US state tolerates marriages in which neither party is actually there, explored in documentary Absent from Our Own Wedding
For some anxious betrothed duos a proxy matrimony might sound extremely good to be true: if there really were such an easy way to avoid the stress and fuss of a wedding ceremony, surely everyone would do it?
But marriages in which neither the bride nor groom are present happen all the time, and not only in countries with very different traditions and statutes to Britain.
The award-winning British documentary maker and former performer Debbie Howard recently released the first film about a US duo who run a thriving proxy marriage business from their rural home in Flathead county, Montana.
Her film Absent from Our Own Wedding tells the remarkable narrative of the retired husband and wife team Tom and Teresa Kennedy, who manage about 500 weds a year for a cost of $750( PS530 ), without ever filling a redden bride or a chivalrous groom.
Montana is the only US state where doubled proxy bridals are legal and the Kennedys conceive their business, Armed Forces Proxy Marriages, offers a helpful service to duets who cannot arrange to be together on their large-scale day.
Tom Kennedy said:” I stumbled on the said law and now we just love make it and we want to carry on. We are not doing it for the money. We are fine, because Teresa was a stockbroker and I cultivated in public service for around 25 years, including a long time in the fire department .”
The obscure Montana law dates back to the 1860 s, Tom clarified, and was initially a lane to help out male miners.” All the women were on the east coast and it was not seen as proper to accompanied them to tough all-male mining local communities to to enter into marriage ,” he said.
Teresa, 56, regularly stands in for either the bride or the groom, who can be same-sex, while a peer steps up to play their purposed. Tom will often conduct the ceremony.
In the past doubled, proxy matrimony was possible in Montana for anyone who exploited from in all regions of the world, but 10 years ago the law was changed. Now one of the two getting married must be a resident of Montana- or on active responsibility in the armed services.
” Outside of Montana very few people have heard of this ,” said Tom, 66.” It is very obscure and even federal officials know nothing about it. The point is, in Montana you do not even need to be a magistrate or a adjudicate to marry parties. You just have to appear to be of sound mind to those who are present at the time. You could even marry yourselves .”
Howard’s documentary, made by Big Buddha Films, was shot in Montana last year and is now showing as part of the Real Stories strand on YouTube.