A 3-day adventure elopement on the south coast of Iceland
Madison & Sam’s adventure elopement in Iceland was one crazy and beautiful experience.
I planned the itinerary carefully, integrating amazing activities like dog sledding and ice caving, but the March weather decided a little bit otherwise.
When I arrived in Iceland, it was the worst winter they have experienced in more than 20 years. Red, orange and yellow alerts were popping up daily on my phone, and I was worried we would not be able to make it to their ceremony site, about 7 hours drive from Reykjavik.
We were supposed to kick-start this adventure with a goodie: a dog sledding ride in the mountains 45 minutes from Reykjavik, followed by a delicious tomato soup meal in the oh so famous Friðheimar restaurant. But the day before, I just arrived in my hotel room in Reykjavik, and while checking with the dog sledding company, they told me “well if you want to go to the south coast, you need to leave the city early tomorrow before the roads close”. So I called Madison and told her the news. We would need to leave by 8am the day after if we wanted to pass the roads and get to Vik, then the Jokulsarlon area. If we missed that opportunity, we could get stuck in Reykjavik for 8 to 10 hours, which would be rather impossible for us to go to our next destination after that.
After checking with the florist if it was possible to pick up the flowers at a crazy early time in the morning, we headed out of Reykjavik, extremely carefully. And we were not disappointed. After only 20 minutes of driving, the road closed, and we took a deviation, that closed as well 10 minutes after we drove on it. The wind was blowing snow everywhere, we were just driving in a big white cloud. I was going 30 km/h and our car was sometimes blown off the road by the wind (but since I was driving very carefully, we never actually went totally off the road). After half an hour of terrifying driving, we reached a calmer spot, and from then, the road was nice. But it was raining the whole time.
We stopped for a short hello at the beautiful Skogafoss waterfall, and we took some shots there.
After that very rainy stop, we headed to another waterfall I love because it’s still kind of a secret spot, plus you can go behind if if you’re not afraid of being soaked wet, Kvernufoss waterfall. As the wind was blowing 1000 liters of water per second into my lens, I got some very blurred photos of this spot. The conditions were not ideal but we managed to go as close as possible from the waterfall.
We then headed to Vik, where we stopped for a nice warm meal in one of my favorite restaurants, the soup company. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t have the Mexican soup (which is absolutely delicious with the sour cream and the crackers!) but Madison tried the hot lava soup, which is served in a delicious bowl made of black Icelandic bread. The whole thing is served with whipped butter, which is absolutely delicious and creamier than normal butter.
When we headed out, the rain was still upon us, so we decided to skip the next stop and simply head carefully to our hotel for the night, which was yet another long drive away from Vik. We passed glaciers and black beaches, surrounded by clouds and rainy weather, and we reached our hotel for the night. After a well-deserved pause, we met again at the restaurant for a comforting Icelandic meal and a hot tea.
We then got back to our rooms for a good night of sleep, because the day after was the big day!
I jumped on my computer and checked the weather predictions for the ceremony site the day after, and I texted Madison: we need to be ready at 3 because the sun will be on the beach from 4 to 4.30pm tomorrow.
The morning of the second day, we met in the restaurant for a copious breakfast, then decided to go for a hike in one of the most secret canyons in the area. The canyon of the mules. I took my hiking app with hiking routes and a GPS, and we headed to the mountains.
One thing to always remember when hiking in Iceland, it’s that it can be extremely dangerous to go if the weather is not clear, as sometimes clouds can come really fast and you might get lost. It’s easier to get around with an hiking app, which I got as soon as we got out of the car, because even if the weather was nice now, it could change drastically. And it didn’t disappoint. After just a few meters, the hail started to fall again, then rain, then snow, then sun again. It changed maybe 10 times as we were climbing the mountain. Then we reached a point where we didn’t know where to go, as the markers were buried in the snow. So we decided to just enjoy the view (which was not the epic canyon view we were coming for) and simply leave it at that. We still got amazing views on the Fjallsárlón glacier.
After an hour of shooting, we decided to get back to the car and go for a nice lunch before getting ready!
After a delicious lunch, Madison and Sam headed back to their room. Sam got ready as Madison was prepping in the bathroom. Then we headed outside with Sam for a photoshoot. The sun was peaking from behind the clouds from time to time. It hailed a few times as well, then it started to snow. We knew we needed to find the right moment for the first look.
