A Winter Adventure Elopement in Norway Chasing the Northern Lights
Maggie and Kelly traveled to Alta, Norway where they decided to plan a winter elopement adventure where they chased the Northern lights and went dog sledding together. Get all the details from their adventure and how you should prepare to see the Northern Lights for your own adventure.
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About This Elopement Chasing the Northern Lights
“This couple’s big dream was to see the Northern lights, and that was a priority number one for their elopement day. However, the weather forecast was horrible, not only for the elopement date but for the whole week of their stay in Alta. It meant chances of seeing the northern lights were fairly small, to begin with. But they knew it was most important to commit their love to one another, with or without northern lights onboard. Maggie and Kelly stayed positive and optimistic all the way, embraced all the changes in the plans, and to our big surprise got rewarded and saw the Aurora Borealis on the night of their elopement!
I loved that although it was a low-key intimate elopement, the couple had great taste and cared enough to pick some beautiful items for their elopement day that will be some nice tangible memories in the future (such as handfasting wedding cord and groom’s green-blue bowtie that was matching the color of Aurora borealis).
We hid in a forest where Maggie and Kelly said their vows to each other. Their celebrant commented that the ceremony conditions couldn’t be any better, and I believe he actually meant it! In the evening the blizzard got even crazier, quite a few roads out of town got closed (completely), and our odds of seeing the northern lights got worse and worse. But no guts no glory, so after lots of back-and-forths we decided to go for it since seeing aurora borealis was the number one priority for the whole adventure elopement!
The day after we had a similar blizzard, but Maggie and Kelly still went for a dog sledding tour in a magical winter forest. What a fun experience it was!” [Tanja, the photographer]
Freedom to Roam in Norway
“In Norway we have a law called ‘Freedom to roam’ – a right of public access to the wilderness. This means people have the right to hike, cycle, ride, ski and camp on most of the land with the exception of private areas, lands under cultivation and some other restricted areas as long as you follow the LNT principles.
Initially we had planned a location with a fjord view for the ceremony, but due to a blizzard and strong wind on the elopement day we ended up in a forest as it was the only place in nature with some shelter effect.
There was no permit needed for a ceremony there. In general, you can get married in Norway in most of the places: mountains, forests, by the waterfalls, fjords etc – with no permits needed.” [Tanja, the photographer]
Planning an Elopement in Alta, Norway
“Alta is a great destination for a winter elopement! Many people come here for a chance to see the northern lights, and some of them combine their elopement day with Aurora borealis hunting! Here it is possible to do many awesome winter activities such as dogsledding, reindeer sledding, snowmobile driving, visit an igloo hotel (or sleep in a room made of ice and snow) and more.
My best tip is to bring (or buy locally) really warm clothes and shoes – be prepared for the arctic winter. Preferably wear several warm layers for all the outdoor activities. If you’re eloping in Alta between late September and late March, make sure to include Aurora Borealis hunting as a part of your adventure elopement! It is an unforgettable experience and you will have some unique memories! Pick one or two outdoor activities to do after your elopement ceremony – this will add a lot of fun to your elopement day! And visit one of the great local restaurants for a nice wedding dinner!” [Tanja, the photographer]
Deciding to Elope
“We both have big families, and while our family and friends are the most important part of our lives, both of us strongly disklike being in the spotlight. After some consideration, we ultimately decided that a formal wedding would feel like too much of a production and it just wasn’t ‘us’. Our number one priority for our wedding was the meaningful connection we hoped to feel between us as we made the biggest commitment of our lives to each other. For us, we knew this moment would be best experienced privately and we have no regrets about that decision.” [the couple]
Deciding Where to Elope
“Once we decided our wedding would be just us, then we really had fun and let our imaginations go wild. I’m captivated by the natural wonders and mysteries of the world and always wanted to witness the Northern Lights. Kelly has always been interested in space and the galaxy, so he was an easy sell. It then came down to Alaska, Iceland, or Norway. We decided on Norway because we came across Tanja’s work and she had lots of experience chasing and doing portrait photography under the Northern Lights. I couldn’t find anyone else who would’ve been able to provide this experience! She lives in Alta, Norway which is very very far North and she convinced us that Alta was the best place to get married for it’s small-town charm and local wilderness adventures.” [the couple]
Planning a Legal Elopement Ceremony in Norway
“Tanja and I set up a call before we officially hired her. On that call we talked about where in Norway was possible to see the Northern Lights and she gave us a couple of options to choose from. She shared experiences that her clients have enjoyed and gave us some ideas. When we officially hired her, she sent us an email with the lodging and experiences she recommended and we booked everything from there. She connected us with a Norweigan wedding planner who we paid to help us with just the paperwork for our official Norway marriage ceremony. That was the most stressful and tedious part of planning (even with the planner!) and took way longer than I had expected (almost 4 months). There would have been no way we could have done it without the planner’s help.
