“I’m hearing your voice now / And here I go again / Coming over like mist becoming rain”

The best weddings, for me, are those that bring a song to mind, and Levi Tijerina’s images of the Icelandic landscape have a quiet  presence that lingers in the mind like beautiful music. Caitlin and Jon met in college and live in Tuscon, Arizona. After getting engaged, they made the decision to have a wedding ceremony at home and then elope afterwards. Both harboring a penchant for the unexpected, they immediately knew that Iceland would be the destination for their elopement. Levi spent a whole day with the couple traveling through the island’s western shores. The serenity of the landscape is overwhelming, and I loved putting these beautiful images together.

2013-12-12_0008Iceland Elopement with Levi Tijerina 2013-12-11_0053 Iceland Elopement with Levi Tijerina 2013-12-12_0032 2013-12-12_00332013-12-12_0025 2013-12-12_0026 2013-12-12_0027 2013-12-12_0021 2013-12-11_0050 2013-12-12_0017 2013-12-12_0019 2013-12-12_00182013-12-12_0002 2013-12-12_0003 2013-12-12_0020 2013-12-12_0015 2013-12-12_00012013-12-12_00042013-12-12_00102013-12-12_00162013-12-12_0012 2013-12-12_00062013-12-12_0007 2013-12-12_0011 2013-12-12_0014


“Jon and I met in college at Oberlin through a group of mutual friends where he studied computer science and I studied literature.  There’s a common belief that some ludicrous percent of Oberlin students end up marrying other Obies. It doesn’t surprise me at all! While we definitely share many of the same interests, I think what drew us to each other was more our perspective on life and love.  I could tell that we considered the former to be a series of exciting but calculated risks and the latter to be the most beautiful and terrifying and wonderful adventure we were going to take, and that we wanted to take it together.

Jon interned at Google one summer so we were living in California.  We took a road trip up and down the coast one long weekend, visiting sights and taking walks by the beaches we passed.  I didn’t know he’d already gotten the ring during that trip.  He waited until we’d gotten back to the apartment we were sharing to officially ask, and it made perfect sense – travel and exploration are always going to be a part of our life together, but our relationship is also about the home we make in between adventures.


We were drawn to the idea of a destination wedding from the start, since we’ve done so much traveling together already (Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Germany) and we don’t intend to stop anytime soon.  The issue was that we also feel a very close tie to our family and friends and we knew that choosing to go out of the country would make it very difficult for some our favorite financially struggling people to celebrate with us. After trying to find ways to make it work, we realized something: these two impulses, one to throw a party and celebrate with our loved ones, and the other to commemorate all the ways in which a traveling partner and a spouse seem to perfectly coincide for us, could make for two different but equally meaningful ceremonies.  So we had one ceremony in Tucson, Arizona with friends and family, and then took the dress and suit on a plane to Iceland for a private sharing of vows in the lava fields.


If we could, we would get married on the moon.  We both love strange, surreal places, like the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto with its thousands of red torii or the Sant’Ignazio Church in Rome with Andrea Pozzo’s tromp l’oleil frescos that seem to feature three-dimensional figures.  Given that penchant for the unexpected, we knew immediately that Iceland would be perfect.  We’d both wanted to go after seeing pictures of this world of contrasts, with the greenest grass we’d ever seen growing around rolling lava fields not far from black sand and towering glaciers and surrounded by incredible views of the ocean.  We knew that going in summer would also be particularly exciting, as the sun never fully sets!


One of the challenges was definitely explaining to people exactly what we were doing and why.  The concept of having two ceremonies is still weird to most people, but it made perfect sense to us, and we were both so happy with how it turned out. It minimized the stress of trying to communicate with venues in Iceland from the Arizona desert while preserving what was most important to us about this moment in our lives.  In the end, I think everybody could see why it was right for us.  It wouldn’t be Jon and Caitlin getting married if there wasn’t something unusual going on.


I did the planning for the two days of our private Iceland ceremony myself.  I decided on Hotel Hellnar as the location because of its calm and romantic interior paired with its place beside the ocean and the rolling lava fields.  I took a little lesson on makeup and hair techniques at home, and then did my own on the day of. After we’d finished exploring the area that day we had a beautiful dinner of local lamb and a dessert of blueberry skyr, a sort of Icelandic yogurt that we both became addicted to during our trip.Iceland itself really became the theme for both ceremonies.  Our opening statement was a piece I wrote about the sublime – an aesthetic theory that’s close to my research.  The sublime is the feeling of encountering something so overwhelming that it can’t be encompassed in language, something so awe-inspiring that you’re compelled toward it even as it frightens you.  Travel, love, and Iceland are all sublime experiences.


There’s a tie for most memorable moment.  The first occurred when Jon and I went down to explore the rocky beach beside the ocean.  Locals waved at us and said congratulations as we navigated down the hill and then we celebrated a hummed first dance (Modern English’s “Melt With You”) by the docks while tourists wandered around us.  The second memorable moment was climbing through the window of an abandoned house in my wedding dress.  That’s something you don’t easily forget, and I loved every second!

If we had advice, it would be to follow your instincts, and find your dream photographer!  Levi Tijerina was incredible to work with and he really became our partner and our friend while organizing this crazy adventure. We were also glad we followed our instincts rather than convention in planning the wedding.  When something feels as right as the idea of the Iceland ceremony does, sometimes you need to just take the leap. We don’t have a single regret!  The more I look back at the pictures from those days, the more I know it was the right decision.  I just can’t wait to go back to Iceland!”

Thanks so much to Caitlin for sharing her and Jon’s story, and to Levi for these beautiful images.

Photographer: Levi Tijerina | Venue: Hótel Hellnar | Bride’s Dress: Maggie Sottero “Symphony” | Groom’s Tie: Cyberoptix Tie Lab

6 Responses

    • Amy

      Really Stephanie? Did not know that! What an amazing place to be able to go back to!

  1. Sara

    This is gorgeous. I REALLY want to visit Iceland. You know – in a lot of pictures I see of Iceland all the homes are painted black and I always wonder – why is that?

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