If you're one of the thousands of couples who've had to make the emotional and challenging decision to cancel or postpone your wedding due to the coronavirus pandemic, you're understandably disappointed.
And you're not alone—Google has released their "Year in Search" trending data for 2020, and "virtual marriage" made in the list.
This unforeseeable situation has thrown the entire wedding industry for a loop and halted so many momentous plans in the process.
Not only is the wedding date you chose, as well as the season in which to marry, no longer possible, but you may not be able to have the large-scale event full of all of the friends and family you'd always dreamed of having.
The good news: You can still have a beautiful wedding shortly—it just might have to be virtual for the time being until it's safe to have a larger party with friends and family at a later date.
Even if it's a temporary placeholder for the real thing, a virtual wedding is a beautiful alternative to postponing or cancelling.
It can be especially beneficial for couples with older family members who want to ensure their marriage in some shape or form.
Saying “I do” at Boutique Events Group is an elegant and luxurious affair.
Many people are on edge right now, for various and understandable reasons, so giving your friends and family a celebratory experience, even if it's virtual, can be appreciated and apropos.
Ready to have the virtual wedding of your dreams? Here's a step-by-step guide to nailing every aspect of your Zoom vows like a pro.
Check With Your Local Clerk's Office
Even before the pandemic, marriage laws varied considerably across the country, which rings true even more.
For this reason, couples need to get in touch with their county's clerk's office to ensure they're handling the obtaining of their license correctly.
There is a lot of a grey area regarding the concept of virtual ceremonies, so, more than anything, we want couples to be informed and be cautious.
Once the legalities are squared away, the fun part can begin.
Choose Your Platform
There are several different platforms that you can choose from for your virtual wedding—Google Hangout, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Zoom.
Zoom has the most popular video conferencing tool for weddings. Video conference software Zoom offers free and paid subscriptions.
For a paid subscription per month, you can host 100 attendees, get 1GB of MP4 or M4A cloud recording, and 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 could designate a guest to take screenshots of your attendees' reactions throughout the ceremony to include in your wedding album.
Your guests can still make your designated readings of honour, and your officiant could even be virtual* (or you could maintain the 6-foot social distancing rule).
You can still have your photographer on-site for portraits, too!
(*may not meet the legal requirements in all areas. Seek the counsel of local government officials or family law attorneys before proceeding with a virtual wedding ceremony to make sure it's legit.)
With Zoom, you can continue the party into the reception!
Your wedding party and parents can give speeches; you can share your first dance and even the cake cutting!
Another (FREE) option is to utilize 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!
Your guests can post their well-wishes in the days and weeks leading up to the ceremony. They can introduce themselves and "mingle" before 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 will 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.
There are software options available, such as Be.live, that integrate with Facebook and allow multiple people to be recorded at once. But be aware that recordings are limited to 90 minutes.
Organize the Necessary Tech Gear
Tech is super key in planning your virtual wedding.
At a minimum, you need a laptop, tablet or phone with a camera. Using a phone or tablet, you may also want to get a tripod to mount your device 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 par.
Coordinate With Any Vendors
While you may have had to nix your venue, rentals and catering, a few vendors may still come into play.
A photographer, for one, is a vendor you may still want to keep in the fold. You don't need to be up close and personal with your photographer.
Social distancing can still be a thing while they capture all your wedding day glory. Be sure to tell them you're live streaming, so they don't stand directly in front of the feed!
Your cake is another piece that doesn't need to fall by the wayside, though you may want to downsize it.
You and your partner can still do the ceremonial cake-cutting and nibble on that sweetness throughout the quarantine.
Just let your baker know that instead of feeding 50+ people, you'll need one for the two of you.
Finally, your officiant can either join the two of you in person (at a distance), or he can lead the ceremony online!
Just make sure to get that marriage license signed and mailed in!
A Note on Virtual Ceremonies
Virtual ceremonies may not meet the legal requirements in all areas. Check with your local officials or a family law attorney to find out the specifics of your site before planning a virtual wedding.
