US state countenances weddings in which neither party is actually there, explored in documentary Absent from Our Own Wedding
For some nervous betrothed pairs a proxy wedlock might resound more 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 usages and rules to Britain.
The award-winning British documentary maker and former actor Debbie Howard recently released the first film about a US duo who loped a thriving proxy marriage business from their rural home in Flathead county, Montana.
Her film Absent from Our Own Wedding tells the striking storey of the retired husband and wife team Tom and Teresa Kennedy, who manage about 500 marries a year for a cost of $750( PS530 ), without ever gratifying a redden bride or a gallant groom.
Montana is the only US state where doubled agent weds are legal and the Kennedys imagine their business, Armed Forces Proxy Marriages, offers a helpful service to couples 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 doing 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 laboured 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 excused, and was initially a route to help out male miners.” All the women were on the east coast and it was not seen as proper to produce them to tough all-male mining communities to get married ,” he said.
Teresa, 56, regularly stands in for either the bride or the bridegroom, who can be same-sex, while a colleague steps up to play their proposed. Tom will often conduct the ceremony.
In the past doubled, proxy matrimony was possible in Montana for anyone who worked from anywhere in the world, but 10 year ago the law was changed. Now one of the two getting married must be a resident of Montana- or on active job 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 knowledge is, in Montana you do not even need to be a magistrate or a adjudicator to marry people. You simply 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.