Is This Anyway to Start "Until Death Do We Part"

Are you too busy to attend your own wedding? Perhaps you have a business meeting at corporate headquarters, are enjoying a vacation and don’t want to come back or, more likely, been deployed overseas with the military. Well, never fear, for if you live in California, Colorado, Texas or Montana you can get married “by proxy.” In a marriage by proxy, either the bride or the groom does not appear in person for the wedding ceremony. During the solemnization of the marriage, another person stands in for the absent party, acting on a power of attorney. And, in certain counties of Montana, both the bride AND the groom do not have to be physically present to get married – this is called a “double proxy” marriage. One of the most famous unions created by double proxy was that of Emperor Napoleon and Archduchess Marie Louise in 1810.

It’s hard to believe you could be in one place and the bride could be thousands of miles apart and you could still get married. Now that’s a gift for the groom who doesn’t like to be the center of attention -- or even the attention of his finance. These laws were originally put on the books for the convenience of military personnel who were stationed apart yet need to get married in a hurry. But, of course, people from all over the world take advantage of the strange law and try to get hitched through mere paperwork in Montana.

Just because you don’t have to show up for a double proxy wedding doesn’t mean it’s free. The expenses incurred by the real bride and groom includes $50 apiece to the proxies (agents who have agreed to stand in as “bride” and “groom”), $100 to the judge, $150 to the lawyer (and witness); $53 for court fees; $14 for two certified copies of the marriage certificate. However, this is a small fraction of the price for flying back from overseas for the weekend to attend your wedding and all the other expenses that go with that such as tuxedos, wedding cakes and so on.

Another issue to note with marriage by proxy is that it may not be considered legal in states outside where the union was originally created. While some states may give the thumbs up, other states may only recognize the union as a common-law marriage. Iowa is the only state in the US doesn’t acknowledge them at all. It is good to check out all the legal implications before you say your virtual “I do’s.”

Many people who opt in for this curious ceremony may actually choose to have a siblings or friends stand in rather than hiring a “professional” proxy. If this is the case, remember to choose a thoughtful gift to send as a way of saying “thank you for filling in for me during my absence.” For your stand-in groom, any number of best man gifts or groomsmen gifts would be appropriate. Spare no expense; after all, it is his big day in a way, too!

Fancy choices from the groomsmen gift selection at include fine leather goods that can be used in the home and office. This includes briefcases, writing portfolios, wallets of all shapes and sizes, passport covers, trinket boxes and more. A practical luxury that you can give is a fine pen in handsome presentation box. He can use the writing implement to sign the marriage license and then take it to write a love note to his own sweetie later that day!

What do you think about marriage by proxy? In what circumstances, if ever, would you choose to tie the knot this way? Let us know in the comments below.