2 Ukrainian Fighters Take a Break From the War to Marry Each Other

The groom couldn’t wait to kiss the bride.

He kissed her when she walked down the aisle, and through the ceremony. He kissed her after his vows, after hers, and once more once they lastly stated “I do.”

Maksym Merezhko, 43, and the bride, Yuliia Dluzhynska, 39, each serve in Ukraine’s army and had traveled to Kyiv the evening earlier than from the jap Donetsk area. They had no time to lose.

After a three-day honeymoon in the Carpathian Mountains, Ms. Dluzhynska stated, “We will go to war.”

The celebration was offered freed from cost by Zemliachky, roughly translated as “Women Compatriots,” a charity group that gives uniforms, boots and different necessities to feminine troopers however, due to demand, lately began to manage their weddings. The couple had been formally married days earlier than, signing a marriage license in a stuffy room in Sloviansk. But they needed a true celebration.

“It takes a lot of time to organize a wedding, and when you are on the front line, you don’t have that free time,” stated Kseniia Drahaniuk, Zemliachky’s co-founder.

Everything is donated — the gown, venue, images, flowers, hair, make-up, rings, cake, lingerie and the honeymoon, too — saving {couples} vital expense and the stress of planning.

On the day of her wedding ceremony, earlier this month, Ms. Dluzhynska picked out white peonies for her bouquet earlier than heading to a brightly lit salon.

Wearing a camouflage windbreaker and sipping a “NonStop Military Edition” power drink, she emanated composure as two girls pinned her blond hair into an updo.

“He has never seen me like this,” Ms. Dluzhynska stated of the groom. “It is his dream to see me in a dress with makeup on.”

Asked what she beloved most about her soon-to-be husband, she melted.

“Everything,” she stated, her eyes welling, sending the beauticians into a tizzy of touch-ups.

They met three years in the past via a courting web site and have been quickly planning a life collectively. But when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Mr. Merezhko rejoined the army to combat. About a month later, Ms. Dluzhynska adopted, as a medic, to be close to him.

“She left everything and went to war with me,” he stated.

At the wedding ceremony ceremony, in an occasion house with a roof deck overlooking Kyiv, fabric azaleas shaped a white arch. Thirteen white chairs have been organized in neat rows, although the solely friends have been Zemliachky volunteers.

Ukrainian music performed till the bride began down the aisle in a white, off-the-shoulder robe. Then John Legend’s “All of Me” got here on — and the kisses adopted.

In his vows, Mr. Merezhko drew laughs describing how he had worn soiled shorts to their first assembly.

Her vows have been shorter, underneath a minute, and barely audible.

“When you said: ‘I want to grow old with you,’ I realized that this is great love and this is the man I asked God for,” she whispered, via tears.

Even on their special occasion, the warfare was not removed from their minds.

The ceremony ended with a cry of “Slava Ukraini” — Glory to Ukraine! The cake was embellished like a Ukrainian flag. The champagne, a 2021 classic from the ravaged jap metropolis of Bakhmut.

“We will live,” Mr. Merezhko stated, beaming after the ceremony. “We will have children, then grandchildren, and we will babysit the grandchildren. I will teach my grandchildren to fish and plant potatoes.”

After their honeymoon, they’d head to Donetsk, again towards the entrance line. Mr. Dluzhynska had a easier want for his or her future. “The main thing is to survive,” she stated.

Stanislav Kozliuk and Daria Mitiuk contributed reporting.

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