On June 12 in the small Ukrainian town of Druzhkivka, soldiers took a brief break from fighting Russian invaders to mark a very different occasion: A wedding.
Two couples married in the double ceremony held just 25 miles from frontline zones, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). All four are soldiers from the 14th Separate Mechanised Brigade, which has been fighting Russian-backed forces in Donbas since May. Both couples met serving in the brigade.
The ceremony included a few hallmarks of traditional nuptials — the couples stepped together onto an embroidered towel to symbolize togetherness in Ukrainian tradition, and soldiers in attendance carried floral bouquets — but reminders this was a wartime wedding were everywhere. The infantry brigade’s commander, Oleksandr Okhrimenko, certified the marriages under martial law and the brigade’s chaplain performed an Orthodox Christian blessing as air raid sirens wailed overhead, per AFP’s tweet:
Air raid sirens wailed and one of the brides wore camouflage trousers as the Ukrainian army took a break from frontline fighting in the east to hold a double wedding https://t.co/ugkwcdpPEP
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) June 12, 2022
One of the brides, contract soldier Khrystyna Lyuta, wore her camouflage pants and army boots to the ceremony, pairing her uniform with a traditional red Ukrainian blouse embroidered with flowers to marry her husband Volodymyr Mykhalchuk. Lyuta and Mykhalchuk live in the same southwestern Vinnytska region but might never have met if it had not been for the war, AFP reported.
The other bride, who was only identified by her first name, Kristina, opted for a traditional long white dress with red folk embroidery to marry Vitaliy Orlich. Kristina works in the signal corps, and Orlich is a sniper.
Neither couple had family present but told AFP their relatives had been understanding.
“I believe that this is about creating a new family — it doesn’t matter where it happens or how,” Kristina said.
While most newlyweds head to a wedding reception after saying ‘I do,’ the couples returned to serving the very same day.
“I can’t give them free days as such,” Okhrimenko told AFP. “The only thing is that they won’t be on the frontline, they will stay in the rear.”
The couples committed to one another amid their commitment to defending their country.
“War is war, but life goes on,” Lyuta said to AFP when explaining the decision to marry.
“This was not a hasty decision,” said Mykhalchuk. “The main thing is that we love each other and we want to be together.”
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