Since the marriage license is a legally binding contract, the couple and the wedding officiant will likely need to conduct at least part of the ceremony in person, and it's essential to make sure that you are in full compliance with your local marriage laws.
One possible solution is to have someone nearby––perhaps a roommate or family member that you live with––get ordained online and have them complete the in-person legal component of your ceremony (in accordance with local marriage laws and any registration requirements, of course).
Once that's taken care of, you can go ahead and have someone else conduct the purely ceremonial component over the internet in any way you'd like since your chosen officiant might not be able to be there with you in person.
Invite Your Guests
The easiest way to invite your guests is via e-vite or email—tailor it to your theme if you can—since the wedding will be hosted on the internet, after all.
Inform Your Guests
So you've figured out how to switch gears to get your big day all teched out, but now you need to let your guests know.
Save time, energy and stay #onbrand by sending out virtual invitations.
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.
And because you're going to be screenshotting their gorgeous mugs, let them know that you'd love to see them get a little dolled up — they'd probably love the excuse to get out of their sweats and yoga gear!
Ask your guests to RSVP, as you usually would, so you know who to send gift baskets to if desired. Include a timeline on when to pop the bubbles or open the snacks during your Livestream. Don't forget to ask for your favourite songs so you can all have a dance party together!
You'll want to do a test run or two before the big day of your virtual wedding to ensure your backdrop is even, you have the right angle for recording, and all of the techs are running smoothly.
The morning of, do what you usually would — have a mimosa, host your wedding party on a separate Zoom or Facetime, take time to get ready and spend a few minutes with your partner (or don't if you weren't planning on seeing them!).
Make sure you two have discussed this and the logistics.
Do you want your partner waiting at the top of the "aisle" (really, standing on-screen) while you enter from another room? Do you want to start it with both of you on the screen together?
Rehearse it beforehand, then figure out who is going to start the Livestream. Don't forget to push the record!
Dressed to the Nines
Now more than ever, people are saying, "Thank Goodness for e-commerce!" and your virtual wedding is no different.
With wedding dresses and suits readily available online, there's no reason your style should suffer, even if you aren't leaving the house.
Lucky for you, white reads well on camera, so even if you don't yet have your wedding dress, you can opt for a slinky gorgeous slip dress or fabulously feathered pyjamas.
If you have your gown and want to wear it, that works too—but you can also consider saving it to wear when you postpone.
As for your guests, she recommends encouraging them to wear bright colours to symbolize celebration and add a burst of brightness and happiness.
While you're at it, advise them against prints or stripes, which can be distracting on screen.
You could even check Amazon for cheap wedding dresses if you're in a big-time crunch.
Likewise, accessories—and even wedding bands!—can be purchased online and delivered right to your door.
Do Your Hair & Makeup
Your go-to stylist won't be able to provide in-person services for hair and makeup, but that shouldn't stop you from dolling yourself up for your big day.
Most vendors offer virtual hair and makeup trials where they can go over different styles and look with you and teach you how to create them yourself.
We suggest keeping things simple. Start with your 'everyday face,' and then add a new detail or two you love.
In the case of a virtual wedding, you might consider a lighter, more edited makeup approach so as not to appear too overdone on screen.
It's always a good idea to test your makeup in the lighting that you'll be shooting in to see how shiny or "hot" the skin appears. You can have a mattifying powder on hand, like the NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder, which comes in two shades: "Translucent" for fair to medium skin tones and "Sunstone" for medium-deep to deep complexions.
Next, you can use a highlighter and blush to amplify your complexion and a quality waterproof mascara in the case of tears.
For your hair, it's all about starting with a great regimen—cleansing, conditioning, and using products to create volume and texture.
To create loose curls and volume at the roots, we recommend doing this the day before to give the hair enough grit and hold for the big day.
Before styling, make sure your hair is dehydrated so that it won't fall flat.
If you're curling your hair, clip the hot curl and let it cool before hairspray six inches away.
For best results, practice a few times before the wedding day, so you feel confident enough to achieve the style on your own. Finding your perfect Wedding Make Up Artist doesn't have to be difficult. Check out our ultimate list here.
