Home Marriage Can You Legally Get Married Over Text?

Can You Legally Get Married Over Text?

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In today’s digital world, technology enables us to do more things remotely than ever before. From virtual doctor visits to online classes, many activities that once required in-person interactions can now take place digitally.

This extends to relationships as well – many couples have fallen in love and built bonds without meeting face-to-face.

So can you truly get married over text or video chat?

When it comes to making a marriage legally binding, remote weddings present some unique challenges. In this article, we’ll break down the ins and outs of getting digitally married, including:

  • Legal requirements for a valid marriage by state
  • Options for remote ceremonies and how they differ
  • Practical considerations like witnesses and licenses
  • When a digital wedding is/isn’t legally recognized
  • Tips for ensuring your virtual “I dos” hold up

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of what’s needed to exchange vows remotely in a binding way. Let’s get started!

Marriage Laws Vary By Location

The most important thing to understand is that marriage laws are set at the state level in the US. Requirements for a valid union, like the presence of officiants and witnesses, can differ depending on where the couple lives.

Some states explicitly prohibit distance marriages while others are more flexible if certain procedures are followed. Do thorough research on your state’s specific statutes to see what options, if any, are available for a long-distance ceremony.

Pay close attention to residency rules too – some states only recognize marriages between residents, so living in different places could pose obstacles. You’ll want to contact the vital records office in your state for clarification on all legal points if planning a remote wedding.

Traditional Online Wedding Options

Some states do allow for remotely witnessed marriages as long as video conferencing technology is used and particular processes are adhered to. Here are a few of the more common digital ceremony models:

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Video Conferencing Wedding

An officiant, couple, and witnesses all connect over a program like Zoom or FaceTime during the scheduled service. As long as cameras show all parties clearly and the exchange of vows is audible, this replicates an in-person event digitally in some jurisdictions.

At-Home Self-Uniting

A handful of states permit couples to officiate their own nuptials without any third parties present if certain registration steps are followed in advance. Typically a signed affidavit is later filed to legally record the union.

Drive-Thru Wedding

For couples in different locations, some officiants offer ceremonies where the couple exchanges vows from separate vehicles in front of the officiant at a safe distance. Witnesses also participate remotely via video call.

While these virtual options allow for a personal ceremony from afar, all participants must still adhere to ID verification, signature, and record keeping demands per each state’s distance marriage laws. There are usually no shortcuts around legal formalities.

When a Digital Ceremony Won’t Suffice

Unfortunately, some states have not clarified statutes or issued specific pandemic guidance regarding remote unions. In these situations, there is insufficient legal framework to ensure a video wedding would hold up.

Some other instances where an online-only ceremony won’t create a legally valid marriage include:

  • If state law requires in-person exchange of vows/rings before officials and witnesses
  • If county clerks won’t issue licenses or register long-distance marriages
  • If either spouse is underage or the marriage violates common residency rules
  • Weddings across international borders without the proper documentation

In such cases, couples may need to delay finalizing their legal bond until public health allows for a traditional in-person event once more. Discuss alternatives like commitment ceremonies with an attorney if a virtual wedding doesn’t conform to jurisdiction rules.

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Licenses, Officiants and Witnesses

Assuming your state does permit distance marriages during this time, there will still likely be requirements around licenses, officials, and witnesses that must be fulfilled for the union to be valid. Here are some specifics to keep in mind:

Marriage License – Obtaining a license is a universal prerequisite. Find out if your local county clerk will issue for long-distance ceremonies in advance. Documents may need mailing/faxing between jurisdictions.

Officiant Qualifications – Officiants performing any marriage ceremony, virtual or not, must generally be ordained or commissioned according to state rules. Make sure your choice meets statutory criteria.

Witness Participation – Most statutes demand at least one witness, often two, corroborate the exchange of consent during the ceremony. Arrange for the required number to log on from their locations.

Recording Compliance – Be sure your officiant understands responsibilities to sign licenses and accurately register marriages with the vital records office per normal deadlines. This validates legal paperwork trail.

Taking care of these administrative tasks properly is what ensures your remote wedding is documented in line with code. Leave no room for technicalities by triple checking all I’s are dotted and T’s crossed per officials.

Tips for a Legally Binding Remote Wedding

With the right preparation and by following your locale’s specific distance marriage statutes, you can exchange vows and make your love officially legitimate through digital means.

Here are some additional recommendations:

1. Research thoroughly and get clarity from clerks/lawyers on any gray areas well before your ceremony date

2. Choose an experienced officiant already certified to perform long-distance nuptials legally in your state

3. Have all participants verify identities with ID’s visible on camera during the ceremony

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4. Consider incorporating recorded legal consent forms into your ceremony if needed

5. Photograph/notarize all necessary signatures for license paperwork trailing filing

6. Obtain marriage certificates promptly to present proof of marital status if questions arise

7. Check with employers/institutions about recognizing virtual unions for benefits/policy reasons

Taking the proper lawful steps gives peace of mind your remote “I dos” will hold up over time. With guidance and diligence, love can indeed be declared over technology when done correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some additional common inquiries about getting wed via text/video chat:

Can we just exchange vows over text/call? While romantic, vows alone do not create a binding marriage in any US state. Physical presence requirements and/or application of a valid license are universal.

What if we live in different countries? International distance marriages bring even more complex laws into play depending on citizenship status and individual nation statutes. Consult embassy officials for guidance.

Can our marriage later be disputed? As long as all legalities were followed to verify identities, obtain consent, and register unions properly, digital marriages hold the same weight as traditional ones. Couples should retain documentation just in case though.

Are video weddings traditions still observed? Yes, customs like rings, attire, rituals, and celebrations can absolutely be incorporated into remote ceremonies for sentimental purposes. Creativity helps keep virtual services personal and meaningful.

Our relatives can’t attend—any alternatives? Consider livestreaming the ceremony so those important from afar can still share the experience in real-time through streaming services or group video chat options. Screenshots or recordings can also be shared.

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