“I do”, said the bride to her laptop. No, this isn’t a dystopian telling of our future in which robots are our new partners, it’s a reality for many separated by thousands of kilometres amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the pandemic, some couples forced apart are still going ahead with their wedding day, albeit in a much less traditional format. If you thought Zoom weddings were novel, wait till you hear about double proxy weddings, the hot new trend in 2020.
A proxy wedding or proxy marriage is a wedding in which one or both of the individuals getting married are not physically present for the nuptials, and are represented by other people standing in for them. A double proxy wedding is when both partners are physically absent and two other people stand in for them.
This is legally permissible under certain circumstance in some parts of the world, like if one partner is enrolled in military service, imprisoned or due to travel restrictions. Importantly, this marriage is not legally recognised by most countries as common law requires both parties to be present.
Marriage by proxy was very common among nobility centuries ago. Marie Antoinette married Louis-Auguste by proxy in 1770 and French emperor Napoleon married Archduchess Marie Louise by proxy in 1810. This service became even more popular in the early 1900s in America during the war efforts.
In 2020, it has seen a resurgence thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York Times writes of Randy Nuñez and Sasha Nuñez-Carvalho, who married via double proxy in October while he was quarantining in San Diego and she was deployed in the Navy in Europe.
Proxy marriage is legal in the state of Montana and several other American states, all the couple has to do is sign their right-of-attorney over to two stand-ins who them get married for them and sign the marriage licence on their behalf with an officiant present.
The couple who stood in for the Nuñez’s, Chris and April Coen actually specialise in double proxy marriages. For $675 (about R9910), the Coens will stand in for couples wanting to to tie knot. In fact, business has grown by 400% amid the pandemic and by the end of 2020 alone they would have performed about 2500 double proxy marriages.