Everything you need to know about a virtual wedding
Are you one of the thousand couple who had to make the heartbreaking decision of postponing your wedding and majority of your guests were coming in from out of town? While you may not be able to have your big gathering the good news is that you can still have a virtual celebration with all your friends and family and have a big gathering at a later time when it’s safe to have a large party. If you’re a modern, forward-thinking couple who just can’t wait to be married to your love regardless of what’s going on in the world, then a virtual wedding is for you!
Here are some steps that can get you started on having your own virtual celebrations and live stream it:
• Check with your county clerk’s office
The laws vary depending on the state you live in and because of the pandemic the laws are even weirder. So make sure to handle the legalities of that. Many states require an in-person officiant, and possibly even a witness, be physically present to make a marriage legally binding. Be sure to check your particular state’s requirements before deciding on a virtual wedding. But you can always marry now, make it legal later!
• Choose a streaming service
There are a lot of great, free streaming services out there. Consider a platform like Zoom, Facebook Live, or YouTube Live. A lot of people prefer zoom as their streaming service. Facebook live is the best as there are no additional charges & you can stream upto 8 hours for free. Where as on Zoom, you can only stream for 40 mins with their free plan. Also,it will only allow a certain number of people so you won’t be able to have a 100 join in.
There are also apps like WebWed Mobile that offer private live stream weddings. They also have the option to get your marriage license and an officiant through the app. Talk about a one-stop shop! And Wedfuly is another website that collaborates with zoom and helps you organize virtual wedding.
Set up two laptop or any device cameras. One that faces you so your guests can see your faces and one behind you so they can see you. Also another with your officiant behind as he/she would have to be in person. For the zoom with your guests, mute everyone and encourage them to put their zoom on speaker view.
- Coordinate Vendors
Just because you have to change your entire wedding plan, doesn’t mean your planner or your friend can’t help. Reach out to your wedding planner and see if they can help you organize the whole thing. Or even a friend who is really good at managing people. Ask them to be in charge of decoration, dinner and cake if you’d like to have them. Put them in charge. You are allowed to keep the traditions and special moments you want, all the while practicing social distancing. Maybe you want a fun bachelorette party the night before. Your bestie could set it up for you to have a virtual hang with all your girls and some champagne.
Your officiant can still perform the wedding ceremony entirely online if you would rather them no be present personally. You’ll want to get your marriage license signed and mailed in just as soon as you’re able.
If you still want photos or video to remember this unique celebration, e-invite your vendors. They could document your celebration via something called a “FaceTime session”. It’s basically where you get with your photographer on FaceTime or Zoom and they take pictures for you through that. It is also okay to hire a socially distanced photographer who can make your photos look amazing. Even if this wasn’t your idea of your perfect wedding day, you will still want to capture this moment. If not anything else but just to tell your grandkids that you got married during quarantine.
- Invite Guests
The easiest way to invite your guests would be via an invite or an email. You can customize it according to your theme since the wedding will be hosted on the Internet, after all. Companies like Paperless Post and Greenvelope deliver electronic invitations. They act like an actual paper invitation and duplicates the opening of one.
Pro tip: Include in your email, the date & time of your celebration. Also include the zoom meeting link, the meeting ID so that that only guests with that information would be able to join. Give your guests the option to dress up and drink some bubbly as they watch your say “I Do”. Inform them that all the guests will be muted. But encourage them to use the chat option to send you blessings and cheers.
- Pamper Yourself
Since you will be doing your own hair and makeup, make it a big thing. Start by doing something that relaxes you. Soak in a tub, put on a face mask, anything that makes you feel rejuvenated.
Your hair and makeup artist will probably not be able to do your hair and makeup in person. Don’t let that shouldn’t stop you from doing it yourself. Lots of MUAs are offering virtual trials. They will go over different styles with you and teach you how to create them yourself. Practice it few times before the wedding day so that you feel confident in doing it yourself.
- Dress Up
Choose to wear your wedding dress or go for something a little more casual if you want to save THE dress for the in person celebration. Guys can wear the tux or go for jeans and a coat or blazer. Whatever you feel like wearing, you should wear that.
