Wedding

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!

Yo, Semite! I Think I Love You!

This year is the 100th Anniversary of the United States National Parks Service. Our big, beautiful country is home to volcanoes, waterfalls, HUGE mountains, canyons, caves, geysers, pools of bubbling colorful goo, and pretty much everything else in between. There are 58 National Parks in the US, so it's time to start checking them off your list if you haven't yet been to many. 

Until mid-July, I'd only been out west once. In 2013, I went to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Both of these were incredible! Never before had I seen such high mountains, and I'd never seen mountains that just came out of nowhere, surrounded by plains and soaring up thousands of feet into the sky.  This July, Victor planned a trip to Yosemite National Park in California. We flew into San Francisco (my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean in the USA), which was beautiful. We will be back when we have time for more than just lunch. 

After driving through countryside speckled with windmills, we arrived at a Bed and Breakfast we found on AirBnB. It was very cute and had two dogs on staff helping our sweet hosts. We mapped out a basic plan of attach for our trip before we left, so we chose an AirBnB that was equidistant from each of the entrances we'd use to get into the park while we were there. Since we planned our trip without tons of notice, most of the camping in the park was booked up. But I'm not complaining because the AirBnB was super comfy and the breakfasts were HUGE and delicious--perfect for fueling up for long hikes each morning. 

On the way in, we stopped off the side of the road and I lifted this boulder just to warm up ;)

On the way in, we stopped off the side of the road and I lifted this boulder just to warm up ;)

Day 1, we did a tour-de-valley. We drove around a little, parked, and started our full day of hiking. We hiked so long on day 1 that we came back to the car and it was pitch black for some time. We had tired feet, were a little sore, but very happy. 

From the valley, you can see the very famous El Capitan and Half Dome. We walked along the meadows, hiked up to Yosemite Falls and bouldered to the bottom of the falls. The boulders were hot as they baked in the sun, but it was way worth the reward! A fine mist of cool water from the falls blew around and was so refreshing. We did kick ourselves a little for not wearing swimsuits. The pool at the bottom of Yosemite Falls was filled with swimmers--and we were instantly jealous. We made our way down, headed to Bridalveil Falls, which was almost dried up for the season. The bouldering here was a little more treacherous. The rocks looked like polished metal and were super slick. Though we went for somewhat more challenging routes and climbed up rocks for better views and less crowd, the park really is accessible to everyone. There are handicapped ramps, viewing platforms, and buses to help those who may be less able to get around still be able to enjoy the park fully.  

We finished our day after Hiking to Mirror Lake to see the sunset over Half Dome.

We finished our day after Hiking to Mirror Lake to see the sunset over Half Dome.

We saw Yosemite Sam, too! 

We saw Yosemite Sam, too! 

Our second day in the park, we headed first to Glacier Point. If you're going in the summer, get there early or stay in the park. We took a more leisurely approach to our morning on our second park day and so we had to park in a far off lot and be bussed to the Glacier Point trailhead. That was the only thing about that day that wasn't perfect. 

Naturally, these photos don't even come close to doing the view justice. Victor is braver than I am with heights. I crept to the edge and the took pictures from a "safe" distance. The photo above of Victor on the scary edge is at Sentinel Dome. The wind whips around so fast and so hard up there, it's a thing to behold. 

On our way from Sentinel Dome to Taft Point, we found this huge cluster of solid quartz. Everywhere you look, flowers and trees find their way to root between rocks and on the side of cliffs. They're determined!

On our way from Sentinel Dome to Taft Point, we found this huge cluster of solid quartz. Everywhere you look, flowers and trees find their way to root between rocks and on the side of cliffs. They're determined!

Once we got to the top of Taft Point it looked like this: 

And then...THIS HAPPENED

WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!!

Next, we hiked around the Giant Sequoias. They're incredible. Unfortunately, the portion of the park with the largest and oldest tree in the world was closed while we were there. Everything feels bigger in Yosemite. 

Our final night in Yosemite, we stayed at May Lake High Sierra Camp. It's a fairly steep hike in, full of prehistoric looking petrified wood and tumbled rocks with twisted trees forcing their roots between the rocks and just dealing with the rocks around them by bending and squeezing around them. The High Sierra Camp was awesome! Little huts with tiny fireplaces in each one were shared by 4 people in each. There's a food tent for dinner and breakfast. The manager of the camp blows a conch shell to call everyone for meals and hot beverages. It was 96 degrees in the valley and got do to a very cool 34 degrees at the camp that evening. I was not prepared for that--but a fire, hot cocoa, and layering saved the day. 

Victor LOVES the water. He even swam in the 54 degree May Lake. I watched from the warmth of the beach. He's a champ! After dinner, we hiked to the top of the ridge to watch the sunset. It was so beautiful that Victor wished he had held onto the ring for one more night. We met a very active pair of grandparents who gave us marriage advice and life advice--to keep active and stay interesting. They've been married for 54 years, are in their 70s and hiked up to the nearly 10,000ft elevation with us!

We hiked to the same ridge for sunset the next morning, then we heard the conch shell call and enjoyed breakfast. The views and hiking around the camp were gorgeous, but we loved the company equally. Everyone was so friendly and kind! We got to talk with people who had grown up coming to Yosemite each summer along with people like us who were just visiting for the first time. It felt like grown up summer camp in the best possible way. 

Because of the elevation, these cuties are the cargo haulers who bring the food and supplies up to the camp. 

Because of the elevation, these cuties are the cargo haulers who bring the food and supplies up to the camp. 

Also worth mentioning, we saw MARMOTS! They were so cute and fluffy and not afraid of us being nearby. 

For our final day (we flew out late that night), we made our way to Tuolumne Meadows which is where we saw the most Yosemite residents. It was pretty clear who had been backpacking for weeks on end. They even have a post office at the store for those who have supplied shipped to them to extend their trips. We definitely looked like the "squares" among all the dreadlocked hair, but at least we hadn't showered in a couple days either. In Tuolumne Meadows, we saw lots of little ground squirrels that very cutely popped up like prairie dogs, we saw the biggest hawk I've ever seen flying just over our heads (yikes/cool), and even some mule deer bedded down in the reeds along the river. It was peaceful, cool, and beautiful. 

There's the deer! 

There's the deer! 

I highly encourage everyone, no matter what your hiking skill level or comfort with camping to go and enjoy Yosemite. It is now extra special to us and we plan to be back soon! Next time, we will plan further in advance and camp in the park each night in tents and perhaps another visit to the High Sierra camps-it's worth it!  

Happy National Parks Centennial!