Watching a Couple Get Married Through an Electronic DeviceThe COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to almost a standstill in 2020. Couples all over the globe postponed or canceled their nuptials as social distancing prevented public gatherings and travel. Even marriage license offices across the United States shut their doors. Wedding bells stayed eerily silent during Spring 2020. But love usually finds a way around obstacles like these. As stay-at-home orders interrupted their plans, some couples got inventive – and the “Zoom wedding” was born. Livestreamed ceremonies grew popular, allowing friends and family to share in wedding-day joys. This brief guide presents the ins and outs of virtual marriage plus other useful information for both couples and officiants.

What Is Virtual Marriage?

Simply put, a virtual wedding ceremony is one that’s hosted on a video conferencing platform. Typically, the happy couple and their officiant hold the ceremony in one location while streaming the event to their guests. In some cases, the officiant may be offsite but attend via video and solemnize the marriage.

One couple even tied the knot over Zoom while in different countries. Boundless shared that story in March 2021: The bride was in Argentina, the groom was in New York, and the officiant was in Utah. The couple was eligible for a Utah marriage license, which they applied for and signed electronically.

While Zoom is a popular provider, other services have the features and bandwidth to livestream ceremonies. Some couples have used Google Hangouts or Skype. And like Zoom, both services allow guests to join the stream and videocast themselves. Meanwhile, more virtual wedding platforms have launched since early 2020, including Simply Eloped, Lovestream, Lovecast, and WedWedMobile. Wedding planning platforms such as Joy have added streaming services. Couples who prefer one-way streaming can choose services such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Instagram Live.

Are Online Weddings Legal?

Many cities, counties, and states allow some form of online marriage. Most require both the couple and the officiant to be physically present during the ceremony. If witnesses are required, they may also need to be present at the ceremony site. Your guests, however, can safely attend via video conferencing.

With that said, there are a few exceptions. Only a few states allow marriage by proxy, in which one or both of the spouses-to-be are not physically in the same location. Utah permits proxy marriages via video conferencing, so long as the officiant is present within the state. Proxy marriages are also currently legal in California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, and Texas. Virtual weddings may be valid in those states if at least one party is present in person.

Every jurisdiction has its own rules regarding weddings. Before you plan an internet marriage, it’s best to check your state or local laws. Your county clerk, local court, or marriage license office can tell you more.

Can We Get a Marriage License Online?

Hosting a virtual wedding is one thing. Yet most locales will let you get a marriage license via the internet – or at least begin the application process online. Once you’ve finished the online portion, you may need to submit any appropriate documents either through the issuing office’s website or in person. Nearly all require licenses to be processed and/or picked up in person. Some states, such as Ohio, let couples appear before an official by remote video in certain cases.

Legal online marriages are now a thing in many parts of the United States. Couples are still getting on board even as our world tries to return to normal, but these virtual ceremonies may be here to stay. Before you dive into planning, consult your officiant and check your local laws on marriage requirements.

Category: Ceremonies


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