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HomeWorld NewsCanada newsJust Mary'd: Russian and Ukrainian wed in a rural Newfoundland Mary Brown's

Just Mary’d: Russian and Ukrainian wed in a rural Newfoundland Mary Brown’s

Two men stand in a restaurant. A woman sits in between with a bouquet of flowers.
Anvar Lafi, right, works at Mary Brown’s in Gander where the staff helped him marry his fiancée, Oleksandra Frolova. (Submitted by Tracey Janes)

If you walk into a Mary Brown’s Chicken restaurant you’ll likely hear the beeps of a cash register, or the sizzle of oil in the fryer.

But in the Gander, N.L., location on Nov. 17, you would have also heard wedding bells.

That’s because Anvar Lafi, who works at the restaurant, married Oleksandra Frolova surrounded by his co-workers.

Lafi is from Russia, and met and fell in love with Frolova after he moved to Ukraine for university. The couple were engaged and planned a wedding in summer 2021, but left the country and came to Canada when Russia invaded Ukraine.

The couple settled in Gander, and decided it was where they wanted to get married. Lafi went to the Mary Brown’s location where he works, and asked manager Tracey Janes to be their witness.

“I invited almost everybody who were on shift,” Lafi told CBC News in a recent interview. “Then Tracey said, ‘Oh, you know what? You can do it here.'”

A crowd of sit across three rows of chairs.
The staff put together the ceremony in less than 12 hours, and got to watch the reception before the restaurant opened for the day. (Submitted by Tracey Janes)

Janes said most workers had regrettably turned down Lafi’s invitation because they had to work, but having it in the restaurant before opening allowed everyone to attend — and become part of the impromptu planning committee.

The whole thing was planned in less than 12 hours, she said.

“One of the girls said, ‘I can make the cake.’ One of the other girls said, ‘I can come in and we’ll do decorations in the morning.’ So we did all that, and then I said, ‘Well, we’ll get some treats,” Janes said, adding the treats weren’t chicken or biscuits.

Three people stand in front of a wooden wall, which is covered in pink, blue and white balloons.
Tracey Janes, left, is the manager of the Mary Brown’s location. She said staff were thrilled to put off the wedding and support their co-worker and his now wife. (Submitted by Tracey Janes)

“It was really special. It was nice because we knew that they didn’t have any family here in Gander. And for the co-workers to come together, everybody was really excited to be able to celebrate with them.”

The ceremony went off without a hitch, and Lafi and Frolova said they were incredibly happy to have Lafi’s friends and work family in attendance.

“She was, like, stressed a little bit with everything, but she was surprised at how they organized it very fast,” he said. “She liked it, and feels good emotions about that.”

A couple kiss underneath a decoration of balloons.
The couple say they’re excited to continue their lives in Gander, and are expecting a baby girl. (Submitted by Tracey Janes)

Lafi added the abnormal venue didn’t make the moment of sharing his vows any less special.

“I felt, like, something extraordinary,” he said. “It was kind of magic. I take her hand, I look at her and say … those things.”

The couple say they’re excited to continue life in Gander, and are expecting a baby girl in January.

Weekend AM13:10A wedding to remember – at Mary Brown’s

Featured VideoAnvar Lafi, born in Russia, and Oleksandra Frolova, from Ukraine, get married at Anvar’s workplace – the Mary Brown’s restaurant in Gander.

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