What do the actors on Game of Thrones and some wedding planners have in common? Their jobs have taken them on location to Iceland, of all places. That's right, some of the following photos of over-the-top weddings take place in the gorgeous, colorful terrain of Iceland's black sand beaches, waterfalls, and glacial mountain regions. In honor of wedding season unfurling faster than anyone can find enough cute outfits to wear to them, I asked wedding planners to share about the most elaborate weddings they've ever worked on.
"I have worked on weddings at churches, family homes, special venues, the coast of Jamaica, in both intimate and casual settings and 'Elaborate' is a different definition for everyone — for me, it is when there are most moving parts, and all of them have to be perfectly planned, timed and executed," says Andi Jo Clark, owner, and CEO of Simply Sparrow wedding planning. A wedding can be elaborate in numerous ways, and it's always about the details.
Adventure weddings are often characterized by a smaller number of guests and a couple that wants to prioritize an experiential celebration. "Planning adventure weddings in a tiny island in the North Atlantic can be challenging, but we freaking love it! This is especially true for our team since our weddings involve exploring remote locations via super jeep," says Iceland Wedding Planner, Ann Peters. "Rather than visiting the usual tourist spots, it’s our team’s mission to take people off the beaten path and show them the real Iceland, and the hidden gems that most never get to see."
For more behind the scenes details from wedding planners, check out the following couples' adventurous big days.
Some couples took to the mountains...
"New Yorkers, Christophe and Mary came to our Iceland Wedding Planner team to execute a full day adventure wedding for 100 guests... It was three days of awesomeness! The wedding ceremony was held inside of hilltop church overlooking the 300 person village in Vik Iceland. Following the adventure began! The group was first taken to a private property waterfall to explore and then an exclusive cave for a traditional hot dog bbq. It was here we also had a champagne toast.
Later that day, the bride and groom parted from more than half of their wedding guests to have a secluded black sand beach and sea arch to themselves and their immediate family. The last location for the day was a hidden narrow canyon in Southern Iceland that Christophe and Mary shared together as adventurous newlyweds."
— Ann Peters, Iceland Wedding Planner
Some couples wanted to be off the beaten path...
"The most elaborate, I planned was for around 100 guests on a private deserted island off the shore of Phuket, Thailand. We had to create everything: Ceremony site, dinner al fresco with canopy and draping, full catering kitchen, light up dance floor with rock star DJ and lounge area...the works! We also had to transport all our guests by boats and water taxi to reach the island and again at the end of the evening. We provided all the makings of the perfect wedding celebration including swimsuits and towels for all the guests to use them take home as a keepsake."
— Catherine Bachelier, Southern California Planner
Some couples wanted to return to their roots...
"Summer, the bride, had been to Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha Nebraska, a beautiful botanical garden with a large greenhouse and acres of gardens, many times growing up. Because of her history there, she knew the location would make for a fairytale wedding with its abundance of greenery and flowers. She put a visual emphasis on flowers, especially her favorite giant white lilies, while it was especially important for Tait, the groom, to have a cigar and whiskey bar at the reception."
— Kristine Ehlers, Complete Weddings + Events
Some couples wanted to combine tradition with creativity...
"Pav and Akal’s spring 2018 wedding at a five-star beach resort in Laguna Beach, California was a complex three-day event for 235 guests, featuring simultaneous bride and groom welcome parties, two Mendhi events, a traditional ceremony, and a lavish dinner reception. Among the highlights was a Bombay Bazaar-themed Sangeet with food carts serving authentic Southeast Asian cuisine, and a serene ocean-view Hindu ceremony with guests seated on lavish carpeting instead of chairs, and picturesque parasols to ensure ultimate comfort.
