Getting Married During the Covid-19 Pandemic
What Is a Zoom Marriage?
As the named suggests, a “zoom marriage” is a wedding ceremony that occurs remotely via video conference. Remote wedding ceremonies are called “zoom marriages” because of Zoom’s popularity as a video-conference platform. However, a couple can use any real-time video-conference platform; it need not occur on a Zoom website.
Most states that permit zoom marriages as an alternative to a traditional wedding ceremony will likely require the following for a zoom marriage to be legal:
· The ceremony must occur in real time. No pre-recorded vows will be permitted.
· The couple must be together. Although guests should not be in person, the married couple will be expected to be in physical proximity to one another. States with mandatory social distancing have exceptions for family members.
· Check with your state about whether the marriage officiate needs be physically present with the couple.
What are the Normal Requirements to Get Married?
Normally the requirements to be married to another person are:
· Both parties must be 16-18 years old (may vary between states).
· Both parties must also have the ability to understand the significance of the commitment that they are making.
· Both parties must consent to the marriage.
In order to get married with another person, the couple must go through the following steps:
· Obtain a marriage license from the local courthouse. Both parties must provide their marriage history and personal background information, such as social security numbers, birth dates, etc.
· Participate in a marriage ceremony.
· Obtain a signed marriage certificate by a marriage officiate.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages Zoom Marriage?
There may be many personal reasons why a couple may prefer to get married remotely rather than wait for the pandemic to end. However, there are several cost-benefit reasons for a remote video wedding over a physical wedding ceremony.
Remote video weddings can be cheaper. Costs such as reserving large venues, food, wedding bands, and caterers can be entirely forgone. Wedding services offer amenities such as food delivery to guests, but those amenities are probably not socially expected.
A remote wedding can potentially accommodate more guests. Time and travel are not factors for guests to remote weddings.
On the other hand, remote video weddings cut down significantly on the social and traditional aspects of the ceremony itself. There is no dancing or socializing.
Finally, not every country or even American state recognizes a zoom marriage. The concept is still new and governments will require time to adjust.
Are Zoom Marriages Legal?
Zoom marriages are a legal way of being married provided that they fit the definition of a “marriage ceremony.” As marriage ceremonies can be conducted with as few as one witness and one marriage officiate, the number and presence of guests are barely relevant. The concept is very new and thus untested in court, but it’s difficult to imagine that a judge would void a marriage simply because the ceremony was witnessed over the internet. However, New York’s governor explicitly legalized the practice through an executive order issued in May 2020.
Are There Any Other Issues With a Zoom Marriage?
Some countries may reject a zoom marriage on the grounds that they are fraudulent marriages. For instance, Canada denies immigration by proxy marriage and views zoom marriages as a type of proxy marriage as neither person has to be present for the ceremony.
What If We Can’t Get a Marriage Officiate?
Some states recognize common law marriages. That is, no official ceremony needs to be held. The spouses only have to agree to be married and present themselves to the world as such. However, not every state recognizes common law marriage – check with a local family law attorney to determine if common law marriage is recognized in your state.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Get Married?
Lawyers are rarely needed to get married. However, Covid-19 has completely upended normal life, including wedding ceremonies. If you require assistance in getting your Zoom or remote wedding legally recognized, a family lawyer may be required.