A Love Beyond Boundaries: A Look at the First LGBTQ+ Wedding in Antarctica

Photo: Corrie Uys, Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

At Ultima Expeditions, we specialize in creating extraordinary journeys. With 20 years of experience in Antarctica, hosting the first LGBTQ+ wedding in the “Deep Field” region, especially for one of our team members, truly reflects our mission and passion.

“I remember every single word said. I remember exactly how the wind was blowing. I remember everything that we were doing. I remember how I felt and just the superb feeling of calmness—a feeling of belonging.” 

That’s how Jesse Wollenschlaeger describes her exchange of vows to Imke Meintjes. 

The couple is the embodiment of modern-day, star-struck lovers, as the world’s first LGBTQ+ wedding to take place in the stark, icy expanses of “Deep Field” Antarctica. 

“It was just the two of us holding hands on a rock in the middle of nowhere,” said Jesse. “It genuinely was perfect.” 

The First LGBTQ+ Wedding in Antarctica

Emotional Connection: Calm, quiet intimacy in one of the World’s most remote destinations, Antarctica. Photo | Corrie Uys, Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

An Unconventional Romance

Imke and Jess’s journey is not your everyday love story. These two South Africans’ shared passion for exploring saw a connection that deepened in some of the most far-flung corners of the globe. 

Jesse, a seasoned chef from Bloemfontein, and Imke, an accomplished hospitality consultant from Thabazimbi, are part of the hospitality management team running Ultima’s Oasis Camp in Antarctica. The new camp is due for formal launch in the Antarctic Summer of 2024-2025 and is already open for bookings. 

From the bustling cityscapes of Abu Dhabi to the serene isolation of Antarctica, their life’s journey took on surreal proportions when they were allowed to buck traditional wedding trends, in scenic Cape Town or dreamy Tuscany.

The First LGBTQ+ Wedding in Antarctica

Unconventional Romance: Bucking traditions and chasing adventure. Photo | Corrie Uys, Ultima Antarctic Expeditions 

Quiet Intimacy in Antarctica

Instead, their ceremony, which took place in December last year, was the quintessence of intimacy.

Imke and Jesse’s wedding day unfolded with serene simplicity. Starting with a peaceful morning coffee, which symbolized the calm before their unique vows, the day gracefully transitioned to a celebration with champagne and oysters. The day culminated in the cutting of their wedding cake under the endless Antarctic sun, encapsulating moments of intimate joy.

“There was no rush. There was no four o’clock. We had to be here, at three o’clock or five o’clock somewhere else. There was no expectation of us to be anywhere. Nobody was waiting for us. We weren’t waiting for anyone. And I think that made the day even more special,” said Jesse.

The First LGBTQ+ Wedding in Antarctica

Antarctic Joie de vivre: An exuberant, unhurried exchange of vows in an extraordinary setting. Photo | Corrie Uys, Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

“Antarctica has always had a very special place in my heart, and I can’t imagine sharing a moment there without Jesse,” added Imke.

“We’ve been to all of these places together. And I feel like whatever Antarctica is, it embraced us on our wedding day. There were the most incredible, spectacular, perfect blue rivers everywhere. There were waterfalls. We just stumbled upon all of this magic—all the blues and the background with so much texture,” said Imke.

They both agreed that a celebration surrounded by friends and family would have been really special, but at the same time, they were glad it was just the two of them.

“Genuinely, it was incredible. We were actually able to hone in on just each other, and that was spectacular,” said Imke.

The First LGBTQ+ Wedding in Antarctica

Sweet Embrace: Jess and Imke sealed it with a kiss. Photo | Corrie Uys, Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

Special Occasion Adventures in the Antarctic

In hosting this landmark event, Ultima sees it as a celebration not just of love but of a new chapter in Antarctic exploration—one where love knows no bounds.

“The spirit of adventure can bring hearts and minds together most uniquely and spectacularly, especially in this most remote corner of the Earth,” said Ultima Expeditions CEO RIaan Aucamp.

“From encountering enigmatic wildlife that calls this icy realm home, Ultima Expeditions is all about crafting experiences that transcend the ordinary. And Imke and Jesse’s wedding, as the first LGBTQ+ wedding in Antarctica’s “Deep Field”, together with their profound respect and appreciation for this pristine wilderness – a narrative we’re proud to be part of,” said Riaan.

“We want to open up the wonders of Antarctica to those who dare to dream.”

Emperor Penguins: Experience the wonderful wildlife of Antarctica. Photo| Christoph Hoebenreich, Ultima Antarctic Expeditions

A New Ultima Oasis Camp

The new Ultima Oasis camp will welcome a select number of guests for its Antarctic Summer of 2024-2025.

This camp is not just a gateway to unparalleled polar adventures like visiting Emperor Penguin colonies,or exploring ice caves; it’s a haven where the extraordinary becomes the norm. 

Situated in the Schirmacher Oasis, Oasis offers two plush Scandi-style accommodation units for at least 14 guests, a beautiful dining facility with scenic views, and a traditional Banya (= sauna), ensuring utmost comfort amidst the Antarctic wilderness.

Each accommodation unit at Oasis can be customised to suit guests’ preferences, whether travelling solo, as a couple, or with family. 

With shared bio-shower and bathroom facilities, guests can enjoy warmth and convenience during their stay without compromising comfort. Moreover, the plush lounge areas boast spectacular views of the Oasis Ice Lake, providing the perfect setting to unwind and marvel at the Antarctic landscape. 

Dare to Dream with Ultima

For those inspired by Imke and Jesse’s extraordinary wedding, Ultima stands ready to turn dreams into reality. Whether it’s an intimate wedding amidst the ice or an expedition to the uncharted territories of the Antarctic, Ultima promises an adventure that’s as unforgettable as it is breathtaking.

In the remote expanse of Antarctica, Ultima specialises in crafting unforgettable special occasions tailored to each client’s unique vision.

Imagine a distinctive celebration amid the vast, untouched wilderness, where the crisp Antarctic air carries whispers of adventure and possibility.

Whether it’s an intimate wedding ceremony held at their new Oasis camp or an exclusive expedition to explore hidden ice caves, every moment is meticulously curated to captivate the senses and ignite the spirit of exploration in Antarctica. With easy direct access from Cape Town, South Africa, dreams can come true in this enchanting landscape.