Complete Guide to Online Marriages

Updated on January 7, 2024

At a Glance

  • Online marriages have gained popularity, especially during the pandemic.
  • Couples plan, execute, and officiate their weddings online, with guests joining via video conferencing platforms.
  • Wedding planners offer customized online wedding packages, allowing couples to personalize e-invites, decor, and food.
  • While some states like California, New York, Colorado, and Ohio allow online weddings, specific conditions and temporary provisions apply. For example, in California, both parties and at least one witness must be present via video conferencing to obtain a marriage license.

In the past two years, many people have had to postpone their weddings. The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped many in-person events, including social distancing norms and lockdown mandates in several areas.

The world may have stopped for some time, but it has not stopped wedding season. Couples eager to get married have sought non-traditional forms of marriage ceremonies that help keep communities safe and uphold centuries-old traditions of getting two people bound together. But are virtual weddings in for the long haul? This article will discuss everything there is to know about online weddings and how long they might be here to stay.

Online Marriages Explained

Online marriages have become a raging trend among couples, especially those who have already delayed their nuptials for a significant period due to the pandemic. Keeping in mind the restrictions and dangers posed by the coronavirus pandemic, many see online weddings as the way to go. There is no guarantee that the situation will completely go back to normal, leading to uncertainty that has pushed many to have their weddings online.

Marriages are now planned, executed, streamed, and officiated online, with people joining in across the world via video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, FaceTime, or other similar services. Online wedding services have become easy to organize with a host of wedding planners and event management companies offering customized online wedding packages for couples. These teams are tech-savvy and know how to harness the power of the internet to make the event a success.

Online weddings start with a customized e-invite, along with social media accounts documenting the couple’s journey. The e-invite contains the link address to the online wedding event. With online weddings, the guest list can be highly customizable, with couples having the liberty to invite whoever they want to their online wedding event.

Once the date is set, it is time to set the scene. Wedding planners help arrange the wedding location or the place where the video conferencing will take place. This is where couples can choose what they want with their wedding decor and food. And since online weddings are a small affair, they are incredibly cost-effective too!

On the day of the wedding, everybody joins in on the celebrations by logging in to the event via the link provided. Through video conferencing, people have the chance to come together safely and celebrate the union of their friends, family members, or loved ones. Online weddings have filled the gap left by events and gatherings that populated our social calendar. With restrictions easing across the country, many have taken to hybrid weddings where they conduct an in-person wedding and stream it online for those who couldn’t attend.

Which States Have Online Weddings?

The news may have you thinking that online weddings are legal across America. But this is not true. Currently, there are a few states that allow for online weddings. But in most other states, the existing marriage laws prevent such ceremonies from being legally acceptable and binding. In other cases, states have not come out with clear guidelines for online marriages and wedding ceremonies, making it difficult to plan such events.

California

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on April 30th, 2020, allowing Californian residents to register and obtain marriage licenses online instead of in person. He declared this executive order in a tweet, “NEW: CA will now allow adults to obtain marriage licenses via videoconferencing for the next 60 days.” This executive order makes it easier for couples to conduct legally approved weddings via video conferencing. The only binding condition is the presence of both parties and at least one witness who joins the live video conferencing event.

The mandate has been extended through December 31st, 2021.

New York

Like California, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing virtual wedding ceremonies from April 18th, 2020. The executive order was announced as part of his daily coronavirus briefing and via his Twitter account as follows, “NEW: I am issuing an Executive Order allowing New Yorkers to obtain a marriage license remotely and allowing clerks to perform ceremonies via video conference.”

This means people in New York can now hold official wedding ceremonies on their preferred video conferencing app, with the assistance of marriage clerks to officiate the wedding. Engaged couples can apply for their marriage licenses online because of this order.

The executive order makes it easier for New Yorkers to get married. Under typical New York law, couples need to visit the marriage license office in person to get their wedding officiated. It is essential to know that this executive order is a temporary provision and not a permanent addition.

Colorado

In March of 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis passed an executive order that allows clerks to give out marriage licenses via an application submitted through the mail instead of an in-person appointment. Like other executive orders issued by New York and California, the Colorado order allows engaged couples to register and conduct home marriages and apply for a marriage license.

The news was shared all across Colorado government social media handles, with the Boulder County Clerk tweeting, “Hey @bouldercounty residents – Getting married soon? Don’t fret! Our offices may be closed to the public, but we can now complete a marriage license application over video chat & mail you docs!”

It is important to note that this option will be removed after December 31st, 2021.

Ohio

Compared to the above three states, things have been done a bit differently in Ohio. In Ohio, there are only some counties that have made changes to their marriage laws.

In all of the above cases, it is essential to note that officiants cannot solemnize marriages via online video conferencing.

How to Get Married Online in California

Californians can get a marriage license from their local county clerk by applying online and via video conferencing. However, they need to meet the following criteria to obtain a marriage license in California:

  • Both adults should be residents of California
  • Both adults need to be present for the online marriage ceremony being conducted via video conferencing
  • Both adults should have a valid photo ID at the time of the video conference
  • The video conference must have at least one other witness present

Upon meeting all of the above conditions, the couple will receive their marriage license from the marriage clerk via email, officially recognizing their marriage.

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Conclusion

If you are looking to get married sometime soon, be sure to read the guidelines for your respective state before planning your dream wedding. In many cases, people have postponed their wedding events to a later time when larger gatherings will be more appropriate. Still, if you are ready to get married, online weddings are a trending, low-cost option to consider. And who knows, online weddings may become a standard fixture in our ever-evolving society.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is an online marriage?

An online marriage is a legally recognized marriage that takes place primarily through online platforms, where the couple exchanges vows and completes the necessary legal requirements virtually.

Is an online marriage legally valid?

Yes, in many jurisdictions, online marriages are legally valid as long as they meet the specific requirements set by the governing authorities. It is essential to check the local laws and regulations regarding online marriages.

Can I have an online marriage ceremony?

Yes, online marriage ceremonies are possible. Couples can choose to have a virtual ceremony where they exchange vows and celebrate their marriage with friends and family through video conferencing platforms.

What documents are required for an online marriage?

The required documents for an online marriage may vary depending on the jurisdiction. Commonly, you will need identification documents such as passports or birth certificates, proof of residency, and any necessary legal forms provided by the authorities.

How can I ensure the legality of an online marriage?

To ensure the legality of an online marriage, it is crucial to follow the specific guidelines and procedures set by the jurisdiction in which you intend to get married. Consulting with legal professionals or marriage officials can help ensure compliance.

Are there any limitations to online marriages?

Some jurisdictions may have specific limitations or restrictions on online marriages. It is advisable to research and understand the local laws and regulations to determine any limitations or requirements that may apply.

Can I have a legally binding online marriage across international borders?

The recognition of an online marriage across international borders depends on the laws and regulations of each country. It is essential to consult with legal professionals and relevant authorities to understand the requirements and validity of an international online marriage.

Can I apply for a visa based on an online marriage?

Visa regulations vary between countries, and the acceptance of an online marriage as a basis for a visa application depends on the specific immigration laws of the country in question. It is recommended to consult with immigration authorities for accurate information.

How do I dissolve an online marriage?

The process of dissolving an online marriage is generally similar to that of a traditional marriage. It involves legally filing for divorce or annulment in the jurisdiction where the marriage was registered. Consulting with a family law attorney is advisable for guidance through this process.

Are online marriages recognized worldwide?

The recognition of online marriages worldwide varies from country to country. Some countries may recognize online marriages, while others may not. It is essential to understand the legal status and recognition of online marriages in each specific jurisdiction.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.