Sarah & Rory

Can we just state right now, there are few places in the world that capture a winter lovers heart as much as a hotel made of ice and winter skies of Northern Lights. Oh yes, you read that right, because today we’re sharing the amazing winter elopement o two Aussies – Sarah and Rory and their snow and ice-filled, utterly magic wedding day.

And if you’re already shivering in your boots, take the assurances of these newlyweds, that their day was nothing like the ice-cold you would imagine. “I find it hard to describe the atmosphere,” remarks Sarah. “You would expect it to be cold and lonely in some ways. It was very much the opposite, the generosity of those involved was incredible and the energy we felt on the day was amazing.”

Enlisting Who Shot The Photographer to join them to capture it unfolding, Sarah and Rory decided to elope at the same time they decided to get married. They explain “We proposed the idea of eloping to each other, maybe as a joke at first to avoid some of the stress and costs of a full wedding. But the idea took seed and we felt that it was a really good option for us. Neither of us enjoys big ceremonies nor being the centre of attention, we wanted to have a small private affair. Eloping to a winter wonderland in the hopes of seeing Northern Lights was the winning idea.”

And in a story that’s come full circle, we need to set the scene with how these two met, so very aptly in Europe! “We met while travelling in Europe in 2010, we were on the same Topdeck bus tour. We got very close on the trip and after the tour, we spent some more time travelling in the UK together before having to part ways, Rory back to Australia and Sarah to England. We stayed in contact and six months later Sarah visited Australia for a short holiday. The rest is history, she loved Australia, and probably to some degree Rory too!”

The bride wore a dreamy gown by Mywony telling “Before anything was booked for the wedding I already had my dress, I saw this beautiful sea-foam blue and white dress with a sheer top with delicate lacing and jewels. As it was a bit chilly outside, -20C!, I wore a wool shawl over the top and cinched it with a belt. To complement the dress I wore Swedish designer Georg Jensen iridescent moonstone earrings and necklace and a handmade headpiece from local Canberra designer Tania Maras.

Oh, and I got to wear thermal long johns and my favourite comfy Sorel boots so I couldn’t have been more comfortable! I was also very lucky that my dress fitted into hand luggage as I was worried about putting it in checked luggage, it also sprang back to life when it was unpacked with no wrinkles. The whole outfit felt very Scandinavian, rustic and unique.”

Groom Rory topped his (many) layers with a custom made merino wool suit designed by MJ Bale.

Sarah carried a bouquet of blooms designed by InterFlora Kiruna. She tells “I chose a lovely relaxed style bouquet with thistles, tumbling ivy and a few roses. When it turned up it was even more beautiful than I had imagined!”

Sarah and Rory enlisted the help of a very special photographer to capture their day. “I (Sarah) am very lucky to have a very talented brother as a professional photographer. When we knew we were getting married in the Ice Hotel, there was only one photographer I wanted, my brother. We both had so much fun having the pictures taken and James knew all the best spots to get some awesome photos. Given that we were both wearing snow boots and thermals nowhere was off limits!”

Sarah and Rory made sure they ticked all the boxes, Angela Hewitt of Magnetic North Travel helping their plan their trip to Sweden and resulting three week honeymoon in Australia and the team at

Ice Hotel planning every detail of the wedding itself. They tell “Eloping makes life pretty easy for planning and have an amazing travel agent (Angela – Magnetic North Travel) and wedding coordinator (Louise – Ice Hotel) made getting married overseas so much less stressful. We really think the Ice Hotel and Louise the wedding coordinator went above and beyond our expectations. At every stage of the wedding day, we were surprised by something we hadn’t expected that just made the day that little bit more magical. We still think Louise must have used some wizardry to get the northern lights to show on our wedding night!”

Rory and Sarah chose the Ceremony Hall at Ice Hotel for their ceremony, sharing “The main venue for us was the Ice Hotel Ceremony Hall. The scale and detail of the hall was amazing, including the Ice chandelier and the reindeer skins covering the pews. Each year they invite a new artist to come to build a unique chapel, so it’s never the same. 2019 was Japanese artists Natsuki and Shingo Saito, and the carvings look like a Japanese family tree, with diamonds showing the flow and major moments of life. As we both love Japan it made the ceremony even more special.”

Rory and Sarah walked down the aisle together to “Turn Up Your Light” by Boo Seeker.

The couple were married by Eva Lundquist. “We both knew we would be nervous so didn’t write any vows to say to each other” they remember. “It was also around -5c inside so we were keen for a short and sharp ceremony for that reason too! The celebrant (Eva) suggested a reading from Sami artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää book of poems Trekways of the Wind. The opening line was ‘the wind blew the tundra spoke’, and the Eva read it in both Swedish and English. It was very fitting for a couple that loves the snow and ice, and was very ethereal.”

The newlyweds received a special gift at the end of the ceremony. “At the end of the wedding Eva presented us with a white grouse, which is the symbol for Kiruna. In Australian slang, “grouse” means something is awesome so we saw it as a good sign! We named him Klaus der Grouse and he proudly sits in our bedroom now.”

“As it was less traditional we did not have a “first dance” as such” tell the newlyweds. “However, as the ceremony ended we were allowed time to take photos and play some additional music while in there. We had “I Would Do Anything For You” by Foster the People cued up after the ceremony finished and we lit a few candles. After that we played “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, needless to say, we all had a good dance, wedding planners and celebrant included!”

Then it was time for champagne- in a way that only the Ice Hotel could manage! “We had a traditional champagne toast, and naturally being the Ice Hotel the champagne flutes were made of ice. The best thing about the glasses is you can take them outside a throw them against the wall, which is great fun!”

The celebrations continued late into the evening with a very special meal. Sarah and Rory explain “Our wedding meal was just amazing, we had a special Chefs Table which was an incredible degustation with us and a handful of other guests. The food was out of this world and at the end, the chef surprised us with a wedding cake, which was beautiful. A wonderful family from the UK also found out we had just got married and gave us a bottle of Dom Perignon to celebrate which was so generous. To top it all off, right at the end of the meal one of the children from the family ran in saying the Northern Lights were happening so we hurried out. We spent the next couple of hours watching the wondrous display of lights while standing on the frozen river behind the hotel .”

And there was the most magic of endings- the beautiful Northern Lights making their appearance. “It was amazing celebrating it all under the Northern Lights!” tell the newlyweds. “We really thought we may have gone the whole trip without getting to witness them, but it was such a gift to witness the majestic splendour of shimmering lights dancing through the night sky.”

A big congratulations on your marriage Sarah and Rory! How special to be able to share your day! Thank you also to Who Shot The Photographer for the beautiful images!