Real Bride: Planning a Wedding at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort – Finland

28 January, 2016

The Couple

Sarah and Alex from Sydney, Australia were the fearless winners of our “Win A Nordic Elopement Competition“, sponsored by Photos By Miss Ann, Your Adventure Wedding & Flyboy Naturals Rose Petals.  The couple had their choice of epic Nordic wedding locations, however decided on the spectacular Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland.

 

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The Wedding Destination – Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Finland

We had arrived in Ivalo, Finland two days before our elopement. We met the energetic and bubbly Miss Ann at the airport gate as we were luckily on the same flight. Miss Ann was the person that made it all happen. She helped us plan the elopement, select and narrow the locations, the activities, the legalities, all of it. She was also the incredible photographer too! Taking crazy photos in very low light. Seriously she was amazing.

Ivalo airport was covered in snow -Yay. We were excited to hunt down the Northern Lights however were repeatedly warned by the locals that the weather was very poor for Northern Lights. The optimal conditions to find them is cold weather and clear sky. The weather was -1 degrees and normally this time of year gets up to minus 40 degrees. Coming from Australia the day was left was 38 degrees so we had a bit of adjusting to do. A sauna and a sleep helped us along the transition of temperatures. The next day our first thoughts was to check out the part of town we were in called “Saariselka” which was 20 minutes from Kakslauttanen. We thought we would experience the area by waking around town like the locals trekking around the loop of the town rugged up with our gumboots and snow gear. We saw teepee like structures made out of sticks, huskies in the streets, lots of little cute shops, an abandoned sled perched carefully on thin ice in the middle of a frozen lake. While wandering around town we took the opportunity to sign up for a private snowmobile adventure through the woods. An hour later we were flying across the snow wind slapping our faces as we drove across a variety of landscapes from hills to windy woods. We stopped by a teepee to learn all about how the Northern Lights are created, whilst sipping on traditional berry tea and ginger cookies. That same afternoon we called a cab to take us to our next destination ‘Kakslauttanen’ Igloo Hotel.

 

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When we arrived at Kakslauttanen we realized the hotel was even more unbelievably picturesque than we imagined. There is not much daylight in December (in fact only 1 hour on our wedding day) so the massive grounds covered in snow reflected light up into the cloudy sky. We made our way to reception where Miss Ann was there to greet us excitedly and finalize the remaining details. Arriving at our spectacular Kelo-Igloo Cabin the first thing we noticed walking up to the door was a snowman beside the door. Then, we heard the sounds of huskies howling in the distance. Stepping inside the door there was a chandelier made of what looked like reindeer antlers (it was very cool) lighting the log cabin interior. There was a gorgeous stone fireplace in the corner with a rocking chair crafted out of wood sitting beside it. We walked up to some red curtains and parted them to find the igloo room with a glass roof showing off the cloudy night sky. We then discovered the igloo beds moved up and down from bed position to seated position electronically (which was very fancy). The igloo roof glass windows heated to so when it snowed we still had the jaw dropping view of the sky. We then checked out the private sauna and raced each other to get inside – watching the light snowfall outside through a little window in the sauna room. We had dinner that night at reception and again ran into Miss Ann – photographer and adventure wedding planner extraordinaire – who unveiled the bouquet which had just arrived. The bouquet was stunning! A green succulent bouquet with white flowers, something so unique and different which was exactly what I hoped for. It turns out Miss Ann went to great lengths to import the succulents to Finland. I was stoked with them and surprised that during the planning stage she hadn’t mentioned the challenge of getting succulents into Finland. It just goes to show that she can make anything happen with ease and a smile!

 

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The Wedding

The morning of the wedding I was too excited to sleep and woke up at 3am. I had a cup of tea and sat in the igloo bed staring at the sky for about an hour, searching for the Northern Lights. No such luck to see the lights in the morning, even so the view was ridiculously amazing with endless white snow and trees. I decided to do my own hair and make up for the big day, so I began curling my normally straight hair with my miracurl hair curler – a total life saver for any girl with straight hair. The only challenge was my hair rarely gets enough poofy volume to last all day. After applying 6 types of spray and volumizers I now had enough volume in my hair to rival our dog ‘Chloe’ – who gets quite fluffy and curly .

