Most couples would be satisfied with an ice sculpture at their wedding. But for designer Brian Patrick Flynn, only an iceberg would do.
The Atlanta-based interiors guru behind the HGTV Dream Home and HGTV Urban Oasis tied the knot with his boyfriend of 12 years, costume designer Hollis Smith, on an icy outcropping in Antarctica.
The couple had been planning the extreme vacation for two years as an early celebration of Flynn’s 40th birthday, but, the decorator tells PEOPLE, “It wasn’t until just 8 months before the actual embarkation that I asked him if he would be up for bucking the idea of a traditional wedding, and instead seeing if our excursion company, Swoop Antarctica, would facilitate having a crew member from the polar specialists officiate for us somewhere on the continent.”
Smith agreed, and the pair headed off on their polar adventure, a bucket list item for Florida-born Flynn, who loves cold climates. (He also has a home in Reykjavik, Iceland.)
The men chose to keep their plans a secret from their loved ones because, as with any trip to the southern continent, there was a chance it would be canceled at the last minute due to bad weather or rough seas.
“I wanted no expectations whatsoever in the event we never got there,” says Flynn. “The travel agencies are very transparent that there is always a chance that if the conditions are not perfect, you may not be able to leave Punta Arenas, Chile, for Antarctica at all. If there is too much risk, no ship or aircraft will take the chance.”
Luckily, they were able to make the trip, choosing to fly in rather than make the two-and-a-half-day journey by sea through the treacherous Drake’s Passage. And after kayaking among hump back whales and leopard seals, and meeting the local penguins, Flynn and Smith donned their formalwear despite the cold and exchanged vows on an iceberg near their ship. The expedition leader officiated.
Their friends and family will get a chance to toast the couple on their one year anniversary in December.
“We hired one of the top wedding planners and floral experts in the country to do our reception, which will be at our home in Atlanta with an icy blue, jet black and ultra white color scheme along with gigantic 8-foot photos from our Antarctic experience all over as backdrops,” Flynn gushes. “It’s like bringing a piece of the 7th continent home!”