Hiking Elopements: A Badass Way to Get Married


Every love story is an adventure.  So why settle on just a “wedding day” when you could embark on a unforgettable EXPERIENCE?  Daring couples all over the world are choosing to get married their way and with no apologies.  And after all they should because a wedding day should always focus on the root of why…  THEM!  This could mean a couple chooses to travel to a location they haven’t explored.  Or maybe have previously fallen in love with to get married with no guests in tow.  Most couples combine their adoration for adventure, the outdoors, wildlife and nature into an adventure wedding day.  Whereas, some couples enter into a totally different realm of planning a hiking elopement!

Our Adventure Wedding Team:

Early on into our adventure wedding planning and photography career (circa 2010) we realized there were other couples in the world like us vying for something different.  Which is why the owner of Your Adventure Wedding, Ann Peters created Iceland Wedding Planner and held the first adventure style wedding in Iceland in early 2012 (it even made the Icelandic News).  The concept grew bigger than Iceland and across the Nordic countries.  Then ultimately into our worldwide team and umbrella company today, Your Adventure Wedding.

The mission though has remained the same… Connecting couples with the more offbeat sides of world to have an intimate experience with the landscape and not be side by side with tourists.  So whether you see yourself being taken around in a rugged super jeep or doing a hiking elopement on your own two feet, our unique locations will leave you in awe.  You are also hiring one team to provide two very important sides of your experience, planning and photography.  Our adventure wedding photographers are skilled in extreme sports (from ice climbing to scuba and skydiving), safety, and experienced in extreme weather conditions (why we only shoot Nikon!).

Elopement Planning Process:

Being Americans living in Iceland, we know what a bad rap wedding planning gets.  You know, it’s negative, stressful, and oh-so time consuming.  But good news!  Our adventure wedding planning team, custom crafts an interactive wedding proposal document.  This allows your elopement to take shape and really come to life…  Think:  Having a “date night” doing wedding planning!

Literally, experiencing your hiking elopement schedules and locations in “feel like you are there” way.  Seeing photos, 360 videos, plus so much more!  The Goal: As you walk through the detailed document we promise that you’ll become more connected to having your adventure wedding day EXPERIENCE in whatever country you choose!  I can hear your crampons clicking or boots swishing through rivers already!!

Honestly, it will feel like you’re planning a really EPIC trip versus planning a wedding day!  And who doesn’t want that kind of fun?!  Another benefit of hiring our team is that we are able to craft options across several countries.  So challenge us to give you hiking elopement options in Patagonia, Iceland, Africa, or even Madagascar!  Challenge happily accepted 😉

The Rise of Hiking Elopements

Planning a hiking elopement is a term that emerged around 2013.  Specifically for our Iceland Wedding Planner team this is when heavy tourism begins in Southern Iceland.  (Thanks to all of the amazing Hollywood films, TV shows bringing the beauty of the landscape into your home and the affordable flights from Icelandair and Wowair emerge).  This was the year that pushed our team into refocusing our adventure wedding locations to being more offbeat  and on private property locations, that were only accessible by hiking or via professional super jeeps.

North American couples begin to transition to not only planning weddings abroad, but a destination wedding or elopement that wasn’t generic.  Meaning, it was not at a warm resort, with a pretty view location for the ceremony and the reception immediately following.  They were seeking more depth to their wedding days.  By embarking on a full day adventure couples combine their love of traveling with exploring unique places and experiences with one of the most memorable days of their life!

And really, who doesn’t want that?  Taking it one step further, many super active couples may choose to plan a hiking elopement.  Because they love to hike and get that physically accomplished feeling at the end of their adventurous elopement.  Now let me get a few things straight… Experience isn’t required for a hiking elopement.  Nor is scaling up 15,000 feet with backpacks.

There are different 6 levels of having a hiking elopement.  And today we would like to share with you an elopement in Iceland that covers all of a few of those levels, so you have a better understanding.  Feel free to follow us along!

Mollie and Andy:

Meet Mollie and Andy.  They are adventurous couple who hail from Washington DC.  Spending their dating days together hiking across the Cascades and beyond, they naturally bonded and grew their relationship by adventuring together.  So when talks about getting married came up, it felt right for them to head down the path of planning a hiking elopement.

Iceland had been on their wanderlust list for travel destinations so they first found our Iceland Wedding Planner site.  But realizing the adventure wedding concept was bigger than Iceland, they were open to other locations for their hiking elopement.  After reviewing all of the custom options our team crafted, Iceland won.  Mainly because it was best suited for their desire of having a winter elopement with snowy mountains.

Adventurous elopements begin early in order to maximize the daylight hours.  We like to base our clients at hotels or guesthouse versus a Airbb because of the availability of food.  It’s nice to have someone cook for you on your wedding night versus you having to after an epic 17 hour hiking elopement!

For example, in Mollie and Andy’s case, Hotel Stracta proved to be the best situated host hotel for their elopement in Iceland.  Hair and makeup arrived around 5:30am alongside of our adventure wedding photographer and planner, Ann Peters.  As 8am drew near, Mollie and Andy finished packing up their “Go Bags” and met our super jeep team thrilled to begin their hiking elopement!  And after they held a quick “first look” we were on the way to their ceremony location in Iceland!

