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Love and War: Marriage in Ukraine

As part of our Showing Love newsletter, Vlad examines marriage patterns in war-time Ukraine...

Contrary to what one might expect, the war has not stopped tens of thousands of Ukrainian couples from formalising their relationships. In fact, for some, it has provided extra motivation.

Adjusting to the invasion, Ukrainian authorities have made it easier to get married, allowing for remote ceremonies (for those serving in the military) and granting the powers of a marriage registrar to commanders in the police and military. It is estimated that nearly 52,000 marriages were registered across Ukraine during the first three months of the war.

The reasons for wartime marriage are varied. These can be legal (more rights for formally registered couples) or psychological: having your family await your return from the frontline may significantly boost your morale, according to Olena Yaroshenko, a Ukrainian volunteer and founder of the Love Wins project that has been ‘helping the military down the aisle since 2016’.

Love Wins helps military members to plan, finance and organise weddings, providing wedding accessories, decorations and a venue for the ceremony. The team includes photographers, florists, makeup artists and hairdressers. The weddings they arrange are not glamorous, but neither do they charge the couples they help.

Projects like Yaroshenko’s illustrate Ukrainian society’s efforts to curb the fear and pain inflicted by the war, and formalising love has become a powerful coping mechanism to sustain hope.

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