Gay couple host first ever same-sex marriage on Antarctica

Two crew members of a UK research vessel became the first ever same-sex couple to get married in the British Antarctic Territory today.

The Rothera Research Station, used by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), was the unlikely venue for Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter’s chilly wedding.

Kilts, hardy boots and a snowmobile were on display for the quirky ceremony, which saw colleagues hold ice picks as the couple walked down a frosty ‘aisle’ in front of their ship.

The pair were together for 20 years before tying the knot in sunny conditions, allaying fears that their big day might have to be delayed by the weather.

Attending the event on the helideck of the RRS Sir David Attenborough – a polar vessel that the pair work as stewards on – were 30 crew from the UK ship, who braved freezing conditions for the heartwarming event.

Around 100 staff from the research station then joined the wedding reception.

The group were warmed by food prepared by the station chef and expecting to dance along to music from the facility’s resident band.

Branding Antarctica an ‘incredible place’, Mr Carpenter said: ‘We have been together for 20 years but now we’ve both been to Antarctica together, it felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot.’

The couple, who are set to be married by the ship’s captain Will Whatley, have travelled the world with each other on a variety of ships but both have a soft spot for Antarctica.

Mr Bourne, from Rochford, Essex, has spent the last three years working for BAS and says the pair opted for the unusual wedding destination after Mr Carpenter, from Caerphilly, joined the ship’s crew.

‘We’ve even had the co-ordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings,’ Mr Carpenter said.

His fiancé added: ‘We’re both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory.

‘BAS is such a welcoming and accepting employer, and we feel very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together.’

The wedding will be registered with the British Antarctic Territory Government, which is based in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and will be valid in the UK.

The couple will hold a second celebration for family and friends later in the year, in what they hope will be significantly warmer surroundings, in Spain.

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