Carpe diem: In Ukraine, war turning love into marriages

Jun 25, 2022, 12:53 PM | Updated: Jun 26, 2022, 10:11 am
Yevhen Levchenko and Nadiia Prytula leave after getting married in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv,...

Yevhen Levchenko and Nadiia Prytula leave after getting married in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. After the wedding the couple must separate, Nadiia goes to study abroad and Yevhen stays because men cannot leave the country. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

              Yevhen Nalyvaiko holds the ring box after marrying Daria Ponomarenko in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Yevhen Nalyvaiko and Daria Ponomarenko get married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Ihor proposed to Kateryna on the day the war started. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Kateryna Lytvynenko and Ihor Zakvatskyi, center, pose for a photo with their loved ones before getting married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Ihor proposed to Kateryna on the day the war started. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Kateryna Lytvynenko and Ihor Zakvatskyi kiss after getting married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Ihor proposed to Kateryna on the day the war started. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Kateryna Lytvynenko, center, embraces a relative after marrying Ihor Zakvatskyi, left, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Ihor proposed to Kateryna on the day the war started. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Relatives of Pavlo Savryha and Oksana Savryha attend their wedding in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 19, 2022. The couple decided to marry after 18 years of being registered as a family, the day before Pavlo went to the frontline. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Denys Voznyi and Anna Karpenko pose for a photo before getting married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Denys Voznyi and Anna Karpenko raise their hands to show their wedding rings after getting married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Kateryna Lytvynenko and Ihor Zakvatskyi enter to get married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Ihor proposed to Kateryna on the day the war started. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Dolls representing the bride and groom decorate a table at a civil registry office in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Anna Karpenko heads to the limousine after marrying Denys Voznyi in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Pavlo Savryha and Oksana Savryha are married in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 19, 2022. The couple decided to marry after 18 years of being registered as a family, the day before Pavlo went to the frontline. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Champagne is set out on a table to celebrate the marriage of Denys Voznyi and Anna Karpenko, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Yevhen Levchenko and Nadiia Prytula wait to be married in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. After the wedding the couple must separate, Nadiia goes to study abroad and Yevhen will stay because men cannot leave the country. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Pavlo Savryha and Oksana Savryha are married in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Sunday, June 19, 2022. The couple decided to marry after 18 years of being registered as a family, the day before Pavlo went to the frontline. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Kateryna Lytvynenko and Ihor Zakvatskyi embrace after getting married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Ihor proposed to Kateryna on the day the war started. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Yevhen Levchenko and Nadiia Prytula get married in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. After the wedding the couple must separate, Nadiia goes to study abroad and Yevhen stays because men cannot leave the country. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Denys Voznyi and Anna Karpenko leave after getting married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Yevhen Nalyvaiko holds Daria Ponomarenko minutes after getting married in Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
            
              Yevhen Levchenko and Nadiia Prytula leave after getting married in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 21, 2022. After the wedding the couple must separate, Nadiia goes to study abroad and Yevhen stays because men cannot leave the country. A growing number of couples in Ukraine are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war with Russia. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — When the couple awoke to the rumble of war on Feb. 24, they’d been dating for just over a year. Russia was invading and Ihor Zakvatskyi knew there was no more time to lose.

He fished out the engagement ring he’d bought but, until then, not yet been ready to give to Kateryna Lytvynenko and proposed. If death do us part, he figured, then let it be as husband and wife.

“I did not want to waste a single minute without Katya knowing that I wanted to spend my life with her,” Zakvatskyi, 24, said as he and his 25-year-old bride exchanged vows and wedding rings this month in the capital, Kyiv.

The newlyweds joined a growing army of Ukrainian couples who are speedily turning love into matrimony because of the war. Some are soldiers, marrying just before they head off to fight. Others are simply united in determination that living and loving to the full are more important than ever in the face of so much death and destruction.

Ukraine’s wartime martial laws include a provision allowing Ukrainians, both soldiers and civilians, to apply and marry on the same day. In Kyiv alone, more than 4,000 couples have jumped at the expedited opportunity . Before the war, a one-month wait was the norm.

After a three-month interruption in normal service, Kyiv’s Central Civil Registry Office is fully open again and working almost at a prewar pace. Since Russia withdrew its badly bloodied invasion forces from around Kyiv in April, redirecting them to front lines east and south, many people who’d fled the fighting have returned. Weddings have increased accordingly.

The returnees include Daria Ponomarenko, 22, who fled to Poland. Her boyfriend, Yevhen Nalyvaiko, 23, had to stay, because of rules preventing men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country.

Reunited, they quickly wed — because “we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” she said.

Jealously guarding their intimacy after their painful months apart, it was just the two of them, without friends and family. Rather than a puffy bridal gown, she wore a Ukrainian embroidered shirt, the traditional Vyshyvanka chosen now by many brides to stress their Ukrainian identity.

In peacetime, they would have opted for a traditional wedding with many guests. But that seemed frivolous in war.

“Everything is perceived more sharply, people become real during such events,” he said.

Anna Karpenko, 30, refused to let the invasion crimp her wedding — she arrived in a white limousine.

“Life must go on,” she said. She and her new husband dated for seven years, often talking about marriage, before the war turned the plan into action.

Pavlo and Oksana Savryha already had 18 years of civil marriage under their belts before the invasion prompted them to renew their vows — this time in a small 12th-century church in the war-damaged northern city of Chernihiv.

“Our souls told us to do so. Before the invasion, we were constantly running somewhere, in a hurry, and the war forced us to stop and not postpone the important decisions until tomorrow,” Pavlo said.

With Oksana sheltering in the basement of their home, her husband took up arms, joining a territorial defense force, when Russian forces surrounded and bombarded Chernihiv in the initial failed stage of the invasion.

He subsequently joined the regular army. They celebrated their love in church this month.

The next day, he was sent to the front.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

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Carpe diem: In Ukraine, war turning love into marriages