Russian Space wedding. Yuri Malenchenko. Some brides worry on their wedding day that the groom won’t turn up. But Ekaterina Dmitrieva arrived at her wedding ceremony knowing that her future husband would not be there, at least not in person. He was, in fact, going to be circling the Earth in a spaceship at that time. But the Russian cosmonaut still got dressed up for the occasion and even had a best man. The first in the history of mankind space wedding took place August 11, 2003 – married the commander of the International Space Station Russian Yuri Malenchenko and American Russian Ekaterina Dmitrieva.
The bride wore a traditional white dress and arrived in a special car, but that’s about all that was normal about this wedding as twenty-seven-year-old Ekaterina Dmitrieva married her sweetheart Yuri Malenchenko. Since the groom was unable to be there in person, guests were greeted by a cardboard cut-out of the forty-one year-old cosmonaut. He’s due back from an extended mission on the International Space Station in October, but the couple decided they couldn’t wait that long to tie the knot.
The groom’s tailcoat and wedding ring were flown out on a cargo ship, a fellow astronaut agreed to be the best man — and with that, the scene was set for the first-ever cosmic wedding, which went ahead via video-link at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The bride says that the physical distance in the preparation time was not a problem. But there was some conflict about the wedding. Both NASA and the Russian Aerospace Agency tried to get the couple to wait until Yuri returned to Earth.
The laws of Texas allow to marry in the absence of one of the newlyweds. Therefore Malenchenko was replaced with his picture on cardboard, his personal attorney signed a marriage contract for astronaut.
Malenchenko met his future wife in Houston, Texas, where he was training. Yekaterina Dmitriyeva emigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union with her parents when she was only 4 years old. She is about 15 years younger than her husband. The bride’s mother works at NASA as an expert on orbital programs, the father teaches at a university in Texas. Russian cosmonaut made proposal four months before the flight, scheduled for April 2003. It was decided to hold the wedding in August, after the return of Yuri to Earth.
However, while on board of the ISS, Yuri Malenchenko and Edward Lu received a notice from the Mission Control Center that their space trip is extended until 28 October 2003. And then Malenchenko decided not to delay the marriage, as he notified Russia and the United States (according to some reports, the bride insisted on this).
Under the laws of the State of Texas registration of marriage is permissible in the absence of the groom for a good reason. NASA leadership even went out to perform the ceremony of marriage registration at his MCC. But in Russia the intention of Yuri was not approved.
Russian Air Force Commander Colonel General Vladimir Mikhailov, referred to the fact that the current Russian officer who has access to state secrets must first get permission to marry a citizen of another state, and it can be done only on the ground. He said: “We do not forbid him to do it, but he has to behave like an astronaut, and not like a movie star”.
Malenchenko at first promised to postpone the wedding until the return to Earth, but all the wedding took place in the cosmos. The only thing that could the Russian Aerospace Agency make – to ignore this invitation to attend the wedding ceremony.
On the wedding day August 10, 2003 the bride and groom looked at each other through the monitors putting wedding rings on themselves. A witness for the groom was Edward Lu. Wedding ring for the bride and bow ties for him and the witness were brought into orbit. March by Mendelssohn was played on a synthesizer by the witness.
In the U.S., around the first space wedding was great excitement. Elegant pink wedding dress for Ekaterina Dmitrieva was sewed in the prestigious Houston Salon. Engagement ring – the same as that of the Malenchenko – was highly symbolic: scattered on gold jewels represent all the planets in the solar system and the sun and the ISS itself.
Texan resident Ekaterina Dmitrieva, wife of Yuri Malenchenko waves her hand, as she and his father Ivan (right) wait for the arrival of the crew of Soyuz TMA-2 capsule with Yuri Malenchenko of Russia, Pedro Duque of Spain and Edward Lu of the U.S. at the airfield of Star city some 40 kilometers from Moscow, 28 October 2003.
After the wedding, there were reports that NASA and the Russian Aerospace Agency prohibited such weddings. This wedding has become the first, the last and the only officially recognized Space Wedding.