A same-sex couple are among those to rush to marry next to an erupting volcano in Iceland.
The country, a geothermal hotspot, has around 30 active volcano systems. The latest to grab headlines is a so-called ‘quiet’ eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula. This means it’s producing consistent flows of lava from cracks in the earth, rather than big explosions.
The volcanic activity has been going for the past month from several fissures in the Fagradalsfjall mountain, around 20 miles from capital city Reykjavik.
More approachable than most eruptions, it has drawn around 50,000 curious locals, who come to view the streams of lava. It’s the first time there has been volcanic activity in this particular area for 800 years.
Sumarliði and Jónsi, who live in downtown Reykjavik, met in 2015 after matching on Tinder. Jónsi proposed to Sumarliði under the fireworks in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Bastille Day, July 14th, 2017. They were supposed to marry last September, but the Covid pandemic led them to postpone.
They are just one of the couples who have taken the opportunity to use the volcano as a spectacular backdrop for their wedding.
“The whole idea was very last-minute as we then had four days to find suits, polish our rings, get Sumarliði’s hair cut, and meet with Árni, the wedding officiant,” they tell Queerty via email.
With the help of wedding planners Pink Iceland, and a photographer and videographer, they made the hike to the volcano on Friday, April 9. There are no local amenities near the site, including any paths, and visitors can only visit when the wind is blowing in a certain direction, to avoid volcanic gases.
“The volcanic eruption site lies in a valley about 90 minutes from where we parked,” say the men. “So we hiked together in full hiking gear with trekking poles and the whole nine yards.
“The hike was fun but we had to walk through a snowstorm most of the way which stressed Sumarliði out as he was terrified of freezing to death once he’d changed into his wedding suit.”
A pop-up tent was erected to allow the grooms to change into their outfits. As they did so, “something magical happened: the wind died down, it stopped snowing, and the sun came out.”
Perfect conditions for a memorable wedding and some stunning photographs.
“As we were about to start the ceremony, a wall in the crater burst and a slow river of neon-orange lava flowed past us as we said our vows, exchanged our rings and got married.
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“Then we popped the champagne, had some cake, and Styrmir and Heiðdís, our wedding photographers, took photos of us in front of the fresh lava. It was a beautiful, awe-inspiring, and yet terrifying experience to get married in front of this majestic wonder of mother nature.”
Birna Hrönn Björnsdóttir, of Pink Iceland, told the BBC that they scouted for a possible location site a couple of days earlier but had had to turn away because of the aforementioned volcanic gases: “So we were well aware we were not in charge. Mother Nature is in charge. So one of the security measures was to have a gas measurement type of thing with us at all times.
“When we started the hike it started snowing, and we hiked in the blizzard.
“We had the luxury of picking from three craters that were erupting when we got there. And almost immediately, as we chose the spot, after we had hiked for three or four hours, the sky kind of cleared and we got a blue sky.”
Sumarliði and Jón are unlikely to be the last same-sex couple to take advantage of this most unusual wedding location. Local vulcanologists predict the volcanic eruption could continue for months, if not years.