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Falwell to preside over virtual wedding

When Dale and Lorrie say, "I do" on New Year's Eve, they'll be virtually married. Married virtually, that is--by none other than the infamous Rev. Jerry Falwell.

    When Dale and Lorrie say, "I do" on New Year's Eve, they'll be virtually married. Married virtually, that is--by none other than the Rev. Jerry Falwell.

    Dale and Lorrie, who declined to reveal their last names to protect their privacy, are going to stand in a church in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, on New Year's Eve. But their minister, Rev. Falwell of Moral Majority fame, will be officiating--using Webcasting technology--from his Lynchburg, Virginia pulpit 280 miles away.

    Webcasting has been growing in popularity and is being used for just about everything, from classroom instruction to international meetings. The technology even has been used for weddings before, but Dale and Lorrie's appears to be the first in which the Net is being used to hook up a couple and its officiating minister.

    According to Dale, who checked with Blair County, Pennsylvania, officials, it's perfectly legal.

    Dale said he's getting married over the Net for pretty much the same reason a lot of people do things in new and unique ways: "because it can be done."

    Not to mention that he works for the Webcasting company, SRT Enterprises, which happens to broadcast Rev. Falwell's religious services over the Net and, naturally, will Webcast Dale's wedding.

    The ball got rolling on the innovative marriage a few months ago. "I went to my bosses and told them I was getting married," Dale said. "They said, 'great. We're going to Webcast this.' "

    Later, Dale asked the Rev. Falwell Ministries if the reverend would perform his and Lorrie's wedding ceremony. Falwell said yes, but couldn't make it out to Pennsylvania, so Dale asked if the he would be able to do the job if he could stay in Lynchburg.

    "He does anything new and he likes the publicity," Dale said. "He agreed to do it."

    Falwell's secretary confirmed that the reverend will be performing the ceremony, but Falwell was not available for comment.

    Dale said he first considered opening up the Webcast to the entire Net, but discarded the idea for fear of overwhelming the company's servers. Instead, it will be open only to those with password invitations, who will enter the ceremony from Dale and Lorrie's public site.

    "I want to do it and show the world it can be done," Dale said. "This is just scratching the surface. Ten or 20 years from now, who knows--we'll have holograms. The technology today pulls the world in a lot closer than it ever has been. It makes it a lot smaller."

    Besides getting publicity, the couple will be able to virtually invite many friends and relatives who couldn't make it out to Pennsylvania for the nuptials.

    While it all sounds very exciting, Dale acknowledged that there are a few drawbacks to the whole affair, such as planning a wedding that involves both technology and a very famous--and controversial--figure.

    "Planning a wedding in itself is difficult enough," Dale said. "It's been quite a challenge."

    Plus, he added, his fiancée wasn't exactly thrilled when she first was approached with the idea of a virtual wedding, though she eventually came around.

    "She said, 'What have you done to my small, candlelit wedding?'" Dale said.