In today’s world partly governed by fantastic technological advances designed to make life easier and more manageable, it’s very easy to claim that anything is possible – even conducting the sacrament of matrimony over the World Wide Web.
Long distance relationships are no longer a pain to deal with because of services like Skype, FaceTime, and Google+ Hangout, which allow couples to pretend they are within arm’s reach, and abandonment at the altar is an even lesser problem because overseas couples can now opt for a proxy marriage, a legal procedure that lets couples get married even when the other party is not present at the moment.
Apparently, this has been a longstanding practice, dating back to the early 1700s when Marie Antoinette was wed to Louis XVI despite his absence. According to the New York Times, the option of a proxy wedding is rarely used in the country and is usually afforded by members of the military that are assigned to hostile territories, when they are concerned about possibly dying in combat and leaving behind families without benefits. Lately, there is an increase in the number of people from immigrant communities in the U.S. – who would like to avoid travel costs – also seeking out this alternative so they can marry someone from their homeland without having to spend for a ticket back home.
Despite the arrangement’s partial legality (only a few states recognize its validity, and most require the other party be a member of the military), proxy marriages are also being viewed as a potential breeding ground for immigration fraud and human trafficking violations. Many of those authorized to conduct these unions are hesitant to do so because the number of people hoping to enter the country through loopholes is increasing at an alarming rate.
Adam Candeub, a Michigan State University College of Law professor studying proxy marriage, thinks “part of the reason for having the two people come and appear before a priest or a judge is to make sure it is a freely chosen thing.” Another valid reason would be to avoid potential marital mishaps, such as being ensnared by a partner who is only after permanent residency or citizenship in the U.S., or even being used as a means to transport women (without their consent) into the country who come here to be sex workers.
Don’t be discouraged, though. When proper precautions are taken, proxy marriages are actually a good way to transcend distance and legalize the bond between you and your beloved abroad. Make sure you consult an attorney before going through the process to ensure you fulfill all the requirements and that your marriage will be recognized as valid.