 

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I was also wearing 2 layers of thermals to keep myself warm under the wedding dress in the cold Finnish weather complete with pastel pink dancers leg warmers to keep me cozy under my dress. Alex woke up and happily chatted away while I was doing all this, then we sat down to have some breakfast. Before we knew it there was a knock at the door, and there was Miss Ann smiling away ready to take some pre wedding photos. I then went and did my wedding makeup while Miss Ann went about taking photos of our wedding gear. Everything from the earrings my friend ruby gave me (something new), the borrowed hair clip from my best mate Liz (something borrowed), the gold diamond necklace (something old) Aunty Den spent years saving for and paying off. Even photos of my wool booties to wear inside my gumboots which made my feet look like giant marshmallows but kept them warm, toasty and cozy. Before long it was time to put on the dress, finally ready to marry my Alex.

 

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Our wedding planner and photographer extraordinaire and her assistant picked us up at 9:10am to head to the ceremony for a 9:30am start. Our adventure wedding had begun and we needed to make the most of the limited daylight in December.  From the car we saw the glass teepee, there it was glistening with two flaming candles out the front. My first thought were “wow!”  Quickly followed by Alex joking, “I hope you don’t set yourself alight walking past those candles”. A laugh and we were off walking through fresh snow towards the teepee with the sky covered in white clouds. The door swung open, and my nervousness quadrupled as I saw Alex standing at the other end of the teepee carefully filled with stunning flower petals and tea lights everywhere. My heart was pounding, I was feeling nervous, love and emotion all at the same time.

 

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I took a deep breath took my coat off and walked carefully through the flickering romantic aisle of candles and petals. Apparently my witness Melissa said “Oh my god, Pagie (nickname from my maiden name Page) is a bit clumsy I hope she doesn’t set herself on fire” and giggled when I said the same thing as I entered. The glass around the teepee showed off the gorgeous landscape around us outside the windows.

 

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There was a very Scandinavian bench at the end covered in reindeer fur and a huge ornamental ball of what looked like reindeer horns. That was where Alex and the celebrant were waiting. The ceremony was swift and in English, two quick ‘I do’s’ later and then the rings were slipped on – finally we were husband and wife!

 

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We were now married in the most stunning location in the world we could hardly believe it. Miss Ann jumped down on the floor covered in rose petals to get a few shots from a different angle then leapt into the snow outside to capture the magic inside the teepee.  Our celebrant’s main language was Finnish so he asked the witnesses Melissa and Paul repeatedly how to pronounce Sarah prior to the ceremony. This is an unusual concept as my name is a very common in Australia . Haha.

 

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We then left the Teepee went outside for a few photos with our “We eloped” banner, then made our way towards our next destination, the Glass Igloos. Miss Ann found this gorgeous trail leading towards the igloos. So we sloshed our way through fluffy white snow with a few shots to remember the moment. I was glad I chose knee high Gumboots for the Wedding. Alex had the extra challenge of not getting snow in his ankle high shoes. Following my footsteps in the snow. We made our way to the igloos with Miss Ann capturing a perfect shot after standing on the shoulders of David who was helping her as a human ladder/photographers assistant.

 

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Soon enough, it was time to have a little champagne toast. Ann had scouted out an abandoned lodge the previous day and equipped it with two dreamy lanterns which turned out to be the perfect sunset as snow softly fell around us. We were freezing our butts off, but it was so worth it. Once finished, we took a stroll through the neighboring woods at the back, leading Alex though the best track to avoid snow seeping through to his ankles.

 

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The next adventurous experience Miss Ann had planned for our wedding day, was the Husky Safari in the Lapland wilderness. We have always loved dogs so when our Adventure Wedding Planner, Miss Ann suggested it was an option we leapt at the opportunity!  There was such a commotion of excitement howling, whining, barking and huffing the Huskies could barely wait for us to take a few quick snaps before going for a good run. The two eldest and most experienced huskies were at the lead they knew what was going on, followed by four younger huskies.

