Scott and Angus’s wedding was a three-day surprise adventure with their guests. “We both had never been to Iceland before, and the majority of our guests hadn’t, either. We didn’t tell the guests anything – only time and location of where to meet in Iceland, and where we’d drop them off at the end of day three. Everything else was kept secret…”
This wedding is just amazing!! Incredibly ambitious what with its top secret itinerary, overseas destination, and a LOT of DIY – that’s a lot of moving parts, as they say. But it was pulled off with absolute brilliance, and just looks like the most fun ever!! Even the place where the ceremony was held is spectacular…
“We did the ceremony outside on a black beach next to an old US military plane wreck which is private farmers’ land. We loved this idea as we had seen the amazing backdrop photos online, and loved how original it was.”
WOW for ever!!
Day 1: Meet and Greet
We all met a in Reykjavik at 10.30am on 14th September, 2015. A coach picked everyone up and we gave them their own pack of playing cards – 52 cards with eight jokers. Everyone had to then swap their playing cards, playing a game of Top Trumps to learn facts about each other and their relationship with us. Once they met, all 60 guests then had a full set of playing cards that they can take home with them as a memento.
The coach set off to the Blue Lagoon for the first stop on our adventure. We spent 2-3 hours relaxing there, and some of the guests had ‘in-water’ massages, followed by a buffet lunch before we set back off on the coach again.
The coach took us to Hotel Grimsborgir, which was our base for two nights. Check-in for everyone was done in advance along with all their luggage placed in the rooms, so we just had to drop everyone off at each of their villas. All they knew was that the next pick up time was 6.15pm.
6.15pm – people met at the hotel reception and the coach picked them up. We had arranged to have a welcome party inside a traditional Viking house with live music. Whilst the coach was driving there, four Vikings stopped the coach, took it hostage, and proceeded to take people to the Viking house. They even did a short fighting act on the grass! After traditional shots from goats’ horns, we proceeded inside for beer, wine, music and dinner on long tables to help the guests mingle and get to know each other. Around 10pm, rumour was going around that the Northern Lights were on display outside, so the room quickly emptied as everyone was looking to get a glimpse. Everyone got back on the coach, and on the way back we had a spectacular display of the Northern Lights, so the coach stopped so that we could take photos. Then it was back to the hotel, and we enjoyed a photo opportunity with the hotel and Northern Lights, along with relaxing in the hot tubs.
Day 2: The Ceremony
We had 11 black 4×4 Super Jeeps waiting for everyone in reception at 8.30 in the morning. After assigning everyone to their Jeep, we started on our journey across Iceland to see some of the scenery. The sky was beautifully blue. The first stop was a waterfall, Snaffefell. Then the entrance of a glacier. We continued to do some off-roading, going through streams, across the dunes of the black beaches for some real adventure. Eventually at 2.30pm, we arrived at the Black Beach with the plane wreck for our ceremony. We actually got secretly married in New Zealand in March 2014, mainly for administrative reasons. None of our guests knew that, but to add some continuity, we invited the celebrant that married us to run our official ceremony with us in Iceland. Cheryl was amazing, and we were so glad that she was able to come all the way to Iceland from New Zealand to be there with us – it made it very special. After lunch, fire and ice cocktails and some cake, it was back into the Jeeps for a final stop at another waterfall and back to the hotel.
At 8pm the reception dinner started, with formal attire and a fire and ice theme. Each table had hand-sculpted ice sculptures of volcanos in the middle, with an amazing centrepiece for the head table. We had never seen the designs for this before and were told “trust me” by the ice sculptor. We were blown away when we saw it – absolutely beautiful – so lucky! After signing a welcome photo of our guests at the entrance, we had welcome cocktails. Dinner was six course affair with best men and father of the grooms speeches in between. It was then our main event of the evening – our wedding cake, which we had been designing over the last three months with a team from Halifax in Canada.
After cutting the cake, a live band and open bar took us into the early hours of the morning, along with the Northern Lights blessing the skies above.
As it was an unconventional wedding (being a gay wedding and all that), we didn’t have all the traditional roles of a normal wedding. The only roles we defined were the two best men and the fathers of the grooms. And there was no dress code as the weather was unpredictable in Iceland and we planned to be outdoors (we were very lucky in that we had almost perfect weather for all three days. We did have two other back up plans that we could call upon last minute if the weather had changed, but we didn’t need them). The grooms wore Dolce é Gabbana suits, which kept it formal but more casual during the outdoor ceremony, with custom black and grey suits for the more formal evening dinner.
The ceremony was our favourite part of the three days and in our heads was designed to be the peak, which i think we achieved. We built up the event to this moment, and it was by far the best for both of us.
