Proxy marriages, or weddings of proxy, take place when either the bride or the groom are not physically present for the ceremony. We enlighten you on what you need to know about proxy marriages.
Napoleon Bonaparte married Marie Louise, Archduchess of Austria, in March 1810, by proxy.
Proxy marriages took place even in the Medieval Age and early Modern Age. This type of marriage was very common in Europe, and was carried out by the European royalty and monarchy. One of the famous and most well-known proxy weddings was that of Catherine of Aragon and Arthur, Prince of Wales, who were married by proxy on May 19, 1499.
Proxy marriages take place when the bride or the groom are not physically present for the ceremony. A double proxy marriage is when both the bride and the groom are absent. In the absence of the bride or the groom, or in some cases both, there is a stand in, as in a person who represents one of the two parties that are unable to attend the ceremony. Usually, people serving in the military, prisoners, and those with travel restrictions resort to proxy marriages.
Proxy marriages are also carried out between couples living in jurisdictions where they cannot legally get married to each other. For example, in Israel, where marriage can take place between a couple, only if they belong to the same recognized religious community.
In the United States, wedding by proxy is legal in the states of Colorado, Texas, Montana, and California. Given below in this OpinionFront article are other details that are important where proxy marriages are concerned.
Proxy Marriages in the United States
* Given below are the requirements for a proxy marriage to take place in Texas, Montana, Colorado, and California.
In Texas, any person who is an adult can apply for a proxy marriage on behalf of the bride or the groom (if one of the two parties is unable to appear before the county clerk in charge of proxy marriages). If either of the parties is unable to attend the ceremony, they have to provide an affidavit of the absent applicant. This also holds true for those serving in the military, who are unable to be present for their wedding. But if a person is incarcerated, a prison proxy form must be provided.
Under Sections 40-1-301(2) and 40-1-213(3), proxy marriages are legal in the state of Montana. A valid marriage license is required, and ministers of the gospel of any denomination can perform the marriage ceremony. The marriage certificate must be provided to the district court within 30 days after the marriage. Montana is the only state that allows a double proxy marriage.
Under Section 14-2-109(2), a proxy marriage can be conducted in Colorado, if either the bride or the groom are unable to attend the ceremony. The party that is absent should give his authorization to a third person to act as his proxy, in writing. Apart from this written authorization, an absentee application form from the Clerk and Recorder’s office that has been notarized has to be presented during the ceremony.
According to Section 420(a) of the California Family Code, proxy marriages are not allowed, and both the parties wishing to get married have to be physically present for the ceremony.
However, Section 420(b) of the California Family Code allows only those who are serving in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, stationed overseas, or serving in a war, to be absent from the wedding. A power of attorney should be submitted to the county clerk’s office, and an attorney-in-fact should represent him/her during the wedding ceremony.
Proxy Marriages in Other Countries
In Israel, people belonging to different religious communities are allowed to get married to each other, but the actual wedding is not conducted there. Therefore, Israelis wishing to get married outside their community have to go to El Salvador, where their marriage can be conducted and registered. Four representatives should be present for the wedding, two of which are witnesses and the other two are the stand-in bride or groom. The marriage certificate is sent approximately two or three months later via post to Israel.
Countries like India, England, Canada, and Israel also recognize proxy marriages conducted via the Internet using Skype, in the presence of a proper legal authority. Similar to proxy marriages, eMarriages are also recognized in India, Bangladesh, Canada, etc. These marriages are conducted in the presence of a licensed authority like the Priest, Rabbi, Quazi, or a marriage registrar.
Loopholes in the Proxy Marriage System
Immigration officials hinted that proxy marriages were a way of gaining citizenship of a country by means of getting married to a citizen of the said country because the United States of America recognizes a legal wedding that has been registered overseas.
Proxy marriages have their pros and cons, the pro being – bringing together two people from different countries and making it easier for them to spend their life with each other; and the con being – fraudulent marriages only for the sake of a green card or citizenship of a particular country. For example, Stacy is a citizen of the United States of America living in New York, and her boyfriend Steve, who she met through the Internet, lives in Indonesia. They conduct a wedding via Skype, with a minister reciting the marriage vows, etc. Steve can register their wedding in Indonesia and move to America, as the US government recognizes marriages that are registered abroad, pertaining to the legal norms of the particular country. He automatically gets a green card and becomes a citizen of the US. This was just an example of the biggest loophole in this proxy marriage system, that has actually left many men and women heart-broken, as their spouses just used them for gaining citizenship of the US.
The main reason as to why two people are supposed to be present during their marriage ceremony, is to make sure they are getting married willingly. But, in recent times, the whole concept of proxy marriages has been abused, as women have been brought to America under the guise of such weddings, and later on been used for human trafficking.
Private companies and websites help with proxy marriages, albeit their fees are high. Depending on the time taken and paperwork involved in the process, the charge for proxy marriages ranges between $500 and $1500. Payments can be made to such companies in the form of cash, check, or money order. But remember to be careful while going in for a proxy marriage.