Thanks to the pandemic, many have put their wedding plans on hold. Even with restrictions lifted, there are a lot of hassles and long waiting lists as venues manage backlogs. So why not get married online?
There are many sites online where you can get married, or at least where you are promised that you can legally get married. We have researched the best services to organize legal weddings online in the United States and around the world. If you’ve heard of so-called “zoom weddings” being held using video conferencing technology and want to know where to start, read on for all the details.
The difference between legal and ceremonial marriages
There is a big difference between legal and ceremonial marriages. The mere fact of undergoing the marriage ceremony of your culture or your religion has no legal value. You need a marriage license issued by the authorities for the marriage to be recognized by the state.
In the United States, you must hold a wedding ceremony with a wedding officiant to complete the legal marriage process. However, the ceremony itself doesn’t have to be anything special. As long as the officiant witnesses and signs the license before sending it to the government clerk to register the marriage and issue a marriage certificate.
Who can get married?
Before the question of getting married through virtual weddings, a more critical question concerns the minimum requirements for marriage, whether that marriage takes place online or not. In the United States, you must be 18 to marry without the permission of an adult. However, there are exceptions in some states, such as Nebraska (19), Mississippi (21), and Puerto Rico (21).
If one or both of the people who wish to marry are under the legal age in the state where the service is provided, they will need permission from a parent or legal guardian. In addition, you will need to provide certified copies of identity documents. This can be an identity card, birth certificate or driver’s license. Be sure to check the marriage laws in the applicable state for any other limitations on who can legally marry.
Is online marriage legal in your state?
Assume you are a US resident or citizen. In this case, the local laws governing marriage are of the utmost importance if you want your marriage to be legally recognized. Additionally, the marriage official must have the legal powers to arrange the marriage, and a long distance marriage must be legal where you live.
A potential problem is that in many states where long-distance online weddings are legal, this has happened through an executive order from the governor of that state to allow social distancing. In other words, it is not a law passed by the state legislature. This means the next governor could reverse the order. In many cases, these decrees have deadlines and must be renewed at the discretion of the government.
The best strategy is to contact the county clerk’s office or city clerk’s office and confirm if you can get a marriage license online. It’s complicated if the couple are in different states when they want to get married. This can also be a problem if the officiant is outside of state lines.
Online marriages for immigration purposes
Suppose you are looking for a way to get married for immigration purposes. In this case, we strongly advise you to do so first with the competent immigration office. The wedding services listed here are generally for US residents in the United States who wish to get married.
However, your situation may be more complicated and you specifically want to get married so that you can accompany your partner to their country of residence. In this case, we strongly recommend getting professional legal advice from an immigration lawyer.
Marriages by proxy
Some sites, like Proxymariage.com, use a special method of legal marriage known as “proxy” marriage. This is where a person stands in for someone at the wedding and signs the marriage license on their behalf. It is also possible to have a marriage by double proxy, where none of the people getting married need to be present for the ceremony.
This is usually reserved for people in prison, the military, or other situations where they cannot be physically present at the wedding. However, marriage must be legalized. Therefore, we have refrained from listing sites offering proxy marriage services. They are generally not intended to help perform the virtual wedding service that people are looking for.
A little warning
The sites we have listed below appear to be legit places to get married online. Of course, we didn’t marry ourselves on these sites to test this. Ultimately, the final responsibility lies with you to ensure that the service you choose has the legal authority to marry you.
This includes obtaining third-party confirmation from marriage license issuers in your area before paying anything to a third party. As mentioned above, the situation is time sensitive and may change as you read this. For example, all New Yorkers (statewide, not just New York) have been given temporary permission to conduct online weddings. However, this ended June 25, 2021.
“Elope” means to run away and get married in secret without permission, which makes it a strange term to use if you’re selling weddings online, but the rest of the service is so well thought out that it makes up for it.
Simply Eloped defines “eloping” as a wedding with 20 or fewer guests. They guide clients through the process of planning their online weddings from start to finish.
This includes everything that happens during the ceremony itself, such as hair, makeup, flowers, video, photos, and anything else you associate with wedding planning. Except that Simply Eloped refuses to call itself a wedding planner.
When it comes to the legal aspect of the process, the company has an individualized approach to marriage licensing. The site provides advice to each couple based on the state they reside in.
WebWed is a name that came up several times during our online search for legal online wedding services. Unfortunately, WebWed doesn’t make the best first impression with a pop-up that begs the US government to reject all online marriages not performed by WebWed. But based on various third-party reviews that we have read, people are successfully getting married legally.
The company states that all of its licenses are issued by US courts and also cater to international couples. WebWed works with states that do not require residency. Although not stated anywhere on the WebWed website, third-party sources speculate that Utah could be one of these states since that state implemented fully digital marriage license applications and issuing since 2019. WebWed also offers Apostille licenses for international couples who need their marriage recognized outside of the United States.
If you don’t need the specific additional services offered by WebWed, you can go directly to the Utah government website and apply for a marriage license there. As we mentioned in the WebWed entry, Utah is the only state that does not require the couple to go to the clerk’s office.
Of course, this website will not provide you with any services related to your wedding ceremony, live streaming or anything else. It only manages the legal aspect of marriage. You must therefore always obtain a celebrant and meet the minimum requirements mentioned on the website.
This is the most cost-effective solution since you can make your ceremony as cheap and easy as you want, as long as the officiant recognizes it. Then, after the celebrant submits the documents remotely, and after a waiting period, you will get your marriage certificate without ever setting foot in a government office.
Wedfuly is not a service intended for the legal aspect of marriage. Instead, this company sells professional live streaming services for weddings. The Wedfuly team will help you set up a high-quality, multi-angle live stream that as many guests can attend as you want.
Although you won’t get a marriage license from Wedfuly, you must have the license before your ceremony. The company provides step by step instructions on how to complete the marriage license process. After your ceremony, the celebrant must sign the license and return it to the government clerk. Then some time later you will receive a copy in the mail.
Although you are mostly on your own when it comes to getting the license, Wedfuly’s process means you will be legally married. They have great resources on their blog to make sure you know what is needed for a legally honest marriage.
The company recommends an Arizona marriage license at the time of writing, as it is legal in all US states, and Arizona allows marriage license applications online or by mail. At least for the duration of stay-at-home orders.
MarryFromHome is another big name that we have come across many times when looking for legit sites to legally get married online.
The rather attractive and straightforward MarryFromHome website lists a host of services you can take advantage of if you want to get married, as the name suggests, at home. Like WebWed, the service is open to everyone, not just US citizens. The service offers facilities to organize the wedding event remotely and organize events after the ceremony itself.
MarryFromHome handles all the paperwork with the bureaucracy, for a price, of course. You need to complete their booking form, upload all necessary documents and share the private Zoom link with up to 90 guests. The ceremony lasts approximately 30 minutes and you have the option of having the certificate signed with an Apostille to help legitimize it outside the United States.
While getting married online might not be the fairytale wedding you’ve always dreamed of, it’s the right option in many circumstances. It may even be preferable to a traditional wedding for some people.
If you get a professional video streaming package to cover your wedding day, you’ll have an excellent, high-quality recording of the day you said “yes” that will last a lifetime if you back it up correctly!