Same-sex British couple make history with Antarctica wedding

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4 min read
Same-sex couple Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter tie the knot in Antartica. (SWNS)
Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter became the first same-sex couple to tie the knot in Antarctica. (SWNS)

As wedding backdrops go, they don't get much more dramatic than this.

Brits Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter became the first ever same-sex couple to tie the knot in Antarctica when they wed at the weekend at the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Rothera Research Station.

The couple are both stewards on the UK polar research vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough.

Their wedding not only marks a significant milestone of the couple sharing 20 years together, but also the first same-sex wedding to take place in the British Antarctic Territory (BAT).

Upon the RRS Sir David Attenborough, Captain Will Whatley performed the wedding ceremony on the ship's helideck with the sun shining down on them.

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The couple's colleagues performed a guard of honour. (SWNS)
The couple's colleagues performed a guard of honour. (SWNS)

Carpenter, 49, from Caerphilly, Wales, says: “Antarctica is such an incredible place.

"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!

"We’ve even had the coordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings."

Speeches by the couple’s best men who are fellow crew members, telegrams and toasts followed the ceremony alongside 100 staff, with live music from the station's resident band and songs even performed by the ship’s doctor.

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The wedding took place on the ship's helideck. (SWNS)
The wedding took place on the ship's helideck. (SWNS)

Bourne and Carpenter are experienced seafarers, who have spent the past two decades travelling the world together on board various ships.

Bourne, 41, has been working for BAS for the past three years.

They decided to get married when Stephen joined the ship’s crew last year and they realised Antarctica would be the perfect place for their wedding.

Captain Will Whatley, Master of RRS Sir David Attenborough and a BAT Magistrate, performed the ceremony.

He said: “It was such an honour to be officiating Eric and Steve’s wedding.

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"The RRS Sir David Attenborough is not only our place of work but also our home, and it is a privilege to help two integral members of our crew celebrate their special day.

"I am very proud of the inclusive culture within the British Antarctic Survey and across the Polar Regions. I am thrilled for them both and wish them all the very best.”

The couple wed with friends and crew members looking on. (SWNS)
The couple wed with friends and crew members looking on. (SWNS)

Before departing for Antarctica, the couple had their wedding rings engraved with the coordinates of their ceremony, which will take place 67 34’ S 68 08’ W.

The spot overlooks the Antarctic Peninsula, complete with mountain peaks and icebergs in the bay - the couple’s favourite view.

Bourne says: “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.”

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The couple are both stewards aboard the polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough. (SWNS)
The couple are both stewards aboard the polar research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough. (SWNS)

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A wedding reception with all the staff at Rothera Research Station will take place when the ship returns for its final call on 8 May.

The British Antarctic Territory Government, based in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will register the marriage so it will be valid in the UK.

This wedding is the second marriage between BAS staff since the BAT marriage law was reformed in 2016.

The law has made it easier for marriages to be arranged in the Territory, and also updated the relevant paperwork for same-sex marriages.

Additional reporting SWNS.

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