First came the destination wedding. Then came its more ‘outward bound’ cousin, the adventure wedding. Tylee and Jeff’s recent nuptials took it to the next level however, with their completely epic Antarctica wedding day!
Actually, this was far more than a wedding day. It was a full-blown wedding expedition to Antarctica, complete with wildlife (hello penguins!), magnificent scenery at every turn, and countless ‘pinch yourself’ moments.
As I first scrolled through these amazing pictures by Your Adventure Wedding, I couldn’t help but wonder …. howwww do you actually make a wedding like this happen?? How long does it take to plan a wedding in Antarctica? Where can you hold the wedding? Can you get legally married in Antarctica? Can you marry at any time of year? And how do you even get to Antarctica in the first place?? So. Many. Questions.
It turns out that you need careful planning, plenty of flexibility, and a crack team of polar wedding experts along for the ride. Your Adventure Wedding combined all of their unique talents – part wedding planners, part photographers, part legal celebrants, part tour guides – to create this once-in-a-lifetime wedding experience for the couple.
Ann Peters, Your Adventure Wedding’s owner, was kind enough to answer my, very long, list of questions!
Where is the couple from and why did they choose Antarctica as their wedding destination?
Tylee and Jeff live in California. Jeff reached out to our Your Adventure Wedding team seeking a February 2020 adventure wedding. Our team and our adventure wedding concept really “hit a chord” with them. They have both traveled the world extensively for adventures together and for business, as well as individually, so it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing a wedding location. The mysterious 7th continent of Antarctica was their answer! No other locations were an option.
How long did the wedding take to plan?
Our adventure wedding photography and planning team began working with Tylee and Jeff in October of 2019 for their end of February Antarctica wedding expedition.
It was smooth sailing throughout the Antarctica wedding planning process. Our team presented both fly and sail options to the couple, along with a further option that involved glamping in the interior of Antarctica. The first two options departed from Chile and the last from South Africa.
Covid-19 began causing some challenges in January as it surfaced in Asia. The vessel team from Antarctica 21 sent regular updates about travel restrictions and the procedures they were putting in place to ensure the safety of everyone involved. At the end of the day however, the trip went ahead as planned between February 25 and March 3rd.
Were there any unique obstacles or things to consider when planning a wedding in Antarctica vs most other wedding destinations?
Antarctica is protected on all fronts. It does not allow for any foreign objects like ceremony décor, fresh flowers, or your own wedding footwear, etc, to be brought onto the landings. We had to special order in champagne, a wedding cake, and we brought our own rental plastic greenery for the reception table from Iceland.
Can you tell us about the travel plans . . . how do you actually get to Antarctica?
Traveling to Antarctica is a unique journey, and also a time commitment. To start with, most people have to trek all the way to the bottom of South America to begin their adventure. At that point, you are at the mercy of the weather and the winds. For example, our group chose the ‘fly and fly’ option, where you begin in Punta Arenas, Chile. You only find out the night before your departure if your chartered flight will take off the next morning or in the afternoon. The flight is around 2 hours long and lands on King George Island. From there, you then take zodiacs across the water to your vessel. Choosing the ‘fly and fly’ route, means that you bypass a 48-hour sail across the Drake Passage, which is known for its unpredictable conditions.
Are there any special travel visas or immunizations required to visit Antarctica?
It’s mandatory to have travel insurance with an emergency evacuation clause. Otherwise, as long as your passport will not expire within 3 months from the end of your visit and you have pages in your passport, you should be good to go (speaking from an American / Icelandic passport perspective).
When is the best time of year for a wedding in Antarctica … can you marry at any time of the year?
‘Fly and fly’ routes are only offered until the end of February / first week of March, as the weather drastically changes at that point. The travel season for Antarctica is generally between the end of October to March. Although, we do not suggest going past the first week of March because the wildlife significantly migrates due to the weather and season changes. Tylee and Jeff were married on February, 28th 2020.
How did you choose the location for the couple’s wedding ceremony in Antarctica?
Due to the fact that plans can change each day because of weather, visibility, and general accessibility, a specific wedding date and location was not chosen until Day 1 on the ship. However, it was important to Tylee and Jeff that their wedding location encompassed water, wildlife, and unique backdrops specific to the Antarctic.
