If you and your fiance find yourselves in a situation where one of you cannot be present for the actual marriage ceremony, you may be married by proxy, which means that a third stand-in party may take the place of and deliver vows for the absent bride or groom.
However, if you find yourself in this situation, it is important to know that there are only four states in the country which allow such marriages: Colorado, California, Texas and Montana. And each of these proxy-permissive states has its own set of laws and requirements for such a marriage.
If you have chosen the scenic Rocky Mountain backdrop of Colorado for your marriage by proxy, you will need to know the specific laws and requirements regarding proxy licensing in that state.
The state of Colorado will issue a license for and recognize a marriage "solemnized" by a justice of the peace or religious leader endowed with the powers of marriage solemnization by the state so long as one of the married parties is present and the absent party is represented by a third party proxy.
This differs from Montana, in that that state allows dual proxy marriages-- where neither party needs to be present.
And, unlike California--which only allows marriage by proxy due to military service--Colorado allows marriage by proxy for those who are absent due to illness, incarceration or military service.
Proof of Absenteeism
In Colorado, the parties being married must prove to the satisfaction of their priest, rabbi, imam, justice of the peace, etc that there is an actual need for the marriage to be conducted by proxy. This need may be satisfied through presentation of military, criminal or health records.
However, if the solemnizing party is not convinced of the need for marriage by proxy, they may refuse to conduct the ceremony.
But there is a legal recourse for such a refusal. Parties who have been denied a marriage on these grounds may appeal the decision in Colorado District Court.
Once a marriage by proxy is completed, a marriage license will be filed by the office of the county clerk and record and the marriage will be recognized by the state as a legal marriage.
Colorado, like all states, does not allow marriages between certain parties, and these prohibitions apply to marriage by proxy.
In Colorado, no person may be married if they are currently married to another individual.
No person may marry an ancestor (i.e. father/daughter, mother/son, grandfather/granddaughter, grandmother/grandson). Similarly, no brother and sister may marry (regardless of whether their relation is full or half blood). These restrictions also apply to marriages between uncles and aunts to nieces and nephews--unless permitted by aboriginal custom.
As of June, 2010, marriage in Colorado is defined as marriage between one man and one woman.