Our paperwork was finally approved by the Norweigan government just one week before we left! About a month before our wedding, Tanja had us describe our perfect wedding day vision and that’s what she used to scout our ceremony location and schedule for the day.” [The couple]
Estimated Cost of This Elopement
“We looked at our elopement as an ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ and spared no expense.” [the couple]
5 days of lodging, food, and snowmobiling at Sorrisniva: $11K
Husky sledding adventure: $675
Official Norweigan Marriage Ceremony + paperwork planner: $2200
Flights RT: $3000
Memorable Moments From This Elopement
From the photographer:
“The moment neither of us will ever forget was the driving through the blizzard on the evening of their elopement. Forecast for Aurora Borealis was great in Alta and towns nearby. The only problem was the heavy snow covering everything, hence zero chances to see the clear sky. After a thorough discussion of all the pros and cons, we decided to drive out of town to a village nearby – where there was supposed to be some clear sky.
We drove through a complete white-out, and I remember a funny moment when the groom filmed the crazy blizzard from his car seat while commenting, ‘We are chasing the northern lights, and nothing will stop us!. At that moment everything looked completely hopeless and we were risking getting stuck in the middle of the snow storm with the road back to town closed behind us…’
But in a short while we came to a spot with clear sky and finally Maggie and Kelly could see the northern lights for the first time in their lives!
That was totally worth the craziest roadtrip in their life!”
From the couple:
“The wedding ceremony. I don’t know how many married couples can actually say that! We ended up with a blizzard and 40 mph winds for our wedding day conditions. We originally set out to have our ceremony on a beautiful fjord, but Tanja scouted a few back-up options early the morning of our wedding day and let me choose. I opted for the forest – the option that would be most protected from the winds. Everyone present contributed such a wonderful presence and energy. We had 2 official witnesses (Tanja acted as one) and our celebrant Tor, pronounced ‘Thor’. He was traditional Sami – native to Northern Norway and dressed in his family’s colors and traditional garb. He had a great sense of humor and remarked, ‘the ceremony conditions couldn’t be better!’. We didn’t know how it would turn out, but the ceremony wound up being a wonderful surprise for all of us – the snow was coming down so hard – and because of that it felt so enchanting and very very special. All we could do was laugh and cry happy tears at the absurdity and magic of it all.
Our Northern Lights chase with Tanja on our wedding night was the ultimate adventurous cap to our day. The blizzard made for a really treacherous drive with some parts being a total white-out. We were in search of a clearing to be able to see the Northern Lights and had to drive towards Finland to be able to see them, but it was incredible and it was fun to work for it! You can never count on when the Northern Lights will make their appearance, but we were overjoyed to get to see them on our wedding day.”
Final Words of Advice From The Photographer
“If Aurora borealis hunting is something you want to include in your elopement day, spend a minimum of 3-5 days in a town in Northern Norway (Alta is a really great place for that due to specific climate and bigger chances for clear sky and high Aurora borealis activity compared to other places). This timeframe will give you better odds for seeing the northern lights on at least one of the nights. But don’t take it as an end of the world if you don’t see it, and fill your days with fun winter activities – there are plenty of them here!
Be flexible and be ready to make some adjustments in your plans. And stay positive – it really helps!” [Tanja, the photographer]
Photos From This Elopement