Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Wedding That's (Partly) out of This World ; A Russian Cosmonaut and His Fiancee Will Exchange Marriage Vows While He Is in Space and She Is on Earth

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Wedding That's (Partly) out of This World ; A Russian Cosmonaut and His Fiancee Will Exchange Marriage Vows While He Is in Space and She Is on Earth

Article excerpt

The flowers have been selected, the food has been ordered, and the band has been booked. It's going to be an out-of-this-world affair. Literally.

This Sunday, while orbiting 240 miles above her, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will exchange marriage vows with Ekaterina Dmitriev, who will remain firmly on Earth.

The heavenly event not only makes history, it marks what will surely be the first of many such events as humans continue to explore the cosmos. Prompted by the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster - a solemn reminder of the risks involved in such exploration - it's reminiscent of the slew of weddings that occurred before soldiers shipped off to fight in World War II.

Colonel Malenchenko popped the question before leaving for the International Space Station in April to replace the lost Columbia crew. The couple had initially decided to get married when he returned to Earth in late October, but the more they thought about the Columbia disaster, say friends, the more they couldn't wait.

"Columbia reminded them that life happens, and it doesn't wait for us or our plans," says Jo Ann Schwartz Woodward, the couple's Houston- based wedding planner.

Texas law allows weddings in which one of the parties is not present. It's called a proxy wedding and is also legal in Colorado and Montana. Texas is also one of the few states in which both parties don't have to be present to obtain a marriage license.

News of the historic event spread fast, and dozens of reporters were waiting for Ms. Dmitriev when she arrived at the Fort Bend County Clerk's office to obtain a license several weeks ago. "Of course, it's always exciting for a bride to come in and get a marriage license," says county clerk Dianne Wilson, who helped decorate the office in red, white, and blue to honor both the American and Russian flags. "The only difference this time was the groom was not on Earth."

Malenchenko will attend the wedding via satellite uplink from his post on the International Space Station. He received a tuxedo and wedding ring from a cargo ship that arrived at the station in June, and his counterpart, American astronaut Edward Lu, will act as best man and play the wedding march on the keyboard he brought onboard. …

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