A short new documentary film from a UK film studio reminds us all of an interesting if not somewhat surprising fun fact: military proxy marriages are still a thing that couples do. And in Montana, according to this film, they are done a lot.
A proxy marriage is a marriage ceremony conducted and certified, or "solemnized," without one of the people getting married present. For example, the groom will be there with a stand in, while the bride is stationed in Korea. Vows are read, documents are signed and wham, bam -- married.
A double proxy wedding, and the subject of the film, is a wedding where neither party is present. Two stand-ins repeat the vows and, after documents are signed and notarized, everything is legal.
Proxy weddings are only legal in Colorado, California, Texas and Montana. In all but Colorado they are only available to couples where one party is a member of the U.S. military.
Double proxy weddings are only legal in Montana.
The 20 minute film, Absent From Our Own Wedding, focuses on the Montana company Armed Forces Proxy Marriages and a few couples they have married, all of whom are interviewed via Skype. The company's owners detail how these marriages work, where the Montana law came from and how they got into the business.
The film does not talk about how the Armed Forces Proxy Marriages will charge you a cool $750 for the pleasure of marrying you without you there.
While I think we can all agree that double proxy marriages are a little weird and that the state that allows them should be blamed for that, not the documentary, I'm not a big fan of films that make military couples seem like freak show oddities unless it's well deserved. And they really did make these couples seem that way. Even the dog shown lounging on the couch during some of these ceremonies clearly thought this whole thing a little out of the norm.
If you've got an extra 20 minutes hanging around and are really curious about this, check out the whole film on YouTube. But remember: an episode of Friends is about 20 minutes long too, and you could always just spend your time watching that.