Definition of proxy marriage
A proxy wedding or (proxy marriage) is a wedding in which the bride or groom (or both) is not physically present, usually being represented instead by another person. If both partners are absent a double proxy wedding occurs.
Marriage by proxy is usually resorted to either when a couple wish to marry but one or both partners cannot attend for reasons such as military service, imprisonment, or travel restrictions; or when a couple lives in jurisdiction in which they cannot legally marry (such as Israel, where only people belonging to the same recognised religious community may marry).
Proxy weddings are not recognized as legally binding in most jurisdictions: both bride and groom must be present. A proxy marriage contracted elsewhere may be recognised where proxy marriage within the jurisdiction is not; for example, Israel recognises proxy marriages abroad between Israelis who may not have been permitted to marry in Israel.
- United States
In the United States proxy marriages are provided for in law or by customary practice in California, Colorado, Montana, and Texas.
Proxy marriages are illegal in all US states except Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, and Montana. In California it was legalized in 2004 for members of Armed Forces currently deployed and unable to attend a service. Montana is the only state that allows double-proxy marriage. Not all states fully recognize proxy marriages, but legal precedent dictates that states recognize proxy marriage as at least a common-law marriage.
During the early 1900s US proxy marriages increased significantly when many Japanese picture brides arrived at Angel Island, California. Since the early 20th century it has been most commonly used in the USA for marriages where one partner is a member of the military on active duty.
- Other countries
Mexico and Paraguay both offer proxy marriages for a fee. Proxy marriages through the consulate of Paraguay in Tel Aviv are recognized by Israeli law.
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