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Can you legally marry someone in a video game?

Published Thursday, Nov. 11th, 2021


Screenshot of wedding prep in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, via Switchforce

Throughout the pandemic, couples looking to tie the knot have had to get very creative with their wedding plans. Safety concerns and changing venue guidelines led to a steady rise in imaginative drive-thru ceremonies and backyard elopements officiated by friends and relatives. 

 

And something rarely seen before -- remote weddings, performed on Zoom or Skype -- became part of our everyday wedding experience.   

 

Millions of people rushed online to stay connected with their loved ones, using video-conferencing and lifestreaming to interact before, during, and after their wedding ceremonies, from FaceTimed bridesmaid brunches, to virtual bachelorette parties, to hybrid-style unity rituals.

 


With so much of the wedding experience going virtual, and Facebook’s new “META” and “Metaverse” launches, it was only a matter of time before people started asking…

 

Can we legally marry in a video game? 

 

It’s just another virtual venue, right? 

 

 

 

Screen shot from Meekah Dee's eternal bonding ceremony in FFXIV

Screenshot from an Eternal Bonding ceremony (the Everbinding Oath) in FFXIV, 

via player Meekah Dee 

 

 

 

The short answer is: No. But to be fair, this doesn’t seem as outlandish as it might have 2 years ago, before the coronavirus pandemic forced us all online in order to stay connected, and concepts like Facebook’s ‘Metaverse’ started trending (in which people attend immersive online events like concerts or meetings as digital avatars). 

 

And many, many engaged couples held mock weddings in video games over the past year, while waiting for venues to reopen at full capacity. 

 


Here are the facts.  

 

It’s true that several games let players’ characters get married, like Fable III, Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV), The Sims 4, or The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. And depending on the game, players can even plan elaborate details, down to the wedding cake, meals, and guest list!

 

While many of these games are single-player -- meaning you can only get hitched to an NPC -- some multiplayer games do let you marry another real player. 

 

For example, in Fable 3, two players can marry using XBox Live; and FFXIV’s Eternal Bonding ceremony lets real players wed, and even livestream their ceremony to family and friends over services like Twitch. 

 

But weddings in these games are just a part of game play, and aren’t officiated by other players.

 

Then, in early 2020, Animal Crossing arrived on the scene. Suddenly, hundreds of engaged couples began hosting virtual ‘weddings’ attended and conducted by friends, with guests scattered all over the world.

 

Set against the backdrop of a cheerfully animated island world, these couples were able to celebrate their commitment, in real-time with others close to them, even as their real-world wedding day plans disappeared. It was so popular that gamemaker Nintendo introduced a Wedding season, even updating the game's wedding offerings again in 2021.

 

 

Three friends perform a wedding in Animal Crossing : New Horizons

Three players demonstrate how to host a wedding ceremony on an elaborate island venue

 in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, via Switchforce

Watch the full video below.

 

 

But as cool as that might sound, video games aren’t the same as video-conferences, and those weddings still aren’t real… 

 

That’s because, for now, video games can’t meet the specific requirements for wedding-approved video conferencing technology in each state. 

 


Guidelines for online weddings 

 

While each state has its own specific rules, all states that allow virtual online weddings require officiants and couples to use a video-conferencing technology that enables them to see and hear each other in real-time, without anything that distorts their appearance -- such as a filter or adorable cartoon rendering. This rules out games.

 

Other common requirements are that one or all of the parties must be physically located within the state that issued the marriage license, and that couples must be able to show the officiant a government-issued photo ID via webcam.

 

So, for now, video game marriages are just for fun, and maybe conquest, but they won’t be legally binding. 

 

They could be good practice for the real thing though, and who knows what the future of immersive virtual events will hold! 

 


Learn which states allow online weddings, how to plan a virtual ceremony, and more: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See all articles tagged for Virtual Weddings

 

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Watch two friends get married in Animal Crossing: New Horizons,

with the help of a third friend joining in as their wedding officiant.

 

 


 


Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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