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Travel Getting Married in the Sky Is Actually Pretty Complicated

07:11  10 february  2018
07:11  10 february  2018 Source:   cntraveler.com

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a man holding his hands up © KaninRoman

Last month, when Pope Francis married a couple during a LATAM flight from Santiago, Chile to Iquique, he became the first (and only) pope to ever conduct an in-flight wedding. But getting married in the air (sans His Holiness, of course) is nothing new. Starting in the 1880s, couples around the U.S. exchanged vows in hot air balloons, with crowds in the thousands below, says Air & Space Magazine.

In 1912, one of the first airplane weddings on record—between an actress named Leona Cowan and a salesman Neal Cochran—took place on a Wright biplane at an aviation field near Los Angeles. Through the 1930s, when air travel was new, people sought out in-flight ceremonies for the novelty factor, with brides and grooms bringing reverends aboard planes and dressed up for the occasion. Fast forward almost a century and an airport in Gloucestershire, England has even acquired the legal rights to perform wedding ceremonies (and has an unfurnished Boeing 747 that can be decked out for the aviation-themed reception of your dreams).

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  WATCH: Here’s The One Drink You Should Order On An Airplane Drinking on a plane is a surprisingly complicated business. Many of the beverages that you would normally order aren’t great options at 20,000 feet in the air. The exuberant bubbliness of Diet Coke can aggravate flight attendants, drinking coffee or tea on planes can be risky business for some pretty icky reasons, and there’s not an airline on the planet that has mastered the art of sweet tea. While you may be tempted to skip the drinks all together, dehydration can be a real problem on airplanes. Not only can it make you more prone to air sickness, but it can increase your chances of getting jet lag, contribute to high-altitude headaches, and make it more likely that you’ll get sick after you get off the plane. Not to mention, airplane cabins are already dry, so skipping water would make your skin even drier after the flight. All that’s to say, skipping the drink cart on a plane isn’t a great idea. So, what should you order during your flight? The short answer is water. It will keep you hydrated, won’t annoy the flight crew, and is necessary for staying alive. That said, it’s kind of boring and many of us already have water bottles in our carry-on luggage. Plus, since airlines give so few perks these days, you want to take advantage of the ones they do offer, like free soft drinks and juice. Soft drinks are fine, of course, but if you’re looking for a healthier option, some people swear by tomato juice.

But a little reminder for all: Marriage is legally binding and you can't just say "I do" in front of a plane full of people and call it a day.

“There are a lot of myths around getting married in the air and at sea,” says Casey Greenfield, a lawyer who practices matrimonial law in New York. Most of them aren't true. Just as ship captains aren't universally granted the power to perform marriage ceremonies, neither are pilots. And airspace poses problems for those hoping for an "official" service. “Getting married in the air is not something you should leave up in the air," Greenfield says. (Nice one, Greenfield.)

If your sights are set on a ceremony above the clouds, consider these two ground rules.

Take care of the legalities beforehand

“Getting married on a plane in the middle of who knows where is kind of the situation you would see on a law school final exam for a brain twister. 'Is this legal or is this not legal?'” says Karen Covy, a Chicago-based divorce lawyer.

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The short answer: Having a wedding ceremony in the air over a state in the U.S. is possible and legal—but it’s not easy. If there’s ever a question as to where the wedding took place (and your answer is "on a plane"), you risk a state or country not recognizing your union.

Since marriage is regulated state by state in the U.S., "anyone who is authorized to legally marry a couple can marry that couple in the airspace of that state," says Greenfield. It could be a justice of the peace, a minister, or a buddy with a one-day license, depending on state law. But down the road, if you ever needed to get a divorce and you didn't know if you were over Indiana or Illinois, potential issues could arise regarding which state’s laws you’d follow. So you'll likely want to stick with a regional flight that never leaves a state's airspace, and rule out that transatlantic wedding.

If you’re getting married overseas, these requirements could be stricter; you may even need to be a resident of the country for a specific amount of time.

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That’s why most legal professionals will tell you: If you want to really make sure you’re legally married, don’t do the official part in the air. For most people, the in-flight wedding is for ceremonial purposes anyway. A small, official ceremony beforehand (with completed paperwork behind you, an officiant present, and a few witnesses) ensures no legal disputes. Your guests—err, fellow passengers—don't need to know a thing.

Consult your airline

Airlines do sometimes allow people to walk down airplane aisles to say "I do." Delta employees went above and beyond for one couple, married on an 80-minute flight between Cincinnati and Washington, D.C. (over Virginia), with a ceremony complete with personalized motion sickness bags ("In case love makes you queasy"), first-class seating for the bridal party, and an airport reception to follow. And, of course, LATAM agreed to have the pope bless a legal marriage just last month—but banking on luck and spontaneity isn't the best strategy. If you want to set up a ceremony, touch base with your airline directly and prepare to be flexible. Even LATAM says, "There is no established procedure for passengers who wish to get married onboard and as an airline, we would need to evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis, with the safety of our passengers and crew always being our main priority."

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So all in all, it's probably best to prioritize your dream of getting married over your dream of making things official at 30,000 feet with all of your closest friends and family seatbelted in. As printed in the Los Angeles Herald in 1912 just before Cowan and Cochran's wedding, which was originally supposed to take place in the sky, rather than in an airfield: “It is rather difficult to find a sky pilot to launch two loving hearts into the seas of matrimony from an aeroplane.”

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