As regular readers know, I love my Hotel Bursa in Kyiv for many reasons. One of its best features is the panoramic view from the 5th floor rooftop lounge 1818. Legions of young, hip Ukrainians regularly ascend for a yummy cocktail and update their Instagram while enjoying a view to die for. This combined with the large terrace also makes 1818 a popular destination for weddings, and last weekend there was a classic.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, several party-rental trucks arrived to unload DJ equipment, speakers, tables, chairs, decorations and umbrellas to protect guests from the blazing summer sun. Considering the number of people swarming around all day, this was easily going to be the largest wedding ever hosted at the hotel.
By 3pm both rooftop decks had been transformed into scenes reminiscent of Barbie meets Arabian Nights. The music started pumping and the drinks started flowing and the tranquillity of a sweltering Saturday afternoon was annihilated by the raucous celebration of a typical Ukrainian wedding.
The Late Bride gets the Groom
Beer, wine & prosecco turned into Whiskey Sours as night fell to a curfew-induced 10pm close. At 10:30 the groom, already several sheets to the wind, invited everyone left at the bar, including me and all the staff, to continue the revelry on the sizable deck of their hotel room.
As typically happens at Bursa weddings, the bride and groom booked the Attic suite featuring a huge deck, banya (sauna), fireplace and L-shaped couch. Considering it was the happy couple’s wedding night, I opted not to join them and instead, retired to the main floor courtyard just under the balcony of their honeymoon suite.
Just then my good friends, The Georgians appeared after a 48-hour trip back into Kyiv, and joined me and a few other night owls. We all enjoyed some ‘emergency rations’ and the music and laughter from the deck above as it continued into to wee hours.
Fight for Your Right! To Party!
As the mandatory midnight curfew approached, the bride became more & more anxious and demanded the party end and all guests depart. Unsurprisingly, fireworks ensued when she didn’t receive the answer she wanted from her new husband. So, she locked him and his friends out of the deck, confirming that my decision not to join them was the right one!
Understandably, people in Kyiv are conflicted about celebrating when their friends & family are dying at the front, but weddings are an exception. Life continues even during wartime, and the fact that folks can still celebrate something special is a testament to the Ukrainian spirit – as long as that spirit is consumed responsibly.
Fortunately, the bride and groom were smiling and still together on Sunday morning. I learned that the stress of war allows for certain exceptions to wedding night obligations.
Wartime weddings are yet another reason why the Ukrainians are fighting for their right to party anywhere, anytime in a free and independent Ukraine.
Slava Ukraini! Heroiam Slava!