Adventure

A Wedding in the Land of Fire and Ice

In January of last year, Victor and I decided that we wanted to get married and have a wedding somewhere beautiful and different. Somewhere that combined our love of adventure and the outdoors. We live in Atlanta, but no place here really felt like the place we wanted to say "I do", because it didn't feel special to us and also an appropriate setting for a wedding (I guess we could have a wedding at Big Lots of Takorea? Yes, we do love those places that much). We discussed options like maybe renting a mountain cabin and having the wedding there and inviting friends and family to come and go as they pleased for a full wedding weekend, but that felt limiting because we wouldn't be able to include as many people as we wanted and where would we find a house that could comfortably accommodate like 75 people? 

Saying our vows

Saying our vows

My bouquet by   Blómabúðin Upplifun

We thought about a destination wedding, but we didn't want to have any guests feel like they couldn't come due to cost of travel, or have it be too difficult for family to travel to be at our wedding due to restrictions of time off if it was further away. 

Walking around Seljalandsfoss

Walking around Seljalandsfoss

So after a lot of thought, we chose to elope. That way, we could have our ceremony be intimate and "us" and then enjoy a party with family and friends after we returned to celebrate together. We chose Iceland, a place both of us had always wanted to see, and it was the perfect setting for our wedding. I've dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights for as long as I've known they existed. Iceland has the most amazing landscape. You can be standing in a hot river while looking at a glacier while listening to sheep chat with each other as they scale the side of a mountain made of volcanic rock. We were able to say our vows to each other and commit our lives to one another privately, in the most beautiful setting and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

The most handsome man you've ever seen getting ready to get married.

The most handsome man you've ever seen getting ready to get married.

Can you even believe someone this handsome exists?!

Can you even believe someone this handsome exists?!

Youtube tutorials helped me to figure out how to do my hair so it would stay put. It did stay up, but the wind had other plans for the curls and helpfully straightened them out for me.

Youtube tutorials helped me to figure out how to do my hair so it would stay put. It did stay up, but the wind had other plans for the curls and helpfully straightened them out for me.

Thankful for these warm boots and wrap! And I love how my custom sleeves turned out on my dress!

Thankful for these warm boots and wrap! And I love how my custom sleeves turned out on my dress!

The first thing to do when planning a wedding abroad is to decide where exactly you want to have it. And obviously make sure they have cute animals near by. 

Icelandic horses are super friendly!

Icelandic horses are super friendly!

Image via Flickr

Image via Flickr

My first choice was Landmannalaugar which is stunningly beautiful, mineral streaked mountains in the Highlands of Iceland. Unfortunately, we weren't able to have our wedding there (or even see it during our visit) because the Highlands are totally inaccessible starting at the beginning of October. So next time we go to Iceland, we'll have to go in the summer when we can get into the Highlands and maybe even camp at Landmannalaugar!

Image via Maupintor

Image via Maupintor

Our next choice was SeljalandsfossIt's a waterfall in the Southern Region of Iceland that YOU CAN WALK BEHIND! That is almost too cool, so we made our choice and started planning to have our wedding there. Thankfully, Christina had been to Iceland the April before, then went again in August, so she was able to do a little scouting and figure out the best places to set us up. Sadly, a wedding behind the waterfall wasn't possible, and she broke the news to me early so as not to crush my wedding day dreams when we arrived. Maybe if we were wearing ponchos and it was summer--but it was about 45 degrees and windy. 

The AirBNB we got ready in on our wedding day. 

The AirBNB we got ready in on our wedding day. 

First look--yes, we both teared up.

First look--yes, we both teared up.

You'd stare too if you were me. He's the best.

You'd stare too if you were me. He's the best.

Once we determined the location of the wedding, we contacted the officials for that region and began getting our paperwork together. You really can't go wrong anywhere in Iceland. Even in the towns, you round a corner and there's a beautiful waterfall or glacier, or adorable fuzzy ponies, or huge fields of chubby sheep. The fishing villages are also beautiful, so even if you're not surrounded by wonders of nature, you're around colorful little houses and sculptural artwork.

