I must admit that until I clapped eyes on this atmospheric elopement, I didn’t really get it. Eloping I mean. I’ve seen SO many elopement shots on Instagram with all sorts of stunning scenery behind the couple, but for me the question remained – why on earth would you want to give up the opportunity for a massive party, an abundance of blooms and a killer dress? Well it turns out it’s simply for the romance. It’s for those quiet moments between the two of you. It’s for celebrating your love, without any fuss or frills attached. It’s for escaping the stress. It’s for having the trip of a lifetime. It’s for making memories that will live with the two of you until you’re grey and old.
Clearly, I just needed to understand the story behind the couple, I needed to read about Masha & Marcel and see their story as captured by Millie Benbow.
And actually, it turns out that you still can have a killer dress.
I honestly don’t know why more of us don’t do it…
Mahsa the Bride: Over the last few years, we had been to many weddings of friends and we enjoyed all of them – each one beautiful in its own way. Most of them followed the traditional/American wedding tradition. So we figured we had sufficient experience to create our own. As the planning began in earnest we had to answer a few important questions, including the following: “Who are we doing this for?”. That was the end of the planning for a traditional wedding and we decided to elope.
Iceland had held much allure for us for many years and was an easy destination to choose. There are countless beautiful locations to pick from in Iceland that it’s impossible to make the wrong choice. But as soon as we saw Budir on the Snaefellsnes peninsular in western Iceland, we knew we had the right one for us. It is in a stunning and remote location two hours north of Reykjavik. A small wooden church, a charming hotel and some rugged beaches nearby made it perfect for us.
Any initial concerns about planning our wedding day in a different country were put at ease when we connected with wedding planning service Love Iceland. They are local to the area and helped us with all the coordination we needed. They were quick to respond to any questions and gave us excellent advice along the way. It’s hard to imagine that we could have had such a smooth and pleasant experience without them.
Hanna Laura did both hair and make-up of the bride and came all the way from south of Reykjavik to Budir to help us get ready. We had exchanged some images and ideas over email in the weeks before our wedding and got the sense that she really wanted to be correctly prepared. Doing that homework really facilitated a pleasant and smooth morning before the ceremony.
Þórdís Björgvinsdóttir is local florist who knows her trade well. Pictures say more than words, so we communicated primarily through exchanging Pinterest photos of flower styles with some good suggestions by Þórdís along the way. She knew exactly what we wanted and brought the bouquet and boutonnière all the way to Budir on the morning of the ceremony.
The choice for wedding dresses is overwhelming. But I found excellent help at Suite Bridal in Atlanta which is a wonderful boutique that has a fantastic selection. Knowing that I would spend a good amount of time with it outdoors, I was looking for a simple and light but elegantly fitted dress. I found just that in a Lis Simon lace dress.
Hotel Budir itself is absolutely magical – no other way to describe it. There is little need for a mundane review such as the rooms are nice and the staff are helpful (which is all very much the case). One has to experience Hotel Budir in person – the warm, welcoming atmosphere created at the bottom of the Snæfellsjökull volcano just before the black lava field dips into the north Atlantic. We did not want to leave.
Food: Honestly, food was not a major concern for us. Obviously, not having to worry about a large wedding changed the role of the wedding dinner. We wanted a nice, memorable private dinner and Hotel Budir had the perfect spot for us in their restaurant. The restaurant offered a five course meal which consisted of excellent Icelandic cuisine.
In our opinion the importance of photography is heightened for an elopement. After all, this is what remains for posterity. So we were willing to spend much time to find the right photographer without making compromises. Fortunately, we both have similar tastes and agree immediately if we do or do not like a particular style. As we looked at the work of many photographers we refined our idea of what we were looking for. As soon as we saw the portfolio of Millie Benbow something hit home. It’s hard for us to exactly pinpoint what made us fall for their style. Heart, soul, happiness, beauty and attention to detail – all these things come to mind. Perhaps, it is the combination of these things in just the right proportions that did it for us. People in their images are completely natural and at ease, nothing appears staged or forced.
Millie and Jo are not local to the area but had been to Iceland before to fall under its spell. Fortunately they were available to join us in Budir. While they had not photographed the Budir area for a wedding or otherwise, we figured it’s probably interesting for a photographer to take pictures in a place they see for the first time, being exposed to its pure effect. We knew we’d like the area around Budir and we very much liked their style of photography – so by extrapolation we figured something very nice would be the result.
It just so happened that the date of the ceremony had to be delayed by one day. Millie and Jo were flexible enough to accommodate that last minute change. Better still, they used the additional day to explore the area to find interesting spots for photo shoots. This was a wonderful gesture on their part. They made a list of some amazing spots around Budir so that we could just follow their lead and enjoy ourselves.
It’s clear that Millie and Jo are both great photographers. But what makes them truly unique is what happens when you put them together: On one side is Millie whose brain is overflowing with ideas of how she could put her camera to use. On the other side is the quiet and cerebral Jo who watches and strikes for the right shots. We had an unforgettable day.