It’s February 2022 and the world’s first couple have legally married each other in the metaverse. Kinda. With over 2,000 virtual onlookers, Ryan and Candice Hurley hired Rose Law Group to legally formalize their vows. Like any wedding, they faced issues on the day. Decentraland slowed to a snail’s pace as guests entered the platform.
The twist? The Hurleys had already been traditionally married in 2008 and metaverse weddings, at present, have no legal backing. Not that it’s too much of an issue when you’ve already tied the knot.
So, is this a one-of-a-kind ceremony, or are metaverse weddings going to dominate our future? According to one Singaporean government minister, legal marriage proceedings, court case disputes and government services may soon be offered on the metaverse.
Surprisingly, Ryan and Candice aren’t the first couple to implement blockchain technology as part of their wedding plans. Back in 2014, CEO and Bitnation advisor, David Mondrus, tied the knot and recorded the entire ceremony on the blockchain. This way, the act is recorded forever.
According to David, “We believe that, like the blockchain, our love and marriage is forever and that our relationship is not defined by governments or the church. So, enshrining our commitment to each other in the blockchain in front of our friends is very dear to us.” Ah, romance.
More recently, Coinbase employees Rebecca Rose and Peter Kacherginsky also became lawfully wedded on Ethereum’s blockchain—exchanging tokenized ‘ring’ NFTs in the form of TBT tokens to each other’s crypto wallets. It’s important to note, however, that a separate, more traditional, Jewish ceremony also took place. While the blockchain contract cost the couple around $587 in transaction fees, the average physical wedding in the US costs around $25,000.
It’s not only cheaper to get ‘married’ using blockchain, it’s also romantic—at least according to Rebecca Rose. The couple had NFTs designed to depict two circles merging to become one to symbolize their vows. Cute.
Blockchain technology not only makes ‘weddings’ cheaper, it also lends itself well to legal contracts, as it provides an irrefutable public record.
Using smart contracts, legal professionals can provide better contract management and reduce the time spent preparing and maintaining law documents. These cost savings can then be passed to customers. Blockchain technology democratizes access to the justice system by lowering both complexity for the consumer and legal fees.
Without concrete legality, however, how can the digital become lawful in our physical world?.
According to Jordan Rose, founder of Rose Law Group (and officiator of the Hurley wedding), “the marriage itself is recognizable with the meta-marriage certificate we developed. The meta-marriage certificate is a new concept for Web3 and is not a legal document.”
For Rebecca, the wedding was very real. On Twitter, she wrote, “blockchain, unlike physical objects, is forever. It is unstoppable, impossible to censor, and does not require anyone’s permission. Just as love should be. What could possibly be more romantic than that?”
But metaverse weddings feed into a wider problem. Who, or what, regulates the metaverse?
Currently, there is a distinct lack of metaverse regulation and it’s already causing problems for users. Nearly all metaverses (yes, there’s many!) operate using virtual currencies, whether crypto or in-game assets, which are stored in virtual wallets. With no government-backed protection against fraud or loss of digital assets, if you lose money in the metaverse, it’s not going to be coming back.
It’s also unsure how cybercriminals may use the metaverse to exploit users. From hacking accounts to identity theft, the virtual world is just as much of a security and privacy risk as the real world. Unfortunately, this is already proving to be true, with at least one female user assaulted by another in popular metaverse game Horizon Worlds.
It will likely be down to individual metaverses to choose whether or not to regulate their own domains, with governing bodies seemingly reluctant to enforce rules.
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