Saying our vows. Isn't our officiant, Kristin, adorable in her official uniform?

Saying our vows. Isn't our officiant, Kristin, adorable in her official uniform?

We got ready in Reykjavik the morning of the wedding and had our first look in the garden in front of the building where we stayed. It was such a great morning! Christina took our photos individually as we got ready and then set up outside (in the VERY windy cold) to take first look photos. Since we had to drive to the wedding site, there was a lot of first looking before the wedding. Riding together in the car, thinking about what we were able to commit to each other was really special to experience.

Caves at the Vik beach.

Caves at the Vik beach.

My friend Carly taught me to do my makeup for the big day so that I could confidently do event makeup on myself, that was a gift that I treasure! I still use the tricks she taught me on everyday looks now, just lighter on the application for day-to-day. She is extremely talented and has a way of making everyone look and feel their best and like themselves on their wedding day! 

Just outside Seljalandsfoss

Just outside Seljalandsfoss

Thankfully, Christina had a curling iron with her that would fit the plugs. Phew! Word of advice to the traveling bride, be sure your conversion outlet will accept your hair tool plugs! Mine would not fit in the converter so I was about to have to go sans-fancy hair for our wedding. 

Waiting at the office to sign our marriage papers

Waiting at the office to sign our marriage papers

Before we got to Seljalandsfoss, we had to stop at the South Iceland regional office to sign paperwork and to have copies made of our passports and birth certificates. Victor even had to make a trip to the bank downstairs from the office to get Icelandic cash to pay our officiant. So, if you're planning a wedding abroad, you may want to have enough of their cash on hand in case of a situation like that. 

Seljalandsfoss in the background and just casually leaning on a volcanic rock

Seljalandsfoss in the background and just casually leaning on a volcanic rock

The wind here took the boutonniere right off of Victor's lapel!

The wind here took the boutonniere right off of Victor's lapel!

We headed to Seljalandsfoss after we signed our papers and read our vows to each other, exchanged rings, and sealed it with a kiss! It was COLD! Beautiful, but very cold, and I can tell you that my wrap, while warm, wasn't a parka. So between shots I was wearing my big down coat over my dress. Slightly less glamorous than my wrap, but certainly very effective for warmth. I wore snow boots and over-the-knee socks with my dress which kept me fairly warm from the knees down. Victor's wool suit by Ted Baker (with the coolest lining of all time) kept him nice and warm as well, but when the wind picked up, we huddled up. The winds in Iceland are STRONG! It's one of the first things you'll learn traveling there. If you rent a car, which you will need to, they'll tell you to hang onto the car doors when entering and exiting the car because they may be pulled backwards by the wind and snap the hinges. THIS IS NOT A DRILL! It almost happened to us once. And the wind took Victor's lovely boutonniere very shortly after the ceremony. RIP, little floral guy. 

Top left of this photo is the Christmas ornament my wonderful seamstress gave me. She did the alterations for my gown to make it fit perfectly and she did an amazing job if I do say so myself.

Top left of this photo is the Christmas ornament my wonderful seamstress gave me. She did the alterations for my gown to make it fit perfectly and she did an amazing job if I do say so myself.

Here we are standing just below the volcano you've probably heard of,  Eyjafjallajökul,  which erupted in 2010.

Here we are standing just below the volcano you've probably heard of, Eyjafjallajökul, which erupted in 2010.

It's easy to feel like you're the only ones in the world when you're promising yourself to the love of your life, even when tourists are watching--which they did. It was pretty fun, actually. We heard a round of applause just after the kiss! People were very sweet to congratulate us in English, or just smile and look excited for us if they didn't speak English. We felt warm and lovey-dovey inside all day. A couple of people approached and asked if we were Icelandic. I guess that would make good since because we are very pale and were getting married in Iceland. There are more foreigners than Icelanders in Iceland as far as we could tell. Tourism there is booming!

