By now you’re probably very familiar with the concept of a virtual wedding—and may have even attended one yourself. If you’re considering—or in the process of planning—a virtual wedding, you’re in good company. While nothing will replace the in-person experience of having a wedding, it’s safe to say that thanks to the ease and accessibility of virtual weddings, they are here to stay.
Virtual weddings are here to stay
“Providing an option for virtual weddings has absolutely become commonplace as a part of all my wedding consultations in 2021,” shares Oniki Hardtman, a wedding planner and owner of Oh Niki Occasions in South Florida and New York City. “Since the onset of the pandemic when we realized anything is ‘virtually’ possible, it has opened up a whole new world of options for wedding guests to be ‘present’ even when they can’t be!”
For Hardtman’s couples who’ve been forced to downsize their guest lists, she’s found that having a virtual wedding alternative brings them immense comfort and peace of mind. “This way, they know that the guests whom they cannot imagine their day without will still have the opportunity to experience this joyous celebration in real time. [It] essentially helps them feel less guilty about needing to ‘un-invite guests’ due to in-person capacity restrictions,” she adds.
Caroline Creidenberg, founder of Wedfuly.com, has also seen the shift. Her company, which provides services to help couples orchestrate their virtual wedding, says the experience has been totally normalized by the pandemic. “Typically, we think of technology and social media as rather divisive and socially isolating, but technology in this case is actually allowing couples to be more in touch with each other. [They can] have an intimate wedding that is authentic to them, and bring together guests and loved ones that would typically not be able to join in or attend the wedding festivities,” says Creidenberg.
The tools necessary for a virtual wedding
One of the biggest advantages of having a virtual wedding is the flexibility to make it your own. There are simply an unlimited number of ways to go about conducting a virtual wedding. Here are some of the best tools out there for pulling off a virtual wedding, according to experts.
Perhaps the most popular and “original” way of conducting a virtual wedding, this platform can still be tricky to navigate. While still considered a great option, Jamésa Alexander, wedding planner and owner of Jayne Heir Weddings & Events in Washington, D.C. says sound quality can be an issue. It can also be difficult to capture different angles of your wedding ceremony. “You will need a family member or friend to be the host of your Zoom room to ensure guests are properly muted and unmuted during the wedding,” she says. “I would also suggest having a meeting password to alleviate “random spectators’ from joining the virtual wedding celebration.”
Creidenberg recommends purchasing a Zoom plan so you aren’t capped at 40 minutes like the free plans are. “You’ll also need tripods and cell phones to properly capture the wedding,” she adds. Zoom plans start at $14.99/month and can be cancelled any time.
Don’t want to worry about setting up the best angles or sound equipment? A local wedding videographer can often provide streaming services for a virtual wedding. “If you have a wedding planner, you can work with them to identify local videographers who offer live streaming services and can execute a flawless feed for your guests,” says Alexander.
If you’re going to be setting up the filming yourself, consider these pro tools to help create the best stream possible:
- Laptop, tablet, or camera phone
- Lapel microphone so guests can hear your vows
- Extendable tripod if using a phone or tablet camera
- Lighting if needed (this ring light also features a tripod, so it pulls double duty!)
Other Virtual Wedding Options
Some of the other tools that Ivy Summer, wedding planner and owner of Voulez Events in San Francisco, recommends for hosting a virtual wedding include Google Hangout, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live, all of which are free.
“If you’re using YouTube Live, I would recommend using Mixlr (from $9.99/month) in tandem so you don’t sacrifice your audio quality,” she says. “Designate someone to manage your live-stream tools who ideally is not part of your wedding party. You’ll thank yourself for hiring someone to hold the camera steady, adjust for the balance of light going into the camera lens, and other details you nor your wedding guests should have to worry about during the ceremony,” she adds.
The wedding website platform Joy (which is free for users) lets you connect your wedding live stream from Zoom, Google Hangouts, YouTube Live, Vimeo or EventLive directly to your personal website. Having just one link makes it easier for guests to access. You can also keep them updated about events with Joy’s push notifications.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: We review the best wedding websites.
Wedfuly’s virtual wedding package ($1200) includes a remote virtual wedding expert who will manage your Zoom A/V checks, MC, play music, and provide tech support throughout. They also rent audio and video equipment for an additional fee.
Finally, you could also consider a wedding-focused streaming platform such as LoveStream. They are a one-way, high-definition live streaming wedding platform, with pricing starting at $450. “Utilizing up to 9 personal devices, a remote producer switches between angles to capture every moment of the day. Guests simply click a link to your website to watch,” explains Alexander. You can also make a wedding playlist and a slideshow of up to 20 images for your guests to view.
Tips for pulling off a virtual wedding
Ready to plan the most epic virtual wedding? Follow these expert tips.
Send virtual invites
Just as you would an in-person wedding, it’s a good idea to still send invites out for your virtual wedding. Digital invites are also completely acceptable. “If you want your wedding day to be taken seriously, treat it as such. Make sure that guests receive a thoughtful ‘heads up’ to mark their calendars for your nuptials,” says Hardtman. “And don’t hesitate to provide a suggested dress code, too—everyone should be camera ready for this celebratory event!”
Relish the smaller guest list
“The feedback we get from couples is always how amazing it was to have had such an intimate day while also sharing the experience with friends and family,” says Creidenberg. “Just because COVID restrictions have slightly lifted doesn’t mean you can’t still have an intimate wedding.”
Invest in strong Wi-Fi
If your entire wedding will be live streamed, it’s important to make sure the location has strong Wi-Fi signals. Hardtman even suggests potentially hiring or appointing a good friend or family member to ensure that everything runs smoothly. “We want the experience to be great for the guests. If the signal is bad, that means a bad experience for everyone,” she says. “Set yourself up for success by ensuring that the WiFi and lighting is optimal for what guests will view from afar.”
WGM SAYS: When it comes to lighting, natural is always best! However, no matter where you’re going to be streaming from, make sure the light is coming from behind the camera.
Encourage watch parties
Creidenberg recommends letting guests know who else is invited to your virtual wedding. You can also encourage them to dress up and make it a party. “You could even send them cupcakes or a bottle of champagne to join in on the festivities,” she says.
Use the new format to showcase your journey and story as a couple
Creidenberg recommends taking a few extra hours to create a slideshow of images, make a video or curate a playlist. “Think about how you can tell your story as a couple. This will make the wedding itself meaningful for your guests,” she says. “Virtual guests will absolutely love learning more about the love story that they are there to celebrate. Plus, you’ll have these keepsakes for the rest of your life.”