If you’re planning on having an intimate ceremony with just the two of you, and perhaps just a few family members, but would still love to invite your loved ones to be a part of this experience, then streaming the ceremony can be a wonderful choice. This new reality we are all facing has made online contact so much more intimate and meaningful, and sharing a moment like this, albeit through a virtual wedding, can still be just as emotional and real.
I’ve gathered tips and notes below that I hope will be useful to anyone considering have an intimate ceremony and streaming it live to their friends and family. This is being written now as being particularly relevant to weddings postponed as a result of the global escalation of coronavirus – but would in fact be just as helpful to anyone planning weddings where some guests, due to travel logistics or health conditions, aren’t able to attend your event in person – but still would love not to miss out completely!
tips for streaming your wedding
Finding an officiant. Depending on what style of ceremony you’re having, you can still find someone to officiate your wedding. If you are looking to have a legally binding ceremony, then the officiant will need to be in the room with you, as he/she will most likely need signatures and – possibly – a set number of witnesses. If the type of ceremony you want to have requires a building that is licensed for wedding ceremonies, check if there is somewhere local to you where just you and your officiant can travel to. Speak to your local priest or vicar about whether he would consider marrying you in your home given the exceptional circumstances. Alternatively, the easiest route would be to reschedule the legal part of the ceremony, and the evening party, to later in the year, and have a non-legal blessing at home with a celebrant of your choice, in person if they can easily travel to you, or over video – I know a number of humanist celebrants here in the UK are currently offering virtual ceremonies for a fee, or even in exchange for a donation to the NHS. A friend or family member that lives with you can become ordained online and/or apply to become a registered officiant, which can be a really fun option! Having a non-legal ceremony in your home means being able to exchange your own personal vows, and having a completely bespoke ceremony experience, which can be just as beautiful and meaningful.
Choosing a video platform. There are a number of great video call platforms that could be used for this – you could use profile-based software like Skype, or you can use simple online platforms like Zoom or Whereby, which just require attendees to click on a link you share with them. If using social media is something you’re happy with, and you think your guests will be comfortable with too, you can also use live video sharing options on Facebook, Instagram, Google Hangouts, or YouTube – all of which have privacy settings so you can choose who is able to watch. There are also dedicated livestreaming options like Livestream.com, though signing up for this will require an small investment, and is only worthwhile for you if you think you might have other reasons to avail yourself of this in future for personl/work use.
Have a test run. Make sure you test your connection beforehand – and if you can use a laptop or computer that has a wired Internet connection, that will most likely be much more stable than a WiFi connection.
Let your guests know. Once you’ve chosen what you’ll be using for your virtual gathering, write a personalised, thoughtful email to your guests explaining how the live stream will work, so they’re prepared for the day. You could send out personalised invites or boxes to each of your virtual wedding guests to arrive the morning of the wedding, with a selection of information and even treats for them to enjoy.
Find ways to pay homage to your original wedding plans. If you had already booked your vendors, but are having to postpone their services to later this year or next year, why not speak to them about whether they can deliver some small elements to your home in a safe way. for example, your florists can still deliver a bouquet to you, your caterer could deliver two portions of the dinner you would have had, your cake maker could deliver a sample, and so on! You could also ask your stationer to make you some bespoke signs and e-invites to send your guests. If you had a colour palette or theme, think about fun, personal, meaningful ways that you could decorate your home to echo that. If you can, wear the dress you had planned to wear, or perhaps something that complements the same style and fabric.
Set a dress code. If you’re using a virtual platform where guests can have their webcam on too, why not ask your guests to dress up when they tune in, so that it’s more momentous for both you and them. They’ll have fun getting ready for the ceremony, and it’ll feel even more special!
Build the excitement. To give your guests exciting little sneak peeks on the morning of, you could send them some fun behind-the-scenes images of the two of you getting ready or setting up the room, or even some fun old photos of you both or a little quiz for them to get to know you.
Take digital keepsakes. Take a screenshot once everyone is connected, with their webcams on, and save it – it’ll be a really meaningful keepsake for you, and it’s also something really fun to share with your guests after the ceremony.
Delight and surprise your guests. If you would like your loved ones to feel even more involved in your virtual celebration, you could send them little mementos that make them feel present with you – for example, small bouquets that look and smell like your bridal bouquet, a taster of the cake you’re having, a mini bottle of champagne, or even cute photo booth props to be used when you’re all catching up on video after the ceremony. Think about unexpected little surprises you can create for your guests – for example, before the two of you show up on camera, why not have your webcam pointed at a handwritten welcome sign – you can include some fun thank yous and anecdotes on there for people to read while they wait, and also remind them to grab a drink and mute their microphones. This is an unprecedented experience for everyone – so try to have fun with it! More ways of customising the experience for guests could be sending them a recipe for your favourite cocktail, so you can all enjoy the same tipple over video, and even coming up with some drinking games that work “virtually”. You could have food delivery organised so you can all “share” the same dinner that evening, and deliver some special treats and surprises to the close friends and family that were going to be your bridesmaids and groomsmen. If you have any musician friends, you could ask them to play for you live through video. After the ceremony, you can send out a Spotify playlist link and a start time – then you can all press play at the same time and have a little virtual houseparty together!
Ultimately, it’s all about thinking of ways of sharing in the joy and excitement of the wedding day in a virtual way that feels meaningful and authentic to you. I know it may seem self-indulgent to ask your guests to join you in this way, but in reality they’ll all be SO excited to have a way of experiencing this with you, despite the obstacles of the current time. Intimacy, togetherness, and positivity are more important than ever, as is celebrating life’s important moments as fully as we can.
If you are planning a wedding or elopement in 2020 or 2021, whether original or rescheduled, and you’d like expert support by your side – I’m here for you. I can give you comprehensive guidance, or just peace of mind on the specific elements you need help with. To get in touch, you can fill out my contact form or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sending you love and light – stay safe, friends!