Manama: A Saudi man in the US and a Saudi woman in the kingdom used video chat application Skype to say the words that made them husband and wife.

“I was in the beginning surprised when I was asked to conduct the marriage between a man in the US and a woman here in Saudi Arabia,” said Fayez Fawaz Al Nafii, the religious man who officiated the wedding, in Saudi daily Okaz on Wednesday.

“It was the first time in my seven years in service that I was asked to use smart phones to do such a thing. However, as all the conditions for a valid wedding were met and as I could communicate directly with the groom even though he was not in the room with me, I went ahead with the ceremony. I will always recall this wedding.”

Ayedh Al Naqool, the groom studying in the US, said he was happy everything went well.

“I am now waiting for the earliest opportunity to fly to Saudi Arabia and complete the wedding ceremonies and subsequently bring my bride with me here to the US,” he said.

Although they may be new in Saudi Arabia, proxy marriages that allow a couple to get married even in the absence of one spouse have existed for a long time elsewhere.

In Europe, one of the most famous examples is when on April 19, 1770, Marie Antoinette, 14, and Louis-Auguste (King Louis XVI), 15, were married in the Austrian capital Vienna in his absence. The French wedding with the two spouses present was held at Versailles on May 16, 1770.

According to the New York Times, proxy marriages via telegraph have also been documented. The procedure had also been used in the United States, usually by deployed members of the military worried about being killed and leaving loved ones without benefits.