In meeting with the expedition leader and other staff aboard, we chose Day 3 of the trip because we were going into Port Charcot. Port Charcot is a very interesting area of the Antarctic Peninsula, mainly because of the dramatic mountains that cut steeply out of the water and into the sky. Paired with that, this area is also full of small islands and an area where large icebergs gather.
What did the couple wear … was there any special clothing required, or just typical winter wedding clothing?
Tylee donned a traditional wedding dress and Jeff wore a tux on top and waterproof pants on the bottom. It is mandatory for all guests aboard the vessel to wear waterproof black ‘muck’ boots which the expedition team provides. Each time you embark and disembark you have to go through a thorough cleaning process of your boots. Basically, the boots are disinfected with chemicals and hardcore brushes. You cannot change out of your boots to put on a pair of heels or hiking boots.
Can you get legally married in Antarctica, and if so, what are the requirements?
If you are traveling within the British Antarctic Territory (BAT) during your Antarctica journey, it begins by applying for a permit to be married within the territory. Ideally, you should apply for the permit 2 to 3 months before the wedding. Next, you must have a legal BAT celebrant to perform the wedding ceremony. A common misconception is that the captain of the ship can legally marry you, but that is not correct. Unless he or she is legally certified each year by the BAT, it would only be a symbolic ceremony. A legal BAT celebrant can marry you anywhere within the territory.
Can you share your impressions of Antarctica with us … what had you in awe, and what surprised you?
Several things surprised us… Firstly, as our team’s legal celebrant, David Geir Jonasson was beginning the ring exchange part of the ceremony, penguins began voicing their approval! Secondly, as soon as the ceremony concluded and we began to shoot family photos, a family of whales swam by in the background between the iceberg and the island they were just married on!
Location photography-wise, what was most impactful for us was the huge iceberg art that we experienced! We strategically set out on two zodiacs to ensure that we would be able to shoot the location thoroughly. When the zodiac driver got the couple to a safe distance from the iceberg, he hid in the narrow confines of the zodiac so it would just be the couple and the massive iceberg in the wedding photos.
Please tell us all about the wedding day!
The Antarctica wedding expedition began as we sailed through the narrow and picturesque Lemaire Channel at sunrise. As we neared our landing point, Port Charcot icebergs surrounded our vessel, The Magellan Explorer. Some icebergs felt so close that we thought we could reach out and touch them from our balconies!
Our photography team was running around the ship non-stop, capturing detail shots and forever documenting the epicness of the area. Just before 10 am, and after the rest of the ship’s guests had disembarked, Tylee and Jeff met for a few quiet moments alone at the bow of the vessel. Following this, everyone headed down to dress in their boots and disembark. Our photographer and celebrant took a separate zodiac to the couple and their guests, to ensure proper documentation of the experience.
After a short 15 minute ride, we arrived at the private island where this intimate Antarctica wedding ceremony would take place. The ceremony was extremely personal, fun, and awe-inspiring, despite the cold! And even though the moment couldn’t have been more beautiful, a family of Minke whales swam by and did a few tail flops.
After the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds jumped back into the zodiac to adventure to another nearby island which offered stunning views of the glacier, as well as rock formations, seals, and penguins! All crafting an ideal backdrop for Antarctica elopement photos!
Pushing through the cold, Tylee and Jeff were game to drive around the massive iceberg that was crazy dimensional! It was truly a once in a lifetime experience, witnessing and being photographed in front of it! Ready to warm up, and surpassing our planned 2+ hour landing time, our zodiacs then returned to the Magellan Explorer for lunch! Their wedding lunch was a fantastic BBQ on the stern of the boat.
Choosing to ditch their wedding attire for the remaining landing adventures for the day, these two were ready to be more adventurous! Following their morning wedding, the pair ventured back out after lunch and spent time together kayaking, whale watching, and witnessing countless species of penguins and seals. Not to mention also experiencing all of the tones, textures, and different types of landscapes that Antarctica offers!
Just because you are eloping in Antarctica, does not mean you can’t have a gorgeous reception dinner! These two had a lightly styled table, a delicious three-course meal, and finished the night with a personalized wedding cake!
Tylee & Jeff’s Antarctica Wedding Vendors
Wedding Planner & Wedding Photographer: Your Adventure Wedding
Wedding Celebrant: David Geir Jonasson of Vik Expeditions
Event Rentals (Greenery & Boat Signs): Iceland Wedding Planner
Vessel: Magellan Explorer