Tulle, taffeta, garlands, and lace: At least some of the trappings of the wedding have survived the roughly six-month Russian invasion that upended nearly every aspect of life in Ukraine.
But the marital scenes that unfold almost daily in Kyiv’s main civil registry office – their numbers swell rapidly after a hiatus in the first few months of the conflict – are also emblematic of the vicissitudes of war.
For many couples, what in peacetime would have been a day-long extravaganza, with endless traditional toast and a crowd
Dancing relatives and friends, he is pressed into a moment when a few family members witness a hasty exchange of vows and kisses during a break from front-line duty.
“Although this was a very different event than it would have been otherwise, we did not want to postpone any further, not even for a day,” said Inessa, a 26-year-old bride with long, dark edges and gauze. White dress. She and her new husband, Daniel, also 26, did not want to use the last name because he was heading to the battle zone in a few days, and his father is a high-ranking military official.
The grabbing spirit of the day underlying many wartime weddings is also spurring calls for Ukraine to move toward allowing same-sex marriage. After a nationwide campaign that gained momentum when many serving LGBTQ soldiers became vocal in their demands for marriage, President Volodymyr Zelensky said this month that government officials are looking at ways to ensure equal rights in civil partnerships, despite the country’s constitution, which states A marriage made between a man and a woman cannot be changed in wartime.
At the same time, martial law imposed at the beginning of the conflict opened the doors to weddings by allowing couples, civilian or military, to come forward and marry quickly on the same day.
In the main registry office in Kyiv, bureaucratic work – not only weddings, but other civil matters such as the registration of births and deaths – was disrupted in the first months of the war, when the capital was threatened and some of its suburbs were seized and occupied. Russian troops penetrated the western edge of the city, not far from the historic main Soviet-era registry building.
Operations have now rebounded beyond pre-war levels, according to the bureau, with 9,120 marriages recorded in the main registry and subsidiary branches elsewhere in the capital in the first five months of the war — a more than eight-fold jump from 1,110 in the same period in the year. past.
Almost daily, the starting point for this chaotic, choreographed wedding walk is the registration parking lot, which faces a busy six-lane road. One by one, cars stopped and greeted brides in sweet dresses, little flower girls in oversized bouquets, grooms sometimes in tuxedos and sometimes in khakis, crisp shirts and white slip-on shoes.
Inside, couples praying for slots huddle, waiting to be transported from an airy, airy room with ornate wrought-iron light fixtures to one of the many fabric-lined wedding halls. The swish of taffeta, floral scent blends with aftershave. Streaming pop songs like “Hello Bride”—often scorned as naive in normal environments—are essential in this context.
A keeper in hand, Daria Ripa, the registry officer for the better part of a decade, swarmed waiting couples, offering admonition and direction.
“Don’t forget your cup!” I barked. and yours Rishnik!Ukrainian embroidered wedding towel.
For all her combative prowess, Ripa—wearing a pink headband and white ruffled blouse, in a nod to the bridal fest, paired with jeans and sneakers, for ease of getting around up and down the wide ladder—grown emotional as she paused for a moment to talk about the husbands in her makeshift custody. .
“Some of them will go to war and won’t come back – right after that, they may go to the front,” she said, looking down at her. “So every day, we put our soul into every couple, to make them happy.”
And brightly added: “Marry all day!”
For some couples, war crystallized vague intentions to marry one day into a decision to move forward – love is a sign when so much is uncertain. For others, existing wedding plans, even if logistically feasible, collided badly with a war that displaced millions and killed thousands.
Since the early days of the conquest, military chaplains have regularly held frontline weddings. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, attended the wedding of two members of the Regional Defense Forces, which was held at a checkpoint outside the then under threat of the capital.
Some couples consider moving forward with their wedding ceremonies as a display of defiance amid death and destruction. In the central city of Vinnytsia, after a devastating bombing last month that killed at least 26 people, a bride named Daria Steniukova appeared in her wedding dress surrounded by rubble in a wrecked family apartment, and posted the photos online. The attack, which occurred on July 16, came a day before her wedding.
“We are ready to get married even when the missiles fall over our heads,” she told AFP.
The Russian invasion and the dizzying twists and turns that followed—Ukraine rallied at first in the face of widely anticipated defeat, war settled into an ugly and bloody grind in the country’s east, and huddled confrontation as Ukrainian forces seek to retake part of the south. Coast – Made waiting, for some, seem like impossible.
“We all find ourselves in circumstances where we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, and even today until the evening,” Deputy Justice Minister Valeria Kolomets told Ukrainian radio in April, saying the war had prompted people to formalize relations. If the worst happens to one of them.
In the Kyiv office, a 24-year-old couple, Marina and Eugene, posed for pictures while they waited for their turn. He, too, was a soldier soon to return to the front, and the two had security concerns about their full names being announced.
“We cannot postpone life, because we do not know how long life lasts,” said Maria. “This way, love wins.”
Eugene smiled as his soon-to-be wife straightened the slit of her long white skirt to show some leg.