Set the Scene
If you have already been in touch with a florist for your big day, consider reaching out to see how flexible they can be to make your vision come to life, bearing in mind that every state will be different in terms of what can be allowed.
They may be able to arrange a contact-less pick up of arrangements or set up a Zoom tutorial with you to help you create your bouquet.
If you have access to a garden, perhaps your own or that of a family member, consider creating your bridal bouquet by bounding a few blooms together with a ribbon.
If you go this route, cut the flowers from the garden the day before, stripping off all the foliage up to the top two to three leaves, placing them in warm water and binding and tying them the following day.
Keep the flowers in water until photos begin, and pat down the bouquet with a towel before holding to ensure water does not get on the dress.
She recommends taking a small flower bud and pinning it into a jacket or shirt for the boutonniere.
It doesn't have to be wrapped or finished to a florist perfection, and it's the simple notation of this 'button hole' noting that they are the special someone getting married.
Bringing it All Together
So, sure, the ceremony is easy-ish to pull off virtually. But what about the reception?
Easy! With alcohol delivery available in many cities, you could order bubbly or send small bottles of booze and a mixer for your signature cocktail to your attendees.
If you want to get crafty, add your particular label to the bottles along with a mixer and a straw and include them in a gift basket.
Other ideas for a gift basket:
- Personalized M&Ms
- Sweet Scones (instead of cake)
- A customized card from Postable
- Favourite snacks so everyone can feast together
Of course, you can also ask your guests to BYOB to this reception! They can raise a glass with their beverage of choice from the comfort of their own homes.
Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too
Many couples opt for streamed ceremonies now with plans to host vow renewal ceremonies, receptions, or just a fantastic party to celebrate after this pandemic blows over and people can 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, the pressure is off! You're already married, and you get to match your favourite person twice.
Throw a Virtual After Party
Use a platform like Google Hangouts to have a virtual "reception" with your guests! Tell them to get dressed to the nines and get ready to party.
Include some formalities if you'd like: Hook up your speaker and have your first dance. Cut a homemade cake.
Make your signature cocktail (the "Quarantini" perhaps?) and give guests the recipe in advance so they can drink with you.
Open up the "mic" and let your guests make a toast. Throw the most epic virtual bash any of your guests have ever seen.
Bonus: You get two excuses every year to pop champagne and take yourselves out for a fancy "anniversary" dinner. How many couples can say that?!
Now, all that's left to do is say those "I do's" for your loved ones to attend virtually.
Whether you decide to keep things super simple or enhance the experience for your virtual guests by sending care packages, it will still be amazing to celebrate your union with your loved ones.
We know that these times are uncertain and unpredictable. Check out our Top Wedding Planners here to help make your special day as smooth as possible.
What better way to break up the monotony of sheltering in place than by attending the virtual wedding of the year!
Your guests will love it, and you can still celebrate in person when this is all behind us.
Frequently Asked Questions
A virtual wedding is a wedding where the officiant, guests, and couple are joined together by a video call. Having your wedding ceremony virtual doesn't mean you can't have the extras like a venue, decor, flowers, live musician and more!
If you'd rather leave the technology to someone else, virtual wedding packages will likely cost a few hundred dollars. Simply Eloped, for instance, starts at $350 and includes someone to officiate your ceremony, along with technical assistance to make sure everything runs smoothly.
According to American Marriage Ministries, couples CAN apply for a marriage license via videoconference and officiants can perform weddings via videoconference. The only disclaimer here is that the couple and the officiant must interact on the Zoom call in “real time”… meaning there cannot be any pre recorded “I Dos”.
A Zoom wedding can be as simple as a live-streamed backyard ceremony—or it can broadcast just one component of your big day (like a toast) to a larger group. While a virtual wedding is invariably a different kind of celebration than a big in-person one, it still holds so much potential to be a memorable, fun event.
“Originally, we felt people would have given less because it was a Zoom wedding, and there was not a dinner and celebration party,” Mr. Apuada said. But he was surprised when most people gave a generous gift, averaging $150 per couple.