Love without borders: Couple weds at refugee camp

Story highlights

  • Syrian couple weds in nighttime ceremony in Idomeni refugee camp in Greece
  • Greek food, Coca-Cola and wedding cake were served

(CNN)Singing and dancing to traditional Syrian wedding songs by the light of plastic lanterns, a small group of friends, fellow refugees and American volunteers helped celebrate a couple's new life together this week.

Saher, 27, and Ruqaiya, 20, whose last names have been withheld for their safety, fled their old life in Syria three and a half months ago. They escaped from war-torn Deir Ezzor, where clashes between Syrian forces and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) left hundreds dead in January. Their families remain in Syria.
    The engaged couple were hoping to make it to Germany, where they have relatives and friends. But they have been stuck at the Idomeni refugee camp in Greece, near the Macedonian border, for six weeks. The camp is home to more than 10,000 refugees, according to the Greek government.
    Friends, volunteers and fellow refugees celebrate.
    "We decided to get married here," the groom told CNN in Arabic. "It was destiny to get married with no family members present.
    "We are definitely happy."
    Video shows the bride wearing a white dress adorned with silk ruffles and flowers on the sleeves and delicate pearl beadwork on the bodice. She sat quietly holding her bouquet of roses, lilies and baby's breath, as people took individual photos with the couple.
    Her eyes seemed to smile from her otherwise stoic face. She cracked a fleeting smile, quickly looking down for a moment.
    The three-hour party glowed just outside the couple's green tent on Tuesday. Coca-Cola and Turkish delights were served to keep the festivities going until midnight.
    The wedding wouldn't have been possible without the help of people at the camp. A Saudi doctor made Greek food for the party, other Syrians organized the ceremony and Western volunteers helped with the rest, the groom said.
    Someone bought a white-frosted wedding cake, adorned with red and yellow decorations. The volunteers laid flowers and a floral wreath on the couple's bridal bed inside their tent.
    CNN iReporter Chris Morrow and full-time volunteer Alison Thompson, who founded a volunteerism movement called The Third Wave, were asked to be part of the couple's wedding party. Thompson and Morrow had met the couple on a previous visit to volunteer and document life at the refugee camp.
    "I was so happy to see joy in this camp. There's so much sadness here," said Morrow, who attended the wedding.
    "It was just like a regular wedding with all of the emotions, but no one was drinking," she said. "Seeing some type of normalcy here ... I loved that."