This couple won our hearts from the very first moment we met them. They’ve met each other in Calcutta, India, where they both volunteered in Calcutta’s Mother House. They arrived there separately, wishing to help elderly people and orphans. Every day they served tirelessly. Every year hundreds of people from all over the world come to Calcutta to become a part of this great mission that Mother Teresa herself started many years ago.
The whole film can be viewed at the end of the article.
Sisters of Charity and volunteers help such people to gather the shatters of their lives and turn their destinies into vessels filled with love. All those people would die on streets of Calcutta, but, fostered by Sisters and volunteers, many of them show incredible personal progress and revivification. Simon and Eugenia participated in this charity mission. They saw each other there, in Calcutta, and fell in love once and for all. Helping the poor and distressed banded their minds and entwined their souls. A spark kindled in their hearts, and they became a family.
For a little introduction, please, tell us about the magic of this day in general.
“Wedding” and “nuptials ceremony” are not just words and not just important moments of life…it’s true magic, when the souls of lovers become one soul, when two life paths join into one path, when a bride and a groom become one person, and their lives are bound by love. We hadn’t seen each other for three days before the nuptials ceremony and met each other only by altar – that moment everything stopped existing; it felt like we didn’t see each other for eternity to finally join hands, take our vows before God and never, ever part.
How did you meet each other?
We have known each other since we were teenagers. We disliked each other quite strongly then; later, this antipathy turned into absolute indifference. We tried not to be in a group of friends at the same time and avoided any kind of communication. Then we dropped out of each other’s sight for 14 years; our lives ran independently, and it didn’t seem that we would ever meet. But at the beginning of 2015, we were lucky to meet each other during a charity trip to India, in Calcutta. It’s still difficult to imagine how it happened, but nothing happens by chance! Helping the poor and distressed banded our minds and entwined our souls together. In circumstances like these, one can see better than ever who a person really is. We talked a lot, often helped children who live in slums, and suddenly, we saw in each other all the things that our hearts so frantically desired – kindness, honesty, cordiality, generosity, honor: in one word, “genuineness,” without any touch of office suits and monotonous speeches.
Simon: On March 8, I met Eugenia early in the morning, carrying an enormous bouquet of roses and different sweets. That day I confessed my love to her, but she didn’t give me an answer. I told her that I would fight for her love as long as it would take. And I knew that as soon as Eugenia would confess to me, I would have proposed to her.
Eugenia: Simon didn’t even know that I loved him dearly. I had never felt anything like this; I fell in love for the first time, but I needed time to put emotions away and really figure out if I wanted to share my entire life with this man. And a moment came when I realized – yes, this person is perfect for me, I love and respect him; for me, he is the best man in the world, and I want to start a family with him and experience incredible feelings to him for our entire life as a couple. After some time, I told Simon that I agreed to keep communicating with him but that he would have to meet my parents first. Some days after I acquainted Simon with my parents, we all drove somewhere to go for a walk, my parents went to their flat to take something, and we stayed together in the car for some time. At those moments, it seemed to me that my heart would jump out of my chest; I wanted so much to tell about my feelings, but at the same time, I was afraid to do it.
Simon: We talked about something unimportant when Eugenia suddenly shot out her first words of love…I will never forget them. It was incredible and unexpected, and God only knows how much joy and happiness was in my soul at that moment. As soon as she finished, I proposed to her…yes, it was in a car, by a transformer vault and football stadium; everything around us was gray and dirty, without any preparations or an engagement ring – I knew that all of this would come later, but what was happening at that moment was most significant. It was important to be sincere, not to waste this chance, not to lose her.
Please, tell us about your wedding dress, how you looked for it and how you choose it.
Eugenia: A wedding dress is a special and the longest chapter of wedding preparations. My idea of a perfect dress dramatically changed all the time throughout the year: from A-line dresses by Spanish brands to simple slim-waisted dresses by American companies. For six months, I looked through magazines and sites with wedding dresses collections. Having examined all of them thoroughly from start to finish, I realized that all dresses were similar and many of them were too fanciful. But I wanted MY wedding dress, ideal, so to say. It should suit the place chosen for the ceremony and unspoiled nature of Finland.
