Do You Smash Cake on The Screen for an Internet Wedding?

March 28, 2013

Lisa Daily Daytime Show
A couple of weeks ago on the Daytime show I talked about the growing popularity of online weddings, otherwise known as “proxy marriages.”

Married on the Internet:
Skype isn’t just for job interviews, connecting with friends, or chatting with grandma anymore. According to the New York Times, officials are seeing an explosion in Internet marriages — where one partner is in one country, another partner in another country, and they get hitched with the help of a judge or minister and a high-speed connection.

Are Internet marriages even legal?
These marriages are called proxy marriages, where another person stands in for the bride or groom, acting as their “proxy”. Only a handful of US states permit proxy marriages, and most require that one partner is in the military. Texas, Colorado and California all allow what is termed a “proxy marriage” where one partner is absent and a “proxy” stands in for them. Montana allows “double proxy” marriages, where neither party must be present, such as in the case of an American couple who wants to be married in a remote or foreign country where local laws would make it impossible or cost-prohibitive to do so. It’s too bad they’re not so keen on same sex marriage (yet), the state could make a fortune in easy-peasy tax revenues by allowing gay couples from all over the country (or the world for that matter) marry by proxy in Montana in the comfort of their own states, churches, or homes.

Many Islamic countries do allow proxy marriages, and El Salvador has flexible laws allowing it. The practice of proxy marriage is not new to the Internet Age, in fact Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were married by proxy in her native country of Austria before the two ever met. She was a princess after all, and there was no way the Queen was going to let her go off and tramp it up in France.

Why would a couple get married on the Internet instead of the usual way?
To solve immigration issues more quickly, to marry someone from home country and save money versus cost of matchmaking trip, to escape poverty or persecution, or to circumvent local laws — such as those preventing a person from marrying another of a different religion, also to get married when you are unable to travel to another country for some reason.

What are the benefits of an online marriage?

It’s becoming more popular with Skype & Google Hangouts, and there’s been a 12-15% increase per year, according to a site that arranges proxy marriages in a variety of states.
One benefit is that military members can marry even if they are stationed overseas — which can be especially important if they’ve been wounded and feel compelled to get all their affairs in order right away.

What’s the downside?
Many online brides and grooms have only communicated online, so there are chemistry and expectation issues when they get together. Which can be problematic, as people tend to lie like politicians when dating online.
Because sometimes proxy weddings are used to circumvent immigration laws — these types of marriages are a red flag for Homeland Security. That said, proxy marriages have been used for many years before the Internet came along for all types of nefarious purposes, like arranged marriages and human trafficking. In some countries the women have not even consented to being married. (As in, surprise, you’re married to a complete stranger because one of your relatives sold you for $7.)

For more on online relationships, check out my new(ish) book, IS HE CHEATING??

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