Wedding in Absentia

When you fall deeply in love with someone you are bound to face a few obstacles along the way. What if your love was put to the ultimate test and you’re thousands of miles away from your partner, would it endure? For determined long distance couples this could be a walk in the park. Of course a number of sacrifices would have to be made: making relatively frequent travel arrangements to spend quality time with your lover; running up a huge phone bill every time you whisper ‘sweet nothings’ into each other’s ears; and for those lonely nights, sleeping with a substitute – a big fluffy pillow. If that all sounds too easy, how about having a wedding where neither you nor your partner is present for the ceremony?

Now if I’ve left you scratching your head a little then imagine what I thought the first time I heard a high school teacher say to me ‘…you will be late for your own funeral!’ – It sounds impossible. But Wedding in absentia need not be. It is rapidly becoming popular with couples who are split across continents but desperately want to tie the knot as planned. There are a number of situations which may arise that sometimes force long distance couples to opt for this unique marital union. For instance, a man who lives in Africa may have made plans to marry a woman resident somewhere in Europe. Unfortunately he is denied a Visa to get into his fiancée's country just weeks before they
get married but she suddenly has to cover for a work colleague who abruptly resigned. It’s not too far-fetched since life is full of unexpected surprises. So who then would you expect to see at a wedding if the bride or groom is unavoidably absent?

Usually the absentee is represented by someone with whom he/she shares a close relationship. For example, a brother, sister, cousin or a best friend would be a very good start. It is important to have representatives who know quite a bit about you and who could vouch for you. They are not like to ask for any fees for their services. They get to enjoy someone else’s wedding without bearing the financial cost. And they get to enjoy being the centre of attention for all the guests and photographers. So you can have a situation where the man in Africa joins hands with his fiancée's (pretty but non-threatening) sister.

But the absentee does not have to be completely excluded on their big day. With reference to an article in the San Diego Union Tribune dated Sept 12, 2004 there is one case where a marriage by proxy was approved in California after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ‘signed a bill into law allowing military personnel stationed overseas in a war or conflict and unable to appear in person to marry through a legal stand-in or proxy.’ I must admit that the wedding had an added touch of romance when the absent military groom recited his vows over a mobile phone. He in turn listened to his bride’s vows being recited whilst standing alongside the surrogate groom.

But until wedding in absentia is a legally-accepted phenomenon in every country, it is advisable that a follow-up wedding be done (involving the exchange of rings and/or the signing of marriage certificates). Wedding in absentia is not usually your ideal dream wedding but it is indeed ideal when proximity threatens to keep you and your partner from fulfilling that dream. Personally, Wedding in absentia is simply another way of saying Love conquers all :)

By Jummai Ali