When the couple awoke to the rumblings of war on February 24, they had been dating for a little over a year.
Russia invaded and Ihor Zakvatskyi knew there was no more time to lose.
He fished out the engagement ring he had bought, but was not yet ready to give to Kateryna Lytvynenko and proposed to him.
If death do us part, he thought, 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,” said Zakvatskyi, 24, as he and his 25-year-old bride exchanged vows and wedding rings in the capital this month. Kyiv.
Some are soldiers and get married just before they go into battle.
Others are simply united in the determination that living and loving to the fullest are more important than ever in the face of so much death and destruction.
Ukraine’s war laws include a provision that allows Ukrainians, both soldiers and civilians, to apply and get married on the same day.
In Kiev alone, more than 4,000 couples have seized the accelerated opportunity. Before the war, a month’s wait was the norm.
After a three-month hiatus in normal service, the Kiev Central Registry Office is fully open again and operating almost at a pre-war pace.
Since Russia withdrew its bloodied invasion forces away from Kiev in April and directed them to the east and south front lines, many who had 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 preventing men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country.
They are reunited and are getting married soon — because “we don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” she said.
Jealous of their intimacy after their painful months apart, the two of them were alone, with no friends and family.
Instead of a puffy wedding dress, she wore a Ukrainian embroidered shirt, the traditional Vyshyvanka that is now chosen by many brides to emphasize their Ukrainian identity.
In peacetime they would have opted 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 shrink 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 put the plan into action.
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Pavlo and Oksana Savryha had already had 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-ravaged northern city of Chernihiv.
“Our souls told us to do that. Before the invasion, we were constantly running somewhere, in a hurry, and the war forced us to stop and not put off the important decisions until tomorrow,” Pavlo said.
While Oksana was hiding in the basement of their house, her husband took up arms and joined a territorial defense force when Russian forces surrounded and bombed Chernihiv in the first failed phase of the invasion.
He then joined the regular army. This month they celebrated their love in church.
The next day he was sent to the front.