The bride was ravishing in virginal white … the groom debonair in his rented black tuxedo. The words of the officiating priest droned on in the background, as the couple gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes. It was just as the bride imagined her wedding to be … it was the most important moment of her life. The only thing different is that her groom is a hundred miles away from her.
Instead of standing by her side holding her hands, the groom is holding on to the microphone attached to the laptop while he twitches with the headphones so he can hear the words of the officiating priest. Instead of the comfort of standing beside the man she is to spend the rest of her life with, the bride is confronted with a buffering image of her groom. Welcome to the age of the internet.
With the technology available to us today, cyber weddings no longer belong to the exclusive domain of science fiction novels. Just last week, TV patrol featured a story of a couple exchanging “I dos” via the internet. The question that first popped to my mind is, will cyber weddings be given legal recognition in the Philippines?
Under the Family Code, no marriage shall be valid unless the essential and formal requisites are present. The element of technology puts a question mark to the issue of whether or not such an arrangement will be considered as substantial compliance with the formal requirement of a marriage ceremony.
Art. 3(3) of the Family Code requires a marriage ceremony which takes place with the appearance of the contracting parties before the solemnizing officer and their personal declaration that they take each other as husband and wife in the presence of not less than two witnesses of legal age.
On one hand, it can be argued that the provision does not explicitly require physical presence. Hence, in view of the advancements in technology and in order to make the law responsive to the changing times, perhaps cyber weddings should be given legal recognition. On the other hand, marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman. As such, its formalities and tradition should be given the much-deserved respect and abidance it deserves considering the significance of the contract being entered into.
I for one am not against the idea of giving a liberal interpretation to the requisites of marriage. Times have changed. Perhaps it is about time that the law caught up, too.
Diane Cecilia Yu