Tiny hillside turf houses at drangshlíð

Tiny hillside turf houses at drangshlíð

At the farm just at the base of Eyjafjallajökul

At the farm just at the base of Eyjafjallajökul

Victor and I would not have had the wedding of our dreams without Christina. She knew where to go, how to get there, made sure we were comfortable, braved the cold, and hung with us all day long as we made the trek around the Southern Region of Iceland, taking advantage of every pretty place we saw for a photo. 

Just off the beach at Vik. A mist was rolling in and the winds were fairly strong.

Just off the beach at Vik. A mist was rolling in and the winds were fairly strong.

The beach at Vik. How handsome is he?! I mean!!!!

The beach at Vik. How handsome is he?! I mean!!!!

After the best day ever began to wrap up with hot chocolate at the Vik coffee house, we got in the car and headed to Hotel Grimsborgir for dinner and a perfect evening. We ate a delicious meal of Icelandic fish and lobster. While we were eating our dessert, a man ran in from outside yelling in Italian. Victor went out to see what was going on. IT WAS THE NORTHERN LIGHTS! So everyone in the dining room of the hotel, including the staff, went outside to stare up at the sky in awe. 

Christina will be horrified that I put up a dimly lit screenshot...sorry Christina! This is our dinner at Hotel Grimsborgir.

Christina will be horrified that I put up a dimly lit screenshot...sorry Christina! This is our dinner at Hotel Grimsborgir.

It was the most perfect night. Victor ordered champagne and we sat in our private hot tub, drinking champagne, looking up and a brilliantly colored light show. You can't even script that! It was absolutely perfect. 

Speaking of hot tubs, every place we stayed in Iceland during our week long stay had hot tubs. Icelandic homes and businesses use geothermal energy and route naturally heated water to spas and baths. It may smell a little bit Sulfuric, but it's not that noticeable, and it will leave your skin feeling smooth and hydrated. 

Again, she will be horrified. Sorry! Also inside the dining room at Hotel Grimsborgir.

Again, she will be horrified. Sorry! Also inside the dining room at Hotel Grimsborgir.

I have one million more things to tell you about Iceland, and Christina has a lot to SHOW you! We'll be posting more about our travels soon, but in the meantime, mark your calendars for a beautiful show of Christina's photographs from Iceland. 

Icelandic Images by Christina Wedge
Gallery Opening

April 27th @7-9PM
BALANCE DESIGN
1653 McLendon Ave
Atlanta, GA 30307 

Y'all come see us and stay tuned for more!

PHOTOGRAPHY: Christina Wedge  |  WEDDING GOWN: Custom Pandora Gown by Modern Trousseau  |  HOTEL: Hotel Grimborgir  |  GROOM'S SUIT: Ted Baker  |  GROOMS WATCH: Shinola . |  WEDDING SITE: Seljalandsfoss  |  OTHER SHOOT LOCATIONS: Vik i Myrdal Drangshlio, Skogar Hvolsvollur Reykjavik

Icelandic Adventures Through the Seasons

2016 has been a very exciting year for us here at Ends In Style! Christina has now made three trips to beautiful Iceland, one with me (Susie) and Victor for our elopement which she photographed!
Clearly, Iceland is near and dear to our hearts now and we want to share with you why we love it so. We also encourage you to book a trip and see if for yourself! We do our best to take beautiful pictures and to describe things in a way that makes you feel like you're there--but they cannot do the real thing justice! 
We'll help you prepare for your trip and have the best time possible. We're bringing you a series of posts in the coming weeks about traveling to the country that droves of people are flocking to, and with good reason! 

Posts you can look forward to are:

Iceland in Spring: 

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

  • What to do 
  • What to see
  • What to pack
  • Where to stay
  • Advantages of visiting in the spring
  • Preparing for your trip and more!

Iceland in Summer: 

Photo by Christina Wedge

Photo by Christina Wedge

  • How to make the most of the warmest Icelandic weather
  • Capturing the golden light
  • Places to visit while you can (some places are only open in summer)
  • What to eat
  • Maybe even a stop in Greenland :)
  • Advantages to visiting in summer
  • Best short hikes and more!

Iceland in Fall: 

Photo by Susie Prince

Photo by Susie Prince

  • What to pack
  • Getting around
  • Best ways to see the Northern Lights
  • Tours that are worth the money
  • Self-guided tours you HAVE to take
  • Advantages to visiting in fall
  • Where to stay

And Finally....

Eloping in Iceland:

  • Why we chose to elope (and why you may want to as well)
  • Best places to take wedding photos
  • Pros and cons of wedding sites
  • How to get paperwork in order to make your marriage legal in the US
  • Gorgeous photos by Christina of me and Victor (she's a wiz with light!)
  • What to wear and what not to wear for an outdoor Icelandic wedding
  • Luxury stays for your honeymoon 
  • Flower options, and more!!!

We look forward to sharing all of this with you and hope you'll be inspired to take a trip to a country that has captured our hearts and is beautiful and magical enough to make us want to go back in the dead of winter!

Costa Rica: Where to Stay & What to Eat

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

When planning a trip to Costa Rica, HomeAway.com is an asset. They were voted one of the most trustworthy companies by Forbes, so you can book with confidence. HomeAway is a network of vacation rental homes all around the globe with photos and reviews to help you make your choice. 

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

We stayed in Tamarindo, a quarter mile walk from our door to Playa Tamarindo. It was a little touristy for us, but we had a nice house with our own pool and most everything in town was written in English, so it does make grocery shopping and ordering from a menu a little easier. 

Photo via Christina Wedge

Photo via Christina Wedge

Most rental properties require a seven night stay, but if you have more time to spend or want a little more variety in your vacation, choose cabinas which are very affordable little cabins clustered together with the essentials like bed, bathrooms, and sometimes kitchens. Choosing to visit a volcano is a must! Whether you choose one of the smaller ones, or the most recently active volcano, Arenal, you're sure to have a great time staying at the resort nearby.

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Remember the adventure pass for Buena Vista I was talking about on Wednesday? Well, it includes a delicious 4 course meal with pineapple juice to drink! We had pumpkin soup to start, followed by the traditional fried plantains with hummus to dip them in, steak with a delicious Costa Rican sauce, salads, and mashed cassava and finished it off with a coconut flan. It was the fanciest meal we had while we were there! 

Image via Susie Roupe

There are a number of beachfront bars along the Costa Rican coast. You can sip on your favorite island cocktail, topped with a Costa Rican lemon (green outside, orange inside) while watching the sun set into the water. Be sure to stop at all of the roadside stands you can and enjoy empanadas, burritos, fried plantains. The ceviche we enjoyed oceanside was the best I have ever had in my life!

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Playa Brasilito is a great place to eat! There are many small restaurants and convenient stores with hot foods packed into a small area. The prices are cheaper here than in the more tourist towns, and the food is high quality. The restaurants with little or no English on the menus were the best, we found.

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Remember the spear fishing trip I wrote about in the last post? This is the meal! We had 3 fish in hand after our trip and walked over to a restaurant our guide recommended (we later learned his family owns it) and had them cook our fish. It was $20 total for beers, rice and beans, salad, and 3 beautiful fresher than fresh fish. For five dollars per person and a fantastic seafood meal, that cannot be beat!

Image  via

Image via

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Last but not least, eat as much pineapple as you can, and drink as much coffee as possible. If doable, bring back bags of coffee and hoard it. Even if you're not a pineapple lover, a fresh, juicy pineapple tastes like dessert and is at the very least worth a try. Look for those with yellow bottoms, they're the ripe ones! 

I cannot stress enough how much you need to drink the coffee in Costa Rica. It has a hint of chocolate, it's warm and rich and smooth. It is the exact opposite of break room coffee, it is perfect. No cream needed! 

