FAIRBANKS - The atmosphere at the wedding of Michael Cook and Sigret Ball was a bit frosty - intentionally.
They were married Christmas Day in an ice chapel in downtown Fairbanks. The temperatures outside were hovering below zero - it wasn't much warmer inside - but it was the perfect culmination to a whirlwind, Florida-to-Fairbanks romance that was sparked by a chance meeting on the Internet.
Ball had asked Cook to build her an ice chapel for their wedding
"Lots of people get married in chapels. I will be the only one married in this chapel," Ball said.
The chapel was inspired by the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs Resort. The couple approached Dick Brickley and Ice Alaska about building the chapel. The 16-foot by 12-foot chapel is on the corner of First Avenue and Cushman Street in front of the Marriott SpringHill Suites.
Cook said the location of the chapel has special meaning.
"We are getting married in the heart of the heart of Alaska," he said.
Ball said the couple chose to get married on Christmas for symbolic reasons.
"We wanted to honor the birth of Jesus and have it represent the birth of a new life together," Ball said.
It was the couple's mutual faith that brought the couple together. The couple met on MySpace.com nine months ago when Cook couldn't sleep and decided to look though the social networking Web site.
Ball is a former model originally from the Virgin Islands who was living in Tampa, Fla., and Cook is an inventor and president of Polar Environmental Technologies Inc., based in Fairbanks.
Cook noticed Ball's religious messages on her MySpace page and decided to send her a message.
After a month of sending messages back and forth online, they talked on the telephone. Cook said he was attracted to her sense of adventure, artistic skills, good nature and physical beauty but there was one aspect that led him to propose to her.
"Her desire to get closer to God attracted me to her the most," he said.
Ball first came to Alaska in June and said she fell in love with the area. The couple plans to spend summers in Fairbanks and winters in Tampa.
Friends and family of the couple crammed into the chilly structure, which had nooks carved to hold tea lights and candles.
They witnessed Cook and Ball exchange original vows, declare eternal fidelity and take Communion in a 20-minute ceremony. The groom was decked out in all white while the bride wore a yellow velvet cape with a tiara.
The chapel occasionally emitted groaning noises during the wedding, making some of the guests nervous. Terry Martin, who officiated the wedding, reassured the guests that the ice structure was sturdy as he led the wedding ceremony.
Martin has known Cook for 15 years and postponed a trip to Asia to oversee the wedding.
"Now you can kiss the bride and hope your lips don't freeze," Martin announced after announcing the new Mr. and Mrs. Michael Cook.
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