Orthodox Christian Ceremony + Intimate Celebration in Ukraine

Iana Roginska and Joseph Green

Photographed by: Julia Elinecka PhotographyLocation: Kyiv, Kyiv City, Ukraine

After one year and a consistent, seven-hour time difference, American and Maryland resident Joesph Green knew that he wanted to pop the question to his long-distance beloved, Iana Roginska. “He decided to propose to me in Lviv – the capital of culture, coffee, and chocolate in Ukraine,” says Iana. In the early morning of September 24th, Iana’s birthday, the pair elected to have breakfast at a local café while the city was still sleeping so that they could enjoy the locale without hoards of tourists. “The day was awaking and the lazy, warm sun was just starting to enlighten the ancient houses on the central square… and after a while, Joe just couldn’t wait!” she recalls. “He showed me the ring, which had a gorgeous emerald, and asked me to marry him. How could I say no to such a loving and charming man?”

Upon agreeing on a September 2016 wedding, the bride began to do research for their big day. Electing to host their nuptials in her hometown of Kyiv, Iana hired a wedding planner to help guide the concept of their nuptials and blend their respective cultures. The bride, groom, and coordinator made every selection quite carefully. “Our main factors [for vendors] were reputation, quality of service, previous experience, and price,” Iana tells. “It surprised me how much my fiancé wanted to be involved in the decision-making – he wanted to know everything!” As far as their venue went, the duo searched for a location that could handle both an outdoor ceremony – complete with a gorgeous, natural backdrop – and an indoor reception, which they found in a local upscale restaurant. 

One aspect of the utmost importance to the bride was that of their religious union. “Being an Orthodox Christian, I asked my husband (who is Catholic) to support me and let God unite us in one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Kyiv, St. Vladimir’s Cathedral, which was built in 1882,” Iana explains. Before the two could be joined, however, they had to receive written permission from the Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as Joe is not a part of the faith – thankfully, after a short interview, the two were given consent. “During the [service] itself, it was so nice watching my husband [trying hard to] understand all the rituals. He passed the exam, despite all of the teasing from the priest, who tried to explain to Joe what to do in a very funny mix of English, Italian, and Ukrainian,” she laughs.

Following their sacred ceremony, the newlyweds jetted off to their secondary celebration – a nighttime exchange of personal vows at their venue. The alfresco space looked like a sweet and simple dream with wooden chairs flanking the aisle lined with low glass candles. The altar itself was untouched, save for a few suspended lights cascading down from the tree branches above and a small linen on the ground on which the couple stood. Guests were given warm blankets and beverages while they enjoyed the bride and groom’s custom sentiments to one another. 

After their second commitment to each other, Iana and Joe led their attendees indoors for food and drink. “For the colors [of the reception], I wanted to bring early autumn to the restaurant – which is totally white inside,” notes the bride. “We decided to use the tones of the fruits, vegetables, and berries of the season: blue, white, terracotta, and marsala.” Iana’s bold palette was displayed through round tablescapes featuring light linens, dark accents at each place setting, and centerpieces brimming with colorful wild roses, berries, hop, and viburnum branches. Their sweetheart table featured a salmon pink linen, ribbon accents, and a similar vibrant floral arrangement spilling over to the floor. The words “Our September” floated above their heads, as the month holds a special place in their hearts. “Joe proposed to me in September, on my birthday, [and] everything is just so colorful and cozy,” shares the bride.

Contently full from the delicious cuisine – a mix of Ukrainian and European fare – revelers were entertained by the master of ceremonies. “For the American guests, the most unusual part of the wedding was the presence of the entertainer who was making toasts, joking, proposing quizzes, and explaining everything that was going on,” Iana offers. After all was said and done, she wouldn’t change a thing about her busy and happy day. “Relax, enjoy the moment, and don’t pay too much attention to unplanned complications,” she advises. “In the end, you will only remember the bright moments wherein you were so, so happy!”