I stepped back and watched as this absolutely crazy scene played out in front of me – two families that traveled from super far away were dancing barefoot, kicking up sand on an Icelandic beach. Their crazy dance moves and the ocean right there made this one of the best dance parties I’ve ever been to. A huge bonfire raged right next to the “dance floor” and Cailin and Joe sipped Icelandic beer from glass drinking horns. We already rode horses on the shore of Budir, Cailin’s ended up bucking her off into the sand (which thankfully broke her fall) and gave us all a good laugh after we knew she was okay. How in the world could this be just the beginning? The wedding was tomorrow and we’d already had such an awesome time.
This was the intro do Cailin and Joe’s Icelandic wedding which turned out to be one of the craziest, most surreal adventure weddings we’ve ever shot. You have to wonder what type of story brings a bunch of people 3,000.9 miles from where they started to gather around a bonfire on a beach in Iceland to eat traditional Louisiana BBQ? What families are all down to travel across the globe to dance battle during a near endless sunset? According to Joe (a self-proclaimed numbers guy), the odds are about 1 in 144.4 quintillion (had to Google that number… it’s a ton of zero’s), but I gotta say, with a couple like this, I like those odds.
Moments like this night are what happens when you take a fantastical love and create a matching celebration. I saw this love in Joe’s eyes as he danced, when he looked at his bride, and every time she took his hand in hers. This entire wedding week was all a gigantic party, the kind that reminds us that places in the world and love stories like these exist. Shooting their wedding in Iceland was a reminder to always step out into extremes, give attention to big ideas, take notice of little moments, and when people are living a great story, remember – all you gotta do is join in on the party.
That’s how we all ended up here, a party of family and friends with the best southern accents celebrating two people they love. I glanced over at Jay (he was shooting the video for the whole wedding) and realized we’re living such an absolutely crazy full of stoke dream life.
Falling asleep after the dance party was tough. I was so excited for everything the next few days had in store. How do you even know what to expect after a night like that? What in the world could a place like Iceland and a couple like Joe and Cailin have in store? What happened exceeded anything I could have imagined.
On the morning of their wedding, this heavy fog rolled through the grassy hills of Budir. A heavy downpour left little drops of rain on the window behind Joe as he hand wrote his vows, along with a couple of love notes to his parents. In a nearby room, Cailin got ready – friends were there to help, her mom sat on the floor to giving all her attention to get the details on the dress (a beautiful piece of art by Sarah Seven) just right, standing up for the finishing touches and to give her daughter a hug. This morning was filled with smiles and laughs, with soft light coming through windows, illuminating all the little moments – the instant Cailin’s dad saw her for the first time, his face lighting up with a father’s pride looking at his daughter on her wedding day, and when Joe’s friends helped him put his cufflinks on, too excited to hide their stoke. All these things make mornings like this so special. These little details are once in a lifetime moments, instances I love to capture – all part of the party.
The rain mostly cleared up, only slightly misting as Cailin walked through a grassy field, vows in hand, as Joe waited in the uniquely Icelandic landscape for the first look at his bride. When he turned around his face lit up with a smile, and she stopped, her veil lifting in a slight breeze. I took a step back so they could exchange their vows privately, just between the two of them as they wanted it to be. It was such a sweet moment. Cailin looked so beautiful as she listened to her soon to be husband reading his promises to her. Joe’s hand drifted to Cailin’s waist as she began to read. They held hands as we walked over to the little black church in the middle of a field where everyone was waiting for them.
Cailin and her father had one more little moment together before he walked her through the little white doors on the front of the chapel. Inside, Joe and all the guests watched, his mom crying happy tears as Cailin walked down the aisle, her dad handing her off to Joe. The ceremony was perfect – a traditional Icelandic wedding officiated by a local minister. It was all very intimate, family and friends sitting in rows of little pews below a vaulted ceiling with big green crossbeams and plenty of natural light pouring in through the windows.
Just like that, they were officially husband and wife. Everyone cheered as they kissed and shortly after the cheering died down, all the guests walked outside and waited to greet Cailin and Joe with a shower of flower petals as they ran out of the church. All the guests walked over to the hotel next door for a little cocktail party while we stayed behind at the church for a few photos (with the fog coming back, isolating the small black church, it was too perfect not to).
Eventually, Joe and Cailin walked over to the hotel to meet up with everyone. We opened the doors to a beautiful little room with views of a small inlet on the western shore of Iceland. The setting was amazing – one big table with tons of candles and just enough space on the floor for the bride and groom to have their first dance. The speeches were happy, tear-filled, and heartfelt – a perfect little sendoff into their life as newlyweds, and to the excursion we were about to head out on the next day.
Our plans had us driving from Budir all the way to Jokulsaron (two of the easier towns names to pronounce). Along the way, we stopped five times for hot dogs because they literally tasted that good. If you ever travel to Iceland, you have to try them. The trip was perfect. We had plenty of time to explore and stopped whenever the light was good. Iceland is an ideal country for this – its days stretching out longer than most places in the world, and a landscape with tons of uniquely amazing features to explore.
We drove to a beach where ice floated onto the shore after breaking off the small icebergs floating a little further out in the water. Cailin traded her veil for a hat and her heels for boots as we hiked around. We left the icy beach for another that had a shore with giant caves and insane rock formations sticking up from the sand and sea. Joe and Cailin climbed up on these mesmerizing stone pillars, their playful, childlike love taking over, having fun with their best friend, holding hands and stealing kisses whenever they could. We walked around this natural playground smiling and laughing, enjoying the last little bits of this great adventure – a perfect chapter written with love, stuck right into the middle of their already cool story.
We camped in a little park the night before they dropped us off at the airport. I laid awake for a while, trying to process everything – the horse ride to the party on the beach, the dance moves, the wedding day and the spontaneous hot dog stops on our adventure. I thought about Joe’s words – those one in a 144 quintillion odds. Maybe it does take those type of odds for a day like this, maybe it just takes a love that dreams big but either way, I’ll for sure take those odds every time.
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