Then my friend suggested a great designer from St. Petersburg, Tatyana Kotshnova. I found her site and was mesmerized – it was exactly what I had been looking for: airy, light and embroidered dresses, individual approach and materials of exceptionally high quality. All dresses by Tatyana Kotschnovas’ studio are sewn in two steps: base dress and outer dress. For the base dress, we chose natural powder colored silk from Great Britain and the outer dress is made entirely of light, dainty French lace. The design of the dress included original hem and long beaded sleeves. I’d like to mention that Tatyana created incredible beauty on the dress having embroidered front and back of the dress with pearls and mother-of-pearl. I loved everything that happened in Tatyana's’ workshop. Our work was actually a very pleasant creative process, Tatyana is a great person. The dress was created in one breath, it turned out tender, light, harmonizing with unspoiled nature of Finnish forests and combining nobility and simplicity of noble class’ style.
Tell us about the style of the wedding.
Our goal was to give our all to the wedding day to make it interesting for guests and unforgettable for us. So we had to organize the entire process in a way that wouldn’t let guests be bored, and everything that happens would turn into an adventure for them. The style of the wedding was chosen quickly and naturally – intimate family wedding in a manorial estate at the beginning of the 20th century. So, this fairytale took place in Finland, in Prince of Oldenburgs’ estate. It began in the afternoon with the nuptials ceremony. The first and the final parts of the ceremony were held al fresco under an arch, the most important part – the blessed ordinance and benediction – took place in a small chapel where we entered just with the priest. This part was the most sacramental.
After we were pronounced husband and wife, everyone went under the tent outdoors to taste dishes on the reception table, listen to a great musician play, and to sink in the atmosphere of this day supported by the professional host. After that, we gave some time to all the guests to change suits and dresses, because another exciting part was about to begin – a 19th-century style ball with waltzes, polkas, and marches. All the guests loved it very much; we can tell because every time they shared impressions about the wedding with us they talked about the ball first. Late in the evening, when it was already dark, we came down to a lake with the guests to float off little lanterns and enjoy the view of a pink and purple sunset.
By a quay, a barbeque was organized where everybody spent at least half an hour. The final part of this marvelous day was yet to come – the delicious cake by Finnish pastry-cooks. The tea-party took place in the biggest hall of the estate lit by candles with gentle music playing. Suddenly guests performed an improvised recital for us where we cried, laughed and danced. They sang for us, played guitar, and recited poems. It was truly amazing to feel love and kindness of everyone who was with us that day. The celebration ended after midnight when everyone, happy, content and tired went to their rooms. Then we packed our things and left the estate, leaving guests in this fantastic and already well-loved place.
Please, tell us about your bouquet, floristics, decorations, and other elements.
Alexandra Kartsova and her team created the bouquet and floristic decorations of the wedding. Of course, to hold a bouquet of fragrant David Austin roses, peonies and sweet peas tied with a band is an incredible pleasure…I fell in love with this beauty. There were a lot of areas involved, so a lot of objects should have been decorated: arch with fabric, lots of flowers and leaves on it, seats for guests, the banquet tent with flower arrangements and decorative components, the candy table for the ball, the big hall of the estate with chandeliers and the flowers in glass boxes and the antique staircase outside lit by big candles.
Please, tell us about the place you chose for the wedding ceremony. Why did you choose it and what do you like about it the most?
Please, tell us about the place you chose for the wedding ceremony. Why did you choose it, and what do you like about it the most?
