Marriage by Proxy

'So guys... are the rumours true? Are you really married?'

It seems that marriages in some cultures have to be a huge affair. Throwing a big afterparty becomes a matter of family status rather than a promise of love and commitment. Weddings, particularly in countries with a predominant religion, must be struggled with to keep the bills low. You nurture deep respect towards the couples that found the perfect wayside chapel, managed a simple, home-cooked dinner, or, at the very least, knew everybody on the guest list. You begin to envy the 'common law' marriages that kept things to minimum. Some forgoe the catering; others the flowers. Dinner with the immediate family is enjoyed as a rare treat...

Well, some manage to do away with the bride and the groom.

'Sort of. Our mothers married for us.'

Such marriages are known as a marriage by proxy.

'Huh?! Erm... wouldn't that make you brother and sister?'

This may occur when either the bride or the groom are not able to be present at their own wedding day. When both parties are unable to attend the process may be called a 'double proxy marriage'. It may be the case that it is easier to be registered as wed in their own country of origin rather than dealing with the officials of their hostng countries. However, there are no countries to date which allow both marriages by proxy and same sex marriages.

'No... silly. Seriously, our mothers signed the paperwork for us...'

Both parties must mandate an agent, besed upon a power of attorney, to sign the wedding papers on their behalf during the solemnisation. The marriage may be annulled if the marriage is not consummated.

'We thought you might not understand. This sort of thing happens often in S. America. That's why we kept it to ourselves.'

The four states in the US that allow a marriage by proxy are Colorado, Texas, Montana and California. In the latter's case proxy marriage law is limited to serving deployed soldiers. The only state that allows a double proxy marriage is Montana. The other two countries which allow a 'mail-in' marriage are Paraguay and Mexico. In Mexico, one requires no proof of residency and the whole shebang (or lack thereof) can be arranged in one day, and paid with a credit card. This can cost anything between 500 and 800 US dollars. In Israel, restrictive marriage laws have led a number of couples to marry by 'mail-in' marriage through the Paraguayan consulate in Tel Aviv.

'Is it because she needed a visa?'

This is not a recent development. In 1810, Napolean I of France married Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma in this manner. Later, in the beginning of the 20th century, proxy marriages were on the rise when many Japanese picture brides, that is, brides chosen only via a photograph, arrived in Angel Island. In May 1912, it was stated that over four thousand Japanese women had arrived on the Pacific Coast shore during the previous year. In that same month, one steamer brought seventy-five such girls. On August 10, 2003 Ekaterina Dmitriev was married by proxy in Texas to Yuri Malenchenko, a cosmonaut at the time on board the International Space Station. You could say it was the first "space wedding" in history.

'We would have married anyway... if it weren't for this opportunity...'

'...We also didn't say, because, well... we don't really feel married at all.'


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