Are virtual weddings legally binding?
On April 18th, 2020, virtual weddings became legally binding in the state of New York. You can listen to the full report on NPR below. On March 26, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order allowing clerks to issue marriage licenses through an application by mail, instead of in-person – allowing engaged couples to apply for a marriage license remotely. in Ohio, certain counties have begun making temporary changes to their marriage laws as well. In response to Governor Mike Dewine’s stay-at-home order, Franklin County’s Court will issue marriage licenses in-person upon appointment (as to follow the state’s stay-at-home order.
New York State made virtual weddings legal 🙌
NEW: I am issuing an Executive Order allowing New Yorkers to obtain a marriage license remotely and allowing clerks to perform ceremonies via video conference.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 18, 2020
On April 18, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.20. The Governor directed that the issuance of a marriage license application, marriage license, witnessing or solemnizing of a marriage ceremony would be authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided the following conditions are met:
- The couple presents valid photo ID to verify identity whenever required by law,
- The video conference allows for direct interaction between the couple and the town or city clerk, the witness, or person to solemnize the marriage,
- The couple must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the jurisdiction where the marriage is legally allowed to occur within the State of New York,
- The couple must transmit by electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the town or city clerk, the witness or the persons to solemnity the marriage on the same date it was signed,
- The person signing by such means may transmit the signed copy back to the person responsible for the document,
- To the extend possible all parties must use best possible efforts to ensure the document is transmitted in the most confidential manner, and
- The electronic signed copy of the marriage license or marriage license application will become the official document for purposes of the Domestic Relations Law.
This directive was later modified on April 19, 2020 under Executive Order 202.21 regarding solemnization of a marriage ceremony to expressly include any officiant, public or private, as able to perform or solemnize a marriage ceremony utilizing audio-video technology.
What does this mean for couples around the country?
Depending on your state, video marriages may of may not be legal currently. While it’s frustrating that your state may not allow this, an alternative could be making your marriage legal at the local courthouse & then later having a virtual wedding as a symbolic ceremony for friends & family.
We believe firmly that all 50 states ought to craft executive orders or pass legislation making video marriages legally binding permanently. This alternative is 100% necessary in the age of social distancing – which is likely to continue until there is a vaccine for the CoronaVirus. Having said that, we believe that this is also important permanently for those who are sick, across the world, need more affordable alternatives & the elderly. As such, we created a petition to get virtual weddings to be legally binding in all 50 states. To make virtually weddings legally binding in all 50 states, sign our petition below: