Dreaming of a fairytale wedding to remember? If so, then look to the awe-inspiring aurora borealis. In this guide, we explain how to plan your perfect wedding northern lights experience, including location, timing and choosing a venue.
Why have an ordinary wedding, when you can say your vows beneath the ethereal glow of the aurora borealis, surrounded by glistening fields of snow and the never-ending beauty of the Arctic wilderness?
Northern Lights wedding ceremonies are quickly becoming the perfect choice for those who are looking for a unique and enchanting storybook wedding. And with careful planning, it is within your reach.
In this article, we explain how to plan a northern lights wedding to remember. We also share important considerations for choosing the right location and time of year, to maximize your chances of standing under the awe-inspiring aurora borealis on your special day, or during your honeymoon.
Choosing a Venue for Your Northern Lights Wedding
Although there are many locations to view the aurora borealis around the globe, not all of them are good choices for holding a wedding.
Selecting the Wedding Northern Lights Location
Location plays an important role in planning a successful aurora borealis wedding. Not only do you have to worry about finding a place well within the auroral oval (check out our aurora borealis map), but you also need to take into consideration things such as accessibility, and whether there will be a sufficient number of lodgings for all of your wedding guests.
For the best chance of seeing the elusive lights, and even having them appear when you say your vows, you will want to choose a location that is as far north as possible. Venue locations that are closer to the Arctic Circle, provide an increased probability of viewing the aurora borealis. That is, the further north you go, the better your odds of witnessing the ghostly lights as they dance through the night skies.
The best locations are within Nordic Europe and Scandinavia (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland) and Alaska in North America. For more info, check out our article on choosing the best places in the world to see the northern lights. To maximize your chances of catching the aurora, choose only the very highest countries for your wedding northern lights location, near the north pole.
The latitude of your wedding northern lights location should be 66.5°N or higher where possible, although destinations above 60°N are also excellent. You can find the latitude of any location easily by going on Google Maps and right-clicking at a place on the map.
Some of the best aurora borealis regions according to latitude include:
- Norway, Tromso (70°N)
- Greenland, Illussat (69°N)
- Russia, Murmansk (69°N)
- Sweden, Kiruna (68°N)
- Finland, Saariselkä (68°N)
- Iceland (64-65°N)
- Whitehorse, Alaska (61°N)
Our aurora borealis map gives a really clear visualization of destinations and latitudes across the world, and is a great planning tool to help with choosing the ideal wedding region.
Unfortunately, some of the best locations for viewing the aurora borealis, are not exactly the most accessible. Since the elusive lights are more visible during the winter months, this can make it more difficult to reach destinations that are located in the far north.
Many of the best aurora-hunting destinations are remote, plunged well into the wilderness with very few basic amenities or accommodations available.
An example of this is Utqiagvik/Barrow in Alaska – yes, it offers an excellent vantage point at 71°N but it’s challenging to access and has limited facilities. Unless you’re a hardcore adventurer and your guests are too, and you don’t mind your wedding being a little rough around the edges, then you’ll want to avoid isolated, rural destinations like this.
Take the time to look at various venues, and consider the natural landscape surrounding the location. Venues that are surrounded by snowcapped mountains, may enhance the visual appeal of the wedding, but may also obstruct your view of the auroras. Instead, look for locations that are situated along the shores of a frozen lake, where the land north of the venue, is relatively flat and unobstructed.
Timing Your Northern Lights Wedding
Timing is also crucial when it comes to planning an amazing aurora borealis wedding. Although the northern lights exist year-round, it is only during the winter months that you will have the best opportunities to view the ghostly lights.
The auroral winter ranges from September all the way until April and provides the best opportunities to view the northern lights. During September through November, and February through April, the temperatures are more bearable, but the opportunities to view the elusive lights are far less than in the middle of the winter season, when the temperatures are at their coldest.
For comprehensive information on choosing the right time of year, we have published aurora timing guides for a number of destinations including Alaska, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Our guide to the best time to see northern lights is also well worth reading. However, below is a summary.
|Best. Best season for viewing aurora borealis. Very dark, full darkness in some regions. Very cold.
|Early Spring excellent for aurora viewing. March is best, snow melt begins. Avoid late Spring.
|Avoid. Aurora is not visible due to daylight.
|Late Autumn excellent for aurora viewing September is best, with beautiful autumnal displays, before snow arrives. Avoid early Autumn.
Avoid Full Moons
Before you start planning, get your hands on a lunar calendar. You will want to avoid a full moon, as the brightness of the moon can actually interfere with viewing the aurora borealis. Although it is possible to have a better viewing experience when the moon is waning or waxing, the best time is during a new moon.
Choose a Solar Peak
Not fussed about when you get married? Willing to wait a few years or longer? Aurora borealis activity moves in 11 year cycles, with a peak and a trough. During the peak we see the highest northern lights activity, while in a low the lights are quiet and tend not to appear. You can find out the best years of the cycle to see the aurora in this article.
Honeymoon and Wedding Northern Lights Accommodations
Depending on the number of guests you plan on inviting, ensuring that you have plenty of space for everyone is a vital part of planning an aurora borealis wedding. The northern lights wedding hotel you decide upon should also contain a function room of suitable size and catering, to accommodate your wedding ceremony and reception. As well as being excellent choices for weddings, these hotels are also a beautifully romantic location for an extended northern lights honeymoon.
