Dearly Beloved, We Are Gathered Here Today… Because it’s too damn cold to do this outside!

Here’s something that I never thought to put on my Antarctic must-do list, but am delighted to be able to add to my Antarctic did-it list: attend a wedding.

Mike and Kai, two of the nicest people I’ve ever met (and, I have to say, one of the cutest couples), decided to get hitched. I was one of the lucky folks invited to witness the event.

Front of the swanky invite

The ceremony, as you might be able to make out on the invitation, was originally planned to be at Hut Point, with the sweeping panorama of the Royal Society Mountains and a fiery sunset sky as the backdrop.

I gotta say... this is the coolest (no pun intended) wedding invite I've ever seen

Outdoor wedding in winter in Antarctica… what could possibly go wrong?

Well, the skies were clear, but earlier in the afternoon we nosed up to Con2, not for the snow or the wind speed but for the damnable cold. Ambient air temperature was minus 40 Fahrenheit. The wind chill was minus 74 Fahrenheit. That’s frostbite-within-minutes cold.

The happy couple wisely moved things inside, to the Crary Lab library, which has nearly the same panoramic view but the bonus of being toasty warm.

The happy groom, wearing the Hawaiian shirt, awaiting his bride. The guy standing behind is Bill, the Vehicle Maintenance Facility head honcho and, for the ceremony, the officiating, uh, official

I’ve been to a few weddings–not as many as you might think, as my friends have a tendency to elope or cohabitate–and I’ve worked the catering side for several more. I have to say that Kai and Mike’s wedding was one of the most genuine I’ve witnessed. It wasn’t about the dress, or the cake, or the VIP guest list. It was about the people. Shouldn’t that be what a wedding is about?

The vows

Mr. and Mrs.

Kai and Mike are adorable together–they seem to really enjoy and love each other. Not just on their wedding day, but every day I’ve seen them, including early in the morning on the egg line when they’re a bit bleary-eyed but still smiling and holding hands. I think that’s pretty neat.

Every wedding must have a cake. Penguins optional but strongly encouraged, even the stuffed kind.

Their wedding got me thinking, mostly about the Bridezillas I encountered the summer I worked at a Colorado resort. I can’t count the number of temper tantrums (always with tears, often with screaming and occasionally with throwing things) I witnessed from allegedly grown women about the weather, about their hair, about the cake… I can’t recall a single bride from that summer whose smile was as big as Kai’s, or one groom who looked as aw-shucks happy as Mike. It’s astounding to think of the tens of thousands of dollars many people spend on their wedding day and how little it buys them. It boggles the mind, really. Especially the already addled-by-polar-madness WinterOver mind.

The wedding party (George, our Station Manager, gave away the bride)

I always felt that, if I ever met MyDarcy, hell no would we be having a big to-do. Kai and Scott’s ceremony confirmed, to me anyway, that simple and meaningful always trumps overblown and numbingly materialistic. As if there was ever a doubt. (Sidenote: I think I should register the URL… not sure what I’d do with it, but it has potential to capture the spinster demographic’s attention.)

The kiss

I had to go to work shortly after the ceremony itself, so I didn’t stick around for the cake. I was present, however, for the tossing of the plastic bouquet. The half dozen or so single women present gathered in an unenthusiastic clump. I think of weddings I’ve attended and seen on tv where the women grab wildly, lunging forward like a crazed baseball fan for a home run ball, or even try to tear it away from the one who does catch it. Not here. The first time Kai threw it, no one even went for it. It fell to the floor, hitting my Bunny Boot. “Not It,” I declared and side-stepped it. On the second try, a slightly more ambitious singleton did catch it, but more, it seemed, out of a reluctance to let the poor plastic flowers fall on the floor again than any real desire for the bouquet itself.

What can I say? Such are the kind of women, myself included, who come to Antarctica. I’ll bet that those of us who have married, or marry in the future, don’t blow several paychecks on the dress or ruin our mascara with a hissyfit over the color of the tablecloths.

Oh… and another thing: 18 days till vegetation. Any kind of vegetation.

The all-important cake cutting ceremony

And the even more important "feeding of the cake" ceremony


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