From the Maidan to Marriage

Stephanie Turenko, Toronto.

On Sunday May 17, a spectacular event took place at Dufferin Grove Park: the marriage of Mark Marczyk and Marichka Kudriatseva. Toronto-born Mark Marczyk is the lead violinist and singer of Lemon Bucket Orkestra, Canada’s only balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-super-band and Marichka is a musician from Kyiv. The two met in February 2014 on the Maidan in Kyiv. The wedding’s facebook page said:

“We met behind a burning tire and bus carcass barricade in the black streets of a city in revolution. We got to know each other in the corridors of occupied city hall, singing ballads to exhausted yet unrelenting protestors.

We fell in love in a cloud of tear gas, screaming and crying over the joyless fireworks and church bells from a dozen cathedrals. We planned our future in the back of a humanitarian aid truck on a mattress of bulletproof vests and arctic sleeping bags.

We got engaged in an international airport in a crowd of anxious lovers and mothers, brothers and strangers, who gasped and hugged and applauded and cried when I dropped to one knee. We’re getting married in the heart of a city we call home, far away from the place we met, the place we got to know each other, the place we fell in love, the place we planned our future.

We’re getting married in a peaceful community park – without barricades or burning buses, protesters or occupied buildings, tear gas or alarm bells or bullet-proof vests – but with the beautiful music, rituals and traditions that made it so hard to leave (as well as a few others from neighbouring counties). We want you to be a part of it. Everyone’s invited”.

And indeed everyone was. Family, friends and strangers all joined to witness the union of the two musicians, who grew up in different worlds but were brought together by their connection to music and Ukraine.

The day began with all the groomsmen and bridesmaids getting ready at the groom’s and bride’s “houses” respectively, in the park. Each group decorated a tree branch with “bublyky” and candy on coloured ribbons. The men then paraded to the bride’s house where the bartering for the bride began. Typical in Ukrainian village weddings, the groomsmen must offer things in order for the bride to come out of the house and be joined with her husband. Candy, alcohol, champagne and money were offered but according to the bridesmaids, it just wasn’t enough for the bride. In between, false brides come out of the house – one, a male Lemon Bucket musician wearing a white dress with his blonde long hair down, came out wearing a wreath. Next, a 12 year old girl was also offered. Finally, when a cheque was written, the right bride, in a white lace dress with traditional red coral beaded necklaces and a wreath, came out.

After a blessing from the parents, the crowd made their way to the ceremony space. Mark and Marichka exchanged vows in English and Ukrainian, translated by Mark’s friend and Marichka’s sister. After Mark and Marichka were showered with grain and coins, the festival began.

Guests brought food for the potluck and enjoyed music by various bands throughout the park. A parade took place along Dufferin Street, through Dufferin Mall and onto Bloor Street. In between performances, guests also participated in a Sholem (a prayer for peace), a Maypole Dance, Hora, and “Horila Sosna” where all the young, single women had a chance to dance with the bride.

The day concluded with a candle ceremony, where everyone lined up along a path in the centre of the park creating a tunnel through which the pair walked to the parents for a final blessing. Family and friends then continued the festivities at St. Vladimir Institute for the reception where more food, music and dancing took place.

The wedding day was covered by many news and media outlets: Globe and Mail, CTV, Global, Ukraine Today, Saudi Gazette, Viva (Indonesia), La Presse (Italy), Gazeta (Poland), to name a few. The wedding was executed by local artists/designers Oksana Hawrylak and Matthew Cherkas. Instead of monetary gifts, guests were asked to donate money towards Patriot Defence, an organization that provides Improved First Aid Kit and Combat Lifesaver Training for soldiers in Ukraine. From the wedding alone, the couple raised over $16,500 to be sent oversees to help their friends during the war.

The bride and groom were “overwhelmed and overjoyed with the love and attention” they received during their celebration and proceeded to thank the community, friends, family and strangers that all helped in making their wedding happen.