Archive for the ‘marriage’ Tag

Quote: Marriage

 

The secret to a long marriage is a short memory.

 

Alan Alda (actor, currently to be seen as a divorce lawyer in Noam Baumbach’s Marriage Story )

marriage-story-noam-baumbach adam driver Scarlett Johansson

Absent from Our Own Wedding – The Observer / The Guardian

An article about my latest commission on Real Stories by Vanessa Thorpe of The Observer. {text courtesy of The Observer – Film/Documentary}

No bride no groom I do Montana's proxy weddings on film article 24 march 2018 The Observer The Guardian

24.iii.18

No bride, no groom, I do: Montana’s proxy weddings on film

 

US state allows marriages in which neither party is actually there, explored in documentary Absent from Our Own Wedding

 

For some nervous betrothed couples a proxy marriage might sound too good to be true: if there really were such an easy way to avoid the stress and fuss of a wedding ceremony, surely everyone would do it?

But marriages in which neither the bride nor groom are present happen all the time, and not only in countries with very different customs and laws to Britain.

The award-winning British documentary maker and former actor Debbie Howard recently released the first film about a US duo who run a thriving proxy marriage business from their rural home in Flathead county, Montana.

Her film Absent from Our Own Wedding tells the remarkable story of the retired husband and wife team Tom and Teresa Kennedy, who conduct about 500 weddings a year for a fee of $750 (£530), without ever meeting a blushing bride or a gallant groom.

Montana is the only US state where double proxy weddings are legal and the Kennedys believe their business, Armed Forces Proxy Marriages, offers a useful service to couples who cannot arrange to be together on their big day.

Tom Kennedy said: “I stumbled on this law and now we just love doing it and we want to carry on. We are not doing it for the money. We are fine, because Teresa was a stockbroker and I worked in public service for around 25 years, including a long time in the fire department.”

The obscure Montana law dates back to the 1860s, Tom explained, and was initially a way to help out male miners. “All the women were on the east coast and it was not seen as proper to bring them to tough all-male mining communities to get married,” he said.

Teresa, 56, regularly stands in for either the bride or the groom, who can be same-sex, while a colleague steps up to play their intended. Tom will often conduct the ceremony.

In the past double, proxy marriage was possible in Montana for anyone who applied from anywhere in the world, but 10 years ago the law was changed. Now one of the two getting married must be a resident of Montana – or on active duty in the armed services.

“Outside of Montana very few people have heard of this,” said Tom, 66. “It is very obscure and even federal officials know nothing about it. The fact is, in Montana you do not even need to be a magistrate or a judge to marry people. You just have to appear to be of sound mind to those who are present at the time. You could even marry yourselves.”

Howard’s documentary, made by Big Buddha Films, was shot in Montana last year and is now showing as part of the Real Stories strand on YouTube.

Absent from Our Own Wedding

Absent from our Own Wedding poster marriage documentary Little Dot Studios

My third commission for Little Dot Studios’ Real Stories channel went live this weekend. You can see it here. It is an exploration of what matters in marriage through the quirky story of a Proxy Marriage in Montana.

It was directed & produced by Debbie Howard and executive produced by Gillian Mosely.

Absent from our Own Wedding

What really matters in weddings and marriage?

Jasmin is in Southern Italy. Aaron is in Wiesbaden, Germany. They’ve just been married. Even though they are 863 miles apart. And the wedding was in Montana, USA. Montana is a state where ‘proxy weddings’ are legal. You can get married without your spouse being in the room. In fact neither of you need to be there and that’s what ‘Absent from Our Own Wedding’ revolves around – a ‘double proxy wedding’ where both the bride and groom have proxies standing in for them as the ceremony is performed.

The observational documentary, shot on location in Montana by an all-female creative team,  features the stories behind a number of proxy weddings carried out by the fascinating husband and wife team at Armed Forces Proxy Marriages, who have the process down to a T. We see it from the first incoming call to the mailing of the fancy marriage certificate.

Because the proxy ceremonies are batched and not scheduled with the couples, often the bride and groom only realise they are actually married when the email comes in. Sometimes therefore they can’t even say exactly where they were at the moment they tied the knot.

Many proxy marriages involve people in the armed forces who need to get married swiftly to secure their rights as a military couple (to housing etc.) But just because they are sometimes functional doesn’t mean the love and commitment aren’t there.

The roots of the proxy marriage laws in Montana are back in the days of the Wild West and these are explained by Tom, who officiates at the ceremonies, which often involve his own wife, Teresa, as a proxy. That’s why Teresa, technically, has been married thousands of times!

absent from our own wedding real stories thumbnail

Jasmin & Aaron

 

The Empty Room

the candidate movie

Just finished watching ‘The Candidate‘ – the 1972 movie starring Robert Redford as a Democratic candidate for senatorial office in California. I thought it may be fun to watch given what’s going on over the water. Jeremy Larner picked up an Oscar for his original screenplay. One of the taglines for the movie was: “Too Handsome. Too Young. Too Liberal. Doesn’t have a chance. He’s perfect!” The other was: “Nothing matters more than winning. Not even what you believe in.” The former clearly has resonance with regard to Obama. You can feel the presence of JFK throughout the film – I kept waiting for Bill McKay to cop some lead – as it happens the worst thing that happens is a fist to that blonde waspy jaw. Whether the second tagline says anything about Hilary or Barack – who am I to say…

It was the end of the film that struck me most. It reminded me of that thing about your twenties. You spend all that effort finding a mate, you get hitched and think you’ve finished something, you’ve arrived, you’ve made it …and of course marriage, it’s just a beginning. I remember a similar realisation when we arrived home with our first son. Just back from the hospital, we put him down in the middle of the living room in his Moses basket. Sat looking at him for a bit. I went in to the bedroom. Realised some kind of radar had been switched on in my head and I was constantly thinking about how he was – wherever I was. It wasn’t the end of nine months – it was the beginning of nineteen years, or twenty-nine, or forever.

At the end of ‘The Candidate’ Robert Redford momentarily escapes from his victory celebrations, ducks into a room in the hotel with his campaign manager (played superbly by Peter Boyle – veteran of Steelyard Blues, Taxi Driver, Where the Buffalo Roam and the unjustly overlooked The Dream Team) and asks him the terrifying question: “What do we do now?”

Which, of course, is the exact same sentiment as Roger McGough’s ‘The Leader’, indeed pretty much exactly the same words (just two letters difference):

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? I can?
Promise? Promise?
Yippee I’m the leader
I’m the leader

OK what shall we do?

I’m not sure whether McGough wrote the poem before or after the movie was made – I can’t see it in 1967’s The Mersey Sound nor 1983’s New Volume which exhausts my collection of his pomes and makes me wonder where and when I know it from then.

So with the words “What do we do now?” echoing in the room, McKay walks out and closes the door leaving an empty, blank, off-white room behind him as he goes to realise his ‘better way’ – “Bill McKay: For a better way”. An empty room – and the credits roll.

Barack Obama: Where’s the harm, huh?

Hilary Clinton: Let the bint* in!

[* UK slang: Noun. A woman. From the Arabic ‘bint’ meaning girl or daughter.] (Yeh, well you try rhyming with ‘Clinton’)

So let’s hope, once Bush has withered away, that the room’s not empty, the cupboard’s not bare, there’s hope and there’s care.

%d bloggers like this: