Janet Hsieh, TV Host, Fun Taiwan, Actress, Author
Haha. Just kidding. Well, it was chilly, but not as cold as you’d think (thank you? global warming…)
First, I have to explain WHY we ended up getting married in Antarctica.
I’ve always been a dreamer. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing to be, as long as you actually do something about your dreams. Make your dreams a reality.
In 2011, I filmed a travel show in Argentina. After we finished, I took a few days off with my mom and producer and we flew down to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. For a few days, we watched as several cruise ships left the dock and headed for Antarctica, the White Continent, the 7th Continent, Penguin-Land. I was jealous. So so jealous. I wanted to jump onto every single one of those cruises and hide in the closet, or get hired as a valet/server on the ship. I really wanted to go to Antarctica. But alas, it wasn’t to be that year, or the next or the next. We got our fill of penguin sighting on a few islands just off of the coast of Ushuaia. I tried sneaking one back home with me, but penguins are quite slippery little things. (I didn’t really).
A few years later, my mom and dad, retired, decided that they wanted to go on a cruise to Antarctica with their friends and they asked me if I wanted to join them, sending me their itinerary. One look at the schedule and the costs and I immediately called them up to cancel their reservations. Their booking was way too expensive for way too little excursion and actual time on Antarctica. I would be their tour guide and find them a better cruise for a better value.
Two weeks later, I find myself with two guide books, a map of Antarctica taped to my wall, and emails with at least 10 different ship operators from all over the world. I was on a mission and now, I wanted to go on this trip. George and I were already dating by this point and I wanted to share this experience with him too, so naturally, I invited him to come.
George, my husband, isn’t like me - he doesn’t seek out adventure, doesn’t like to throw himself at potentially risky and dangerous trips to exotic places. He prefers to read or watch about them from the comforts of his couch, so I knew this would be a hard sell. As a joke, I mentioned that since he was invited, he should also invite his parents since we don’t get to spend much time with our parents anymore, with us and them being on the opposite sides of the world.
George surprisingly joked that since: we would have both our parents there, our respective parents had never met, and we would have a lot of time together, we might as well get married in Antarctica.
Without knowing it, George had just planted a seed that was resistant to everything. He should have known that an idea like that - once it goes into my brain - is going to fester and fester in there until it happens. I was going to get married in Antarctica. And hopefully, George would be able to join me for our wedding.
As luck would have it, with a little Google search, I had discovered that there was actually a church in Antarctica and on King George Island. Yes, King GEORGE island. And it was a Russian orthodox church, and George is actually a baptized Orthodox Christian. It was a sign from the heavens.
And of course, playing on George’s vanity, I told him about the church on King George Island and how it was just perfect - it was meant to be. It worked. Sorta. I still needed a few more weeks of convincing but I had him on a hook and he was slowly getting reeled into my net. Mwa ha ha ha.
Basically, George won’t admit it, but it’s actually his fault that we ended up getting married in Antarctica. And it’s a fault that I will always thank him for.
OK now, what was it actually like to get married on Antarctica… well, we didn’t end up getting married on King George island, nor at a church. We ended up getting hitched on a glacier next to a chinstrap penguin colony on Nikko Harbor, Antarctica. The whole ceremony lasted only about 15 minutes (we like things short and sweet), but it was everything I could have wished for. (Well, I take that back. I’m pretty sure I wished for Brad Pitt to be at the wedding.)
I think the pictures say it best: (pictures by Cheng Chang, Nick Onken, Renee Lin)
And if pictures aren’t enough, here’s our wedding video:
Antarctica Wedding of Janet Hsieh and George Young 我們的南極婚禮
And if our wedding isn’t enough, here’s the Sia Chandelier parody video we did on our Russian icebreaker ship Akademic Ioffe:
And if you still haven’t gotten enough of us (and aren’t sick of looking at our wedding photos, wedding video, Chandelier parody video), here’s a link to our book about our 50-day adventure from Taiwan to Texas to Argentina to Antarctica. It’s in both English and Chinese and co-authored by George Young and myself:
在世界的盡頭說：我願意 Starting at the End