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Sometimes life works out differently than we expect. That shouldn’t mean we have to sacrifice our most celebrated demonstration of love – marriage. Fortunately, these days couples have options even when they can’t be together right now. Marriage by proxy occurs when at least one member of a couple is unable to be present at their own wedding, and due to a variety of reasons, may ask a person (commonly a close friend or relative) to attend in their place, along with a legal representative. In a proxy wedding, the absent person – or persons in the case of a double proxy wedding – is customarily represented by somebody acting on their behalf and someone to carry out the due legal process.

This practice was common throughout Europe from about the Middle Ages until at least the late 19th century. Often, couples would marry from afar, during wartime for example, as it could take weeks or months to reach each other without the aid of modern air travel. Early references and reasoning for traditional proxy weddings, as well as examples of proxy wedding vows are present in Giovanni Boccaccio’s book “The Decameron” (1349–53).

Historical examples include that of French queen consort Adela of Champagne who in 1109 married Louis VII of France while being represented by her uncle Bruno, archbishop of Cologne. The most famous case of proxy marriage occurred in 14th-century Castile, when Alfonso XI of Castile married Maria of Portugal through a representative acting on behalf of her father, Joseph I of Portugal.

Currently, there are many online options for couples to obtain a legal US marriage license even when they can’t be together in the short or long term. The reasons and circumstances for requiring a proxy wedding are complicated and unique, and businesses that provide weddings by proxy understand this, and may even provide comprehensive services and support, or “white glove” services to make the process as simple, smooth, and enjoyable as possible.

Only some states, such as Kansas, will legally recognize a proxy marriage but don’t fret. The truth is, we’d always rather be together but if life gets in the way and we don’t want to let our happiness slip away, remember there is support for you no matter where you are. If your state can’t provide these services, find a proxy marriage service that takes care of the whole thing for you in a state near you, from your air travel to accommodations and all transportation, to navigating all the legal jargon and paperwork so you can focus on what really matters – the love between you.