A Marriage Made in HTML

By Cheryl Kaften August 08, 2011

We’ve all heard of computer matching and computer dating, but now a computer has officiated at the altar. On Saturday, August 6, a living, breathing couple was joined in wedded bliss in a PC—and we don’t mean politically correct—ceremony.

Miguel Hanson and Diana Wesley had searched for a soul mate in cyberspace and first met on a website aptly called Sweet on Geeks.

According to a report by Associated Press, they swore to love, honor, and obey while gazing raptly at an avatar on a 30-inch monitor. The virtual minister created by the couple appeared on half of the computer screen, robed for the occasion and wearing a smile on an animated, square face with blue eyes and thin, oval glasses. His voice was broadcast over a sound system while the text of what he said was displayed on the other half of the computer monitor.

Hanson, a Houston Web developer and IT consultant, created the minister software program when the couple couldn't get a friend to officiate at their wedding.

"I was like, you know I'm going to write my own minister," Hanson said.

"We're both friends of the computer. So it's kind of like our best friend is still marrying us," Wesley said. "The computer is a huge part of our lives, so why not be a huge part of this?"

Wesley, a high school sign language teacher, said she's aware of the nerd jokes that might come the couple's way once more people hear about the wedding. But the couple says being married by a computer fits who they are. "That's kind of our thing," Wesley said. "In fact, my maid of honor, she's making my cake and she's making it with Nerds (candy) as the topping and not icing. That's kind of the theme, the geeked-out wedding."

The ceremony took place in Hanson's parents' backyard in Houston. Wesley, 30, said she wanted a small wedding, and the couple started planning it after Hanson, 33, proposed in May.

The computer greeted the couple's 30 or so guests in a mechanical, robotic voice; gave a little history about how they met; and then proceeded with the ceremony, which the couple wrote together.

The virtual minister, nicknamed "Rev. Bit," even cracked a joke or two."If anyone here has anything to say that might change their minds or has any objections, they do not want to hear it— and I will not recognize your objections, since Miguel has programmed me to only recognize his commands," said the minister.

The computer-officiated wedding won't be legally binding. Hanson and Wesley still have to get a justice of the peace to sign their paperwork to make the marriage official. They plan to do that in short order.

It's worth noting that as novel as the idea is, this isn't the first time a robot has presided over a real-life couple's wedding. Back in May, a Japanese couple was married by a robot in Tokyo — although that robot was controlled by a human sitting nearby.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

TechZone360 Contributor

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