The Ultimate “Have My People Call Your People”

Ring ring ring

Intriguing article in the New York Times a week ago—as part of Dan Barry’s fascinating “This Land” series—on “double-proxy weddings,” performed only in Montana. Through the process, couples who cannot meet physically in order to be married have stand-ins do the job for them.

“Ceremony No. 1,” says the judge, Heidi Ulbricht. That would be the marriage between two members of the Air Force far, far removed from this room in the Flathead County Courthouse. The real groom is 7,300 miles away, in Qatar, while the real bride is merely 1,700 miles away, in Kentucky.

“We are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses to join in holy matrimony this man and this woman, who have applied for and received a marriage license from the state,” the judge says.

Turning to Sarah Knapton, 22, college student and professional proxy bride, she asks: “Will you have this man by proxy to be your lawful wedded husband, and with him to live together in holy matrimony pursuant to the laws of God and this state?”

“I do,” answers Ms. Knapton, elbow on table, chin in hand.

“Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him both in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others keep you only unto him, so long as you both shall live?”

“I do,” Ms. Knapton intones again.

The judge now asks these life-altering questions of Kyle Kirkland, 22, mason and professional proxy groom, who is signing various marriage documents. He says, “I do,” twice without looking up once.

By the virtue of the authority vested in her, Judge Ulbricht pronounces an absent military couple husband and wife, all in a Montana minute.

The cost to the real bride and groom: $900, $50 apiece to the proxies, $100 to the judge, $150 to the lawyer (and witness); $53 for court fees; $14 for two certified copies of the marriage certificate; and the rest to a Pennsylvania couple who run a business facilitating proxy marriages.

That PA couple, Sam and Barbara Geller, administer the business through their web site,

The proxy bride is the daughter of the lawyer/witness, Dean Knapton, who works for the web site as the Gellers’s man-in-Montana. The proxy groom is a childhood friend of Ms. Knapton’s. “They have been ‘married’ hundreds of times,” notes the Times. (Making them, save for the relevant legal buffer, what—centigamists?)



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