Whether you live long distance or have some other reason for not getting married the traditional way, it's getting more and more common for people to wonder if they can get married on the internet. Sometimes, even if there's no real posed challenge to meeting offline, folks simply want to get hitched in cyberspace.
Getting Married on the Internet
Unfortunately, many people believe that it's possible to get married online, but the only real way to get married through distance is to do it through a proxy marriage. This is to make sure that the marriage is freely chosen and done for the right reasons (and not for someone who is simply looking for citizenship in the country). Additionally, there can be issues of consent, like that of which involves sex workers, human trafficking, and other types of illegal or fraudulent activity.
People can't get legally married online since the internet is not a place or a legal entity in itself. It is possible, however, for the ceremony to take place through the net. In that type of scenario, there would need to be legal aspects fulfilled in a real location. Those wanting to get married online may just want to throw a fun ceremony, which is possible to do without a legal marriage. However, those wanting a real marriage will need to follow the legal requirements of the jurisdiction where they are physically located in order to obtain a legitimate marriage license.
Having a Proxy Marriage
If one or both of the individuals wanting to marry are not able to be physically present, they can typically be represented by someone else in a proxy marriage. It's also possible for a double proxy wedding to occur if both partners are absent. This is common for those currently serving in the military, partners who are imprisoned, or individuals that are restricted for travel and immigration reasons. However, it's possible for couples to live in a location that does not allow them to legally marry.
Unfortunately, proxy weddings are not seen as legally binding marriages in many jurisdictions. The only way to make it a "real legal marriage" is to have both parties present. However, there are certain places with exceptions. For example, in England, the English common law says that proxy marriages are valid through the law of the place where the marriage was celebrated.
Those that participate in an illegal marriage can get in big trouble with the law and can suffer from charges. Those that try to game the system for personal gain, such as getting citizenship, can cause both individuals to face damages. There may be other consequences for trying to get illegally married as well. For instance, if you unknowingly enter an illegal marriage and you have more money than your spouse, you may be the one suffering the financial loss.
There are also issues of bigamy, where one enters a marriage with someone while still legally married to someone else. This is considered a crime in many countries, and is illegal in the United States, for example. In fact, you can be penalized up to five years if you commit such a crime.