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Tips and Tools for Hosting a Virtual Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning

September 9, 2020

Part of me feels like I’m a little behind with this post, but with a number of amazing and intimate ceremonies on my books for the fall, I figured that now was still an OKAY time to post this blog! We are still very much in a pandemic, and safety and social distancing is still incredibly important. Even with the ability to have larger, socially distanced ceremonies, I know so many couples are opting to include a virtual element with their day to ensure many of their nearest and dearest are able to join them for their ceremonies.

Whether you are celebrating with an intimate elopement or a larger ceremony, if you are opting to include a virtual element in your wedding day plans, today’s post is for you! I’m sharing a few tips to help the entire process run smoothly while also sharing a few products and recommendations to help you out in the technical department. If this sparks any questions at all (or if you have any virtual tips or favorite products yourself!), the comments are open! I’ve seen a few virtual ceremonies play out super well in the last couple of months, but I know there are definitely a few of you reading that has experienced one as a guest or have coordinated one yourself! Have a tip or game-changing product to add? Let me know & I can give this post an update! We’re all in this together 🙂

*Please note: I’m diving more into the guest experience and feed quality in this blog post!

Planning and Executing a Virtual Ceremony

Before a virtual ceremony, it’s so important that you’re planning in advance AND practicing the plan. After all, you don’t want any surprises on the day of the ceremony! I wrote a bit about executing a plan with the help of a few other people (click here!), but above all, before the big day, make sure you are thinking through a plan and have practiced the plan to ensure it’ll work!

  • Put someone else in charge

    • The last thing you want to be doing before marrying your best friend is coordinating a live feed! Be sure to pick a few trusted tech people to help you set up and run the feed. I suggest having someone “on the ground” at your ceremony to coordinate coverage and to start the feed who is in communication with someone at home who will help field questions and access issues virtual guests may be having. The person at home will also be able to run a quick quality check with the person at the ceremony to ensure everyone is able to witness your beautiful day!
  • Have a backup for WiFi/Internet

    • I recommend having a primary source of internet with AT LEAST one solid backup option. We all know how finicky hotspots and WiFi can be from time to time, so test out each option well in advance to make sure you have a few solid options! How stressful would it be if you didn’t have WiFi just before hosting a virtual ceremony?! Depending on where you are saying your I-Do’s, there’s a chance there could be accessible WiFi! (Think at home or at a venue!) That said, you’ll want to make sure that the signal reaches the spot your ceremony will be held. If you need to get a portable WiFi “extender” or hotspot to ensure WiFi will reach your ceremony spot, you’ll want to know in advance! If you are getting married at a spot that does not have WiFi, I recommend having a few hotspots available, just in case. If you have an iPhone, I love using my hotspot/3G in a pinch. I also found this awesome portable WiFi hotspot that looks like it can be purchased or rented and then used nearly anywhere! I haven’t used it myself, so definitely give it a try before the big day! Click here to learn more about Skyroam!
  • Send an invite out early (with an option to add the event to a calendar!)

    • You want your nearest and dearest to be able to put your big day on their calendars! Similar to a regular wedding invite, send a note out early (I recommend an e-vite… more on why soon!) to get your favorite people in on the fun. I highly recommend doing this via an e-vite because you’ll be able to add in a link/password for the event as well as other important details for people to easily access. If possible, I also recommend adding a component to the e-vite that allows people to easily add your day and the details to their calendar! That’ll help keep the link easily accessible and will reduce day-of texts for the access link.
  • Consider scheduling a day-of reminder for your guests

    • I mean this in the kindest way possible, but it is a lot easier to lose track of time when you are planning to attend a virtual wedding day! I’m not saying your guests are going to forget about you, but there’s a chance they could lose track of time on your wedding day if they have a busy day at home, and it is great to automate a reminder for them! This could be a pre-scheduled email or something set on a calendar! Either way, it is great to give your guests a little ping when it’s time to log in for your ceremony! Think of this as the virtual way of having your officiant or coordinator invite people to find their seats at in-person ceremonies!
  • Consider coordinating times to chat with smaller groups

    • This may only be possible for smaller ceremonies, but if you have virtual guests of honor that you would want to spend time chatting with on your wedding day (Think parents, grandparents, close friends, family members from afar, etc.), consider setting up individual times to chat socialize with these people or individuals! You could create a virtual cocktail hour schedule where you Zoom or Facetime with certain groups to make sure you’re able to get some (safe) face to face time with your favorite people on your wedding day!

Tools and Software to make it happen

  • Broadcast software

    • I was in the virtual fitness game for a WHILE, and I hands down would recommend Zoom as the software to communicate a stream with multiple people. I love that you’ll be able to chat with people if you want and that there is also a way to record the feed! (Highly recommend doing this by the way!) Just a heads up: if you have more than 2 participants and are planning on having a ceremony time longer than 40 minutes (including pre and post-celebrations!) you’ll want to upgrade your plan. It’s about $15/month and worth every penny to ensure your favorite people will be able to tune in to the entirety of your ceremony! I also love that people are able to be muted/unmuted with Zoom… meaning: they can congratulate and wish you well post-ceremony but can be muted for the duration of your ceremony, ensuring no interruptions!
    • If you’re not into Zoom, consider going Live on social or opting for Google Hangouts!
  • Keeping the camera steady