Day 3: The Recovery
We thought people might be feeling a bit worse for wear by day three, so we had a bit of a later start at 9.30am. A coach tour of some of the ‘must see’ sights of Iceland. The original geyser and Skogafoss waterfall. It was a very windy day, but still blue skies – perfect to get rid of the hangover. We arrived at a local beef farm for lunch; the favourite part being the home made ice-cream. We were all ready to say goodbye, where the group would be split into half with half returning to Reykjavik to depart iceland the next day and half joining us back at the hotel to continue post-wedding adventures in Iceland (we stayed a total of seven days after the wedding). Just as we were wrapping up and having coffee, a screen came down in the restaurant and our master of ceremonies asked Angus and me to take a seat in front of the screen. This was a complete surprise, and we had absolutely no idea what was about to happen! Secretly, over the last two days our guests had been filming and editing a thank you video, featuring all the guests to show it to us on the big screen in the restaurant. We were both in tears! Amazing how we both had absolutely no idea about it, and the amount of work that went into it to be able to have a fully edited video in time! Amazingly, they had shots that they took even outside the restaurant when we arrived and still managed to edit it all in! What an absolutely beautiful ending to our Love Adventure from our guests. Everyone was emotional when it came time to say goodbye.
So much DIY!
We spent lots of time in advance to create the DIY elements:
- Meet and greet playing cards – a custom pack of playing cards for each guest with their own character on that they could swap throughout the event as they met people to learn facts about them and their relationship to us.
- Welcome letter – as they arrived in Iceland, we gave each guest a welcome envelope (either at the airport when they arrived or waiting for them in their hotel reception when they checked in). Inside were two custom made luggage tags, a map of exactly where to meet and when, welcome letter and crossword puzzle to learn more quirky facts about us,
- Welcome bags – as the journey was a surprise for the guests, we gave them a little hint on their welcome bags with a picture we created of the journey. Inside the welcome bags were things they might need during their trip, with rain coats, shoe protectors (for the sand), creams, heat packs, tissues, local snacks, water, two more custom luggage tags (to make a set of four based on Icelandic wildlife), chocolate and message cards.
- Message cards and storage box – in their welcome packs, we gave all guests a custom message card and asked them to write a message on that they could place in our custom box and we will open it on our 10th anniversary. The box was sealed in Hong Kong at our final wedding party there (where we live, as all our friends and family couldn’t come to Iceland).
- Menu pops – the hotel was concerned as everyone had pre-ordered their food a few months in advance, and they have experience of everyone forgetting what they ordered, so we created custom table menu pops – cartoons of each of the courses – wrapped up in their table napkins so they could hold up as the waiters came around. We spent many sleepless nights hand making these as we didn’t realise how long it would take for us to cut and glue all 145 of these!
- Viking photo props – for the Viking welcome dinner, we hand created some photo props, like Viking hats, Viking hair, swords and shields out of cardboard.
- Table place names – custom table place names with menu inside with unique folding.
- Luggage tags – we created a set of four custom luggage tags for a takeaway gift to remind people of the wedding, based on the animals of Iceland.
- Projection wedding cake – this was our greatest feat of customisation. A five minute long wedding cake projection, which involved cartoons of us, the countries that we have visited together, a volcano erupting and turning into a glacier and an underwater scene.
- Jeep signage – we used the guests’ caricatures that we created to make some signage to help them remember which Jeep they were in.
- Custom underwear and socks for grooms, best men, fathers of the grooms, master of ceremonies and hairdresser to be used on the big day.
- Wedding rings – we had our fingerprint engraved on the inside of each other’s ring.
- Website – we made a custom website to keep guests updated about the event, and where they could share photos and choose options during the event. It’s since been changed, but the archive of the detail is still there for memories.
We chose three songs to feature at prominent points of our wedding. As we walked across the black beach to the aeroplane for the start of the ceremony, we had the live band play A Thousand Years by Christina Perri. After finishing the ceremony and as we walked in between two lines of guests, the live band played Lava by Kuana Torres Kahele, Napua Greig and James Ford Murphy (which was the song the guests used to create the surprise thank you video below).
The first song from the band after cutting the cake in the evening party was Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon to help change the mood and get people dancing. We didn’t have a first dance as such.
Anything you would change about the day?
As the ceremony was outside for the whole day, we had to plan toilet breaks. However, our live band was late for the ceremony (by over an hour), so our wedding planner moved things around and we extended the jeep safari for an hour to do what we had planned to do after the ceremony to beforehand. That meant by time we got to the ceremony, it had been over two hours since the last toilet break. People were walking over the sand dunes to go to the toilet! We actually did think about having a toilet set up, but the wedding planner suggested that it wasn’t necessary as we’d planned all the toilet breaks, but it didn’t cover what would happen if we had to change the plans on the day haha! Apart from that, we were lucky with everything else and wouldn’t change anything!!
Advice for brides- and grooms-to-be? Or for married life?
Don’t get stressed with the wedding planning; try to enjoy it and leave plenty of time. We found because we started really early we had lots of time to think about the decisions we made, and so cut costs substantially for the same event by comparing vendors and changing up itinerary. We really enjoyed trying to think ‘outside the box’. Ultimately, we made many compromises with each other for the event, which made our relationship even stronger. And that’s ultimately our advice for married life – to compromise.
Photography – Steve Gerrard Photography
Reception venue – Hotel Grimsborgir
Grooms – Dolce & Gabbana
Videography – Wes Films