Hiking to your wedding ceremony:

Do you picture yourself hiking in your Iceland wedding dress?  Or maybe putting it in a dry bag and hiking in your neoprene leggings or hiking pants and boots?  Most of our hiking elopement couples hike in their wedding attire just as you’ll see Mollie and Andy do below.  It adds so much more to the story with dirt on your dress 😉

You are likely wondering how as adventure wedding planners, we classify our hiking weddings.  Actually, we put 6 levels classifications to them as a starting point below.  But know hiking could be across sand dunes, up a mountain, down a sheep path, through a river, or on a glacier, who knows!

In addition, please keep in mind these levels are through rain, shine, or any inclement crazy weather conditions so please keep that in mind too.  Therefore, there is no shame in saying you are only game for a one!  Plenty of amazing hiking locations around the world fall into this category!

6 Levels of Hiking Elopements:

  1. Short Elopement Hike = Less than 25 minutes
  2. Medium Elopement Hiking = 30 to 90 minutes one way
  3. Long Hiking Elopement = 1.5 to 2.5 hours one way
  4. Intensive Hiking Elopement = 2.5 to 4 hours one way
  5. All Day Hiking Elopement = 4 to 8 hours one way
  6. Extreme Hiking Elopement = 8 to 10 hours one way

Although Mollie and Andy love hiking, they also didn’t want the entire day to be centered around one location.  These two wanted to experience many different tones, textures, and the dynamic landscape Iceland is known for!  All that said, they wanted to cap their hiking limits to levels 1-3, so they could get the best of both worlds and still see a variety of types of locations.

Our super jeep team got them as close as they could and they began their “level 2” hiking elopement in some pretty extreme wind and rain conditions but they were loving it!  These two adventurous lovers were married at a glacier outlet of the famed Eyjafjallajökull, in front of an ice cave called Gígjökull.  This ice cave actually no longer exists and we are pretty darn sure they were the last couple ever to get married there too!  We would classify the hike to get to their ceremony location as a medium hike.

Special Note:  During our hiking elopement adventures, we always have an assistant with us to carry backpacks, bring a bridge (if needed/requested), and he/she is also trained in first aid responding and mountain safety.  Our team also provides the experience and gear as needed that is of a professional grade.  So rest assured the ropes, harnesses, hiking poles, helmets, crampons, or headlamps will keep you safe.

Adventurous Elopement PhotographY

You know how there are sometimes that you see an area off in the distance and you get this overwhelming feeling that you must go explore it?  This is exactly what happened to our adventure wedding photographer, on the day of Mollie and Andy’s elopement.  She saw this beautifully lit mountain in the distance and knew they had to have a look.  But, this would require Mollie and Andy to wade through a glacier river.  Because of safety concerns and flow that winter wedding day, our team would not allow them to, but instead our jeep team secured a bridge over.

Vow Reading in a River Canyon:

Hiking through a river within a canyon is a unique experience.  There is something quite invigorating feeling and hearing the river and seeing how small you are against the canyon walls.  Adding in an intimate moment like reading your vows makes the experience even more special.  Since the conditions during Mollie and Andy’s ice cave elopement ceremony was quite intense, outr team suggested the read their vows privately to each other at one of our other locations.

These two hiked another 30 minutes (Level 2 hiking elopement) to a beautiful cave within a river canyon and proclaimed their never-ending love and promises to each other.  Afterwards they explored the canyon hand in hand for beautiful adventurous elopement photos!  Once they hiked back to the jeep we took a little detour to a highland coffee shop for lunch and a delicious warm up!

Wedding Day Hike to a Private Waterfall

Woah!  Wait a sec, we’ve hiked to an ice cave, in a glacier river, through a canyon river to get to a cave, had lunch and a coffee, and there is still more to this hiking elopement?!  Heck yes, that’s how the Your Adventure Wedding team rolls!  Next on the agenda was a hike to a private waterfall.  As a side note, this waterfall hike falls into Level #1 of hiking elopements.  It was a 15 minute hike that was a bit tricky but totally worth it!  So tighten those hiking boots folks and witness this private waterfall with us!

Mountain Hiking Elopement

Hiking a mountain during your adventurous elopement not only gives you a sense of accomplishment of adventuring together but also offers an incredible background for your adventurous elopement photos!  For the last location of Mollie and Andy’s hiking elopement, they would embark on a level #3 hike on one of our private property Iceland wedding locations.  This hike offered the end “pay off” view of gorgeous mountains with a glacier view behind.

But hiking through the canyon itself is inspiring.  For instance, there is no one around, birds are flying, and the mountain tops offer such amazing shapes!  With trekking poles in hand, they began their hike!  Once to the top view point, Mollie and Andy just marveled at how stunning the sight was!!  Our team decided it would be best and safest for us to tie Mollie’s dress into a make-shift backpack,  Needless to say it was a hoot but oh-so practical and clever at the same time!  #safetyfirst

Planning Your Own Hiking Elopement:

Mollie and Andy found their way back to their super jeep, took a shot or two of Brennvin and grabbed some snuggles!  It was as if they were trying to savor every single last second in the midst of the setting sun.  Super romantic if you ask me!  We’d like to keep hitting the rewind button on their amazing day.

Has Mollie and Andy’s hiking elopement left you inspired to potentially plan your own?  Are you picturing hiking in your adventure wedding dress to get to a top of a mountain with endless views?  Or what about trekking into a canyon to a secret waterfall?  If this hasn’t sold you on a hiking elopement, I don’t know what will 😉  But, whether you contact us or read about How to Plan an Adventurous Elopement, we would love to hear from you!

© 2019, Photos by Miss Ann / Your Adventure Wedding, All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Reply