“The wedding to top” at Hotel Rangá

Alison Wiklund and Michael James Carr: 07.07.2018


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

Alison Wiklund and Michael James Carr had been to Costa Rica twice. They were considering having a wedding down there but knew they wanted to start a family pretty quickly after getting married and with the risk of a Zika virus transmission looming they decided they’d rather go somewhere cooler, both literally and figuratively: Iceland.

“There are a lot of things similar to Costa Rica [in Iceland],” Alison says. “A lot of hiking and exploring and a lot of waterfalls, but the climate is definitely different.”

We’ll get to that later.


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

The couple wanted a smaller, intimate wedding. They had been together for six years and knew they didn’t want a big, formulaic wedding. They always wanted to go to Iceland and making their wedding a shared adventure really fit their personalities. Their families were excited by the idea and soon after they started looking into wedding options in Iceland, they came upon Hotel Rangá.

“They fit pretty perfectly, everything became pretty easy to plan because everything was kind of set. We just had to pick a couple of things,” Alison says.


The big day

Alison and Michael arrived at Hotel Rangá the day before the wedding. They had chosen a location for the ceremony beforehand from the wedding coordinator’s list of possible sites, but used the opportunity to check it out in person to make sure it was the right fit.

The couple spent the night together and had a nice breakfast the morning of but then it was time to get ready in separate quarters.


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

They had gotten upgraded to the spacious African suite, which made getting ready a lot easier for Alison who had her mother, maid of honor and a couple of girlfriends come up to help along with a local hairdresser and makeup artist.

During all of that, Alison was still able to sneak in a quiet moment for herself.


The couple told all their guests to bring raincoats, jackets and boots. The bride even wore hiking boots underneath her dress – they were off-white with cold laces – although she brought another pair to change into back at the hotel.

“I decided to write my vows into a special book that Mike and I had bought,” she says. “I had already written them but I was just putting them physically in the book from my cell phone”


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

When it was time for the ceremony, Alison was picked up in a super jeep along with her parents, maid of honor and the photographer and driven to the ceremony site – Þorsteinslundur.

“I can’t pronounce the name of the waterfall,” Alison says with a laugh. “But you drive up, and then you have to walk through a grove of trees to a waterfall that falls down through a cliff. It’s just very green and intimate and there’s no one else there.”

Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

About that weather

It was July 7th, the middle of summer, but nothing can be taken for granted in terms of Icelandic weather. It was important to plan ahead.

“I knew there was a possibility it would rain and be very windy. Hotel Rangá gave us the backup of having the ceremony inside so we wouldn’t be without a venue if it was terrible out, but we looked at the weather ahead of time and they kept sending me weather updates while we were staying there,” Alison says.

Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

“They said if it was windy and raining, we should probably skip the outdoor wedding. If it was just a little drizzly and the wind wasn’t bad we should try to do it and I agreed.”

The couple told all their guests to bring raincoats, jackets and boots. The bride even wore hiking boots underneath her dress – they were off-white with cold laces – although she brought another pair to change into back at the hotel. She also got clear umbrellas for the bridal party, in case of rain during the ceremony.


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

“I really wanted it to be outdoors and coming all the way to Iceland and then not have it outdoors would have been a bummer,” Alison says. “Like they said: the weather changes minute to minute, and it really did.”

In the end, the weather was “a little questionable” as Alison puts it but not questionable enough to keep them from getting married in nature. “It was a little drizzly and it was probably about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but the skies cleared up. They were this dark color but it stopped raining and we got some really, really great photos.”


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

A pagan ceremony

Along with the list of ceremony sites, Hotel Rangá had supplied a list of officiants. Michael and Alison aren’t religious and wanted a personal ceremony so they ended up choosing a pagan priest, Haukur Bragason.


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

“He was very personable. He had asked us for information about our relationship and ourselves beforehand so it was a really fun and unique ceremony,” Alison says.

There were 26 guests at the wedding, so it was already small, but Alison felt like it was just the two of them as they said their vows. The ceremony focused on connecting with nature and ancestors rather than religion, which fit the couple’s beliefs well even if they aren’t pagan. The bride also loved being able to incorporate their guests into the ceremony itself, through the pagan tradition of the drinking horn.

“We all drank from the horn and everyone toasted us and passed the horn around in a circle. It was really personal, I’d never been to a ceremony like that before and neither had anybody there. So, I think, that was my favorite moment of the day.”

After the ceremony, most of the guests headed back to Hotel Rangá while the couple went to have their pictures taken in some scenic spots on the south coast.


“People ate everything”

Once they got back, it was time for dinner, and it didn’t disappoint.

“The food was amazing,” Alison gushes. “I’ve never been to a wedding were people ate everything!”


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

The couple had made playlists, rather than getting a DJ or a band and the party kept going after dinner with dancing and drinks until just before midnight. The couple had some one on one time the next day, going for a little hike on their way back to Reykjavík and then met up with their guests once again that evening in Reykjavik before heading to Scotland for their honeymoon the next morning.


“We all drank from the horn and everyone toasted us and passed the horn around in a circle. It was really personal, I’d never been to a ceremony like that before and neither had anybody there. So, I think, that was my favorite moment of the day.”

“I truly think that by doing it the way we did, we were actually able to relax more,” Alison says.


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

She says Hotel Rangá provided a lot of flexibility and that the wedding was a wonderful experience for everyone involved.

“All our guests got there’re safely, the weather ended up being all right, the food was amazing, and everyone had a great time. Even now people say it’s the best wedding they’ve ever been too. We are the wedding to top now.”


Photo by Mark Pacura Photography

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