Ukrainian military couples rush to the altar amid uncertainty of war

Hardly anyone’s dream wedding venue, and yet it’s a very popular spot on the occasional Tuesday in July.

When it’s their turn, Vlada, wearing a lacy white dress, whispers to her future husband Ivan, “My whole life has led to this day,” as they walk inside hand in hand.

Ivan, a massage therapist turned army medic, used his one June day off on the front lines to propose; this month he managed to leave hardly long enough to marry his girlfriend, who had been studying for one year. The couple asked not to be identified by their last name for security reasons.

” [wedding] the procedure itself was simplified during martial law. It was harder for me to get here [to Kyiv] than actually getting married,” he told CNN after he tied the knot.

Vlada, an architect, and Ivan are part of what, oddly enough, seems to be a resurgence of Ukrainian couples, where at least one of the members is serving in the military, getting married on short notice. This is partly due to martial law, which eliminated the usual month-long waiting period between notifying the authorities of the intention to marry and the wedding itself. This change is intended to allow military couples to marry for the limited time they have.

“Now we live in a very dangerous time, and maybe people who planned to get married tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or a year later realized that we live today – here and now. the decision comes from,” wedding host Oksana Poberezhets told CNN from a brightly lit room where she hosts no-frills ceremonies.

The war, it seems, made me think about the most important things in life. The next couple, Tatyana Yanov and Sergey Yanov, have been together for eight years. Suddenly, the war made marriage an urgent priority.

“The war worries me more than anything,” said Sergei, dressed in camouflage, outside the registry office. It was the only day he could get away from the war long enough to get married. Tatiana says their simple registration ceremony was “not what we imagined our wedding to be, but we only had one day so we wanted to make the most of it.”

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In an April interview with Ukrainian Radio, Deputy Justice Minister Valeria Kolomiets said that more Ukrainian couples have married since the start of the war than one would expect.

“The number of those wishing to marry has increased, and this is due, in particular, to the martial law,” she said.

“Today’s circumstances lead to the fact that people sometimes do not have the opportunity to wait. Because we all found ourselves in circumstances where we do not know what will happen tomorrow and even today until the evening.

“In order for these people not to have any problems with the law in the future, they have the opportunity and the need to formalize their relationship as quickly as necessary.”

Some can’t even find a day to get married – Anna Khutoryan, who lives in the town of Zolotonosha in the Cherkasy region of central Ukraine, got engaged just before her current husband was sent to war.

Anna Khutoryan and her current husband got engaged shortly before he was sent to fight for Ukraine.

Not wanting to wait, Khutoryan said they took advantage of the relaxation of marriage laws, and she said “Yes” during a Telegram video call with her husband and wedding artist while having coffee with a friend at the grocery store.

“My husband called me via video link, as if I were talking to you, and I saw a lady … who asked us if we were ready to get married,” she said in an interview with Telegram. “It was the happiest day of the year.”

Love aside, Hutorian said she’s only too aware of the sobering practicalities that make marriage important, like being able to visit her husband if he’s been wounded, or being able to arrange for his funeral if he’s been killed in action.

The couple’s romance ceremony, held on March 31, was so impromptu that Khutoryan doesn’t even have a photo, only a copy of the marriage certificate that was given to her afterwards.

And she still hasn’t seen her husband in person since they got married more than three months ago – “only by phone,” Khutoryan sighed.