Marine in Japan ties the knot ... on the Web
Portland Press Herald, Maine
SACO, Maine — When Kaila Lauzon and Kelton Miller tell people about their wedding, the first few words in the tale will have to be: “Sit down; this may take a few minutes.”
You see, the bride was in Texas with the groom’s family. The mother of the bride was in Saco. Her father was in Virginia. Other family members were in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Florida.
And the groom?
He was in Japan.
All were connected via video links for the wedding Saturday – or Sunday, depending on how you look at it. Lauzon’s anniversary date is Nov. 2 while her husband’s, due to the time difference, is Nov. 3.
Welcome to the age of Internet weddings, where the electronic connection is almost as important as the emotional one.
Lauzon and Miller, both 24, were married by proxy, a process allowed in only in a handful of states, including Texas. In reality, Miller didn’t need to be involved in the ceremony at all because he had already signed an affidavit naming his mother as his proxy and giving her, essentially, power of matrimony.
Lauzon, who grew up in Old Orchard Beach, and Miller met earlier this year in Austin, Texas, where Lauzon had moved to take a job as a marketing director for a real estate firm. Miller is in the Marines and was stationed at the time in Corpus Christi, Texas, but he and his friends would often go to Austin on the weekends.
Lauzon said she was head-over-heels the first time she set eyes on Miller. He was a little more grounded.
“It was instantaneous and I told him I loved him that day,” she said. “He said, ‘Thanks.’”
From that inauspicious beginning, however, their love grew.
Miller first told Lauzon that he, too, was in love, mostly, about six weeks later.
“He said, 'I’m 97 percent sure that I love you,’” she said, and eventually the other 3 percent came around.
Miller was soon transferred to military police school in Missouri, but the two saw each other whenever they could, sometimes driving nine or 10 hours to spend a couple of days together. In September, when Lauzon’s parents, Sheila and Marc Lauzon, were visiting from Maine, Miller proposed. But Miller was then reassigned to Japan and, considering their lack of vacation and leave time – they used it all up seeing each other this summer – the earliest the couple figured they could get married was next May.
Neither wanted to wait that long, and a few weeks ago, while Skyping, they Googled to find out whether there was any way to get married despite a separation of roughly 7.500 miles. Turned out there was, at least in Texas.
Lauzon and Miller researched the legality and then set about planning their long-distance wedding. Lauzon said she realized her mother couldn’t attend because she, too, had used up her vacation time and a considerable amount of her bank account visiting her daughter in Texas. Marc Lauzon was in Virginia for a long-planned trip with some friends from his college days. But, since the young couple were using a video hook-up, so to speak, the bride’s parents, friends and other relatives could be there in more than just spirit. After all, they were closer to Texas than the groom.
Kaila Lauzon said she and Miller didn’t dispense with every matrimonial tradition. For instance, Miller followed the old superstition that the groom shouldn’t see the bride on the day of the wedding, although in this case, that simply meant not Skyping.
Lauzon said there were also some concerns that pre-Internet couples didn’t have to deal with, like checking the strength of the Wi-Fi signal in the church’s sanctuary.
Chris Hayes, the pastor at Keller United Methodist Church outside Dallas, was game to try it and laptops were set up around the altar Saturday shortly before 8 p.m., Eastern time. The late hour meant it was 10 a.m. Saturday in Okinawa, and Miller, wearing his dress blues, soon appeared on the laptop to Hayes’ left.
It took some fiddling and the feed wasn’t entirely smooth, with all the laptops creating some audio feedback, but the quality of the connection was generally good. One laptop featured Marc Lauzon, so he could give away his daughter at the appointed time. Another had Sheila Lauzon, several aunts and uncles and Ashley Lauzon, Kaila Lauzon’s sister and the maid of honor – her first time in that role, in which she wore jeans and no shoes and sat cross-legged on the floor, she said.
Hannah Leavitt, Kaila’s 9-year-old cousin, was the flower girl, tossing silk “petals” at the webcam at the appropriate time.
“Remember when you just had to do ‘old, new, borrowed, blue?’” said Sally Leavitt, the bride’s aunt. “Now it’s FaceTime, cellphones, iPads and Skype.”
But the wedding-by-proxy went off without too many hitches, even though the pastor called it a “somewhat strange and yet, beautiful, ceremony.”
“We celebrate this day, whether it’s morning or night or whatever it is where you all are,” Hayes said, gesturing to the laptops.
Other than substituting blown kisses for the real ones and Hayes pocketing the rings until Lauzon and Miller can put them on each other, the rest of the ceremony was fairly traditional, including tears from Sheila Lauzon. The couple even posed for pictures, with Kaila Lauzon holding the laptop connected to Miller beside her head, saying proudly, “My new husband.”
And with that, the new couple could relax and focus on their wedding night.
Lauzon said that’s penciled in for February.