It's T-minus one day until Erin Finnegan and Noah Fulmor say "I do" in zero gravity, becoming the first couple to have a weightless wedding. The US couple will exchange vows aboard G-Force One, the "vomit comet" operated by the Zero Gravity Corporation.
Finnegan and Fulmor, who live in New York City, are self-professed space fanatics – as children, both wanted to be astronauts. Finnegan attended space camp, while Fulmor volunteered at a local planetarium. Today Finnegan works in animation production and Fulmor is a legal secretary (see an image of the couple).
The plane, set to launch on Saturday from Cape Canaveral in Florida, will fly a series of 15 parabolas, rendering the couple and their guests weightless for 30 seconds at a time. They plan to perform the ceremony in five parabolas, leaving room for "second takes" in case anything goes wrong – if the bride or groom vomits, for instance.
Richard Garriott, the sixth private space tourist and son of a NASA astronaut, will be officiating the wedding. "Buzz Aldrin was way too expensive, so Zero G suggested Richard Garriott," Finnegan said.
Also onboard will be a photographer, videographer and seven of the couple's friends and family – including Finnegan's mother, who was at first reluctant to go. At $5400 per person, the cost of the ticket was one obstacle for her until an anonymous soldier in Iraq offered to pay for half. After a reassuring phone call from Garriott's mother, Finnegan's mother agreed to go along for the ride.
Finnegan will be wearing a specially designed "zero gravity wedding gown", the creation of Japanese designer Eri Matsui.
The gown's high neckline and austere bodice has a futuristic feel, while the tiered skirt is made to billow out in all directions as the bride tumbles and twirls about. It also has pants hidden underneath so no one can see the bride's knickers (see a gallery of space fashion).
The couple will be exchanging rings that incorporate meteorites, and the bride will attempt the traditional bouquet toss.
Planning a zero-gravity wedding comes with its share of technicalities. The couple had to make sure that the marriage would be legal, for instance – fortunately the airspace over Cape Canaveral is covered by Florida law. The wedding is uninsurable, though, and figuring out the best zero-gravity hairstyle was a challenge, Finnegan said.
Still, the couple is enthusiastic about their spacey nuptials, and see it as serving a larger purpose. "We're trying to raise interest in private space exploration," Fulmor said.
At their "launch party" several weeks ago in a New York lounge, Noah lamented the way the future is often portrayed with doomsday scenarios. "We're saying, the future is going to be awesome!" he said, their friends and family cheering. "The future is here if you want it. We're getting married in zero gravity!"