From the very beginning, we dreamt of having a wedding in a castle or an estate in 20th century style, but at the same time, we wanted guests to feel very comfortable and homey. We considered a lot of variants, but none of them appealed to us. One day, we found an article about Rantalinna castle in Finland where the Prince and Princess of Oldenburg, who were part of the Romanov family, lived. This estate is situated in an unspoiled forest on a shore of Saimaa lake. Almost the entire interior, frescos on walls and ceilings remained incorrupt. The most interesting thing was that within the estates’ compound there was a small chapel where we were allowed to hold the nuptials ceremony with the priest we invited. This place touched our hearts; we realized that we are about to spend one of the best days of our lives there. The atmosphere in this place is incredible; it seems that everything radiates with kindness, coziness, and peace, even the smell of pines is indescribable – it’s so fragrant and charming. Also, we wanted the bride to appear in a boat which would land to the quay from where the father would walk the bride down the aisle. All our dreams about tenderness, intellectuality, comfort, the beauty of nature and architecture, privacy and a lake came to life in the Rantalinna estate.
Are there other contractors who you would like to mention?
Such a home-felt wedding is impossible without like-minded helpers; we do not even have the heart to call them contractors because during all the wedding preparations they became our friends. We are very grateful to them!
A uniquely talented family couple, the Dreamwood cinematography & photography duo, were our photographers and videographers. Their work may make you cry and believe that it is possible to catch the mood of the day and people with the help of cameras. An ordinary shot becomes magical in their hands; an ordinary tree seems unique; ordinary light turns into fairy dust. They felt us, understood us, and created photos that are impossible to take your eyes off. A year before the wedding, we had an engagement ceremony where we were lucky to have a great host. So there wasn’t even a discussion about who was going to host our wedding. He took full responsibility for organization work on the wedding day and helped us if there were unexpected situations. His help and support that day were unbelievable. He is a true professional who shares the light of his soul, good mood, and professionalism with guests during the entire celebration.
An excellent DJ is someone who helps the host, puts appropriate music on, and sets the mood of everything that happens. He feels guests and their mood; a lot depends on the background he creates. We were lucky to work with a very talented and agile DJ.
Our stylist was a true professional as well. In one day, she created three different makeup styles and hairstyles for the bride – for the nuptials ceremony, for the ball, and the tea-party. Of course, the creative process wasn’t easy that day, but both the bride’s and groom’s style won hearts of all guests. It was magnificent!
We wanted a singer or a musician to play live music during the wedding. Finally, we choose saxophone and found a great young musician. His performance of “Hallelujah” when the bride walked down the aisle was breathtaking. We cried. He is very talented, music flows from his instrument and makes everyone around stand still to enjoy this warmth and beauty.
We couldn’t decide what kind of invitations we wanted for quite a long time. One day, we realized that we wanted the style of invitations to harmonize with the style of the estate. Princess Eugenia Oldenburg opened the first postcard printing house in Russia. Her favorite painter was Elisabeth Boehm whose paintings were printed on the postcards. We used the style of those postcards in our invitations. All the invitations and inside cards were created by Crazy-Nevesta agency.
We also received great help from one of Rantalinna estates’ administrators who took all preparations into her own hands, including the banquet, the confectionary, the candy tables and the preparation of rooms and compound for the wedding. Working with her, we felt balance and peacefulness, and these feelings were so harmonious with the place chosen for our wedding.
Which emotions, impressions and memories are the most vivid and bright?
Eugenia: Waking up in the morning and seeing my weightless wedding dress. Hearing birds sing in the morning and realizing that there wouldn’t be rain. Hearing noises coming from guests--their conversations and laughter while staying in my room drinking milk from a faceted glass. Finding out that my darling arrived, cutting my salmon sandwich in half, writing a pleasant note and sending it with kind carriers. Seeing my reflection in a mirror, in a veil and wedding dress. Laughing with my friends in the bride’s room and peeking at guests who made their way to the place of the wedding ceremony through my window. Going down squeaky stairs that were built more than hundred years ago to the arch near the chapel. Coming on board of a powerboat and approaching guests by water. Walking down the aisle to my loved one to the strains of the saxophone. Entering the chapel, kneeling and realizing the profundity of the moment. Hearing the priest say “Before God and men I pronounce you husband and wife.” Being embraced passionately by my beloved husband. Rejoicing with guests. Dancing the first waltz on the ball and not making a single mistake. Walking down on the pier, just two of us, while sunset turns pink. Crying, touched by songs and poems by our friends. Suddenly dancing when my husband invited me with a twinkle in his eyes. Hugging everyone who was with us that day. Feeling night freshness, closing a cars' door and setting off on our first trip together. Kissing my loved one for the first time.
