Hannes, Eva María and Birna Hrönn. Photo/Pinkiceland.is
Pink Iceland is the LGBT travel expert in Iceland. The company was founded last year and is owned and operated by lesbian couple Eva María and Birna Hrönn along with their friend Hannes Páll. Together they have years of experience in tourism, event management, marketing and they’ve worked with local gay associations and on the Reykjavik Gay Pride. GayIceland met up with the super friendly and flexible team and found more about the various aspects of the Pink Iceland, especially the wedding planning which is getting quite popular.
“Well, the reason we founded the company is that we wanted to welcome “our” people and show them the best of what Iceland has to offer,” say Eva María and Birna Hrönn and add that even though Pink Iceland is only about one year old, they have helped LGBT travelers for years and enjoyed giving them tips about what to do during their stay in Iceland. “We think it is important that LGBT travelers get the best service available and to help them create a welcoming, friendly and fun experience. We love our work because we create unforgettable memories and make sure that our guests get a gay friendly approach at all times.”
According to Eva María and Birna Hrönn Pink Iceland offers an array of services from booking short tours around Reykjavík to all-inclusive luxury excursions around the country. They also organize events with local and international LGBT groups. Their partners are either gay owned, gay operated or gay friendly. “With a great cooperation of this Icelandic velvet mafia we hope to make our guests stay as unforgettable, wonderful and welcoming as possible.”
Pink wedding planners
Pink Iceland is, as mentioned before, now also specializing in gay weddings, including preparation, consultation, arranging the ceremony, the honeymoon and pretty much everything that concerns getting married. But how did they come up with the idea?
“When we were taking our first steps in the business we had no idea that a few weeks later we would be pink wedding planners,” say Eva María and Birna Hrönn and laugh. “We haven’t really started to promote our wedding planning service but we are always getting more requests and we feel how “word of mouth” is important. Our clients are more than willing to spread the word as they have been very satisfied with the personal service we offer.”
Asked about the legal aspect of gay marriages in Iceland they explain that same-sex marriage has been legal in Iceland since June 27, 2010. “The bill providing a gender-neutral marriage definition was passed by the Icelandic Parliament (i. Alþingi) with all members in favor and public opinion polls suggest that the bill is very popular in Iceland. Iceland became the ninth country in the world to have legalized same-sex marriage.”
Eva María and Birna Hrönn say that notable Icelandic individuals have joined in civil union and on 27 June 2010, they had their registered partnership transformed into a recognized marriage. The first couple to do so was the current Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir and her partner Jónína Leósdóttir. “This has made Iceland an attractive destination for gay people who want to get married and specially the ones that can’t do so in their home countries.”
Good to be gay in Iceland
Since Pink Iceland was founded a year ago there has been a steady uprise in demand for gay wedding planning from abroad. The company is already planning weddings in 2013 and it looks like weddings are going to play a big part in Pink Iceland’s every day life. But why is Iceland becoming such a popular place for LGBT travellers who want to get married?
“Iceland is already a popular spot for LGBT travelers, it is renowned for its gay friendly attitude, the Reykjavík Gay Pride is famous for its number and the fact that the prime minister is married to her same-sex partner helps a lot,” explain Eva María and Birna Hrönn.
They also point out that since gay marriage was legal in Iceland same-sex couples, and LGBT people from around the world look to the country as a role model and as an opportunity. “Here is a country where your love is equal to the love of straight people, both in society and in the eyes of the law, this is special and creates an environment where people feel safe and you couldn’t imagine a better environment to get married in. We are proud of our country and we have noticed that our guests are impressed with the positive attitude here in Iceland towards same-sex marriages and that definitely attracts more couples coming over.”
Couples from all around the world
The couples that have gotten married in Iceland are from the US, Australia, Germany, Canada, Russia and Iceland according to Eva María and Birna Hrönn. They now also have inquiries from couples from the UK, Finland, Italy and even China.
Asked whether they have any unforgettable stories to share with us they say all of Pink Iceland’s weddings have been very special to them. “To make that journey with a couple is exciting and we cherish each experience,” Eva María and Birna Hrönn say – but indulge us by telling a story of a couple, a person from the US and another from Germany, who got married in Þingvellir as they decided to meet in the middle where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates divide the continents. “One was an army officer and the other worked at a Catholic hospital and this marriage confirmed their relationship in the eyes of the law and was important for them, both emotionally and in their personal lives.”
Eva María and Birna Hrönn say that their visitors, that is the ones that are not getting married, have even been from places far away such as India and Kuwait. “It was surreal greeting the group from Kuwait knowing that in their country it is illegal to be gay. The couple who came from India had been living as a couple in secrecy for 8 years, carrying two households and pretending to be single in the eyes of their families. One of the high points of their journey was to be able to hold hands on the main street of the city and the knowledge that Pink Iceland only sent them on journeys with their gay owned or gay friendly collaborators so they could always be themselves during their visit.”
Popular to go natural
The weddings that Pink Iceland has planned have been everything from a simple civil ceremony with the couple and up to celebrations with family and friends where arrangements are made for private excursions for the wedding party to see the sights, walk on glaciers, whale watch, snorkel, go horseback riding or whatever their mind wonders to. In other words every wedding package is tailor-made for each couple and is one of a kind.
Eva María and Birna admit that both they and their mate Hannes love weddings in natural spots as there are so many beautiful spots in Iceland to choose from. “Ceremonies can be arranged e.g. by a waterfall, in a cave, on a glacier, on an island or by a geothermal area. The national park Þingvellir has been the most popular spot for the simple ceremonies as the place is beautiful and offers a lot of possibilities. It is great to head on a honeymoon from there.”
They say that when weddings are held out in nature there might always be surprise wedding guests. “At last wedding in Thingvellir the crowd of tourists and travelling Icelanders grew bigger as the ceremony went on and when the grooms kissed there was a big applause from the crowd, something the couple really appreciated.” Of course those who wish have the option of getting married in a church. “Either having a nordic mythology theme or a simple civil ceremony. Pink Iceland’s aim is to make the wedding experience as gay friendly, fun, relaxing and unique as possible,” they say with a big smile.