Kyiv, Ukraine

By late morning, a line had already formed in front of the indescribable registration office at the western end of Kyiv. Some of those waiting are dressed in casual clothes, but a few of the women are dressed in white and carry bouquets of flowers.

It’s not anyone’s dream wedding venue, and yet it’s a very popular spot on a random Tuesday in July.

When it’s their turn, Vlada, dressed in a white lace dress, whispers to her future husband Ivan, “all my life has led up to this day”, as they walk in hand in hand.

Ivan, a massage therapist turned army doctor, used his only day off from the front line in June to propose; this month, he managed to get away just long enough to marry his girlfriend of one year. The couple asked not to use their last name for security reasons.

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

Vlada, an architect, and Ivan are part of what anecdotally seems to be an increase in the number of Ukrainian couples where at least one member serves in the military gets caught on short notice. This is partly thanks to martial law which removed the usual one-month waiting period between notifying the authorities of the intention to marry and the marriage itself. The change is intended to allow military couples to wed with the limited time they have.

“Now we live in very dangerous times, and maybe people who were planning to get married tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or in a year have realized that we are living today – here and now. Maybe that’s where their decision came from,” wedding officiant Oksana Poberezhets told CNN from the brightly lit room where she performs the no-frills ceremonies.

The war, it seems, has put the most important things in life into perspective. The next couple, Tatiana Yanova and Sergey Yanov, have been together for eight years. Suddenly, the war made marriage an urgent priority.

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

In an interview with Ukrainian Radio in April, Deputy Justice Minister Valeria Kolomiets said more Ukrainian couples had married since the start of the war than would normally be expected.

“The number of people wanting to get married has increased, and that’s partly due to martial law,” she said.

“Current circumstances mean that people sometimes don’t have the option of waiting. Because we have all found ourselves in circumstances where we do not know what will happen tomorrow and even today until the evening.

“So that these people do not have legal problems in the future, they have the opportunity and the need to formalize their relationship as quickly as necessary.”

Some don’t even find a single day to get married – Anna Khutorian, who lives in the town of Zolotonosha in the Cherkasy region of central Ukraine, got engaged just before her husband left for the war.

Anna Khutorian

Anna Khutorian and her husband got engaged just before he was sent to fight for Ukraine.

Not wanting to wait, Khutorian said, they took advantage of relaxed marriage laws, and she said ‘yes’ in a Telegram video call with her husband and the wedding officiant while he was inside. grocery store having coffee with a friend.

“My husband called me on a video call, like I was talking to you, and I saw a lady… who asked if we were ready to get married,” she said. in an interview on Telegram. “It was the most beautiful day of the year.”

Besides love, Khutorian said she’s all too aware of the sobering practicalities of the importance of marriage – like being able to visit her husband if he’s hurt or being allowed to make arrangements. for his funeral if killed in action.

The couple’s new ceremony, which took place on March 31, was so impromptu that Khutorian doesn’t even have a photo – just a copy of the marriage certificate that was given to him afterwards.

And she still hasn’t seen her husband in person since they got married more than three months ago — “only by phone,” Khutorian said with a sigh.

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