An Ocean Apart, They Say “I Do” ; Airman Overseas Marries Ga. Fiancee by Phone
The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
April 17, 2003
By: Dave Tobin
The bride wore a pale blue pullover shirt and slacks; the groom, clean combat fatigues.
She sat in a military office in south Georgia. He stood in a tent in the desert somewhere near Iraq.
Across thousands of miles, via phone and fax, Senior Airman James Evans, a 2000 graduate of North Rose-Wolcott high school, pledged his love to Andrea Boyd, and she to him. Theirs was a wedding conducted across the airwaves.
About to be deployed in Iraq, Evans wanted his fiancee to be provided for, should anything happen to him. So his commander in the Middle East began to make arrangements.
“Only James could think this up,” said his mother, Christine VanDuyne of Auburn. “It was sweet of him, to be concerned about Andrea being taken care of. He never really thinks of himself or his own safety.”
Last week, Evans, 22, and Boyd, 23, exchanged vows over speaker phone, and signed their marriage certificate via fax.
They met two years ago at a bar. Each was a designated driver for respective friends.
“He was sitting there all quiet and stuff,” said Boyd, of Jacksonville, Fla. “He was the only guy not hitting on me, so I went up and talked to him.”
They became engaged in December, and planned a summer wedding. But on the eve of Andrea’s birthday, April 6, Evans called her with the idea for a trans-Atlantic wedding.
“I thought, OK, whatever gives him peace of mind,” she said.
Military officials at Moody Air Force Base, in southern Georgia, and at Evans’ Middle East location, arranged blood tests, and faxed a marriage license application back and forth. They secured a probate judge in Georgia, witnesses and notaries in both locations. Boyd got off work from Belk
Department store in Valdosta, where she works as a clerk in the dress and
Lanier County Probate Judge Judy Mullis was happy to officiate.
“I felt real good about doing it with our military,” she said. “I knew they were not trying to pull something on anybody.”
Georgia marriage law, written some 100 years ago, doesn’t require that both people be physically present while a ceremony is performed, said John Mayoue, a marital law expert in Atlanta.
“Two people being together seems to be something that we would think as a matter of common sense,” he said. “I don’t think the drafters would have considered a marriage where two people aren’t physically present. But in today’s information age, I suppose you could be married by video conference.”
Texas, Montana and Colorado allow marriage by proxy (where someone stands in for one partner). Georgia doesn’t.
Capt. John R. Hicks, an attorney who orchestrated things stateside, said he arranged a similar ceremony, shortly after 9/11, when an airman was deployed on short notice.
Boyd and Evans’ ceremony lasted about five minutes. Boyd was accompanied by the judge and Captain Hicks. Evans was flanked by other airmen inside the tent. His base commander was on his hands and knees fussing with speaker phone wires. As Evans exited the tent, heading toward a cake, two airmen saluted him with raised Bowie knives
The couple plans a more traditional wedding ceremony when Evans returns.
“It’s almost a relief to have the technical part out of the way,” said Boyd. “All that’s left is the party, the honeymoon – all the fun stuff.”
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