Military Wedding Options: Proxy Marriage

(Photo: U.S. Army)
(Photo: U.S. Army)

Did you know a proxy marriage can allow you to be officially married without your significant other even being present?

There are plenty of reasons military marriage is complicated. Deployments, frequent moves and long training absences make planning the wedding difficult -- forget navigating the marriage itself.

Marriage by proxy is one way to make the wedding less complicated. Available from a handful of states, proxy marriages allow couples to be officially married despite the challenges the military world might throw at you. So how does it work?

What Is Proxy Marriage?

A proxy marriage is a way to be legally married while at least one of the members of the couple is not present. It doesn't have to take the place of a wedding ceremony later.

This option can be particularly important to military couples, since many military benefits such as housing allowances and health care are available only to those who are officially husbands or wives.

Getting legally married also ensures that you will be able to receive help from the military should your significant other be injured or killed in action. Those privileges are not given to girlfriends or fiancees, no matter how long the couple has been together.

Where to Get a Proxy Marriage

Proxy marriages are available only to military couples in Montana, Colorado, Texas and California. In Colorado, one person must be out of state (or incarcerated). In California, only military service members who are deployed for war (Korea doesn't count) can be married by proxy. And in Texas one must be in the state and have a signed affidavit from the absent member.

Montana makes it even simpler, as long as one of the participants is an active duty service member or a resident. It allows a process known as "double proxy marriage." That system lets military couples get married without either of them present.

Proxy Marriage Fees

Hiring a marriage proxy service, which officiates or "solemnizes" the marriage and makes the whole thing official, isn't always cheap. In Montana, where services will hire two stand-ins for a double proxy marriage, fees range from $600 to $1,000.

The other states, which require only a marriage license and notarized paperwork, cost far less.

How to Get a Proxy Marriage

If you're looking to get a proxy marriage in California, Texas or Colorado, the best thing to do is head down to your local county clerk's office for exact information about fees and rules for proxy marriages. That's because while proxy marriage is legal in those states, each county may have its own specific processes and rules for securing one.

If you plan to have a double proxy marriage in Montana, you'll likely want to hire a service to help since you don't ever need to physically be in the state. 

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