If you still want an altar with flowers, do it!! Reach out to your original florist and see if they would be able to help you bring your vision to life. Keep in mind that because of the quarantine, your florist may be very limited on the kind of flowers they are able to get. They may be able to do a contact less drop off or even do a zoom meeting to teach you how to put together your own bouquet.
If you aren’t thinking of going with a florist, you can make your own bouquet by getting some flowers and bind the together with a ribbon or even find a dried flower bouquet on etsy.
Try to keep the ceremony small since you will have many people joining inland guests will have shorter attention span than in person ceremonies. Ask your planner or a friend be in charge of muting and unmuting the guests so that you and your officiant can concentrate on their specific roles.
Here is a sample timeline of ceremony events:
The couple, officiant, witness, and other important guests sign on 10 minutes prior to start time. Until the ceremony begins, all the guests will be in the waiting room. Admit guests at start time and leave them unmuted so that they can greet each other. Have your officiant announce when it’s time to start and time to mute the guests. Have the ceremony as planned. There can be a time during the ceremony where the guests can be unmuted to give their blessing. This is totally optional. The officiant should also give a heads up to people when they are about to pronounce you as married and unmute everyone so that your guests can cheer you on as you share your first kiss. Arrange that ahead of time with the person controlling your microphone so that they know when to mute and unmute person.
- Throw a virtual reception
– Your guests can dress up and party with you guys.
– Hook up your speaker and have your first dance.
– You can bake your own cake to cut for your reception. If you are like me and can’t bake to save your life, bake a naked cake and decorate it with flowers, fresh fruits or chocolate shavings. You might even be able to find a baker in your area who is offering curbside pick up for a teeny cake or even some cupcakes.
– See if you can find a restaurant in your area that is able to make a catered dinner for the two of you for you to celebrate your first dinner as a married couple with.
– Make your signature drink and give the guests the recipe as well in advance so they can make it and drink with you.
– Open up the microphone and let your guests make a toast.
Many couples are choosing virtual ceremonies right now with plans to have a bigger celebration with all their family and friends after this pandemic blows over and people are able to gather again. So even if you have a digital ceremony today, you can STILL have your dream wedding later.
Bonus: By the time your new wedding date comes around, you’re already married AND you get to marry your favorite person twice.
Bonus-Bonus: You get two excuses every year celebrate your anniversary with your boo. How many couples can say that?!
Make sure your event is password protected to prevent wedding crashers.
Test out the light through zoom to find the best spot with lots of natural light but if standing by a window is not possible then you can order one of those ring lights off of amazon so that you can be sure your guests are able to see you properly.
Keep the traditions you want to keep. If you have always imagined your dad walking down the aisle, you can have a phone or a table with your dad on it as you walk towards your soon to be spouse.
Consider buying a microphone that plugs into your laptop and place it closer to you and your partner so that your guests can hear your vows properly. Also consider getting a projector to project zoom’s grid onto a wall so that it feels like the guests are there with you and you don’t have to stare at the tiny laptop screen to check out your guest reactions.
If you aren’t able to have your photographer or your videographer there, consider putting a go pro and phone on a tripod and use the self timer option to take your own photos.
Consider making a playlist to play in the background while your guests are joining in to give your guests the same experience as if they were there personally. Have background music for your bridal party and your family as their screens reveal. A lot of MCs are open to participating in virtual weddings, consider hiring one for your virtual wedding to help you with this.
Get an instant camera and get a Polaroid. Ask your guests to take photos of themselves as well so you can keep those as memories.
You can even have your reception in private but hang out with smaller groups on days leading up to your wedding so that a big group doesn’t get too exhausting to interact with.
To avoid any hiccups, have a trial on the day of or the day before to make sure that the camera is set up properly and your audio is working fine.
If you are using Facebook live, create a private group with all the people who are invite and go live only in the group so you can control who can see your wedding online.
I hope this helps you in hosting your own virtual wedding. But my expert advice doesn’t stop here. To find more Covid related planning tips, check out my Covid planning tips!