Feel like wearing a dragon costume on Mars and serving only tater tots for your wedding? How about passing out non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, as a party favor for your 3,000 guests? Anything goes during a metaverse ceremony.
Couples in India and the U.S. made headlines months ago as their avatars, fictional representations of a person in the virtual world, tied the knot. To be clear, two humans cannot legally get married in the metaverse—but it appears that weddings there are now a thing.
Since offering a metaverse wedding package on his website just two months ago, Klaus Bandisch, the owner of Just Maui Weddings in Hawaii, said he has been flooded with emails. Bandisch, who has been organizing in-person beach weddings since 1998, now has 72 couples on a standby list, hoping Hawaii legalizes virtual weddings of any kind.
What’s the appeal? Well, for one thing it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than exchanging vows at a brick-and-mortar venue. Bandisch’s packages cost from $750 to $1500 (the upper range includes the creation of an avatar if you don’t already have one). Cost-conscious, tech-oriented couples will be the first to readily adopt such ceremonies, predicts Bandsich, who also has 16 metaverse vow-renewal ceremonies scheduled for this year.
“It’s going to be a revolution, very popular,” he said.
The metaverse wedding of Ryan and Candice Hurley.
Rose Law Group
(Of course, if you want to be conspicuous about your consumption in the metaverse, the sky’s the limit. Virtual brides can now purchase a Dolce & Gabbana tiara for $300,000 or a PUMA digital wedding dress for 1 ether, or about $3,400.)
Another upside: it’s a destination wedding everyone can get to—as long as they have internet access.
Two of Bandisch’s customers, Alberto and Marlene Becerra, are renewing their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary. Worried about traveling during a pandemic, the Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, couple decided to go meta after their pre-teen and teen nephews told them all about it.
With the ceremony booked for June 1, Alberto Becerra said he has picked out avatars for himself and his wife, the beach setting, and leis—quite a contrast from their pre-internet 1972 wedding, a small affair at their former home in Queens, New York.
“The kids are telling me this is the future, and so it is,” Alberto said. “It’s going to be quite an experience and all I care about is having fun with the kids.”
Ryan and Candice Hurley, of Phoenix, Arizona, had been mulling how to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary in February when friend Jordan Rose, founder of the Rose Law Group, told them about metaverse weddings and her firm’s new metaverse law division. Ryan, a 45-year-old attorney who was always interested in blockchain and was an early adopter of Bitcoin, said once Rose described how avatars could put a ring on it, he was game.
“It’s definitely different from dinner and flowers,” he told The Daily Beast.
Rose said she saw an opportunity for metaverse legal services about a year ago. Her firm, based in Scottsdale, purchased virtual land on Decentraland, a 3D virtual browser platform, and now has a metaverse team that includes lawyers, blockchain developers, and coders.
“This virtual world can be anything your imagination wants it to be so I thought metaverse activities also would need legal services,” like prenuptial agreements, she said. (Rose is also planning a metaverse charity gala for Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.)
To plan her avatar’s big day, Candice Hurley talked to a coder instead of a wedding planner. Avid skiers, she and Ryan chose to have the mountains of Telluride, Colorado, as their virtual setting and decided to give NFTs of their dog Pepper, a dachshund-terrier rescue, as party favors to guests.
Once the ceremony was announced to the public, about 2,000 guests showed up, sparking many technical glitches during an event that lasted about 20 minutes.
“At one point, I kept on crashing into the wall as I tried to walk down the aisle because there were too many avatars in the space,” said Candice, 42, a nurse. “It was chaotic but so much fun.”
Rose said the prenuptial agreement, which included the avatars’ digital assets like wearables and digital wedding gifts, and their metaverse marriage license, were stored on the Ethereum blockchain. (The couple’s real-life Bitcoin assets are not included.)
Rose said avatar weddings could become a complex issue. Technically, two avatars getting married in the virtual world could be legally married to other people in real life.
“When geography collapses, the metaverse can be a hard concept to grasp,” Rose said. “But when you’re dealing with a virtual world where there isn’t a legal precedent, you can create the legal parameters as you create the fantasy world.”
The precursor to metaverse nuptials are weddings that have taken place on gaming platforms, like Final Fantasy, Sims, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, where the graphics are a lot better.
These kinds of celebrations are a form of fun escapism, but will they ever take the place of “normal” weddings?
Joshua Daniel, the Utah County clerk and auditor, said it is unlikely that society (and therefore government agencies that issue marriage licenses) will accept a digital image as a true representation of a real-life person any time soon.
The photo on the left is of a traditional Hawaiian wedding officiant. The image to the right is his avatar.
His county’s marriage license and passport office is considered one of the most technologically advanced in the nation since it modernized its application process in 2019 and popularized videoconference weddings during the pandemic for couples around the world. The office has issued more than 33,600 digital marriage certificates using blockchain technology.
Daniel says he’s personally interested in delving into metaverse weddings, but isn’t holding his breath.
“The fact is, the county does not have jurisdiction in the metaverse,” he said.