During the pandemic, Utah County introduced Zoom weddings to cater to those who couldn’t get married in person. Unintentionally, though, they provided a valuable service for China's LGBTQ+ community.
The state of Utah in the United States has no citizenship requirements for marriage licenses, and Utah County is the only place there that allows international couples to register their marriages online. Since the county rolled out virtual weddings during the Covid-19 pandemic, it became a wedding haven for same-sex couples who are not able to officially marry in their own countries.
As sexual minorities in China face suppression at home, Utah County is allowing them to officially marry and celebrate their love — all for around $100. Although the marriages aren’t recognized in China, some 200 same-sex couples from mainland China and Hong Kong have gotten married via the county’s digital marriage license system since 2021. – Rest of World
First, it’s fascinating that Utah recognizes remote, same-sex marriages despite being a conservative state where the majority of its residents are devout believers in the Church of the Latter Day Saints. But furthermore, it goes to show how states (or countries) can get more national and international interest from being tech-forward.
It reminds me a lot of how Wyoming became a blockchain-friendly state:
During 2018–2020, Wyoming has passed 13 laws, so-called “blockchain bills”, that have transformed Wyoming into the most “crypto-friendly” state. These laws mean in practice that crypto-currencies and tokens are recognised as money and assets, thus enabling decentralised economic operations and businesses to be conducted.
For example, in 2020, Wyoming passed a law that allows companies to operate on digital assets like Bitcoin since an individual who develops, sells or facilitates the exchange of an open blockchain token is not subject to specified securities and money transmission laws. – Medium
Wyoming’s early legislation of crypto has led them to become a sort of blockchain-business hub, by allowing DAOs to incorporate as LLCs in that state. One of the DAOs I speak most highly-of, CityDAO, can only dream of building a city on the blockchain thanks to Wyoming.
By simply wanting to digitize their processes, Utah inadvertently became an international marriage destination. It’s crazy to even utter that phrase. But it’s true. And it should spark more people’s minds towards metaverse marriages.
In The Metaverse Handbook, I wrote about a few different couples who got married in the metaverse – one in Decentraland and one in VRChat. But it was mostly discussed from the lens of affordability and convenience. Basically that metaverse weddings would alleviate travel concerns for people, reduce venue costs greatly, and give a new way to celebrate a marriage.
What I didn’t think about was the legality factor. That this would provide same-sex couples in other nations (or states) an opportunity to wed. This shines an entirely new light on the value of metaverse marriages.
More states should be thinking about how to offer this tech-enabled, remote marriage offering. Venues should start thinking about to offer a metaverse venue equivalent (even if just for the marketing juice) at a discount. Entreprenuers should be thinking about how to productize this sort of special day.
Although I don’t think the metaverse marriage market will be able to scratch the surface of the existing wedding market, there’s value in creating the digital equivalent services for the metaverse. Every type of wedding vendor – from photographers to florists to venues to DJs to caterers – could offer their services in the metaverse. And these services are multi-use for any type of metaverse event.