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Object: Matrimony - The Risky Business of Mail-Order Matchmaking on the Western Frontier

It has to be a legal reason why the couple can't wed," Posman told Life's Little Mysteries. In the bygone days of charlatans, swindlers, elopements and bad record-keeping, "speak now or forever hold your peace" was a last-ditch effort to bring to light any illicit shenanigans that would nullify a wedding in the eyes of God.


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According to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, impediments to a marriage include either the bride or groom being married already, having made a vow of celibacy, being underage, having been kidnapped or forced to wed, not being baptized, being incapable of having sexual intercourse, or having killed the other's former spouse. There are also stipulations about how closely a couple can be related by blood, marriage and adoption.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the testimony would then have to be delivered under oath, and the priest would be obliged to defer the wedding and investigate the claim.

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USD Buy Online, Pick up in Store is currently unavailable, but this item may be available for in-store purchase. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview Desperate to strike it rich during the Western Gold Rushes and eager for the free land afforded them through the Homestead Act, men went west alone and sacrificed many creature comforts.


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  • About the Author. Today, a marriage's legality is established prior to the ceremony, when a couple obtains a marriage license at their city clerk's office. Modern records such as social security numbers, birth certificates, marriage and divorce papers are so thorough that schemes like polygamous marriages rarely slip under the radar, even across borders. To get married in the United States, foreigners often must present a document issued by their country of origin proving they aren't married there.

    So, if someone objected at a wedding today, Posman said, "I would pause for a second and say, 'That's not a legal reason,' and continue with the ceremony. Live Science.