image preview



Publication Date



"We could not be stopped." Alex Alderman and Varvara Bondarenko met at Kenyon while she was a Fullbright Language Teaching Assistant in Russian and he was an Instructional Designer with the Center for Innovative Pedagogy. When her time at Kenyon was over, they wanted to stay together, and they planned to visit each other while she was back in Russia completing her two years of residency as part of her visa agreement. They were engaged in Vyborg, Russia on January 6, 2020, and Varvara intended to visit Gambier in March. Her flight from Russia was canceled five days before the visit due to the coronavirus pandemic In July, Varvara discovered there was a way for her to travel to Ohio for the summer if everything worked out along the way, and the two reunited. Rather than waiting for the borders to open to get married in Russia, they decided they could do it here at the place where they fell in love. Leeman Kessler, the mayor of Gambier, agreed to marry the couple in the picnic area by the Gambier Community Center. Pamela Faust agreed to be the maid of honor and a pro bono wedding planner. Robin Nordmoe, Varvara's host mother during her time at Kenyon, stood in for the bride's mother to lead her to the altar. Samantha Turner agreed to make a small wedding cake for the couple and cupcakes for the guests. There was a small, socially distanced bridal shower the week before the wedding. The wedding took place August 21, 2020. Masks and hand sanitizer were provided for a small number of socially distanced guests, and the wedding was live streamed to Zoom and Facebook for friends and family unable to attend in person.


Gambier, Ohio


wedding, social distance

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.


wedding, social distance