Ice Ice Baby
Clare and Damon’s super chilled nuptials in Iceland
Schoolfriends Clare Handley and Damon Holiday, from Doncaster in South Yorkshire, met at as young teenagers when they both attended a school camp in Wales. Love was definitely in the air from that first encounter. As they grew older the flame of love grew more intense, until a decade and two children later, the two lovebirds finally tied the knot in a totally ‘chilled’ ceremony amidst Iceland’s snowy landscapes
Finding ‘the one’
We met on school camp in Anglesey when I was 13 and Damon was 15. He was a year older than me at school. We grew up in neighbouring villages but we actually only met at the camp. It was love at first sight, but we were too young! It was two years later when we got together properly.
Damon proposed on a cliff top overlooking a secluded bay near Flamborough in North Yorkshire. It was a cold October morning and we decided to visit the coast for the day. There was nobody else around and we walked along the cliff top watching the waves crashing on the shore. Completely out of the blue, Damon stopped walking and got down on one knee to ask me to marry him. It was totally unexpected!
Both Damon and I wanted a small wedding and when we visited Iceland for a holiday, we were overwhelmed by its raw beauty. We decided then that when we were ready to book our wedding, we would do so in Iceland. We also both love going on holiday and visiting different places so combining a wedding and a holiday was just perfect for us! We wanted to have the wedding ceremony outside and after much deliberation, we decided to have it by the Ranga river. Being in the grounds of the hotel meant that we were close to the facilities and could easily relocate to have the ceremony inside if the weather conditions were unfavourable.
We used the services of the wedding coordinator based at Hotel Ranga (Eryún), who took care of all the details for us. I booked our flights and car hire myself. The hotel stay was booked directly with Eryún at Hotel Ranga. Eryún was wonderfully helpful, every question I had was answered politely and professionally. She obviously has exceptional knowledge of the local area and was willing to share this with us. She also had countless ideas and suggestions to make the wedding day run smoothly.
Everything was planned before we travelled to Iceland. It was just a case of meeting with the District Commissionner prior to the ceremony so that she could verify our documents. We also met with Eryún the day before the wedding to run through the days itinerary.
We had nine guests, plus our two daughters. All guests stayed in Reykjavik and travelled over to Hotel Ranga on the day of the wedding. As we only wanted a small wedding, we only invited a small group of people.
Getting the look
My wedding dress was ‘Spencer’ by Sophia Tolli and was from Elegance Bridal Studio in Barnsley. It was a lace trumpet gown with cap sleeves and a chapel length train. It also had a crystal belt and an illusion neckline. I absolutely loved my dress and was rather upset that I only got to wear it for one day! My shoes were white, glittery T-bar shoes from Irregular Choice, again I absolutely loved them! I decided against a veil or tiara and opted instead for a small hair slide which was from Elizabeth Kate in Crowle. My earrings were a gift from Damon and my eldest daughter on my first Mother’s Day. It meant a lot to me that I could wear them.
Eryún organised a hairdresser and make up artist to come to the hotel to do my hair and make-up on the morning of the wedding. Both were extremely talented and professional. The make up artist (Sigga) was really kind to my two daughters too, she even allowed them to look through her make up trunk and try out a few lip glosses!
Groom & bridesmaids
Damon and his Best Man wore dark blue, three piece suits. They also wore mustard yellow ties to match my flowers. Our two daughters, Isobel and Robyn, were bridesmaids. They wore ivory dresses from Next with flower detail on one shoulder. They also had faux fur cream jackets as we knew the weather would be cold!
I had pale cream roses and yellow/orange ranunculus for my flowers. The hotel provided various cake options, from traditional Icelandic marzipan cake to flavoured sponge cakes. We decided not to have a wedding cake though and instead enjoyed a dessert course following our wedding meal.
The ceremony took place by the Ranga river within the grounds of the hotel. It was a short ceremony that lasted around ten to fifteen minutes. We were married by the District Commissioner for South Iceland (Kristín Þórðardóttir). Again, she was so helpful and immediately put us at ease when we met with her the day prior to our wedding. I didn’t follow the tradition of being ‘given away’, so I just walked with our two daughters, however I did follow the Icelandic tradition of wearing an Icelandic wool cape after the ceremony.
Our wedding reception was held at Hotel Ranga in the River Hall room. It included a four course meal with wild mushroom soup to start, an interim course of salmon, main course of pan fried fillet of lamb and dessert was chocolate mousse. The food was outstanding and all our guests really enjoyed the cuisine. For decoration, we had rose petals and tea lights on the table and had a bouquet similar to my wedding flowers as a centre piece. We just had a relaxed and intimate meal with our guests. There were no speeches or First Dances. We just wanted everyone to feel relaxed.
Our photographer was Gunnar Freyr Steinsson. Initially, a family member who is a photographer was going to take photos for us, but around six weeks prior to the wedding, he told us he couldn’t attend. This made me panic and choosing a photographer was one of the hardest things about planning the wedding. Thankfully we made the right choice with Gunnar, he was friendly and put us all at ease whilst still maintaining professionalism. He was happy to meet with us prior to the ceremony so we could introduce ourselves and talk about any specific photographs we wanted him to take. Gunnar had a drone but unfortunately the weather conditions were unfavourable and he wasn’t able to use it during our photo shoot.
I have two favourite photographs! The first one is just after the ceremony and we’re walking back to the hotel. Damon is mid-way through throwing a snowball – I think this captures the relaxed and fun atmosphere really well. The other is of Damon and I next to the waterfall, we look so happy and the scenery just looks out of this world.
My best memory was the moment when I walked down the snowy aisle and reached Damon and he turned to see me. It was just magical. And the snow just made our day even more special, we’d hoped and dreamed that it would snow but didn’t dare believe it actually would.
The funniest memory was the impromptu snowball fight immediately after the ceremony. We were walking back towards the hotel and the snow was starting to come down faster and harder. The Best Man threw a snowball first and it just escalated! Thankfully I didn’t get hit but I enjoyed watching the others
The wedding cost around £8000. This included flights, accommodation, car hire, District Commissioner fee, wedding outfits and meals. I was very careful and managed to stay within budget. Having such a small wedding did make it easier for me to plan and manage the budget.
We stayed a further few days at Hotel Ranga for our honeymoon. Our friends and family all stayed in central Reykjavik and travelled back to the city after the wedding. This meant we could enjoy or first few days of married life with just us and our two daughters.
Eyrún Aníta Gylfadóttir
Gunnar Freyr Steinsson