I was able to plan my dream wedding in Iceland at a remarkable price and I am going to share how below!
Back in 2017, I saved up all my money while working an on-campus student job at my university and embarked on my first trip overseas with my aunt/best friend. Our first stop on the trip was Iceland. We spent four days exploring the country and along the way stopped in the northern peninsula of Snæfellsnes where I first came across Búðakirkja, or better known as the iconic 'Black Church' in Iceland. From that day forward, I made it my mission to get married there, and lucky for me, my now husband was totally up for it.
(Credit: Sophie Coderre, 2018)
Upon initial investigation on getting married in Iceland, I thought that renting out a place like the 'Black Church' was going to cost me thousands of dollars. Many blogs I read painted the price as such. However, I decided to still check further into it and found the contact details for the church and reached out to one of the church keepers. The church keeper I was in contact with was incredibly friendly, and to our surprise quoted us a super affordable price of 35.000 ISK or $250 USD for two hours, which also included the fee for having a church keeper on premises during our allotted time slot. When I was given the totals, I nearly fell over from so much excitement, then came the task of actually planning the whole thing.
Pirate Tip: In Iceland, you can get married in almost any public place, or on private property if the owner grants permission. Essentially, you can get married wherever!
To be fully transparent, I searched long and hard trying to find out how to get legally married in Iceland as a US citizen. I even reached out to the Icelandic Ministry of Marriage and sent inquiries to travel groups. One big hurdle was the fact that as a US national, there was no national database that could provide a certificate of marital status to prove I had never been married previously. To no avail, I eventually gave up on this dream and decided to keep our celebration in Iceland purely symbolic and opted to go through the legal marriage process in Denmark instead.
I have seen it is possible for US citizens to get married in Iceland, however, I found navigating this on my own served to be too complicated. If you decide to get married in Iceland, I highly recommend seeking out legal help and working through a company like Pink Iceland. Since I did not do this, this is a cost I was able to cut from our overall budget.
(Credit: Adair Photography by Brittnie, 2022)
Hiring a priest would cost $250 - $400 an hour, but thankfully my friend is ordained back in the US and led the ceremony for us since it was purely ceremonial.
(Credit: Adair Photography by Brittnie, 2022)
Next, we sorted out the accommodation. We ended up booking out an entire inn on the Golden Circle that could easily accommodate up to 16 guests (14 adults and 2 children). In total for three nights, we ended up paying $2,400. Split amongst 16 people, you are looking at $50 per person, per night. This accommodation was great, in particular, because of its location, the fact that each room had its own bathroom, a huge kitchen we could use and save money on meals, and an outdoor space that allowed us to gather around if we wanted to have a party with up to 20 people.
The White House Inn is highly rated on Tripadvisor (5/5) and we couldn't recommend booking here enough. The house was beautiful and Agla the host was incredible!
*One thing to note: the church is quite a distance away from Reykjavik and the Golden Circle. It was a three-hour drive from the inn.
Below, you'll find incredible rates for a six-night stay
(photos credit to Booking.com)
Both my partner and I are European residents, so our flights together were about $564 round trip. However, each person who flew over from the states ended up paying over $500 round trip. Now Icelandic budget airline PLAY Air is offering round-trip fares as low as in the $200s from East coast destinations to Iceland.
I was lucky enough to have a best friend who was a professional photographer back home. In Iceland, average daily rates for a photographer are around $2,000 to $3,000 and that’s not even including travel costs. Working with my friend, we decided to pay for her tickets to Iceland and accommodation in exchange for photographs during the wedding and overall trip. This added up to around $750
A rental car was one of the more expensive purchases on the trip, costing us close to $675 for three days (~$120 a day + insurance and extra mileage since we covered a long distance) If you book months in advance, you can find daily rates for under $100. However, gas is extremely expensive in Iceland costing around 334 ISK a liter which is roughly $9 a gallon. We rented through Sixt and opted to have the first fill done by them for a cost of $90 when it would have cost $120 at a pump. We filled the car with guests so split between five people, the costs rounded out to $135 per person.
Pirate tip: Buy prepaid gas cards inside local convenience shops and insert those into gas pumps. We learned the hard way that if you charge straight to your card, a hold of the maximum amount (around $200) will be placed on your card for several hours before it credits the actual amount. This gave us a huge scare.
Blue Lagoon Tickets 👙: Around $90 per adult. Kids 10 and under are free! Make sure to book in advance to get plenty of open slots. The Blue Lagoon works to be flexible with bookings and guests can arrive at any time within their hour slot.
Wedding Dress 👰♀️: I opted to wear a 1920s embellished gown from a vintage clothing store in Dublin, Ireland called the Harlequinn. This store carried a lot of sentimental meaning to me, as it is where I bought the dress I wore to the first big event I attended with my partner. I spent $200 on my dress. *They Ship Internationally.
Suit: The groom's outfit was preowned so there were no further expenses.
Horseback Riding 🐴: $72 per person for a 1-hour horse riding tour near the Golden Circle. We did the morning tour and it was an absolutely incredible experience.
Cake 🎂: Our cake was bought by a friend from Sandholt Bakery in Reykjavik. We opted for the traditional Icelandic cake but are not sure of the exact amount it cost. You can contact the bakery to inquire about prices here:
Food 🌭: No exact cost, but you can save a lot of money if you opt to eat Icelandic hot dogs almost every meal 😆 or if you buy groceries to cook your own food.
Accommodation for two: $300 (based on three nights $2,400 split with 14 others)
Cars split for two: $270
Flights for two: $564
Wedding Dress: $200
Gas for two: $132 (Total cost of $330 split between five people)
Of course, even more costs could be cut by opting for no venue, booking cheaper flights, or a rental car more ahead of time.
Or added costs, depending on if you opt for a legal marriage, face those required fees, and hire an officiant. But all-in-all, not a bad price for a dream destination wedding.