 

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The ride was breathtaking. Sledding through the trees Alex was the driver steering for the first half of the ride. It started snowing lightly and we picked up some speed. Sometimes there were little dips in the snow which crated these awesome speedy bumps, the sled becoming airborne didn’t phase us. We just whooped with exhilaration! There was a trick to driving and guiding the sled. You needed to lean into the turns and then on the uphold push the sled along with one foot to help the dogs out. The weather was minus 3 Celsius, so the dogs were finding the weather a bit hot apparently.  The Huskies were snapping at the snow mid run. It turns out they were eating snow as their water to cool themselves down. We switched and I took a turn guiding the sled. At one point I was staring into the woody forest not realizing we were about to head up a hill. The funniest moment was when all six huskies stopped simultaneously and turned their heads to look at me, as if to say “come on give us a hand. Can’t you see it is a hill, lady.”

 

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At the end of our ride we thanked the dogs with some well-deserved pats and hugs before warming ourselves in front of the fire in a snow covered fabric teepee. The smoke wafted up through a hole at the top into the dark sky while we warmed up with berry tea and cake. Our last stop was to visit the Husky puppies. About half the size of the adults and they were so super cute. Some were happy to get a pat others were a little shy watching from the safety of their wooden house. This was such an awesome husky sled adventure to celebrate our nuptials.
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Then it was time to relax in our Kelo-Igloo Cabin. We set up the fire in the little stone fireplace and chatted away while Alex tested out the rocking chair. A quick look into the sky of our igloo revealed a still cloudy dark sky. Very limited chance of Northern Lights but at this point we were so elated if we didn’t see them we would’ve been ok as the day was mind blowing already.  After our break it was time to visit Santa’s House in Lapland. A cute little wooden cottage near a snow covered bridge. Santa was sitting in his chair by the Christmas tree. You could see letters written by kids to Santa sitting on his desk. We took a few happy snaps with Santa then took a stroll along the snow covered bridge. This is where Miss Ann climbed down the side of a hill blending into the snowy background like a commando.

 

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Next it was onto our intimately styled reception for two dinner… But first we stopped off at some quirky birdhouses and walked through some deep snow to take an amazing photo underneath a lantern next to one of the cabins. It was getting rather cold at this point, so a little cuddle time brought some warmth back and the owner of the hotel drive past beeping his horn and congratulating us.

 

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Then onto our four course dinner we sat in front of a stone fireplace decorated beautifully with a “love” sign, candles, stars, bride and groom napkin labels made out of wood, and 2 Lappish scarves as our chair ties and party favor. Sprinkled across the table and the ground were the beautiful petals from the wedding ceremony. We had an amazing four course meal that included lots of salmon, smoked reindeer, fillet of elk and for dessert lingonberry parfait. After stuffing ourselves silly, during the middle of dessert one of the waitresses called us outside. The sky had cleared and there were northern lights above the restaurant faintly sprinkling across the sky in a whitish green color.

 

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It was time to seize the opportunity and conclude our Nordic wedding night with our last planned activity, a horse sled ride while the northern lights were still out. We excitedly jumped aboard our sled hoping to get another glimpse of the Northern Lights. The sled driver warned us that it was unlikely the horse ‘Tara’ would stop mid safari, but we hoped. The wind was ridiculously cold as we picked up speed but we were having so much fun we didn’t mind. We couldn’t believe we saw the Northern Lights after all the talk of poor weather so we were thrilled. When we hit a clearing during the sled ride all the heavens aligned. The horse stopped, and the northern lights were above us. We quickly jumped out of the sleigh with Miss Ann setting up the ‘love’ sign next to the sled quickly before disappearing into the snow to take a few crazily epic portraits of us.  What a beautiful way to end our incredible adventurous Nordic elopement!

 

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The next morning at check out the owner of the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village and Hotel presented us with a handcrafted salt bowl made by his friend from local wood and reindeer horns. He had our wedding date and location carved into the bottom which is lovely memento of our wedding experience.  After leaving the Kakslauttanen Igloo Hotel, we honeymooned in Sweden, Germany, Belgium and France!

 

For more pictures of Sarah & Alex’s epic elopement to Finland, take a look at the full post on the BWB Blog: Nordic Elopement to Finnish Lapland by Your Adventure Wedding & Photos By Miss Ann

 

Wedding Photographer: Photos By Miss Ann

Wedding Planner: Your Adventure Wedding

Rose Petals: Flyboy Naturals

Wedding Venue – Ceremony & Reception: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort – Kakslauttanen, Finland