Not your traditional wedding

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 17, 2003

CHESAPEAKE - They may have not had a large cake, caterers or a large crowd, but that did not wipe the smiles off the faces of 26-year-old Nikolai Setran and 22-year-old Sarah Ann Warren.

Saturday afternoon, Setran and Warren, both Proctorville residents, were married at the Chesapeake Church of the Nazarene in a ceremony planned in about a week. Setran, a specialist with the West Virginia Army National Guard, discovered approximately two weeks ago that he is likely to be deployed as a result of possible war between the United States and Iraq. Setran said he might receive his orders in two to three weeks.

"She's great, and I'm a lucky guy," Setran said. "She's beautiful, smart and a really unique person."

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"I always said if I ever did settle down and get married, I wanted someone like him," Warren said. "He has a good, good heart, and I respect him as a person."

The couple had planned to marry in June, but the possibility of war made them want to speed up the process. If he is deployed and something were to happen to Warren at home, Setran said, the military does not recognize their union unless they are married. Being married will also provide her with health care if he were to be deployed as well.

"I wanted to make sure she was taken care of," he said.

During the past week, Setran and Warren, both Marshall University students had to find a church, notify a minister and close family members and have everything else for the ceremony in place on top of their coursework. Warren was also going through training for her job, and the couple is in the middle of buying a house.

"I had to do seven papers and take two tests," Warren said.

Because Setran has not been deployed at this time, he is still enrolled at Marshall University. If he completes his classes this semester, he will have one semester to finish before graduation. Afterward, he plans to attend medical school. However, deployment could pull him out of school for one year or longer.

"It's hard to crack down and study when I may have to withdraw anyway," he said. "It could put my life on hold."

Setran's possible deployment has put Warren on edge. While watching the news Thursday night, she heard of units being deployed and nervously listened to the names of the units. She has been glued to the television set, and watching people in situations similar to hers has not been easy, either.

"All week, I've been watching CNN," she said. "I keep hearing stories after stories. When I took a test on Thursday, the girl sitting beside me whose boyfriend had been deployed just sat and looked at her test for an hour."

Even though the couple plans to have a larger ceremony in June as originally planned, the fact that her wedding day was rushed was saddening for Warren.

"I was at Lazarus, and I saw a girl getting a veil and a tiara, and it was heartbreaking," she said. "You have to realize that it's not him or you. If someone votes 'yes,' he has to go."

Despite its bittersweet nature, Warren looked at the ceremony, attended by 23 people, as a special one.

"We have our close family and friends. It's more intimate," she said.

Warren's grandfather, Robert Burt, gave her away. He is a veteran of the Korean War.

"She's just a jewel," he said.

Liza Jean Warren, Sarah Ann Warren's mother, made the journey from Warren's hometown of Man, W.Va., for the wedding.

"I know that [military personnel] look at it as they have a job to do," she said. "I'm worried about the kids [her daughter and Setran]. I love them both. Nik is like my son."

Setran's mother Madison Lee hopped on a last-minute flight from Seattle, Setran's hometown, to be at her son's wedding. Her son and new daughter-in-law's ability to plan a wedding in a short period of time did not surprise her.

"They are both so focused and organized," she said. "I wasn't surprised at all. I knew they would do it."

Dr. Deron Newman also received the news of the sudden wedding along with the couple's friends and family. The couple had taken one of the ordained minister's religious studies courses at MU and wanted him to marry them.

As the smiling pair held hands at the altar, Newman discussed how they would talk with him before class, sharing thoughts about their ideas about love.

"They are making their vows at a very difficult time, and it touches my heart," Newman said. "They must be strong in that love that we share today. When they are apart, they must stand strong and be united when they are together. We must prepare our hearts to help them in the days ahead."