In a reality where nothing is real, it’s easy to imagine that virtual marriage could be a thing. And in some ways, it already is.
In China, for example, virtual marriages are on the rise. Young people find love online and then get married in live virtual, streamed ceremonies.
But what about in the west? Is virtual marriage legal?
The answer is: It depends.
There are no explicit laws against virtual marriage in most western countries. But that doesn’t mean that virtual marriages are automatically legal. You must consider several factors before deciding if a virtual marriage is for you.
For a virtual marriage to be 100% legal in the United States, the ceremony must meet all the requirements of a regular marriage ceremony. That means the virtual marriage would need to be officiated by a licensed officiant, and two witnesses would need to be present.
Some states in the US don’t recognise virtual marriages in any form. So even if you had a virtual marriage ceremony that met all the legal requirements, it’s possible that your state wouldn’t consider you married.
Another factor to consider is whether or not your country’s government recognises virtual marriages. If the government doesn’t recognise virtual marriages, then any legal benefits that come with marriage (such as tax benefits or immigration status) would not be available to couples who are married virtually.
So far, there haven’t been a lot of legal precedents set for virtual marriages apart from in Utah.
Utah is the only US state that recognises virtual weddings. But as virtual reality technology develops, we’ll likely see more and more virtual marriages taking place. And as more virtual marriages happen, we’ll understand better how the law views these marriages.
But what about in the UK? Is virtual marriage legal?
The answer is: No; virtual marriage is not currently legal in the UK.
There are no explicit laws against virtual marriage in the UK. But that doesn’t mean that virtual marriages are automatically legal. You must consider several factors before deciding if a virtual marriage is legally binding.
For a virtual marriage to be legal in the UK, the ceremony must meet all the requirements of a regular British marriage ceremony. That means a wedding would need to be officiated by a licensed officiant, and two witnesses would need to be present, just like in the US.
Why virtual marriage is a great idea
There are lots of reasons to choose a virtual marriage. Here are a few good ones:
1. You can have a virtual marriage without any hassles of a traditional wedding—no need to worry about finding a venue, booking a caterer, or dealing with Aunty Jan and her family drama.
2. You can have your virtual wedding anywhere in the world. Imagine getting married on a tropical beach, in an ancient cathedral, or even in outer space.
3. Virtual marriages are more environmentally friendly than traditional weddings. There’s no need to waste money on things like flowers or paper invitations when you could send out e-invites instead.
4. You can save a lot of money by having a virtual wedding. The average cost of a real-life wedding is around $30,000 in the US and £60,000 in the UK. In contrast, a virtual wedding can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.
5. Virtual marriages are more inclusive than traditional weddings. If you have friends or family members who can’t make it to your wedding in person, they can still participate by watching the ceremony online.
So if you’re considering a virtual marriage, there are many good reasons. But be sure to do your research first and ensure that virtual marriage is legal in your country before taking the plunge.
Why virtual marriage is a terrible idea
There are also some serious risks associated with virtual marriage. Here are a few issues to think about before tying the knot online:
1. The legal status of virtual marriages still needs to be determined. As virtual marriage becomes more common, we’ll see a more legal precedent for how the law treats these marriages. But for now, the legal status of virtual marriage is still very much up in the air.
2. Virtual marriages could have negative consequences for your immigration status. If you’re not a citizen of the country where you’re getting married, and your home country doesn’t legally recognise your virtual marriage, you could face problems with your immigration status.
3. You could marry someone you’ve never met in person. Online stranger danger is one of the most common risks associated with virtual marriage. You could end up married to someone you’ve only ever interacted with online. And if you later discover that this person isn’t who they claimed to be, it could be complicated to get out of the marriage.
4. Virtual marriages could have negative consequences for your financial status. If you’re married virtually, you may not be able to get all the economic benefits available to traditional married couples (such as tax breaks or spousal support).
5. Your virtual marriage could be annulled if it’s discovered that you were not legally married. If it’s later ruled over that your virtual wedding wasn’t legal, the authorities could cancel your marriage, and you could find yourself in a very precarious legal and financial situation.
6. Marrying a Klingon might kill your chances with the Tribbles. And Ultimecia or Princess Sarah are unlikely to want you if you’re collecting virtual Celes as wives.
If you’re thinking about virtual marriage, do your research first and ensure that virtual marriage is legal in your country. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a very sticky situation.
This virtual marriage thing seems like more trouble than it’s worth – Want to know more? Why not read 10 things you didn’t know about virtual marriage here?