Virtually including Wedding Guests
Life as we knew it has come to a screaming halt, with Covid-19 and government-enforced lockdown. There are hopeful signs that we have reached the peak and that lockdown measures will soon start to be relaxed. But this will be phased and large gatherings will be the last to be allowed. The “new normal” still won’t be quite normal, and we have no idea how long this could last.
While of course, we would love for all of our nearest and dearest to be in attendance, it is unlikely that overseas guests are going to be able to travel for a while. You may also still want old and vulnerable guests to be self-isolating.
Technology is going to be your best friend during these days of social distancing, and especially when it comes to planning a virtual wedding attendance. Below I’ll outline the steps you’ll need to take to plan a wedding on the internet, plus share the resources that will help you execute everything as simply as possible. Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Choose Your Platform
Video conference software Zoom offers free and paid subscriptions. For free you can ‘meet’ for up to 40 minutes. For £11.99 per month, you can “meet” for up to 24 hours. That’s more than enough time for a ceremony and reception! With Zoom, attendees can set up Speaker View (probably ideal for your guests to view your ceremony) or Gallery View (you, as the couple, could have this displayed so you can see all of your guests’ reactions).
You can designate one guest to take screenshots of your attendees’ reactions throughout the ceremony to include in your wedding album. Your designated readings can still be made by your virtual guests of honour.
With Zoom, you can continue the party into the reception, allowing the virtual wedding party and parents to give speeches, having your first dance and even doing the cake cutting.
GOING LIVE! WITH FACEBOOK
Another free option is to utilise Facebook Live for your ceremony. Invite your guests to a private group, and create a private event for them to RSVP to. At the designated time, your guests can hop on to watch you say your “I do”s! Facebook can act as a virtual guest book, too, with guests posting their well-wishes in the days and weeks leading up to the ceremony. They can introduce themselves and “mingle” prior to the ceremony and continue with the sentiments well after. The video will live on in the group as long as the group continues to exist.
Not everyone is going to have Facebook, and you won’t be able to have the same “face to face” interaction as you may with video conferencing software, but the same basic ideas apply.
To include absent guests through Skype, you will need to ask someone who will be sitting in the front row to hold a laptop, iPad, or another device that has Skype on it. Make sure the ceremony location has wifi, and that you know the password. Test out the connection beforehand. Then, stream the ceremony live so that those connected through Skype can watch in real-time.
Google Hangouts is another option for live-streaming your ceremony to those who can not be physically present. As an alternative to streaming the ceremony, you could also set up a Google Hangout during the reception, so that the call can be a two-way conversation. Instead of having absent guests silently watching, as though they’re seeing a live video, they can actually talk and connect with other wedding guests, as well as the bride and groom.
Step 2: Organize the Necessary Tech Gear
Tech is super key in planning your virtual wedding guests. At a minimum, you need a laptop, tablet or phone with a camera. If using a phone or tablet, you may also want to get a tripod to mount the mobile device to for steady, even viewing. Take your tech for a test run on whichever platform you intend to use so you can ensure quality will be up to the job.
Step 3: Coordinate with Any Suppliers
Make sure the venue is aware of your plans so they can help with set up. Also, make sure your photographer/videographer is in the loop so they don’t stand directly in front of the feed!
Step 4: Inform Your Guests
Include the meeting link to your scheduled Zoom or to your Facebook group, as well as the date and time. Now, because this is a little outside the box, you may also want to include instructions for your guests on how to turn on their video and ask them to remain muted during the ceremony.
Step 5: Get Prepared
You’ll definitely want to do a test run or two before the big day, to ensure your backdrop is even, you have the right angle for recording and all of the tech is running smoothly.
Can’t go live on the day?
If the location of your ceremony doesn’t have wifi and won’t support a hot spot, you could also ask a guest or a professional to film the ceremony, and upload it to Youtubeor Vimeo shortly after, once wifi is available! This is a last resort option because you want your guests to enjoy themselves, not be worrying about uploading videos!