There are a lot of stories of romantic heroism and good chapters in Armenia’s long history, but for some reason fun historical events rarely record in recent years. But this one is the exception.

Seven hundred couples from all over Nagorno-Karabakh were married during two separate ceremonies on October 16.


After the marriage rites, the couples celebrated, dancing and singing, at the stadium in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian pop stars held a gala concert for the newlywed couples later in the evening. A spectacular fireworks show followed.

Wedding certificates for the 700 couples were passed out during the evening’s celebrations. Leaders from Nagorno-Karabakh, along with guests from Armenia and the diaspora also took part in the daylong celebrations.

This unprecedented event was made possible by Russian-Armenian entrepreneur Levon Hairapetian, a native of Artsakh. Mr. Hairapetian presented each couple with a gift of $2,000 and a cow. He has also promised to bestow a monetary gift upon each child born to the couples. He has pledged to give the first child born to each new couple $2,000; the second child, $3,000; the third child, $5,000 – and for the more adventuresome – upon the birth of a seventh child, a gift of $100,000 to the couple.

In a world where donations are the right thing to do, benefactors almost always work through foundations only. I think Mr. Hairapetian’s direct investment in Armenian families is a better idea than millions of dollars sent by Armenian-Americans to Armenia’s government.

Cut the red tape. Help the people. Hope this program will grow and Armenian benefactors will join Mr. Hairapetian and pledge to help 10,000 people get married (who wouldn’t otherwise because of the economy) by 2010.