight seeing while Danny and I travelled to a couple of different locations for our photoshoot. This was great because it meant that they weren’t just sat around waiting for our photos to be done (something we’d experienced before at other weddings). We then all came together for some speeches and then our evening meal. After the meal, we had some casual drinks and just relaxed. The northern lights even came out at this part of the evening so we all put our comfy clothes on and watched the night sky dance. We then retired to the hot tub to “chill” and then ended the night by playing some board games, which was a nerdy addition to the day and the perfect way to finish it off. The day was a mix of “wedding” and “us”.
If I had to sum it up, I’d say that experiencing our favourite place in the world with all of our favourite people and to have them there for the biggest day of our lives so far was my favourite. This is not likely to happen again and I treasure every moment of the experience with them all.
My personal top moments from our day were – the first look, ceremony, hot tub and boardgames.
Any advice for nervous brides to be?
I’ve said it a few times above, but make sure that the day is you. Don’t feel the pressure to do things that you don’t want to do. At the end of the day, it is about celebrating your relationship and nobody else can tell you how this is done.
I was very worried about everybody else and their experience of our wedding but in reality I learned that they ultimately want you to be happy. People surprise you! If you’re worried about what they will think if you don’t do certain things, just explain to them what you do want to do and why and they will totally understand. If they don’t, then maybe they don’t know you as well as you thought they did.
You definitely learn a lot about the people around you when you are planning your wedding and your support system will be tested. You just need to be honest with yourself and everyone around you and keep bringing it back to “what do we want?” or “how can we make this more ‘us’?”. You will have no regrets about your day if you look back and think that you did everything the way that you wanted to.
Alterations and bespoke straps by Boutique Alterations
Wedding planner – https://www.pinkiceland.is/
Venue – http://www.mengi-kjarnholt.com/
Photographer – Bragi Þór – https://www.icelandweddingphoto.com/index
Videographer – Eirikur Hafdal – http://www.hafdal.is/
Please click on the images below to see more from Helen and Danny’s day.