Among the many extremely disappointing side effects of the coronavirus pandemic is that 2020's wedding season will look completely different than those of previous years. Sadly, many couples have not been able to have the dream wedding ceremonies and receptions they had planned for, but there are still ways for people to join together in marriage.
Since the pandemic hit, there has been a rise in Zoom weddings broadcast over the world wide web. It's a sweet way for couples to share the act of saying "I do" with their friends and family without violating social distancing guidelines, but this new kind of wedding brings up the question, is it actually possible to get legally married online?
Two people can exchange vows in front of a webcam all day long, but just like for IRL weddings, the union isn't legitimate in the eyes of the law if the couple does not first procure a marriage licence. Don't worry, though, there are ways to obtain a marriage license without actually having to leave the house.
In New York City, couples can now apply for a marriage license online thanks to Executive Order No. 202.20, which was signed by Governor Cuomo on 18th April 2020. According to Steven J. Mandel, a family law attorney and founder of The Mandel Law Firm in New York City, state residents — as long as they are 18 years of age or older — are able to apply for a marriage license by filling out a form available on the Office of the City Clerk's website. After completing the form, you and your prospective spouse will receive a confirmation number and will be asked to schedule a virtual appointment with the Office of the City Clerk to complete the process.
If you and your partner aren't New Yorkers, it doesn't mean online marriage licenses are off the table. "Since each Governor issues their own directives, it is wise to check with the Office of the Clerk in the State that you will get married in to see the proper procedure," Mandel suggests. "With the pandemic, there have been multiple directives and updates issued almost weekly... As long as you follow the process that is issued by the City Clerk, the marriage will be legally binding."
While applying for a marriage license online seems simple enough, if you've already gone through the process of planning an IRL wedding only to have it be canceled because of COVID-19 and don't have the energy to deal with planning an online one, there is a company that will handle every step of organising a virtual wedding for you. WebWed Mobile, a legal tech company founded in 2016 by wife and husband team JC and Randy Banks, uses a patented process to secure marriage licenses, perform legal online ceremonies, and offer livestreams of weddings for any couple regardless of where they live. The process is quick and can be used to marry two people who aren't physically in the same place, so even couples who aren't quarantined together can have a virtual, legally binding wedding.
Kevin Smith, WebWed Mobile's marketing manager and a licensed officiant, told Refinery29 it was JC who first came up with the concept when she was in law school. "It was during that process that she saw the opportunity to marry two of the most powerful forces on the planet — love and law —together," Smith shares. By now, the company has done over 6,000 weddings for people in nearly every state, 38 countries, on six continents.
To get married through WebWed, you simply need to go on the platform and figure out which of the packages is best suited to you and your partners' needs. Once you've done that, you pay online and uploading the documentation needed — like photo IDs or colour copies of your passport — based on your situation. You will then receive verification online and will be able to schedule a service. It's that simple.