there is one thing that will keep us together at a
time when we are being begged to self-isolate and
stay home as far as possible, it is the fantastic
technology we all have access to in our pockets
and purses and on our desks.
So, knowing that we all have the capacity to
Skype, FaceTime, use Google Hangouts or other
videoconferencing technology, it is logical that
couples who have had their wedding plans disrupted
by government restrictions on travel and on
venues, and who have seen ceremonies livestreamed
in one way or another, to start asking whether
they can have a legal webcam wedding, either
because they are physically separated from one
another, or from their witnesses, or from their
So, is it legal?
Legal marriage in Australia is governed by the
Marriage Act. During that ceremony, and before you
make your vows, I, as your celebrant have to
recite a statement that includes the following
" ... Before you are joined
together in marriage in my presence
and in the presence of these witnesses
The operative word is presence.
You can't get married if you, your partner, or
any of five people who make up the
minimum numbers that have to be present at a
wedding are not be in the same physical space.
The internet is not recognised as a legal entity,
or as a place.
Current social distancing requirements requires
that, to allow for the minimum of five
people who must be present, the physical
space for an indoor wedding must be a minimum of
20 square metres in size and each person should be
at least 1.5 metres apart from the others.
Why the confusion?
There are still some places on the planet
where proxy weddings are legal, usually under very
specific conditions. A proxy wedding is where one
of the marrying parties isn't present and is
represented by someone else. It is generally
restricted to persons serving in the military and
deployed. Australia does not allow proxy
marriages. Full stop.
And in others, courts have ruled that
international couples will be able to marry over
the Internet, through video conference programs
like Skype or Google Hangouts, so long as this is
also allowed in the nation state of the foreign
spouse, since it suitably allows for both spouses
to express their consent.
But because it is not always clear where
information is coming from. Where a website is
hosted, or where a person posting on social media
is located, it is quite understandable if you've
happened on information that suggests you can get
married over Skype, FaceTime, or other video
But can you have virtual
participation at a legal wedding?
Of course you can. As long as the minimum five
people (the two of you, your two witnesses, and
your celebrant) are present in the same space,
your guests can be scattered around the world.
Many venues do have facilities to livestream
event, but current restrictions mean that most, if
not all, will not be available to you, so you
would need to hire the services of an expert, or
do the best you can with technology available to
you to set up a DIY connection.
Things you need to know or have in place in order
to make sure you will have the best results
possible on the day:
Timing How many time zones will be involved?And
what will be the local time in those time
zones at the time you've decided to hold the
Connectivity How reliable and consistent is the
connectivity where you are planning to hold
the ceremony?Is the signal strong
Compatibility Does everyone you want to livestream to
have the required technology? Do they know how
to use it? And do they all have the same
Scalability How many devices will you need to
establish a connection with?Some
applications can support more than others.
Making sure it works
Have a trial run a few days before at the
same time you plan to hold your ceremony
Have someone present whose only job is to
coordinate the technology UPDATE ON
THIS:Under the terms of new
restrictions on numbers present from 24
March 2020, it will not be possible to
have anyone additional to the couple, 2
witnesses and the celebrant present.
Check out the light - if outdoors, where
will the sun be? If indoors, will the couple
be illuminated enough?
Muting the guests
So as not to disrupt the ceremony, mute any
guests who don't have a direct role in it.
Make sure that the sound is turned back on
immediately afterwards so your guests can
Technology fails. That's a given. So a backup
plan is very important should the
internet connection fail, or your device runs
out of battery power, or the person who was
going to coordinate, does not turn up.
Video the ceremony
Worst comes to worst, you can send a video
And Don't Forget
When the current situation has settled down
again, you will have some great stories to
tell about what you had to do to make your wedding