The mile-high club got redefined yesterday as two couples, one gay and one lesbian, became the first same-sex couples to get married on board an airplane. This spectacle was organized by SAS Scandinavian Airlines, which hosted a wildly successful social media campaign, Love is in the Air, to marry the world’s first same-sex couple on its plane.
The two winners of the competition, German couple Aleksandar Mijatovic and Shantu Bhattache, and Polish couple Ewa Tomaszewicz and Gosia Rawińska, received the most votes in the campaign and became the ones to create history, as they celebrated their unions on aboard flight SK903 flying from Stockholm to New York.
Besides being a unique way of celebrating their unions, both couples also saw their ‘mile-high marriages’ as an opportunity to fight for gay rights in their countries. Aleksandar said, “We saw this as a great opportunity to spread the word about gay marriage. In Germany where we come from, there’s no gay marriages. It’s only registered partnerships. It’s not really equal. So we thought we’d inspire gay people back home to get married. Or even better, we could inspire people to fight, to get on the streets, fight for their rights and change the law.”
Aleksandar and Shantu had been planning to get married for close to two years. Aleksandar shared, “On December 24, 2008, [Shantu] went on his knees and gave me a ring and asked me if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him [Aww!]. We always wanted to do something special. We had thought about renting a castle and inviting lots of friends and partying three days in a row, or something similar. Then we saw the ‘Love is in the Air’ campaign on the internet and we thought: that’s special!”
Ewa and Gosia, who reside in Warsaw, have been together for six years. They said that they would have gotten married already if Poland allowed gay marriage. Ewa said however that they’ve received a lot of support from Poland. “One of the highlights of the entire experience was when we received a message from some amazing Polish leaders – these four women who are real heroes in Poland. They’re feminists, they’re fighters. And they wrote to us saying that what we’re doing in this contest is really important for the fight for LGBT rights in Poland. It was fantastic,” she said.
The celebrations didn’t stop when the flight landed in New York. There was a reception for the couples yesterday night held at the Ramscale Loft, and they let their hair down and boogied!
Designer Efva Attling, who gifted the couples with their wedding rings, showed up at the reception in New York and she also had some advice to dish out to the newlyweds. “Respect each other, and you need a lot of humor. Be sure to forgive and forget, but most of all, remember that love conquers all. I’m sure of that,” she said.
Besides the two European couples who flew into New York from Stockholm, there was an American gay couple who won the chance to get married on an SAS flight as well. Except they’ll be doing it in reverse – they’re flying from New York to Stockholm!
Thomas Landreth and Brett Kessler, both from North Carolina, won SAS’s VisitSweden love competition and they are heading to the IceHotel in northern Sweden for their commitment ceremony. Till death (by freezing) do us part indeed!
Thomas and Brett both come from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and they credit support from the school community for their victory in the competition. “[UNC – Chapel Hill] has the oldest college LGBTQ publication that is still around, so they have a history of supporting LGBTQ causes. We kinda put the word out among our friends. Then, it got to the school papers, and it just spread like wildfire. We have support coming left and right,” Brett said
Brett shared that this trip will be only his second time out of the country. “It’ll be nice to see Sweden, and it’ll be a story to bring back home for the family, that’s for sure,” he said.
And as for Aleksandar and Shantu and Ewa and Gosia, the couples are now enjoying their honeymoons here in the good ol’ US of A, in both New York and Los Angeles.
Here’re some lovely pictures of the historic event from the Facebook page of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association!