Winter Elopement in Iceland: All you need to know

Experiencing an Iceland elopement in winter is truly a lifetime experience! Our guide on eloping in Iceland in wintertime covers all essential tips such as choosing the right wedding attire for cold weather, dressing warmly, allowing extra travel time, driving safely, scheduling photos during daylight, and engaging in winter activities during your visit.

Winter wedding dress

When selecting a wedding dress for snowy conditions, it’s important to choose one that can keep you warm in both +5°C and -10°C. If you’re doing your wedding dress shopping in bridal stores, inform them about your winter elopement to find dresses with suitable materials. Additionally, wearing proper layers under both the bride’s and groom’s attire is crucial for warmth.

Tips for Wedding Dress and Attire:

  • Long-sleeved dresses help keep arms warm and conceal skin redness from the cold.
  • Opt for heavier materials like tweed or wool, which provide better insulation.

How to dress Properly for a winter elopement

Leave your high heels behind. Seriously, if you plan on having wedding photos taken in the snow or engaging in winter activities, high heels are a no-go. Even if the snow is manageable, black ice—common in Iceland—can cause dangerous slips and falls, potentially leading to broken ankles. High heels also leave you exposed to the cold, risking frostbite. Instead, opt for waterproof winter boots with good traction to stay warm and safe. Additionally, invest in hand and toe warmers, scarves, and layers, and make sure to protect your head and ears.

For high-quality winter clothing, 66 North or the North Face offers excellent jackets, trousers, and sweaters to keep you warm. Their products are highly recommended. Remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. Wool is particularly effective at keeping you warm, so incorporate it into your layers.

If you forget to pack something, Icewear in Iceland is a great place to shop for winter clothes. Yes, they’re pretty basic and not that fancy, but the prices are affordable and their clothes will definitely warm you up!

Extra Travel Time

Allow for extra travel time on your elopement day due to potential car issues from the cold or sudden road closures from snow. Driving in the dark with falling snow can be disorienting and roads may be slippery. Not all roads are open in winter; for example, access to the highlands is closed, and even the Ring Road may be shut down. Weather conditions are typically harsher in northern Iceland, as snowfalls there can be extreme.
Snowstorms are very serious, especially in the wintertime! They can close major routes like those from Reykjavik or Vik called Road 1. For example, a 2020 snowstorm stranded tourists, requiring rescue teams to walk due to dangerous conditions. Here is the video showing how brutal Icelandic snowstorms can look like.
For reliable weather and road information, use a website called Safetravel.is. They offer driving tips, outdoor information, and weather alerts. Submit your travel plan at Safetravel.is Travel Plan.

How to Drive in Iceland During Winter

If you’re planning to drive in Iceland in the winter and rent a car, this guide is for you. As stated above, it’s crucial to allow additional time for driving and to proceed slowly on the roads. Even if the roads appear clear of snow and you feel like speeding up, please refrain from doing so. Firstly, it’s against the law to exceed speed limits, and secondly, the roads might still be icy and slippery, increasing the risk of accidents.

Always check the road conditions before you set out. The official website for road conditions is road.is. This site features 115 webcams positioned along Iceland’s road network, offering views from around 360 different angles. These images are updated every 10-20 minutes. I strongly advise monitoring road conditions while traveling, as they can change drastically even if the weather is perfect when you depart.

Make sure to inspect the tire conditions before setting off in your rental car. Most of your driving will be on the Ring Road (since the F-roads are inaccessible). Generally, driving on the Ring Road is relatively straightforward and safe.

Plan your Elopement photoshoot time!

In winter, Iceland experiences limited daylight. Around December, daylight can last only about 4 hours, and even less in the northeast. From January, daylight starts increasing from 6 hours, and by mid-March, some parts of Iceland have up to 11 hours of daylight. Therefore, it’s important to choose your elopement month carefully, knowing how many hours of daylight you’ll have. You definitely will need an experienced Iceland elopement photographer to plan this accordingly.

Winter Elopements in Iceland

  • Chase the Northern Lights
  • Explore the Ice Caves
  • Hike Across Vatnajökull, Europe’s Largest Glacier
  • Try Snow Activities: Snowmobiling
  • Warm Up in Sky Lagoon or Natural Hot Springs

Winter Storms in Iceland

If you plan to elope in Iceland in January or February, it’s essential to allow extra days for travel and have backup plans (Plan B and C) for your elopement. From January 5th to 6th, 2022, Iceland experienced its worst storm in a decade. Travel outside of Reykjavik was impossible, roads were closed, and Icelandair canceled flights to Iceland.
PRO TIP: Weather can change rapidly during this time of year, often with only a couple of hours’ notice. It’s wise to submit your travel plans to safetravel.is, providing details of your route and expected arrival time. If something goes wrong and they don’t hear from you, they will initiate a rescue operation. This could be crucial if you get stuck in the snow or find the roads impassable.

Jane Iskra

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