Published: Wednesday, Feb. 16th, 2022
Double proxy marriage is big business in Big Sky Country, and demand is increasing every year. That’s because proxy weddings give couples a legal way to marry in Montana without being present at the wedding ceremony… or even in the same state!
Double proxy marriages have become so popular that they accounted for nearly 80% of all weddings in Flathead County last year. Flathead County is one of the few places in the state where the ceremonies are allowed, and it’s where rugged tourist destinations like Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Big Fork, and West Glacier are located.
According to Flathead’s Clerk of District Court, Peg Allison, demand is up in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, but shows no sign of slowing.
She says: "In 2019 we did 1,200 [double proxy weddings]. And then COVID hit, so in 2020 we went from 1,200 a year to 4,200 annually. And then in 2021, we did another 4,300 of them." (via CBS News)
Double proxy weddings are also incredibly popular among military couples, who are sometimes separated by sudden deployments before they can say ‘I do.’
If you want to wed by double proxy, or want to learn how to officiate these trending ceremonies, we’ve got you covered!
Proxy weddings are popular among military couples, who may be deployed before they can have a traditional wedding.
Define: Two ‘stand-ins’ act on behalf of the absent partners during their marriage ceremony.
In a double proxy marriage ceremony, both parties to the marriage sign their ‘right of attorney’ over to stand-ins – individuals who will participate in the wedding ceremony in their place by exchanging vows and signing the marriage license.
Double proxy marriages are similar to single proxy marriages, where only one party is absent from the ceremony. Several states allow single proxy marriages, for example California, Colorado, New Jersey (active military personnel only), Texas, and Montana.
Proxy weddings are chosen for a variety of reasons, but are usually arranged due to illness, unexpected travel or emergencies, or military deployment. They’re available to all qualifying couples (qualifications below), including same-sex couples.
Double proxy marriages are only permitted in Montana, and only in some counties, including Flathead County.
To qualify for a double proxy marriage, at least one party to the marriage must be a Montana resident, or be an active duty member of the armed forces. (Read this law: § 40-1-301.)
Both parties to the marriage must sign over their ‘right of attorney’ to their chosen stand-in by completing the necessary paperwork (usually a signed affidavit), giving the stand-ins and the wedding officiant the permission to complete, sign, and file the marriage contract in their absence.
We recommend you contact the Clerk directly for the most up-to-date information on applying for a marriage license and arranging proxies, as these details may change frequently:
A proxy, or 'stand-in,' signs the marriage license on behalf of the absent partner during a proxy wedding.
Pros: Convenient, practical, faster access to shared benefits
Cons: More legal paperwork, distance, no party or intimate event
‘Marriage by proxy’ makes it possible for couples to get married even when they’re unable to attend a ceremony together in person. This kind of separation might occur due to illness, travel restrictions, military deployment, family obligations and emergencies, or other unexpected circumstances.
Sometimes sooner is simply better. For many couples, waiting until everyone’s in the same place at the same time to marry isn’t practical. Marriage gives military partners and other couples access to shared benefits like insurance and housing, and provides security for families.
Of course, getting married without your partner, friends, and family around to celebrate isn’t as much fun as the alternative. The biggest negative to double-proxy marriage is the lack of in-person celebration. They also require additional legal paperwork to prepare and sign, which can be a daunting process without help from an experienced professional.
Proxy marriages are recognized in most countries and in all US states and territories, except Iowa.
We recommend that international couples contact the Clerk’s office to learn more about the limitations of double proxy for international marriages, as there are unique guidelines in these cases.
Proxy marriage gives families easier access to shared benefits like insurance, housing, and childcare.
An officiant’s role during a double proxy wedding is the same as in other weddings. The ceremony should include a Declaration of Intent and Pronouncement. The stand-ins and the wedding officiant will complete the marriage license, and no additional witnesses are required.
From § 40-1-301 of the Montana Code: “(2) If a party to a marriage is unable to be present at the solemnization, the party may authorize in writing a third person to act as proxy. If the person solemnizing the marriage is satisfied that the absent party is unable to be present and has consented to the marriage, the person may solemnize the marriage by proxy.”
It’s important to follow the state guidelines closely when filing the marriage license and additional paperwork. For this reason, we suggest you contact the Clerk’s office directly for specific directions on how to officiate a double proxy wedding.
To get started:
See more Montana Marriage Laws.
Don't qualify for a double proxy marriage, but still want to get married while you and your partner are in different locations?
Utah has unique laws for virtual marriage ceremonies that allow partners to marry remotely over Zoom and other video-conference software.
Virtual wedding ceremonies are an option when couples can't physically attend a ceremony together.
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