I went back inside for some shots of Madison, then came the moment of putting her magnificent dress on. We were getting so close from the ceremony time, we could hear our hearts pounding in our chests. Will it be a beautiful day, or will we have rain the whole time? I checked once again my weather app: sunny at 4. We maintained our plans. I helped Madison button her dress, and waited a few minutes until the hail stopped. I went outside with Sam and told him to look at the ocean and wait for Madison to tap on his shoulder. I could feel how anxious and happy he was. It was such a tender moment. I went back inside to get Madison, and they finally reunited. She slowly walked to him, surrounded by the chanting waves and the cloudy skies. She rearranged her dress so she would look as beautiful as possible when he turned. And she tapped lightly on his shoulder. He turned, his eyes already filled with tears, and I could feel the emotions flowing out of them. They were simply happy to be here together, in that moment, surrounded by nothing but the wind on their skin and tears in their eyes. I could feel time floating.
We hopped into the car. The suitcases were ready and so were Madison and Sam. It was raining, but we didn’t car. We knew the sun was waiting for us at the beach. We put some music on and we drove for an hour. We were surrounded by beautiful landscapes, glaciers and beaches, mountains and snowy peaks. We were on a mission: exchanging vows in the most beautiful beach of Iceland, without any rain.
We arrived at the beach, parked and guess what? It was sunny. There were clouds, but not on us. We had the most beautiful open view on Verstrahorn, and the beach was absolutely empty. We followed the sound of the waves, and picked a spot on the black beach. Stokksness is such a vast beach, it’s hard to pick “a” spot, but we simply went down to the sand and decided it was the right spot. Behind them, the mountains were whispering poems only them could understand. In the distance, the clouds were battling with snow to cover yet another part of Iceland. And the waves were licking our feet quite literally (they had to move location once because they almost got wet by the tide!). The colors were astonishing, just like if nature was putting on a show to celebrate their love.
Then came the moment of the vows exchange. Time stood still as they poured their hearts into each other. It was a moment of pure bliss that I will never forget. They they took time to just hug each other and feel the moment. It was magical.
We took time to enjoy the sun as we knew it wouldn’t last. In a few minutes, the clouds would be coming back and we would be flooded with rain and hail. We took some photos in the towering beauty of Stoksness, then headed to the quirky viking village for some out-of-this-era shots, and as we drove the short kilometer that separated us from the village, the hail came back. I was so happy I checked the weather ten times for us to enjoy the only sun the beach saw that day.
We took photos in the village, then headed back to Hofn where we ate the most delicious steak of our lives and went back to the hotel for a well-deserved night of sleep. That night again we didn’t see the northern lights as the skies were filled with heavy clouds.
On the last day, we planned an ice cave tour near Jokulsarlon. We decided to leave Hofn around 8am so we would have time to do the 1-hour drive to the glacier. This was without taking into account the un-predicted snow storm that happened right when we headed out the hotel. It took us by surprise and transformed the planned 1-hour drive into an almost 2-hour drive. We passed many cars totaled into the ditches surrounding the roads. The wind was crazy, and so was the snow surrounding us. We called the ice cave company to explain that we might be late, and they gave us a time which we could not go beyond because the group would leave without us so it was a very stressful drive. But we managed to arrive safely and as I locked the car, my phone rang, “are you here?”, it was the guide calling us! We entered the huge white bus and headed to the glacier. We passed a huge group of wild reindeers, and drove for approximately 40 minutes on a crazy road to finally park near the glacier. We then walked to the entrance and were welcomed by beautiful deep blue caves. It truly was a great experience!
After this beautiful experience, we took a picnic in the car and headed back to Reykjavik. The road promised to be long, as we were 6 hours away in normal conditions, and as always, the weather was worsening. We stopped at different locations when the light conditions were great, never loosing sight on our aim: arriving in Reykjavik to spend the night.
As the night was falling, the snow storm started again, and as always, driving super slow was key. So it took us several hours extra to reach Reykjavik. We even stopped at a delicious restaurant to eat on the road, and finally, as we almost reached the city, here they were: the northern lights. Very shy, very light, they still gave us a great show, enough to get some magical shots to end this 3-day adventure with a bang.