black church snaefellsnes peninsula iceland elopement adventurous wedding



“One night, while we were planning our formal wedding, Melissa jokingly mentioned that she would prefer to just elope.”

This remark sparked an important conversation, and the couple soon realized an elopement was what they truly wanted. Abandoning their wedding plans, Melissa and Ben slipped away to Iceland for the adventurous nuptials of their dreams. Photographer Stephanie Zakas says, “Their elopement encompassed every single reason why I love to document elopements and feel like more couples should elope if that is what their hearts are telling them… they wanted to have an elopement that was really sentimental to just them, where they could be in their own world together without any distractions. They didn’t even tell anyone back home they were eloping in Iceland and kept it to themselves for a little while after so they could bask in their newly married goodness…”

Under a vibrant double rainbow, Melissa and Ben said “I do” at the iconic little black church on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. “I caught Ben looking at Melissa with such adoration, with tears rolling down his cheeks,” Stephanie recalls. “I would be a liar if I said it didn’t make me tear up a bit. They hired a violinist, Abraham Brody, to play during the ceremony which filled the church from wall to wall with music. It was seriously beautiful. After a service inside the church, we went outside for them to say their vows, and no more than 30 seconds after stepping outside, a huge, bright rainbow appeared over them… I was screaming silently to myself about how this was just too perfect.” Marriage license signed and sealed with a kiss, the newlyweds spent several hours exploring the peninsula. They took in Iceland’s expansive views and adventured across the hills to the cliffs and sea, relishing their first moments as husband and wife!


Photography by Zakas Photography



CHOOSING AN ELOPEMENT:

“It was a snap decision. One night, while we were planning our formal wedding, Melissa jokingly mentioned that she would prefer to just elope. I agreed that it was my preference as well, and we made the decision then and there. We were both surprised, as we had assumed the other wanted a formal wedding. After we committed to the elopement, it made sense for both of us since our definition of romance is being together in a wild and free place.”

[Ben, the groom]



“My creative process is really just gaining inspiration in the environment we are in. Every Iceland elopement and session is different – the weather and clouds and sun or lack-there-of really change the mood of the day, and I like to work with it.” 

[Stephanie Zakas, Photographer]



CHOOSING A LOCATION:

“For both of us, the outdoors is a sacred space. Iceland is expansive, majestic and otherworldly and represented a truly beautiful setting for us. We chose a small, historic church located in the hamlet of Búðir to reflect our desire for an intimate and private ceremony. The surrounding area is the lava fields of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula which contains a stark beauty that deeply resonates with us.”

[Ben]



“The day was completely theirs. They did everything they wanted their way, loved on each other with no distractions, committed their love to one another, and then went on an adventure afterwards. It was completely magical, including the double rainbow that appeared during their vows, ring exchange, and first kiss.”

[Stephanie Zakas]



PLANNING AN ELOPEMENT:

“While our decision was made quickly, we planned the trip and ceremony for about two months. Planning an elopement is certainly easier than a formal wedding but still requires some organization. Stephanie Zakas, our photographer, was a wonderful help throughout the process… and was able to provide helpful advice and great ideas. We also worked with the local reverend to create an expressive ceremony that conveyed our care and love. Finally, we were lucky enough to find, at the last minute, the extremely talented violinist Abraham Brody to also be part of our day.”

[Ben]



“We worked together to come up with their itinerary for the day. I made sure to create something with some of the best spots in the area and wanted to make sure to have fun. One of the benefits of hiring a local photographer is that we know where to go, what is dangerous, what is not going to be busy, best times to go to locations, etc. Melissa and Ben put their full faith in me and let me lead the adventure.”

[Stephanie Zakas]



PARTING THOUGHTS:

“Invest in a professional photographer and musician – it really makes a difference. Spend time planning a wedding that reflects the values of each individual in the couple as well as the nature of your relationship.”

[Ben]



“I just wanted to document their day how it really was and their personalities as they are. I don’t ever have much of a ‘vision’ beforehand since all of my couples are unique, and I am not there to direct – [I am] there to document their chemistry and love and the feelings throughout the day.”

[Stephanie Zakas]




Vendors:

Florals | Þórdís Z
Bridal Designer | Houghton
Bridal Boutique | The White Room
Groom’s Jacket | Eleventy
Violinist | Abraham Brody
Hotel | Hótel Búðir


Thank you to Wandering Weddings member Stephanie Zakas for sharing this session, and congratulations to Melissa + Ben!

Member Spotlight Page | Zakas Photography



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