Same-Sex Wedding Held for the First Time in British Antarctic Territory

Two male stewards of the RRS Sir David Attenborough got married on the ship on Sunday, April 24, only the second-ever couple to wed in British Antarctic Territory and the first same-sex couple to do so.

Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter, who have been together for 20 years, shared their special day with 30 crew members of the UK’s polar ship at Rothera Research Station. Video supplied by Kirsty Brooks/British Antarctic Survey shows the wedding ceremony and cake cutting.

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

A wedding reception with all the staff at Rothera Research Station will take place when the ship returns on May 8. Credit: Kirsty Brooks/British Antarctic Survey via Storyful

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- As you are mine. In my eyes, I have found my soulmate. When I am with you, you make me whole, full of life, and I feel alive. You are my every breath and my every heartbeat. You make me laugh when times are easy or going tough. When I cry, you are always there to comfort me.

- And now, by the power vested in me as a magistrate and marriage officer of the British Antarctic Territory, it is my honor and delight to declare you married.

[CLAPPING]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[LAUGHTER]

[CHEERING]

- Aw.

- It's recording, but move as you feel need to.

- OK. Take 37.

- Right. So we're on board the Royal Research Ship, that's David Attenborough at Rover Research Station in Antarctica, the location for your wedding. You are the second couple, same sex couple, to be getting married in the British Antarctic Territory. So tell us, are you excited for the wedding? Are you nervous?

- Absolutely.

- Yeah, I mean, just like every couple, I think we're extremely excited, but also nervous at the same time.

- Pretty nervous, yeah.

- So what made you want to get married in Antarctica?

- We're very lucky to work on a ship that serves the research base here. And if you look behind us, that's probably the number one reason. What a fantastic location, it's utterly stunning. And we've got a great ship's company behind us. And I can't think of a better place.

- Yeah. I mean, it's amazing to get married in Antarctica, but on top of that, you are getting married on the Royal Research Ship, Vessa David Attenborough. How does it feel to be getting married on that ship?

- It's a total honor. Yeah.

- Yeah, I had the pleasure of meeting last year in Greenwich when we took the ship up to Thames. And he's a genuinely nice guy. I mean, he believes everything that he does. And he is quite enthusiastic about everything and the whole concept of what the ship is here for.

- Yeah. So how did you two first meet?

- We met 20 years ago aboard another ship, which is the RFA Sir Percival. We spent six months together at the last Gulf War on board that ship. And we've been together ever since.

- Amazing. So you've worked on a lot of ships together, then?

- Well, we were quite lucky to be here together on the same ship, but it hasn't always been the case. In the 20 years we've been together, we have worked on different ships, even apart.

- 8,000 9,000 miles apart.

- Yeah. I mean, we're just quite privileged to be here. I mean, it is nice to have that support from person who is closest to you.

- Amazing. So what part of the wedding are you looking forward to the most?

- I think, for me, the ability to thank everybody for their help because it took a lot of organizing. There's a lot of logistics.

- I mean, it is a logistical nightmare. Everything's been-- we got to plan everything, even since last year before the ship left the UK. But yeah, it's going to be good. I mean, to thank everyone. I mean, this is our second home, they're like family to us. And it's going to be good to get to the end of the day and be able to thank everyone that's been involved from the ship staff to the bus crew ashore to cooks in a Rover Research Station.

- Amazing. And finally, I hear you have some special wedding rings.

- Yeah.

- Yeah, we've had these for a long time. They've been cleaned up quite a lot. And we've had them engraved with the coordinates for this location, so we'll always remember where we were on this special day.

- Yeah. I mean, there was only one thing. I mean, we couldn't get the exact date because of what the ship is here for. I mean, we have to work around what the ship is actually here for. But we're quite privileged to be able to have our day here.

- Amazing. Well, good luck, guys.

- Thank you.

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