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So I Married an Avatar

Couples today are meeting, dating, and mating online, and using increasingly sophisticated matchmaking services to find the perfect spouse

Shava Nerad's wedding was a dream. The blue sky that kissed the dome of the ornate gazebo where she tied the knot on Feb. 9 was painted with an impressionist's brush. Her dress was speckled with rubies. Her self-composed vows were filled with passion. "In this life and the next I am yours," she wrote. "You are my second life."

The promise is especially fitting, given the setting of the ceremony. Nerad, a 48-year-old resident of Somerville, Mass., got married in Second Life, a virtual world where people interact with others online through computer-generated avatars (BusinessWeek, 5/1/06). Nerad chose Second Life for her wedding backdrop in part because she and her fiancé, Matthew "Fish" Fishman, bonded over their shared love for the virtual world and used Second Life to stay in touch, despite travel and other commitments, during their 18-month courtship.