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Under Unusual Montana Marriage Law, Some Couples Say ‘I Do’ a Lot

Posted Mar 11, 2008 6:17 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Montana may be the only state in the country that allows couples to get married without actually being present. As a result, the thrill is gone for the proxies who get married again and again, on behalf of others. Nonetheless, these absentee marriages serve an important purpose for some faraway couples.

The state has attorney Dean Knapton to thank for this unique situation, reports the New York Times. Asked by the family of a Montana soldier serving in Iraq to confirm that the state allows such double-proxy weddings, Knapton researched the question. To his surprise, it turned out that the soldier could indeed marry his Italian girlfriend there even if neither the bride nor the groom attended the wedding.

With the help of others, he wound up organizing such absentee weddings, usually on behalf of soldiers, on a regular basis. Initially, he relied on in-laws to serve as proxies, but when they grew tired of the commitment "he quickly replaced them with his daughter Sarah and her childhood friend, [Kyle] Kirkland," each of whom is paid $50 for every ceremony, the newspaper explains. He himself earns $150, as the lawyer and witness, and the judge gets $100.

Knapton believes these fees are affordable, and he hopes the marriages make life a little easier for faraway soldiers serving their country. "We all think about that,” he says.

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