Thursday 22 February 2018

Brides swap vows -- and names -- on their big day

Chris Lowry

WHEN two women walked up the aisle on their double wedding day, they exchanged more than vows with their new husbands -- they swapped names as well.

Oksana Stepanenko married Ksenia Khlivna's brother, Anton, while Ksenia married Oksana's brother, Denis.

If that is not clear so far, as the knots were tied, Ms Stepanenko became Mrs Khlivna and Ms Khlivna became Mrs Stepanenko.

But the swapping didn't end there for the group of Russian-speaking Ukrainians who were married in a double ceremony in the Evangelical Church, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Oksana and Ksenia are two forms of the same name -- the former the Ukrainian version, the latter Russian. So Oksana left the church with both the same surname and Christian name that her friend had had when she walked in, and vice versa.

What makes this group of four 20-somethings even more unusual is that they first met in Argentina.

They got to know each other as children in Buenos Aires, where their families moved following the break-up of the Soviet Union, and still often speak to each other in Spanish.

In a strange coincidence, the two families learnt subsequently that they had not only arrived in Argentina on the same day but had spent their first night in the same accommodation.

Denis kept in contact with Ksenia when the Stepanenkos moved to Ireland, where they have lived ever since. He and Oksana sat their Leaving Certificates here -- despite neither speaking English when they started school, in Balbriggan, Dublin, as teenagers.

The Stepanenkos have put down roots here, and Oksana's younger brothers speak with the midlands accents they have picked up in their new home in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

They were joined at the weekend by Anton and Ksenia's parents, who flew from Argentina. They were given a stylish introduction to Dublin -- the reception was held in the exclusive St Stephen's Green Hibernian Club. Of course, like Mr and Mrs Stepanenko, they were both the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom.

Pastor Sean Byrne, who officiated at the double wedding on Saturday, departed from the traditional wedding script as he concluded the ceremony with: "How cool is that?"

Irish Independent

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