First comes cyberlove, then ... cybermarriage? Yep, thanks to long-distance relationships and the rise of destination weddings (about 25% of unions in the U.S.), more couples are getting hitched on the Net. We talked to three: one streamed video of the live ceremony, another actually wed via webcam, and the third got virtually married online. Anna Post, author of Emily Post's Wedding Parties, weighs in on the proper etiquette (no gifts required!) for when guests--or even the bride and groom--can't show up in person.
Streaming the Ceremony
Casey and Jason Hoover of Florida eloped in Hawaii this past May and hired LiveInternetWeddings.com to film and broadcast it online.
Everyone got to see the big event in real time, and the couple could focus just on each other ("We spent 10 hours together," says Casey. "I would have spent five minutes with Jason at a traditional wedding"). It also avoided any conflict between Casey's divorced parents.
Just like live
The Hoovers sent out paper invites giving the website info. About 75 people watched from around the U.S., and Casey's mom and sister threw a viewing party with Chinese food and cake.
ANNA POST SAYS, "You're sort of hosting by proxy, so you should also set up a place for them to watch it"--especially for, say, Great-Aunt Florence, who's not tech-savvy.
Wedding via Webcam
Air Force Staff Sergeants Katie and Fred Matney were posted on opposite sides on the world when they married last fall using webcams, thanks to FreedomCalls, a nonprofit that helps service members virtually attend big events back home for free.
The judge and witnesses were in Montana, the only state that lets two proxies sign a legal marriage certificate. Fred said "I do" from Korea, and Katie from Missouri, with family and friends.
Everyone could see one another on a three-way split screen.
What they missed
"They let me smash cake into the TV screen so we could feed each other," Katie says, laughing.
ANNA POST SAYS, Give yourself the experience of a traditional wedding: flowers, a dress, a manicure. "It should be no different than if you were in the same room together. Do it up!"
Traicie was in Los Angeles and Nola in San Francisco (the two women chose not to be fully identified) when they got married in the virtual chapel of iRom.org an online wedding registry, on Nov. 9. The ceremony isn't legally binding.
What's the point?
Couples can commit to each other even if they live far apart or the law bars same-sex marriage.
"We have a written version of our love for each other online, at least," says Nola, but "it reminded us that we still can't have a real wedding like heterosexual couples."
They typed their vows on the site in a private ceremony, but excited friends surprised them with gifts.
ANNA POST SAYS, "That's the best thing we get out of technology: staying connected to the people we care about."