Elopement

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

The Real Cost of a Wedding

As a newly engaged lady (OK, now I'm married--I started writing this before the wedding), I've been thinking a lot about what everything for weddings cost. The venue, which vendors you use, the catering costs, the decorations... Do you hire a wedding planner, or do you do it yourself? Do you hire a videographer and a band? Can you do all of it without causing major stress on you and your future spouse? The photos your friends will like on Facebook need to be envy-worthy, right? So you need to spend all of your time, energy, and money on this one day. The wedding is the most important thing, isn't it?? I mean, how are people supposed to value your decision to marry the one you love if they don't either attend or see THE MOST fabulous party pictures on social media?? It's way too easy to get sucked into wanting a picture perfect wedding and letting that desire overtake your happiness. It's your marriage that really matters. Yes, your wedding is the first day of your marriage, so it's very important, but don't let the cost (literal or figurative) take over what matters most. 

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

The truth is, things WILL go wrong, whether you spend $100,000 on your wedding, or $1,000, so spending more doesn't mean perfect. Right after we got engaged, I was in an airport in Ohio and wanted to treat myself to a bridal magazine while I waited for my flight. I opened the pages and practically drooled over the perfect floral arrangements and the gorgeous table settings for formal and funky receptions alike. I started getting knots in my stomach because I knew I wanted my wedding to be the most beautiful and special and memorable, and from what the magazines tell you, you'd better be willing to sell a kidney to pay for it. For instance, this particular issue had an article titled "Spending Wise - Budget Friendly Weddings". The wedding they highlighted was a $50,000 party!!! That, dear friends, is a nearly $3,000 more than the average household income in Georgia for our current year. Perhaps for some, $50,000 on a wedding IS budget conscious, and in that case, good for them! But for the overwhelming majority of people, that either is not possible or feels wasteful. The average cost of a wedding in Atlanta is a little more than half that $50,000 price tag at $28,659. And $28,659 is nothing to sneeze at! That's quite the investment!

Actual crazy beautiful place setting from a Style Me Pretty featured wedding

Actual crazy beautiful place setting from a Style Me Pretty featured wedding

Keep it Low Key

There are a lot of options for keeping your wedding low-key and high style while not spending more than more families make in a year. And there's good reason for doing that. Here are a few things to remember to keep your budget and sanity in check while you plan a wedding.

  • A wedding is a celebration, not a competition. I know this is insanely obvious, but you can do low-key without feeling the need to outdo the couple that got married before you. The less stress, financial and otherwise that you put on yourselves, the better off you will be to start your marriage as a happy, well-adjusted couple.
  • It is worth an investment. So yes, it's crazy to spend your life savings and then some, but it is the most important day in your lives together, so it's worth making a fuss and setting aside some time and money if you are able, within reason of course.
  •  Keeping it small means more time with your guests. A bridal party of 30 people is going to be more expensive. A guest list of 600, even more so. The smaller the party, the more special details you can add without breaking the bank, and the more you'll be able to talk to everyone.
  • Keep it casual. A backyard barbeque can be every bit as special as a fancy affair. Keeping it casual may mean you can afford more guests, and who doesn't love a good backyard party?!
  • Stop feeling obligated. You cannot invite every single person you've ever met nor should you feel obligated to make everyone happy. I'm a big believer in general etiquette. If you don't know an etiquette rule, you can almost always figure it out by thinking "Am I being greedy?" "Am I striving to make people comfortable?" "Am I providing for the basic needs for this event?". BUT there some exceptions. You can't feel so tied down by what is expected that you get yourself into a bind. Whether that be that you feel like you HAVE to have personalized wedding favors for each guest or maybe that means your MIL expects filet when your budget is more like Chick-fil-A. Do what is true to you!
  • DIY is more fun. It's more work, but you can make your decorations, invitations, etc, and not only save money, but it gives you more control over the look of your party--you just may need more friends to pitch in to help :) For our reception, we're having various friends and family to help us set up and we could not be more thankful! Some of those same selfless loved ones, all of whom are EXCELLENT bakers (I've taste tested their baked goods, so I know!) are making desserts for our cake table. Homemade is best anyway. 
Image via MOD Weddings

Image via MOD Weddings

Pick Your Venue Carefully

  • Select a venue that doesn't pin you in. The wedding industry is hot. Anything titled bridal or wedding is about 5 times as much as that same item without "wedding" in the title. Ex. Wedding cake: $3,000. Birthday cake: $600. Many venues require that you use one of their selected caterers, you can't bring any food of your own in and they require you hire a bartender. Some even have rules about the photographer you can use! Be sure to check out all of the requirements and the vendors they recommend before signing on the dotted line. If you have a healthy budget and want to be hands off, this type of place is less stressful to use, so it may be a good option for you.
  • Have a party size in mind before booking. This part is really tricky. How do you know who can come that far in advance? You can't. But what you can do is have a maximum number in mind and stick to it. It will be hard, but everybody has to do it--even weddings with a party of 350 feel like they've left someone out. You will be much happier with a venue the appropriate size than feeling cramped or one that feels vacant.
  • Select a venue that gives to charity. Maybe not applicable to everyone, but to me and Victor, this was important. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunities we do and want to give back as much as we can. An added benefit when you rent from a charitable organization is that part of your rental fee is tax deductible. Win win! 
Via Junebug Weddings

Via Junebug Weddings

Elope!

If the thought of making everyone happy with the type of dress, ceremony, music, etc. stresses you out, do what's best for you both. Elope! My husband and I chose to do this, not because anyone was pressuring us to do anything we didn't want to do, or because we don't love our family and friends, but because for us, the best thing was a private, intimate ceremony between the two of us. We could focus on our love for each other, and apart from all other distractions, commit our lives to one another forever. We chose to get married in Iceland, where we also wanted to honeymoon. A two for one! Now, when we celebrate with family and friends at our reception this month, we will be able to enjoy our party in casual style and we'll be able to even set up some decorations ourselves since we'll have a little more free time that day. Elopement isn't for everyone, but it's an option that you can consider for a meaningful, intimate wedding ceremony between you and the one you love most. 

The real cost a wedding varies greatly from couple to couple. For some, $50,000 is reasonable, for others, a simple courthouse wedding. My point is to please, do what makes you happy and what feels right for you as a couple. Your wedding day is the first day of your marriage, it should be all about your love, your relationship, and who you are as a couple. Don't let trends or Pinterest or other people's expectations change the way you marry your spouse. Everyone will be supportive if you're true to yourselves.

Photo by Christina Wedge Photography

Photo by Christina Wedge Photography

Next week, we'll post some of the "how tos" for how to elope, specifically to Iceland. It's easier than you think, but having a little guidance helps even more! 

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!