It was lava at first sight for one gay couple who found the perfect wedding venue at the foot of an erupting Icelandic volcano.
Reykjavik residents Sumarliði and Jón had hoped to tie the knot in September last year until they were forced to postpone their wedding due to COVID.
But when the Fagradalsfjall mountain began showing volcanic activity a month ago, they realised their plan B could be even more incredible.
“It was beyond perfect, a day we’ll never forget,” Sumarliði told the Observer.
Living in a geothermal hotspot with around 30 active volcano systems means the couple are used to the odd eruption – but even so, Fagradalsfjall is quite the spectacle.
The “quiet” eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula is the first in the area for 800 years, and the steaming streams of lava have drawn around 50,000 visitors in the last few weeks.
With the help of Pink Iceland, an LGBT-owned wedding and travel company, Sumarliði and Jón jumped at the chance to use the phenomenal backdrop for their special day.
“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,” Jón told Queerty.
For their next challenge the grooms had to trek for more than two hours through snow and wind just to reach the spot.
“The volcanic eruption site lies in a valley about 90 minutes from where we parked. So we hiked together in full hiking gear with trekking poles and the whole nine yards,” Jón said.
“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.”
Fortunately the skies cleared as the couple erected a pop-up tent and changed into their wedding suits – and then the volcano did all the rest.
“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,” they said.
“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.”
As you can imagine, pulling off the perfect wedding ceremony on an active volcanic site was no easy task.
Birna Hrönn Björnsdóttir, a wedding planner for Pink Iceland, said they scouted for a possible location several days earlier but had to turn away because of dangerous volcanic gases.
“We were well aware we were not in charge. Mother Nature is in charge,” she told the BBC. “So one of the security measures was to have a gas measurement type of thing with us at all times.
“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.”
Local vulcanologists predict the eruption could continue for months, if not years, so Sumarliði and Jón are unlikely to be the last to take advantage of the natural phenomenon.
After Sumarliði and Jón’s success Pink Iceland is welcoming more couples to visit the volcano, “as long as they are not racist, sexist or queerphobic”.
“Our dedication is to equality, kindness and support of all love,” Björnsdóttir said.