It was an end-of-the world wedding to remember.
Singapore-based British actor George Young married Taiwanese-American TV host Janet Hsieh in a 10-day expedition to Antarctica in January, but it wasn’t the exotic locale that was most memorable for him.
Said Young: “The highlight had to be seeing Janet walk down the pure white snow in her neoprene and lace dress, past the penguin welcome party, escorted by her parents and with me waiting alongside mine.”
The 35-year-old was talking to The New Paper via e-mail from Atlanta, where he was filming his first US TV drama Cordon.
However, all did not go as planned on the big day itself, as the couple, who have been good friends for around 10 years, had to move the ceremony outdoors due to weather conditions.
Young said they had originally intended to get married on King George Island “because the only proper church in that part of the Earth was located there”.
PHOTO COURTESY OF RENEE LIN
But “the winds had picked up to around 20 knots and visibility was terrible”, so they moved the wedding to the Antarctic continent itself, with a ship from an expedition cruise company taking them and their 50 guests there.
He said: “We got incredibly lucky, as the winds were non-existent right up to the end of the wedding, and then, as soon as the wedding was over, clouds started to form, the rain started to pour and the temperatures started to dip.”
He added: “It all turned out even better than we imagined… and to be married amongst some of the most beautiful and purest parts of the world I know that I’ll ever see. And amongst penguins. Lots of penguins.”
The flightless birds were part of the official wedding photo Young posted on social media back in January and they almost stole the thunder from the couple.
He joked: “Did you see the amazing disinterested penguin at the bottom left corner of the picture? He’s the star of the show definitely!”
Young and Hsieh, also 35, both cried at the ceremony, although they disagree on who turned on the waterworks first.
“I say she started tearing up during her wedding vows and I proceeded to start tearing up,” the Fly Entertainment artiste said.
“She says that she saw a tear rolling down my cheek as she walked down the ‘aisle’ (the ice and snow).”
He added: “What we can both agree on is that once I started, I couldn’t stop and I could hardly get through my vows.
“Fortunately for you, and unfortunately for me, it’s all captured on camera.”
Their exotic wedding, which took half a year to plan, will air around May or June as part of an as-yet-untitled TLC travel series co-hosted by Young and Hsieh. The series also covers Argentina and Texas.
So if the wedding was at Antarctica, where do you go to top that for the honeymoon?
Said Young: “I’ve casually mentioned that we should go to Zanzibar, as Africa would check off my final continent on my checklist.
“Antarctica completed Janet’s ‘continent bingo’. Zanzibar, I hear, is a beautiful place, the weather is on the other end of the scale to Antarctica and it creates a nice ‘A to Z’ theme.”
For Young, the biggest difference about being married is the “extra jewellery” they wear on their fingers.
“Perhaps there’s more of a sense of comfort and security to know that we’re both committed to each other and planning our future together is more focused,” he said.
“Our career goals are also more focused as the relationship part is so solid; there’s a foundation that we can build upon.”
But don’t hold your breath for a baby just yet. Hsieh, best known for hosting the long-running travel show Fun Taiwan, is based in Taipei, while Young is in the US.
He said: “We go where our respective careers take us.
“A baby would be nice in the not-so-distant future, but we’ll just have to see what the future holds.”
And the secret to a successful long-distance relationship?
Said Young: “Communication every day, via video calls, voice calls and instant messaging. Actually loving each other helps too. So to summarise: True love and a very good data package.”
There are too many cats on the Internet.
— Young, on why he had decided to have penguins in the official wedding photo he posted on social media.
3 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE WEDDING
Hsieh’s dress was designed by (Taiwanese wedding gown brand) Julia and Young‘s suit by Joyce Chang, a stylist who had worked with the couple before.
Neoprene (material used in wetsuits) in the outfits kept the couple warm and snow-resistant.
Popular English travel show host Ian Wright, a friend of Hsieh’s, made it as a wedding gift.
It combines the Taiwan flag (for Hsieh’s ethnicity), the US flag (for her place of birth) and the UK flag (for Young‘s place of birth), with the words “Just Married”.
No dry ‘ship rations’ here. Young described a menu closer to a hotel buffet: “A salad bar, meats, cheeses, cooked vegetables and even steak on our last night.
“The soup courses were very nice, although there was one instance when a big wave hit the ship and the soup went everywhere.”
This article was first run in The New Paper on April 5, 2015. For similar stories, go to www.tnp.sg.