Candice and Robert | Budir Black Church Elopement
Savannah Chandler Photography |Iceland Elopement Photographer
Oh Iceland, how I love thee.
Ever since my first visit to Iceland in 2015, I’m forever pining to get back to the land of Fire and Ice. There’s something incredible about this small island. There’s a feeling just touching down into Keflavik that I can’t put into words.
When Candice and Robert asked me to join them in their Icelandic celebration in February 2020, needless to say, I was beyond excited. I had been to Iceland during the fall and spring, but never in the dead of winter.
On February 26, my good friend (and also an awesome photographer) Veronica and I headed out to Reykjavik. We certainly touched down in the Land of Ice this go-round. The weather was pretty crummy, as was traffic getting into town. We had been checking the weather daily, and it looked as though we were in for a bit of a rough patch. Even the day of the elopement looked fairly iffy according to reports.
On the morning of February 29 – Leap Year – we headed over to Candice and Robert’s AirBnB just outside of Olafsvik on the Snaefellsness Peninsula. We got there around 7 am, right as the sky was turning a beautiful deep blue. Much to our delight, the weather seemed to be holding out! It was a lovely 30* F outside, with NO WIND!
Once Candice and Robert were all dressed and ready, we headed out on the road, around the peninsula towards the tiny, coastal Black Church of Budir. The mountains were blanketed in white, as was all of the lava rock and moss. Untouched powder. Looking out at the white covered landscape was quite magical. As we drove, we all made several comments on how stunning and pristine Iceland during winter is. One of my very favorite sightings was to see Snaefellsjokull (the glacier on the peninsula) booming above the surrounding mountains – completely covered in snow and pure white.
Turning the corner towards Budir, we gazed at the Black church that stood out ever so beautifully against the white snow. I wonder if part of the intentions behind building black churches in Iceland was the black and white contrast.
At 10:00 on Leap Year day, Candice walked into Budakirkja to marry Robert.
Being an only witness to a celebration of marriage is a feeling that will always choke me up. I am forever grateful to be invited to celebrate with my amazing couples as the only other human present. Know that I’m likely tearing up along with you, and my heart is also pounding with adrenaline.
Candice and Robert recited vows that they had written to one another. I try my damndest to be present and listen to the words spoken as I’m running around like a little goat photographing. Candice and Robert enjoy spending time together watching movies and are avid concert goers. Candice’s vows referenced lines from their favorite shows/movies, and Robert’s vows referenced song lyrics. It was incredibly moving, fun, and joyful to witness.
One the “know was tied” (quite literally as well, as you’ll see in the photos below), we headed out to adventure around the Snaefellsness peninsula. IN AMAZING WEATHER. It was such a lovely day to be out and about walking around. The sun even decided to grace us with its presence.
All four times I’ve been to Iceland, I’ve looked for the land bridge near Arnastapi, the first three to no avail. I am so crazily happy to say… WE FOUND IT! And it is just as stunning as I imagined. Probably even more so being blanketed in snow.
If you’re going to visit one area while you’re in Iceland, I personally believe that Snaefellsness is the place to check out. It is essentially a microcosm of all the natural wonders of Iceland. Volcanic features and rock, a glacier, amazing coastal lines, mountains, black sand beaches, and of course waterfalls.
My favorite of all the natural features on Snaefellsness is definitely the coastal line. The dramatic teal waters, crashing upon the black rocks with booming mountains jetting up in the background. It’s a photographer’s dream, really. Maybe that’s why I’m so emotionally drawn to the island – the endless photographic possibilities.
Another amazing thing about Iceland is that it has a draw to the adventurous souls. Candice and Robert are certainly in that category. We found an AMAZING cove along the coast, but the descent down towards the water was, well, not for the faint of heart. Candice and Robert, with microspikes in tow, headed down the steep hill in the name of adventure and photos. As I’m sure you’ll agree, it was WORTH IT!
After our fish and chips break, we headed back toward Olafsvik and towards the famous Kirkjufell. When I saw “Church Mountain” in the spring and fall, it was pretty, but nothing compared to the frozen tundra during wintertime. The waterfalls are half frozen, somewhat teal, and beyond stunning.
Once we pulled up to the parking lot, we noticed a helicopter circling Kirkjufell. We were witnessing a Search and Rescue off the mountain. To this day, I still can not find any information as to what happened. We all stood and watched until the team descended the mountain. I hope that everyone involved is okay!!
Being the landmark that it is, Kirkjufell was certainly the most crowded place that we encountered. There were tourists slipping everywhere, and lots of people trying to get photos. We waited ever so patiently for a turn by the falls, only to be overtaken by multiple tourists – which we nicknamed Denim Bob and Yellowjacket Steve. They both kept standing DIRECTLY behind Candice and Robert – even though we clearly had been waiting. Please enjoy a photobomb by Denim Bob in the gallery.
To cap off our day together, we all stopped for dinner and drinks. It was DELICIOUS. The food this entire trip was way beyond what I was expecting. We had an amazing dinner where Candice and Robert exchanged their gifts to one another and waited out the Northern Lights. We did get a small lights show… at about 1 am. Needless to say, we were all exhausted and hung out for a bit, but decided that sleep was also important.
Candice and Robert, thank you for inviting us to celebrate your AMAZING elopement with you. We had an amazing time, and I hope that you look back at your wedding day as fondly as I will.
Shoutout to my Friend Veronica – you can check out her awesome work (weddings, elopements, and STUNNING dog portraits: Check her out HERE