Icelandic Wedding Traditions - Hotel Rangá - Luxury Resort


Bride in white dress and groom in suit and rain boots stand in front of an icy waterfall in south Iceland.

Icelandic Wedding Traditions

From the white dress to the throwing of the bouquet, modern Icelandic weddings look a lot like American ones. Icelanders have a relaxed attitude towards traditions but some of our old ways still frequently make their way into a couple’s big day.

Icelandic wedding traditions are still sometimes incorporated into modern day weddings. Keep reading to learn what traditions have stood the test of time and what traditions have been tossed aside.

A destination wedding in Iceland, wedding photo in winter.
A winter wedding. Picture by Ryan Jarvis.

Icelandic wedding traditions: buying the bride

To start with, the Icelandic word for wedding, “brúðkaup” literally means “buying the bride.”  Back in the day, weddings were primarily seen as an economic transaction between the father of the bride and the groom (or his father).

Today, Icelandic men and women are free to choose their own partners. However, it is still traditional for a bride to be walked down the aisle by her father. What’s more, many grooms choose their fathers as the best man. There’s a lot of sitting and standing during the ceremony. Finally, after the couple has said their “I do’s” the father of the bride switches seats with the groom.

The Hotel Rangá's River Hall decorated for a wedding party
The Hotel Rangá’s River Hall decorated for a wedding party.

The traditional Icelandic wedding cake: Kransakaka

When it comes to festive food, there’s nothing quite as traditional as the Icelandic Kransakaka. This tasty almond confection is commonly served at christenings, confirmations, and weddings. These crumbly, layered pastry wreaths usually stretch up into a small tower concealing wrapped pieces of candy.

Icelandic wedding traditions: the olden times

While Viking wedding feasts used to stretch over a number of days, a modern ceremony in any religion will usually take 30 to 45 minutes. Most Icelandic wedding ceremonies are in churches. However, outdoor settings are also popular. In the olden days, weddings usually took place at the end of the slaughtering season in August. Why? At this time of year, food was plenty and weather conditions still allowed for travel on horseback.

It was customary for women and men to celebrate separately before and after a wedding ceremony. Men would ride their horses and drink while women would gather at the bride’s family home. This tradition is almost completely gone in favor of Americanized bachelor/bachelorette parties. However, some couples still ask women to sit on one side during the ceremony and men on the other.

To be blessed in a bridal bed

Another Icelandic phrase for getting married is to “walk to a shared bed” or “ganga í eina sæng”. Back in the old days, the couple was usually blessed in their “bridal bed” by the pastor while sipping from a shared cup. This tradition has a different form in the modern version of an Ásatrú wedding. In this tradition, the couple sips from a drinking horn as the pagan priest blesses their union.

One Icelandic wedding tradition is drinking from a horn.
Drinking horn in a Pagan Wedding. Picture by Pink Iceland.

Ásatrú is the old Norse religion of the Vikings which is now very popular in Iceland and abroad. If you would like to learn more about Pagan Weddings we recently shared a Pagan Wedding Lovestory to our blog. 

Icelandic wedding traditions: A morning gift

Speaking of the bridal bed, back in the day, the male wedding guests would playfully bid for the bride’s virginity at the end of the night. The bridesmaids would always choose the groom as the winner, who had prepared a special present for his new wife. This tradition developed into the more tame tradition of “morgungjöf” meaning “morning gift.” This tradition is often still observed by both brides and grooms following their wedding night.

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We are here to make your dream wedding come true

There are multiple ways to give your wedding some special Icelandic touches. Whether it’s serving kransakaka, picking wildflowers, wearing handmade Icelandic wool sweaters, or sharing a drink from a horn, Hotel Rangá’s wedding coordinator can help you find the perfect details for your dream wedding.

Contact: for more information.

& at the end, we would like to share with you the brass section of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra performing the Icelandic Hymn called Heyr Himna Smiður.

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