Author: HANNA ARHIROVA
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – When the couple woke up to the rumors of war on February 24, they had been in a relationship for just over a year. Russia was invading and Ihor Zakvatskyi knew there was no more time to lose.
He pulled out the engagement ring he had bought, but by then he was not yet ready to give it to Kateryna Lytvynenko and proposed to her. If death separates us, he concluded, let it be as husband and wife.
“I didn’t want to waste a minute without Katya knowing I wanted to spend my life with her,” Zakvatskyi, 24, said as he and his 25-year-old bride exchanged vows and wedding rings in the capital, Kiev.
The newlyweds have joined a growing army of Ukrainian couples who are rapidly turning love into marriage due to the war. Some are soldiers, they get married just before they go into battle. Others are simply united in the determination that life and full love are more important than ever in the face of so much death and destruction.
Ukrainian military laws of war include a provision that allows Ukrainians, both soldiers and civilians, to register and marry on the same day. In Kiev alone, more than 4,000 couples took advantage of the accelerated opportunity. Before the war, a one-month wait was common.
After a three-month break in normal service, the Central Registry Office in Kiev has reopened completely and is operating at an almost pre-war pace. Since Russia withdrew its bloody invasion forces from the Kiev area in April, diverting them east and south, many people who fled the fighting have returned. Weddings have increased accordingly.
Among the returnees is Daria Ponomarenko, 22, who fled to Poland. Her boyfriend Yevhen Nalyvaiko, 23, had to stay because of rules that prevent men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country.
They reunited, they got married quickly – because “we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said.
They jealously guarded their intimacy after painful months of separation, they were just the two of them, without friends and family. Instead of an inflated wedding dress, she wore a Ukrainian embroidered shirt, a traditional Vyshyvanka now chosen by many brides to accentuate their Ukrainian identity.
In peace they would opt for a traditional wedding with many guests. But that seemed frivolous in the war.
“Everything is perceived more sharply, people become real during such events,” he said.
Anna Karpenko, 30, refused to let the invasion cover her wedding – she arrived in a white limousine.
“Life must go on,” she said. She and her new husband had been dating for seven years, often talking about marriage, before the war turned the plan into action.
Paul and Oksana Savryha were already 18 years of civil marriage before the invasion prompted them to renew their vows – this time in a small 12th-century church in the war-torn northern city of Chernihiv.
“It simply came to our notice then. Before the invasion, we were constantly running somewhere, in a hurry, and the war forced us to stop and not to postpone important decisions for tomorrow “, said Pavlo.
While Oksana was hiding in the basement of their house, her husband took up arms and joined the territorial defense forces, when Russian forces surrounded and bombed Chernihiv in the initial failed phase of the invasion.
He then joined the regular army. They celebrated their love in church this month.
He was sent to the front the next day.
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