We hope you've enjoyed our little tour through Costa Rica and that you will plan your own trip there, soon. PS. Please bring us back a bag of coffee beans :)


Costa Rica: What to See & What to Do

Starting this post is difficult because I could write a 50 page essay on all of the things you should see and do in Costa Rica. Rather than doing that, I'll give you the rundown of what we did each day that made this the best trip ever.

Photo via Susie Roupe

Photo via Susie Roupe

1. Visit Playa Conchal

It is an absolute dream. Playa conchal gets its name from the sand, "conchal" comes from the Spanish word for a type of shell. That's right, the sand is made up of tiny bits of crushed up shells. It exfoliates your feet and may hurt a little but it's totally worth it. There is a luxury resort right on the beach and massages for excellent prices at the top of the beach. To get to Conchal without paying for parking, go to Brasilito and drive on the beach towards Conchal to the free lot. 
Come for the view, stay for the snorkel trip, which brings us to 2.

Photo via Victor Prince

Photo via Victor Prince

Photo via Victor Prince of a starfish found on the snorkel trip

Photo via Victor Prince of a starfish found on the snorkel trip

2. Go Snorkeling/Spear Fishing 

I must admit this part of the trip had me seasick for a while, but it was still incredible. Why? Well, we struck a deal with a salesman on the beach for the four of us to go out on a tiny boat and snorkel while our guide spearfished. The boat was tiny but it took us out to a part of the coast we would never have seen otherwise. Huge caves with waves crashing into them, water a deeper blue than I have ever seen before. The cliffs above the caves towered above us and it was awesome! Tyler and the guide dove into the water and speared fish which we then ate (more on that in the next post) while Victor and Sarah went snorkeling and I sat in the boat feeling sick. Take dramamine if you decide to be adventurous on a tiny boat. 

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

3. Watch the Sunset Every Night

This is the sunset from Brasilito, a small beach right beside Conchal. You can have your dinner directly on the beach and watch the sunset and people ride by on horses. Have I mentioned that it is paradise?

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

Image via Susie Roupe

4. Visit Playa Negra & Bring a Snorkel Mask

Playa Negra is a black sand beach with tons of volcanic rocks all along the shoreline. The day we went, there was hardly another soul on the beach besides us and professional surfers. It's worth going if only to watch these amazing athletes ride a wave to a break in the rocks and not get injured! We brought snorkel masks with us, not knowing what we would find. As you can see above, the rocks hold little tide pools between them in low tide, and that is where the magic is. In these small pools is a world of small creatures, crabs, eels, fish with legs!, brightly colored fish, octopi and we even saw a fossil!
 

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

5. Take at Least a Day Trip to a Volcano

We went to Monte Verde, a more inactive volcano for a day trip. Tyler and Sarah were able to get us a great deal by negotiating ahead of time in the town where we were staying, so we had a full day of adventure for an excellent price! There are many volcanoes in Costa Rica, but the two most famous are Arenal and Monte Verde. Arenal would have meant another 4 hour drive, and I'm not disappointed that we chose Monte Verde because it was incredible! We went to an adventure resort called Buena Vista on a day pass. 
On that adventure pass we were able to go zip lining through the jungle, down a more than 1/4mile long natural waterslide, horseback riding, and we were even able to enjoy the spa which included volcanic mud baths, sauna, natural hot and cold springs, and lots of animal sightings*. 

Images via Victor Prince

Images via Victor Prince

After you've enjoyed the adventure and the spa treatment, do not miss out on the bar overlooking the valley. This is THE spot to see a sunset. We could see for miles and miles, including the ocean which was a two hour drive away. This valley is the set for the Jurassic Park chase scene and is absolutely gorgeous!

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

Image via Victor Prince

*We saw iguanas, toucans, "the crested one", and howler monkeys. A howler monkey peed on me and then pooped on me while we were in the hot spring. Gross, but also once in a lifetime experience!

This is just a small taste of the things to see and do in gorgeous Costa Rica. You should definitely start planning your trip now!