Best Northern Lights Wedding & Honeymoon Venues and Accommodation
Hotel Rangá, Iceland
Location: Near Reykjavik, Iceland
Nestled in the picturesque Icelandic countryside, the Hotel Rangá offers visitors to the region, a unique setting for viewing the aurora borealis. There are outdoor hot tubs and an observatory, making it easier to catch a glimpse of the elusive lights. The hotel has plenty of rooms as well as in-house wedding planners, making Rangá a perfect choice for your Northern Lights wedding.
- Dark Skies
- Low Light Pollution
- Telescopes for Stargazing
- Remote Location
- Romantic and Picturesque Location
- Geothermal Hot Tub
- Personalized Wedding Planners
- Looks Curious Rooms and Suites
- Traditional Icelandic Décor
- World Renowned Lava Restaurant
- Cozy Lounge Areas
- Spa and Wellness Facility
- Concierge Services
- Airport Shuttle
The Hotel Rangá is located a mere 2-hour drive from the capital city of Iceland, Reykjavík, and is easily accessible from the nearby international Airport.
Wedgewood Resort, Alaska
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
You will find the luxurious Wedgewood Resort just outside of Fairbanks, at the edge of the Last Frontier, where you will be surrounded by some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes that Alaska has to offer. Enjoy a storied wedding, as you say your vows on a garden gazebo covered in glistening ice crystals.
- Prime Northern Lights Location
- Spacious Garden Gazebo
- Dedicated Aurora Viewing Facilities
- Heated Yurts
- Telescopes for Stargazing
- Beautiful Alaskan Landscape
- Customizable Wedding Packages
- Cozy and Comfortable Cabins
- Fitness Center
- An Alaskan Steakhouse
- Lounge and Bar Area
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Free Shuttle Service
You will find the Wedgewood Resort perfectly situated at the edge of Fairbanks, a short drive from the international airport.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland
Location: Saariselkä, Finland
Imagine spending your honeymoon in a glass igloo, staring up at the night skies as the elusive and ghostly auroras dance through the darkness. You can get this and more when you choose to have a Northern Lights wedding experience at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland.
- Glass Igloos
- Unforgettable Vistas
- Located in the Pristine Finnish Lapland
- Say Your Vows in a Snow Chapel
- Large Selection of Accommodations
- Arctic Adventures
- Your Choice of Igloo or Log Cabin
- Two On-Site Restaurants
- Igloo Bar
- Gift Shop with Authentic Souvenirs
- Saunas and Spas
- Meeting Facilities
The closest airport to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is the Ivalo Airport, and the resort offers regular shuttle services for its guests.
Hotel Arctic, Greenland
Location: Ilulissat, Greenland
Enjoy a Northern Lights wedding in beautiful Greenland when you stay at the charming Hotel Arctic in Ilulissat. The panoramic views of the surrounding fjords, provide some of the most amazing backdrops imaginable.
- Panoramic Views
- Mesmerizing Icefjord
- Outdoor Winter Terrace
- Comfortable Rooms
- Iceberg Tours
- Unique Greenland Environment
- Outdoor Arctic Adventures
- Rooms Decorated with Authentic Greenlandic Décor
- Very Popular Greenlandic Restaurant
- Bar and Lounge Area
- Sauna Facility
- Excursion and Tour Services
- Airport Shuttles
The Hotel Arctic provides all of its guests with shuttle services to and from the local Ilulissat Airport.
Final Tips for Your Wedding Northern Lights Planning
This brings us to the end of our article on planning a wedding northern lights experience to remember, for you and your guests. The main takeaway message from this article is to find the right balance between location, time of year and facilities:
- LOCATION: The location for your northern lights wedding should be as close to the north pole as possible, above 60°N latitude.
- TIME: The time of year for your northern lights wedding should be Winter, Early Spring or Late Autumn (that is, the cooler months). It is crucial that you avoid Summer.
- FACILITIES: Once you have worked out your location and time, it’s time to start narrowing down your accommodation and wedding venue options. This article shares some of the best wedding northern light venues available around the world, and are worth looking into, at least as a starting point.
Last Important Word of Advice:
The aurora borealis may not appear on your wedding night.
I’m sorry to put it bluntly, but it must be said. We can do our best to plan a perfect northern lights wedding, by choosing the right place and time, however the reality is that the aurora borealis is a natural phenomenon that can behave in unpredictable ways.
To avoid disappointment, prepare yourself emotionally for the very real possibility that the aurora borealis may not appear at your wedding, despite your best efforts. It is no reflection on your planning, or your luck, or you… it is just now the natural world is. You are doing great and your wedding will be amazing anyway.
The help avoid disappointment, consider this:
- Plan for your wedding to be an extended experience, over several days or a week, where you and your guests can relax and enjoy the hotel facilities and local attractions. More time will allow more opportunity for the aurora to show itself to you.
- Plan other romantic activities, such as visiting a sculpted ice hotel or simply relaxing in the hotel hot tub and sauna. Feeling like there are other things to enjoy will take the pressure off if the aurora doesn’t appear, and make it a memorable experience anyway.
Congratulations on your engagement and best of luck with your wedding northern lights planning!
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