Before the mid-eighteenth century in England, a proxy wedding was simply one more method for facilitating a marriage between two people who could not be in the same place at the same time. A marriage by proxy was performed with the bride or the groom (and sometimes both) absent from the proceedings. A woman called a proxy would take the place of the bride or a man in the case of a non-present groom, and they would take the vows in the name of the missing party. This type of service was often performed for royalty or nobility and was considered a valid means of joining the two parties. Napoleon married Marie Louise in 1810 via proxy in France and Marie de Medici married King Henry IV via proxy in 1600. The Catholic Church has always considered proxy marriages valid.
In England, however, after the Hardwicke Marriage Act of 1753, proxy marriages ceased to be valid. The Act required both parties to be present in England in order for the marriage to be recognized as legal.
France, Italy and other European countries continued to allow proxy weddings until well into the twentieth century, France and Italy reviving the laws allowing it during both World War I and World War II. Proxy marriage is generally not allowed in the United States except in only a few states and then under strict regulation.
Proxy marriage is a major complication to the plot of Only Marriage Will Do. The year is 1761 and the Hardwicke Act has been in effect for some eight years, making such a marriage seem impossible. After her betrothed sails back to France, a scandal rocks Lady Juliet’s world. Her brother approves a proxy wedding, however, to be performed in France, where such ceremonies were recognized at the time. Lady Juliet is relieved, however, when the betrothal is broken. She believes this is the end of the matter until her ex-fiancee shows up with marriage documents saying the proxy wedding had taken place and she is actually married to him. So throughout the novel Lady Juliet and members of her family try to ascertain whether or not the marriage is legal. Is Lady Juliet married or not? Only time, and the book, will tell.
Not every happy-ever-after begins at “I do.”
When the hero of her dreams rescues Lady Juliet Ferrers from the man claiming to be her husband, she is sure she has found her one true love. But is she free to marry him? Not to be deterred, Juliet arranges for her hero, Captain Amiable Dawson, to escort her to her family estate, hoping that along the way she can win his love.
Amiable is charmed by the sweet, beautiful woman he rescued, and although he has grave reservations about her marital status, he allows himself to be swept up into Juliet’s romantic spell and the promise of a happy-ever-after.
The spell breaks when legal questions arise and Juliet faces the horror of not knowing if she is married to her knight in shining armor or the cruel viscount who is determined to have her at any price.
About Jenna Jaxon
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as President of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA. Her debut novel, Only Scandal Will Do, is the first in her House of Pleasure series, set in Georgian London. Only Marriage Will Do, the second book in the series, is set to release in June 2015 from Kensington. Her medieval serial novel, Time Enough to Love: Betrothal, Betrayal, and Beleaguered, is a Romeo & Juliet-esque tale, set at the time of the Black Death. The next book in that series, a short story called Beloveds, will release in May 2015.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.