Can You Get Married Online?

Bride using cellphone

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Streaming a wedding online can be helpful for friends and family who were not able to attend the ceremony. Getting married online also might seem convenient for prospective spouses who live long distance or have another reason for not getting married in a traditional wedding. However, there are some legal aspects that come into play if you are looking to have an online wedding.

Getting Married Online

People who want a virtual wedding can throw the ceremony for fun, but they can't get legally married online from separate locations. This is because the legal aspects of a marriage must be fulfilled in a physical location and the internet itself is not a place or a legal entity.

Thus, those who are pursuing a legal marriage will need to follow the requirements of the jurisdiction in which they are physically located in order to obtain a legitimate marriage license. However, there still is one way to get married even if one or both of the prospective spouses can't be physically present: a proxy marriage.

Having a Proxy Marriage

In a proxy marriage, another person stands in as a representative for a prospective spouse who is not able to be physically present at the wedding. It is also possible for a double proxy marriage to occur if both partners are absent. This type of marriage is common for those serving in the military, cases where one or both partners are imprisoned, or people who are restricted for travel or immigration reasons. Video conferencing often takes place, so the partners still can share the experience of the ceremony.

Having a proxy involved acts as a measure to make sure the marriage is freely chosen and done for the right reasons. For instance, it should stop people from getting married who are just looking for citizenship in a country. Additionally, it should help to prevent issues of consent, especially those involving sex workers, human trafficking, and other types of illegal or fraudulent activity.

However, proxy weddings are not seen as legally binding marriages in many jurisdictions. In that case, the only way to make it a legal marriage is to have both parties present. But there are certain places with exceptions. For example, in England proxy marriages are valid if the law of the place where the marriage took place allows them.

Illegal Marriages

People who participate in an illegal marriage can face serious legal consequences. For instance, those who try to game the system and use a marriage to gain citizenship can cause both spouses to face hefty fines of up to $250,000, jail time of up to five years, and several other charges in the United States. Even if you unknowingly enter into an illegal marriage, you could face these consequences.

There are also issues of bigamy, in which a person enters a marriage with someone while they are still legally married to someone else. This is considered a crime in many countries, including the United States.