As if getting married doesn’t cause enough nervous tremble to any bride and groom, saying “I do” at zero degrees added an icy crust to one shivering couple’s big day.
“I must admit, I had a slightly bigger knot in my stomach than usual. There were just so many factors I had no control over that could have gone wrong. Of course it‘s like that with any wedding or event we plan somewhere out in the wild, but this time we were dealing with a glacier and a location that‘s pretty remote. And it‘s winter. And this is Iceland,” says Eva María Þórarinsdóttir Lange, organizer at Pink Iceland, who had a deep sigh of relief last Thursday, when the first ever wedding inside Langjökull glacier was over, and a huge success.
As GayIceland revealed last month, the queer travel agency has become quite busy planning the big day for both same sex and opposite sex couples. Being the only proper wedding organizers that take Icelandic nature on to create the perfect day for couples, Pink Iceland‘s latest wedding was as much a first for them as the happy couple. “For one thing, I realised that when transporting a bride wearing a full-on wedding dress in a glacier-truck, you need to bring a stepladder. We wound up using a petrol can for her to step up on,” Eva María says and laughs.
“I thought it was unreal; never before have I stood on Langjökull in winter, with the sun shining and not even a lock of my hair moving.”
Shortly after Into the Glacier started operating last year – offering tours into a huge man-made tunnel inside glacier Langjökull – curious lovebirds around the world started inquiring whether it would be possible to throw a wedding in there. Most of them are disheartened when circumstances are explained to them in plain English; that there‘s a little bit more to it than picking out a dress and a cake. Flower arrangements are futile for instance, as fresh flowers wither straight away. Oh, and the bride can‘t glide gracefully down the “aisle”, it‘s more of a cautious waddle with crampons attached to the moon boots making noisy, scrunchy sounds that bounce off the surrounding ice walls. But Mari and Anthony from the United Kingdom, with their adventurous spirits, thought they knew Iceland quite well after three visits here and decided to give it a go; getting married inside a glacier.
“I‘m always a little worried that people have too high expectations and get shocked if they have to drive through a snow storm to get to the location, which can easily happen on a glacier, so I urged them to come to Iceland once more to check the place out.” Which they did in December, taking a two-day trip here for Anthony‘s birthday to see the ice tunnel for themselves. “That time, they caught much worse weather and temperature of -18°C so I thought they‘d call it off, but they just thought of it as an adventure,” Eva María explains.
Anthony and Mari also wanted to surprise their guests so Pink Iceland staff were careful not to post a lot of images from their Langjökull trips, or mention Into the Glacier in social media, knowing that they were being closely followed by the couple‘s friends and family who were trying to guess where exactly the wedding would take place.
“The wedding party consisted of 21 people and they all stayed at Hotel Húsafell the night before. I think some of them might have started suspecting something when the guides from Into the Glacier arrived to pick them up in massive trucks. So perhaps they thought the wedding would take place by or on top of the glacier, but I doubt they were expecting to attend a wedding inside the glacier,” Eva María says with a schemy twinkle in her eye.
The drive from the hotel up to the entrance of the ice tunnel takes about 45 minutes, and it‘s not a smooth ride at all. However, Mother Nature decided to bless the couple with gorgeous weather so there was plenty to see on the bumpy way up to the glacier. “I thought it was unreal; never before have I stood on Langjökull in winter, with the sun shining and not even a lock of my hair moving,” says Eva María.
Secret or no secret, planning such a wedding requires great co-operation between Pink Iceland and the glacier tour operator, Into the Glacier. “It‘s difficult to surprise people with such a location, because the wedding guests have to dress accordingly and such. But to some extent, it‘s maybe just as well because then they hadn‘t built up any anxiety about going into a glacier, which can be daunting for some people on any given day.”
“The echoing dripping from the ice ceiling added to the mood as well, creating magnificent sound effects and the glacier itself makes some earthy-sounds I can‘t describe… It was incredible.”
Eva María adds that there‘s certainly danger of people experiencing claustrophobia inside the glacier. “The bride‘s mother started to feel a little uneasy once inside the ice tunnel but the guides at Into the Glacier did an amazing job keeping everybody calm. It‘s a bit like going on an airplane for the first time but once you understand how everything works, you trust the experts. And the guides explained everything really well, I must commend them on that.”
Eva María was really happy to see that the Into the Glacier staff had hewed fresh ice blocks to use as benches, so they were nice and clean for the guests to sit on. She explains that there are quite few details different when throwing a wedding inside a glacier. “The whole process was a learning experience. Like, is it possible to decorate the “chapel”? I had never decorated an ice tunnel before so I went beforehand to do research. Anthony wanted to surprise Mari with some flower decorations inside the ice chapel so we smuggled some fresh flowers in, but half an hour later they were drooping and the white flowers were turning brown,” Eva María chuckles and adds that thankfully, she had ordered extra flower arrangements to decorate at the hotel for the reception in the evening. “They also asked whether it would be possible to have lots of candles but you don‘t want to create too much heat inside under an ice cap.”
Another thing that Eva María says she hadn‘t realised before is the amplifying effect of the ice walls. “There‘s great acoustic in there so every little sound, every movement, could be heard. We had to stand very still outside the chapel during the ceremony.” And as it‘s not good to keep instruments in tune at zero degrees, the human voice was the only instrument used at the ceremony, and that’s where the surrounding really paid off. “We brought the brilliant Hafsteinn Þórólfsson, singer and composer, who sang beautiful Icelandic traditional songs about the nature and his voice echoed all around. The echoing dripping from the ice ceiling added to the mood as well, creating magnificent sound effects and the glacier itself makes some earthy-sounds I can‘t describe, some sort of deep murmur as the ice cap is always cracking a little bit. It was incredible.”