If you got engaged before the whole world turned on its head in early 2020, you probably had dreams of a big celebration – or at least one that your friends and family could attend in person. Perhaps a guest list in the hundreds and multiple events in the lead up to, as well as after, the big day? If anyone had told you that you might decide to live stream your wedding to your guests and have a virtual celebration to tie the knot, you'd definitely have laughed (and probably thought they were crazy!).
Right now, virtual weddings and other types of celebrations are taking place all around the world – through necessity to keep us all safe. It's likely not what you had in mind, and there have probably been some difficult and emotional decisions to make in the process, but a live stream of your ceremony, plus a bit of extra planning with some lovely thoughtful additions, can still create a beautiful, memorable and touching event – where your loved ones near and far will feel included and excited.
Here are some things to consider if you're planning to embrace the tech and go ahead with a virtual wedding.
Booking a venue is still important
There are plenty of safe ways to plan and host an incredibly special event without a large venue or guest list. Lots of venues are perfect for small, private gatherings with restricted numbers. Even if it's just you, your partner, a celebrant or priest and witnesses, make sure the space you choose is extra special – after all, it's still going to be one of the best days of your life! Take a look at wedding packages and see what's included in your space. Some will have things like a white-carpet aisle, floral centrepieces, decorated chairs and flower walls, all of which will make a room feel more distinctive and look beautiful in your photos and on your live stream.
Get the technical details right – beforehand
First up, make some decisions about the logistical side of your live stream so you can ask potential venues whether they have the technical capacity to host your virtual wedding. You'll need to consider what streaming service you'll use, and ask questions like: can your venue support the appropriate bandwidth to stream the event? What's the lighting like in your space? Does the venue offer a videographer to record your ceremony as well as manage the live stream? Having answers to these questions will help you feel confident and comfortable about the type of experience you and your guests will receive.
Don't forget that you'll need some screens and audio equipment in the room with you to see, hear and interact with your guests. Many venues will have an AV professional to hand to set things up for you, so you can concentrate on getting married and leave all things techy to the experts! It might feel like a lot of details to wrap your head around at the start, but it's nailing these types of decisions early on that will make your event run smoothly on the day.
Connection with your guests is key
Write up your guest list carefully and decide who the few people you may be able to have with you on the day are (if any) and who you'd like to include via the live stream. Once you've got your guest list, go the extra mile with a beautiful invitation – you'll need to add in a bit more information than usual, so factor this into the design. For example, you'll need to tell your guests how to connect to the stream, what sort of device they can stream on (smart TV, iPhone, iPad, laptop, etc.), the minimum bandwidth or wi-fi connection they'll need for the best experience, plus the sort of speakers or microphone set-up they should have if they're going to participate in any way during the event.
Add some (extra) special touches
There are plenty of lovely little touches you can add to your day that will delight your virtual guests and make them feel involved and special. You could ask them to get dressed up, so they'll get in the mood for a stylish celebration. Sending them a ‘wedding package' in advance, including a few little treats like champagne, a mini-cake, flowers or other celebratory items to arrive on or before the day, means you can create some shared experiences with your guests. You might like to personalise and share a music playlist, or encourage them to cut their mini-cake at the same time as you. Whatever you decide to include, make sure you have some personal ‘thank you' cards ready to send, along with a beautiful photo. Getting these unique and individual touches just right means your big day can still be everything you ever dreamed of… and so much more.