In fact, in Montana neither party actually has to be present. We are the only state that allows double proxy weddings (for residents and members of the armed forces). So, while someone has to stand in your place, it doesn’t need to be you. We also allow a “declaration of marriage” to be filed, which is more of an after the fact “We got married on this day” piece of paper (though, provided it had the right information, it needn’t be on paper. A napkin should work just fine).
Of course, in Montana you don’t have to actually have a wedding. We are also a common law marriage state, which means marriage doesn’t actually require paperwork. Common law marriage requires competent, consenting adults to “confirm their marriage by cohabitation and public repute“.
The second part, “public repute” means that it would be difficult to establish marriage accidentally. People must present themselves as married in public, file taxes as married, or other similar indications.
While common law and proxy marriage may both be products of being rural (difficult to find someone available to officiate), they seem to have gained some popularity during the lockdowns.
Any other weird facts about our state? Let us know!