The Hindu ceremony was held on Saturday and was an outdoor event. In lieu of chairs, guests sat on carpet covering the lawn. The ceremony was decorated in ivories, blues, and peach at the bride’s family’s request to complement her attire. We erected a mandap for the holy book and priest and ensured that everyone had a stunning ocean view. The couple observed many beautiful Hindu traditions, including the garland exchange, tying of the Thali, elder couples pouring milk over a coconut held by the bride and groom, and a showering of rose petals by the guests as they exited."
— Nahid Farhoud, Nahid’s Global Events
Some couples wanted to get a bit rustic...
"One of the most elaborate weddings I have worked on was when I was assisting with this beautiful hometown wedding last September. It was the bride's dream to have her wedding on her family farm. She wanted a tent on a hilltop in a field, with rented in farm tables, vineyard chairs, family-style dinner, a live band which we had to bring in power for, pies for dessert, luxury bathroom trailers, vintage car entrance, and ending with a fireworks display.
Unfortunately, a windstorm and a severe thunderstorm were coming that intensified the event. With a dream team of vendors, a father of the bride that was familiar with the location, and a couple that was just worried about being in love, we pulled off the most memorable and extravagant event I've ever been a part of — concluding with the father of the bride pulling cars out of the muddy farm field with a tractor. My favorite part was after the storm passed and the chaos was over, watching the bride and groom enjoy the fireworks. At the end of a huge day, they were finally together with their families feeling like all their dreams had come true."
— Andi Jo Clark, Simply Sparrow LLC
Some couples introduced each other to new traditions...
"One of the most known traditions of the Greek Orthodox ceremony is tossing rice at the end of the ceremony, as a wish for fertility and stability in the newly wedded couple. Why rice? The tradition derives from the Greek word “ryzi” (rice) which has the same root as the word “riza” (root), so the guests wish for the couple to have stable roots in their new life together. Anthony, the groom, was obviously prepared by the bride’s family of this tradition so from the first moments of being Vicky’s husband he stood up to protect his wife from the rice throwing! Such a fun moment as Anthony was introduced to the Greek customs – everyone loved the moment that is beautifully captured by Mr. Andreas... The absolute show-stopper, though, was the cute little donkey, Melenia, with the handmaid fresh flowers’ wreath that welcome the guests upon arrival."
— Anna Laudanska, Crete for Love
One couple wanted the day to be about them and their adventure...
"Adam and Valerie had already traveled together a lot, and they wanted to have a day of an adventure in Iceland. We took them to some great locations for their photos so they could share this special day with their friends and family back home. This wedding was an elopement, and we did not have any special theme color, the Icelandic nature took care of the theme. The inspiration for this wedding was to have fun, enjoy the scenery and get amazing photos! I loved going to these locations we went to, they are a little different to what is most popular in Iceland. The ceremony location Brúarárfoss is a beautiful waterfall."
— Vigdís Bjork Segatta, Luxwedding Iceland
Some couples wanted to blend their cultures seamlessly...
"One elaborate wedding that I have worked on was last year. The groom was Persian and the bride was Indian. They really wanted to have a blend of these two cultures in their wedding that was located in Italy. The challenge was creating a sofreh agdh and a mandap that was ideal for both ceremonies. Floral decor and decor on the ceremony area needed to respect both cultures and traditions, so we studied a lot. Both to understand what could be adapted and what we could not include. The exchange of vows was completely different, so they had two moments for this. Same for the exchange of the rings that in this case was the exchange of the flower garlands as Indian tradition.
They also wanted to add a touch of "italianity" so we created a perfect wedding menu for them. The rich aperitif buffet included Persian cuisine and Indian cuisine traditional dishes while the seated meal was based on Italian cuisine. The couple was so easy to work with and making this day exactly how they wanted was a delight."
— Valentina Lombardilst, Italian Wedding Planner
At the end of the day, it's clear that these couples wanted to celebrate each other in the most creative ways they could think of — whether that meant returning to somewhere that was important to them or adventuring to a new place. It's clear that these love birds weren't shy about picking the perfect place to say, "I do" — and that's out of this world.