On Sunday, March 6, Lesya Ivashchenko and Valeriy Filimonov, two members of the Ukrainian Defense Forces, wed at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Kyiv.
It’s not how the couple planned to get married—weeks ago, they were normal people living in the Ukrainian capital. Yet with the Russian invasion of their home country, they decided to become civilian volunteers in the army. “They want to defend our city together,” the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, told The Washington Post. Time was of the essence.
According to CNN, a military chaplain oversaw the ceremony, and the bride and groom wore camouflage marked with the characteristic yellow band of the Ukrainian military. As unorthodox as the wedding was, it still very much held to tradition: A bouquet was held, a veil blew in the wind, rings were exchanged, and vows were said. In addition to Klitschko, the couples’ fellow soldiers attended as wedding guests, holding white roses as they stood in the crowd.
Ivashchenko and Filimonov have been together for over 20 years and share an 18-year-old daughter, who was able to attend the ceremony via Zoom. With the future so uncertain, they decided to make a formal commitment: “You never know what’s going to happen,” Filimonov told Reuters. “We must take as much as we can from life,” Ivashchenko added. “I’m happy that we are alive, that this day started, that my husband is alive, and he is with me.” After the ceremony, they held a small reception complete with a champagne toast and wedding cake.
The wedding, which was captured by photographers, has attracted global attention as the world prays for the freedom of Ukraine—a poignant reminder that, even in the darkest of days, love carries on.
Originally published on Vogue.com