Simon: Changing a train to one heading to Helsinki early in the morning in chilly St. Petersburg, hoping to be on time for my own wedding. Getting off in a small village Vainikkala and meeting a childhood friend. Worrying before meeting my loved one. Noticing that my new shirt is dirty, grabbing a toothbrush and trying to clean it. Receiving engagement ring from the bride, spending the time to clean it till it shines and sending it back. Asking friends to iron my suit. Forgetting cufflinks and realizing that I have true friends who were ready to take their cufflinks off and give them to me. Standing on the shore and seeing the bride on the boat, floating like a swan, realizing again how pure and beautiful she is. Listening to incredibly beautiful songs by our friends in the evening and taking my beloved wife to dance salsa. Tasting delicious wedding cake. Realizing that from now on we will be together forever.
Please, give some tips for couples who are planning to get married.
Love, love, and love each other! Love is not just a desire that doesn’t leave anything in the heart, it's not a personal fulfillment opportunity, and it’s not an exchange – I give something to you; you give something to me. True love never asks for anything in return; true love forgives everything and withstands everything; true love is eternal. Make wedding preparations to be the greatest time you’ve ever had. The most important thing is to do everything together: choose a place for your wedding and colors of decorations together, think of some special things that would charm guests, laugh and cry together, while there is a place for doing both during preparations. But before everything else make your hearts ready; let them heal from all offenses and wounds of the past, from disappointments and misfortunes. Marriage is sacred; that is why our souls, hearts, and bodies should be prepared for this heavenly union, should be pure.
Could you give some advice to couples about relationships, love, trust and support, about what fills your life with light and happiness and on how to build harmonious relationships and family?
We are convinced that time before the wedding is given for souls of bride and groom to “merge” as if we would sew one fabric to another. This time may be quite hard, while two very different individuals have to learn to listen, to understand, to find common ground in arguments and always live in peace and kindness. We were engaged for a year and a half, and we wanted to preserve integral purity before each other: purity of hearts, souls, minds, deeds, and bodies. For us, all of it is inseparably associated with God. Otherwise, everything that was mentioned is just impossible. There is no faith without looking for kindness and righteousness every day. Believe us, it is incredible to truly become husband and wife before altar; it is incredible to just embrace each other in front of all the guests after the pronouncement, and this embrace will be the most passionate and intense of all. It’s incredible to kiss each other for the first time after the wedding, without anyone watching, to make this moment romantic and memorable.
Dear friends, preserve your spiritual riches. You enhance it when you are kind, peace-loving when you don’t offend and aren’t aggrieved when you respect and listen when you support and don’t let others fall. And, invertedly, you lose your spiritual riches when envy, condemnation, and gossips penetrate your soul and when fights and lack of understanding ruin relationships.
It is impossible to learn ideal family relationships as if it was a school subject. Quite the opposite – every day brings new choices, new decisions, new experience. And we become closer to each other. There is no ideal person, and at the same time, everyone is ideal in their own way. If you fall or collapse, please, stand up and continue your path; don’t stop creating a good relationship in marriage.
We believe that husband and wife are created for each other as an expression of God’s will on Earth. When there are difficult times, remember this: if you were hurt, don’t hurt in return. It’s better to show kindness and forgiveness, because in such moments true family is created, in such moments a couple refines and becomes stronger. Every day begins with this thought.
As you know, many people say that it’s impossible to change a person in marriage. It’s true, but we want to change ourselves, change our words, and actions to build harmonious family relations.
We believe in true love that is far more valuable than gold. Let’s create it!
Photographer: Lucy N
Videographer: Michael N
Dress: Tanya Kochnova
Invitation: Crazy Nevesta