    • Whether you are getting married at home or are eloping high on a mountaintop, if you are planning on having a virtual feed, you’ll also want to have a way to keep your camera steady! Above all, you’ll want to decide what you’ll be using to run your feed! Will it be on someone’s phone? Computer? Maybe a tablet? From there, you’ll want to make sure you have a steady foundation to keep the device stable, steady, and safe.
    • See below for a few suggestions!
  • Lighting

    • For the most part, this will be taken care of if you are having an outdoor ceremony! The most important point though… have your point people test out the quality of your feed prior to your ceremony. You’ll want to make sure that the light looks pretty (especially if you are recording!) and that everyone is easily able to see you! You’re always more than welcome to ask me for suggestions on where to place your live stream cam day-of if this is causing stress. Additionally, if you’re considering getting married indoors, it could be beneficial to have a bit of additional light available to keep your stream looking pretty! I have a blog post about lighting Zoom calls (found here!) but would also recommend the following off-camera light setups, just in case you needed a fix in a pinch!
      • Ring light (This would be more beneficial if you’re within 1-2 feet of the light… perfect for virtual cocktail hour!!!)
      • Larger umbrella lights (Better for a larger indoor space!)
  • Audio

    • This is where testing things comes into play… fun fact about video and audio: soundwaves only travel a certain distance at a strength strong enough to be transmitted by a mic! So… while you may be able to hear your vows perfectly clear in person, it could be challenging or nearly impossible for your crew to hear you at home. This is one of those things you’ll have to consider ahead of time: is it important for your guests to hear you clearly at home? If so, consider investing in a Bluetooth mic to transmit to people at home (make sure you test this out well in advance!). If it’s not important to you, rock your ceremony as is!
    • Recommendations:
      • When I was teaching virtual fitness classes, I wore one or both Airpods in my ear to transmit audio to my computer! I know it isn’t ideal to get married with an Airpod in though, so I would also recommend the following…
      • Wearable Bluetooth mic (or something similar to THIS!): get a little something that will connect to your device via a signal. The closer the mic is to y’all, the more sound your guests will be able to hear. Again, make sure you are testing this out in advance! Have the people coordinating your coverage “on the ground” and at home make sure the audio feed is sounding great for those at home.
  • Keeping it charged

    • Live streams drain your device’s battery. Even if you think it will last the duration of your ceremony, have a backup battery/charging option on hand. If you’re not able to directly plug into an outlet during the stream, definitely keep a fully charged portable battery on hand. See below for recs:

Making it an occasion for your virtual guests

The thing to remember about virtual ceremonies is that there is still an experience on both ends! Yes, your guests are excited to see you get married, but what if you also gave them an opportunity to break their quarantine routine (to a degree!) at home and gave them a few fun opportunities to make your time on their screen a little extra, extra special?! Consider this a little bonus section! Do I think EVERY virtual wedding needs additional elements? Absolutely not! That said, if you want to consider adding a few extra elements, here are a few fun options to consider!

  • Create a virtual guest book

    • Virtual wedding ceremonies are amazing! That said, depending on how you configure it, there is a chance that you may not be able to see or chat with everyone watching your ceremony! That’s where a virtual guest book comes in! Ask everyone to take a selfie of their crew watching your ceremony and then send it to you! This could be sent to you via a service or texted! Afterward, be sure to package them up in one spot as you would for an in-person guestbook. A few suggestions below:
      • Have guests text a photo & a well wish to you or have them submit an image and a well wish through a Google Survey! From there, package everything up and print it in a Chatbook or similar album! (PS that’s my personal Chatbook invite code that will help us both save $10 on our next order!)
      • Create a virtual video guestbook… I didn’t even realize these were a thing, but it sounds SO cool! You’ll share a link with your guests (Consider doing this in your e-vite or reminder email!), and they’ll click it and record a message for you right from their smartphones! They have up to two minutes per message but can record however many they would like.
  • Initiate a suggested dress code

    • This is one of those ones that will help your virtual event really feel like an occasion! Feel free to invite your guests to use what they have to dress up and have a little fun during your ceremony! I know I’ve been wearing nothing but leggings for the last 6 months, so an invite to dress up a little would be super welcome and fun! Of course, I would recommend suggesting that attire and dress code is completely optional.
  • Share a recipe for a signature cocktail to enjoy during your ceremony in your invitation

    • Just because you are having a virtual ceremony doesn’t mean that you can’t still have food and beverage as part of your day! Something fun to consider pre-invite is crafting a signature cocktail recipe with your fiance! Create a beverage (The simpler, the better!), give it a name, maybe snap a photo of it, and then create a super cute digital recipe card to include in your e-vite! Suggest that your guests grab the ingredients and enjoy one of your signature cocktails as you say your vows! This will give your guests something to enjoy at home during your ceremony and a recipe that they can enjoy beyond your ceremony that will always remind them of you!
  • Host a toast, first dance, cake cutting, etc.

    • Keep in mind, your virtual ceremony doesn’t have to stop at just your ceremony! You can also include toasts (Virtual or in-person), a first dance, a cake cutting, or another special moment that you would like to share with your virtual guests. I would definitely recommend including an approximate time range and what your guests can expect from your virtual ceremony so they’ll know how much time at home to set aside and so they can get excited for all of your festivities!

Phew!!! That was a lot! Do you have any tips or products to add to the list? If so, feel free to add them to the list via a comment below!

If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also like:

3 TIPS FOR LIGHTING VIDEO CALLS

VENDOR SELECTION: MY TOP THREE TIPS FOR WEDDING PLANNING COUPLES

THE ONE THING YOU MAY NOT CONSIDER WHILE REPLANNING YOUR WEDDING

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